- North America,
- San Francisco,
- United States
My husband and I are planning this trip to celebrate our 2-year anniversary. The focal point of the trip for me will be Paso Robles and eclectic dining. My husband is looking forward to some adventure. I'm hoping to find a great place to mountain climb/bike, kayak, and anything else outdoors I can find that he'll enjoy. Any suggestions? Neither of us have been to San Francisco before so no matter what, we'll enjoy being in a new place with weather unlike ours here in South Florida.
Slanted Door, California
San Francisco, California 94111
Tel: 415 861 8032
Now in its third location, trendy contemporary Vietnamese spot Slanted Door has found a suitably swank home in the northeast corner of the Ferry Building. The vast, modern glass-and-steel space has sweeping views of the bay and is always packed with posh diners ogling each other. Chef Charles Phan's menu is a blend of Asian street food and traditional Vietnamese dishes, with offerings such as barbecued Willis Ranch pork ribs basted in a sticky-sweet honey and hoisin sauce, or a brick oven–roasted whole fish of the day with a spicy ginger sauce. The wine list features numerous rieslings and other dry, floral wines that pair perfectly with the heady Asian flavors. Book way ahead or try for one of the 20 walk-in spots. To avoid feeling rushed through your meal, reserve a table at the last seating of lunch or dinner—with such spectacular views, you'll want to linger.—Updated by John Vlahides
Open daily 11 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm.
Jai Yun, California
San Francisco, California 94111
Tel: 415 981 7438
This San Francisco Chinese mainstay may have improved its ambiance by moving from its old spot on Pacific Avenue, but Jai Yun's eccentric service remains the same. The chef, Nei Chia Ji, speaks almost no English, and you get whatever he decides to make that day, ordering by price. At lunch, you'll do well for $20, but at dinner, the minimum is $55 a person, cash only, and reservations are now required. But you'll forget all these aggravations when the food arrives—an endless stream of epicurean tidbits, including wisps of jellyfish, crispy orange-scented beef, and glistening stir-fried eggplant. Most banquets on this scale would leave you groaning, but Jai Yun's fresh, delicate cuisine will send you out into the night deliciously sated rather than stupefied.—Updated by John Vlahides
Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 6:30 to 9:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 6:30 to 9:30 pm.
San Francisco, California 94115
Tel: 415 922 0337
Located in one of Japantown's quirky malls, Mifune draws crowds not for its decor—red and black Formica tables are about the extent of it—but for authentic noodles at rock-bottom prices. Served on lacquered trays with pickled vegetables and an assortment of dipping sauces, the soba, ramen, and udon all have that perfect al dente bite of freshly made pasta. Order them hot, in a comforting broth enriched with miso or shaved bonito, or cold, sprinkled with hijiki seaweed. Either way, you'll get a meal that's traditional and delicious.
Open daily 11 am to 9:30 pm.
Medjool Restaurant and Lounge, California
San Francisco, California 94110
Tel: 415 550 9055
An adventurous spot for cocktails and dinner with the funky Mission District crowd, Medjool has an impressively high-ceilinged red and saffron dining room and a rooftop terrace with gorgeous views of downtown and the Golden Gate Bridge. The slightly overpriced menu is divided into North African, southern European, and Middle Eastern dishes. But it's the small plates that really shine, like the crunchy sumac-dusted fried calamari with aïoli or the marinated shrimp with spicy tomato jam. On weeknights, Medjool attracts the city's boho jet-setters, but steer clear on weekends, when suburban crowds move in. —Updated by John Vlahides
Open Sundays through Wednesdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Thursdays through Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm.
See + Do
Twin Peaks, California
Repeatedly voted the city's best view by locals, Twin Peaks offers a stunning 360-degree panorama of the city, the bay, and the ocean. To get there by car, take Market Street out of town until it turns into Portola, then turn right on Twin Peaks Boulevard. Take a jacket, as it can get very windy at the top.
See + Do
Marin Headlands, California
A 30-minute drive directly north of San Francisco, the rolling hills and dramatic cliffs of the Marin Headlands offer the perfect respite from city bustle. The wildflower-covered hillsides bear the occasional ruin of an Army gun emplacement, and the sea breeze may bring the bleat of foghorns, each with its own distinctive pattern. Lizards dart across the path, and you may be lucky enough to see a deer. Pack a picnic and sunscreen, drive to Rodeo Beach/Fort Cronkhite, then follow the trail up from the beach to explore the headlands.
See + Do
San Francisco, California 94123
Tel: 415 397 5673
Unlike the exhibits at most museums, those at the Exploratorium are designed for tinkering with, climbing on, and crawling through, so as to teach you about science and perception through play. Adults as well as kids will enjoy blowing giant bubbles or entering a tiny room that scrambles one's sense of perspective. Don't miss the Tactile Dome, where during an intense 15-minute odyssey through pitch-blackness, you encounter hundreds of different shapes, temperatures, and textures; advance reservations for the Tactile Dome are essential.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays 10 am to 5 pm.
See + Do
Cable Car Rides, California
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, the San Francisco cable cars are crowded but worth riding at least once for the gorgeous views and one-of-a-kind experience. Of the three routes, Powell-Hyde (over Nob and Russian Hills to Aquatic Park) and Powell-Mason (over Nob Hill to Fisherman's Wharf) are the most scenic, but they're also the most crowded, as they carry passengers to and from Fisherman's Wharf. If you can't stomach the long queues or want to find someplace off the tourists' radar, ride the California Street line (over Nob Hill toward Pacific Heights; closed for construction until mid-June 2011) from its terminus at Market Street to the end of the line at Van Ness Avenue; from there, walk to Lafayette Square, in Pacific Heights, for a hilltop picnic, followed by window shopping along swanky upper Fillmore Street. (Tip: For a great photo on the California cable car, shoot east downhill as you approach Stockton Street; the Bay Bridge tower is briefly framed just right between downtown skyscrapers.) For all lines, board at the beginning/end of each circuit or hail the car along the route from one of the stops marked with brown-and-white signs. Purchase tickets at turnarounds or from the conductor ($5; MUNI transfers not accepted). Service is frequent, with special schedules on weekends—check www.transit.511.org for details. —updated by John A. Vlahides