As the Northeast U.S. gets blanketed with snow, one's thoughts turn to less harsh locales. Specifically, San Francisco, which will reach a high of 66 degrees today, partly sunny. Tomorrow (and the next day), it's expected to reach a high of 68, with clear skies.
Now, it's really not supposed to be this perfect in San Francisco this time of year. San Francisco should have some drizzle in January and February, and the city and the state are in the midst of an unwelcome extended dry season. But even when the drizzle falls during the rainy season, that just makes the city cozier and the North Beach cappuccinos more rejuvenating.
So why is San Francisco, in particular, on the brain now instead of say, the Côte d'Azur? Because PR News is headed to San Francisco for its Feb. 4 Writing Boot Camp and Feb. 5 Digital PR Summit, and I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. Here's a list of recommendations if you're headed to San Francisco for the Boot Camp and the Summit, or if you're just pondering a visit to the City by the Bay. I lived in San Francisco for many years, and head back that way often, so this list is entirely personal and tilts heavily toward dining options and inspiring strolls.
1. North Beach/Russian Hill Walk: Start at the Transamerica Pyramid at Montgomery and Washington, and walk northwest on Columbus Ave. Pass City Lights Booksellers on the left, as you reach Broadway, and continue through North Beach until you hit Washington Square Park. Make a left on Union St., take a deep breath and start climbing Russian Hill. The walk is steep, but the views on your right of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island and beyond are breathtaking (as is the climb itself). Don't stop until you reach the summit at Union and Hyde St., and then treat yourself to an ice cream cone at Swensen's.
2. Taquerias in the Mission District: I recommend El Farolito at Mission and 24th St., Taqueria Cancun on Mission between 18th and 19th and Pancho Villa on 16th St. between Mission and Valencia.
3. Original Joe's for dinner: This Italian-American-style bar and grill has found a new home in North Beach, at the corner of Union and Stockton. Its old digs in the heart of the Tenderloin were decimated by a fire several years back, but this new version really warms the heart. The original, semicircular booths made the transition, as did many of the details and fixtures—and staff. I recommend the Original Joe's burger, on sourdough. And, of course, a cocktail at the bar beforehand.
4. Yank Sing for dim sum: They've added a second location in the last decade (two locations now downtown), but this is the freshest dim sum you can get in town without hustling way out to the far reaches of the Richmond District. Some of you may recall at its original location on Stevenson St. that the management would spin the room on New Year's Day. Ah, those were the days.
5. Coffee at Caffe Trieste: This ancient vestige of Italian North Beach was slinging cappuccinos decades before Alfred Peet and the future owners of Starbucks parted ways in the early ’70s. Stop by at Trieste (Grant Ave. at Vallejo) early in the morning, and then head north to Liguria Bakery at Stockton and Filbert for some fresh focaccia. Word to the wise: They run out early.
See you in San Francisco.
Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI