After seven years of calling San Francisco home, there are still so many “firsts” we have yet to undertake. My favorite time to dig into destinations on our ever-expanding ExploreSF list, is when we have visitors. We’ve lived here long enough to have shown our circle the guide-book recommended tourist spots, so post-inaugural visit, it’s fun to discover new places together.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to enjoy a Monday afternoon with a visiting friend wandering around the city. We started at the oh-so-well-known Swan Oyster Depot, and even though we spent time waiting in line, we were able to do so with draught beers in hand, nice weather, and the feeling that it would be worth the wait. The seafood offerings inside of Swan are fresssssshie fresh, and the employees are so patient and kind, despite the ever-present line of people waiting just outside. It’s a tiny lil’joint, where you saddle up to the bar and order according to what’s available that day/hour/minute. They’re well-known for their crab back, so despite my sometimes finicky with seafood tummy, we went for it. It was a lot of briny sea juice for two people, but well worth a try. We finished off the visit with fresh California oysters, and some of the most delicious clam chowder I’ve ever tasted.
After lunch we took the California cable car up and over Nob Hill, and hopped off at the gate to Chinatown. While I’ve ridden the cable cars in this town plenty of times, it truly is a magical trip each time, as it leaves my mind whirling and romancing about all of the people who have stepped on board before me.
This ride was made even sweeter when we were given a “welcome aboard local” free lift, and managed to nab the best-view seats in the front. Chinatown is one of my favorite areas of the city to let the minutes tick by with no agenda. We wandered in and out of shops, checked out the food offerings featured in restaurant windows, and made our obligatory stop to the fortune cookie “factory” in Ross Alley.
There are some very intriguing gift offerings in Chinatown. If you’re nearby and on the hunt for a unique present, spend a bit of time exploring the shops and you’ll likely walk away with an item so perfect, it’ll feel like it walked right out of your wildest dreams, into your waiting hands.
We took a short walk down Jack Kerouac Alley, and popped out in North Beach right next to City Lights Bookstore. I’ve walked past CLB many times, but as I’ve always been en route to an alternate destination, I haven’t had the opportunity to pursue their offerings.
It’s an obvious slice of San Francisco history, and truly feels as such when you’re wandering through their amazing selection. I’m so glad I finally went in, and look forward to many a future afternoon thumbing my way through the many incredible publications they have on hand.
Since it was then prime happy hour time, we popped into Vesuvio Cafe where I fell immediately in love with the atmosphere. I did my best to soak in every square inch of that zany place, and after a pint (or two) we headed across the street to Specs‘ for some cheese+crackers, and more wild decorations that’ll leave you scratching your noggin about their origins and meanings.
When hunger struck, we capped off our night of classics with a burger and fries at Sam’s, and as always enjoyed some friendly chitchat with the nice gents behind the counter. With our bellies full, we felt the pull of heavy lids and dreamy thoughts asking us to make our way home, so we bid adieu to our magical day of touring about town.