Check into the Mark Hopkins, located at the crest of posh Nob Hill. This “mansion” of a hotel, now owned by Intercontinental, was built in 1878 by Mark Hopkins, a founder of the Central Pacific Railroad. Our room on the 16th floor had the most incredible view of the city, Frette linens and old world charm. From what I hear, every room has a stunning view, and while there might be newer, bigger, better, for $159.00/night (thank you hotels.com), I will definitely return.
Brunch at The Grove in Pacific Heights, a quintessential “yuppie” neighborhood if ever there was one. This cozy little cafe offers an eclectic living room atmosphere with leather arm chairs set up amongst small tables indoors and out. The fresh squeezed orange juice is hugely addicting and the French toast with strawberries is perfection. Afterwards, stroll along Fillmore St. for some great neighborhood window shopping, all the while pretending like your Queen Anne Victorian home is just around the corner.
From there, make your way to the Exploratorium science museum, where even an adult can be a kid. June can be a fickle month in the area, so it was the perfect way to spend a brisk morning. This interactive “play station” tricks you into actually learning about things like weather, sound, and the human mind by making it fun.
A trip to San Francisco would not be complete without a chocolate sundae at Ghirardelli Square. Sure, it may be full of tourists, but I always say the secret to my baking is Ghirardelli chocolate. The secret to my happiness?…an ice cream sundae smothered in Ghirardelli fudge.
The summer months are full of street festivals, and this weekend proved no different. The Union Street Festival was in full force and while I don’t exactly recommend it for an entire day (unless you fancy beer tents, loud 30 somethings who still think they’re in college and the largest “meat market” you’ll ever see), it is fun to people watch or pick up a snack from the vendors selling various edibles on a stick.
Happy hour is a must at Top of the Mark, the most well known bar with a 360 degree view of the city. Conveniently located at our hotel, we were lucky enough to get a prime window seat and relax before dinner. While it is always packed, it is definitely worth the wait and price of the cocktails (they have over 100 martinis). I only wish we had gone back to hear the music after dinner—jazz pianist Ricardo Scales was entertaining from 9pm-1am.
Dinner at the acclaimed Cafe KATi, where “east meets west.” Romantic enough for a date night, but accommodating to our party of six, each new item bursts with flavors, so it’s fun to start with a variety of appetizers to share and work your way to the main course. For a palate explosion you won’t regret, I recommend the miso glazed black bass.
Coffee at Blue Bottle Coffee, taking coffee to a whole new level. Microroasters of organic and shade grown coffee, their approach to coffee is unlike most any other coffee company in the U.S. and it shows, er…tastes. Located literally in a hole in the wall in Hayes Valley (they also have a cafe for those of you who want atmosphere), there were 22 people in line by the time we got up to the counter. We liked it so much, we bought beans to grind at home. It’s my new obsession.
Before departing, a leisurely lunch at Bettlenut, Asian fusion served family style with an open air front, perfect for people watching during the Union Street Fair. While not the quaintest of spots, the food was exceptional–curried potato & sweet pea samosas with mango chutney, “little dragon” dumplings of pork & shrimp with ginger vinegar, Penang rice noodles with king crab, shrimp, sprouts, chives & chili-soy. The famous szechuan green beans lived up to the hype. Crispy, yet cooked through with just enough tang and zip to keep you coming back for one more bite.
Mark Hopkins. One Nob Hill. San Francisco, CA. 415-392-3434