A Quick Insider’s Guide to San Francisco


A Quick Insider’s Guide to San Francisco

Heron's Head Park ©Elizabeth Jaeger
© Hayden Shiebler 
Sandbox Bakery
Sandbox Bakery
Sandbox Bakery
Cat Club
Paxton Gate
Heron's Head Park photo by Elizabeth Jaeger
Seward Street Slides pictured: Jesse Hoffman. photo by TEEN WITCH
Bourbon and Branch



HERON’S HEAD PARK –The perfect place to take a daytime date, if you have no idea what to say but don’t want to be stuck in a cold, quiet movie theater. Walk down the long corridor past the most beautiful dogs, walked by the most outlandish people, or just chat about the energy-independent education programs at the nearby eco center; it’s your pick. In true San Francisco form, the path is made up of  reclaimed marble from City Hall. Satisfying your Audubon crave, Heron’s head is an intertidal marsh area for migrating birds, and in winter, snowy egrets, cormorants and great blue herons nest.


SEWARD STREET SLIDES  Nestled in Noe’s valley winding streets, Seward Street Slides is a secret park with double 25-foot long cement roller coasters, that are both exhilarating and almost certainly dangerous. First started in 1974, the slides were designed by 14-year-old Kim Clark-  who trusts us to be resourceful; sliding bare bottom will shred your jeans and leave you bleeding. But add some beach sand and cardboard boxes to the mix and you’re flying. Wake up admiring the bruises.



SHOPWELL – The eponymous Shotwell bag says it all – any S.F. kid with style will have one slung over their shoulder. Shotwell is the place to find one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, contemporary clothes and jewelry by local designers. Co-owners Michael and Holly Weaver have curated the store beautifully with each display that caters to the savvy shopper.

320 Grant Avenue (between Bush & Sutter)
San Francisco, CA 94108


NO SHOP – A Vintage Shop that features exotica without the passé. Beautifully selected clothing by some of San Francisco’s most interesting artists and performers, hang gracefully from ceiling to floor challenging costumers to take to wooden ladders to reach their high-hoped prizes. Owner Leah Martin cares for NO like a first love, featuring rotating exhibitions and various music and culture events. A recent addition to the NO roster is YES YES YES Mag,a bi-annual arts and culture magazine that features local artists, musicians and intellectuals complete with cute and simple graphic designs.


SALVO (Salvation army on Valencia and 26th) – First and foremost there is almost always parking. And with that, there is the endless possibility of taking everything home. Things are sorted nicely and the place is warehouse-huge. Center aisles have worthy 90’s boots for just under 10 dollars, while the racks precipitate with 80’s Levis, silk animal prints, and hard sought after designers. These racks are packed full, but not impossible, and the changing rooms are big enough to fit your entire thrifting entourage.


PAXTON GATE – Curiosity shop featuring the city’s finest plants, taxidermy, and articulated skulls and bones. Kept cool to maintain the most vibrant bird plumes and neurotically anti-photography, Paxton Gate allows for the best genuine form of non-linear perusing, and the possibility for the most delicate and wildest gifts. Chance a snake skeleton instead of a coffee table book, or maybe even an elephant glass eye, the world is in here and it is freaky.



SUPPENKUCHE – Native Germans won’t have to go back home after they visit Suppenkuche (Soup Kitchen). Don’t let the posh Hayes Valley strip throw you off, when because when you walk through their doors the communal picnic benches defy any sort of class segregation. This is as authentic as Bavarian fare gets with the bratwurst specially imported by a German sausage maker in New York. Don’t worry vegetarian friends; they have a veggie menu section just for you, like the portabella mushroom stuffed with spinach and feta. Home to eighteen different imported German beers; you can select your weapon of choice between the 0.2 liter to 5 liter glasses. If you select the 2 liter boot you’re initiating a traditional German game, similar to puff-puff pass, with your fellow patriots. This game is essentially about keeping the beer in rotation without placing it down. Be aware that you’ll need to put down a deposit in the fragile boot. Bottoms up bitches!


SANDBOX BAKERY – For the average visitor, Tartine Bakery in the Mission would be the obvious choice. But the only thing better than their French pastries, are French pastries infused with a Japanese twist. Honestly, you’ll discover taste buds you never knew you had. With a background in French culinary training, Japanese owner/pastry chef Mutsumi Takehara opened an unconventional pastry boutique in Bernal Heights that merges both worlds. Some of Sandbox’s favorites are the beef stew and curry pan, cheddar scallion savory biscuits, and rice burger. Wash it down with two of the best locally roasted coffees from Ritual and De La Paz. Get there before the early birds devour the small batches made daily. Limited seating encourages you to enjoy the only sunny neighborhood in San Francisco that escapes the fog. Climb over to Bernal Hill for a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Bay Area.

Monday-Saturday 6 am to 3 pm and Sunday 7 am to 3PM
833 Cortland Avenue


FARMERBROWN – Dave Chappelle likes it, so we like it. Farmerbrown embraces Southern hospitality by endorsing local African-American farmers who grow organic produce. You won’t feel as guilty eating fried chicken knowing their meat is healthy and sustainable. San Francisco has been known to acquire an army of socially conscious beings, and since this restaurant caters to their code of ethics the place is almost always packed, so reservations are recommended. With that in mind, the expectations of Farmerbrown are high, and they live up to it. The atmosphere is urban, jazzy, almost hipster, and indubitably diverse. The menu is classic soul food with a creative kick, i.e. watermelon margaritas or grilled country pork chop with candied kumquats. Eat your heart and soul out!
Dinner: Sunday-Wednesday 5-10 pm & Thursday-Saturday 5-11 pm
Brunch: Saturday-Sunday 10am – 2:30pm (with all-you-can-drink mimosas).
25 Mason Street



BONDAGE A GOGO at the CAT CLUB – Best to go when it is not happening. An expensive door price but a strangeness that will sear your eyes forever. The bondage neon ropes makes the upstairs feel like walking inside of a Richard Coleman painting, while the dance floor brews liaisons that are both intriguing and wholly absurd. The club is 18+ so its not rare to find 18-year-old Goth babes dancing with dark DJs to music that is surprisingly not Goth, but La Roux. Style choice is topless with tape, but not to fret there is no photography.
Wednesday nights 1190 Folsom Street San Francisco, CA 94103


MADRONE ART BAR – Come for the window art installations, stay for the vast cocktail menu, and get drunk for the Prince vs. Michael DJ throw-down. At Madrone, mixology is as much of an art form as their multi-media backdrop of photography, paintings, film, digital video, performance art, and of course music. As written on their chalkboard menu, they reserve the right to refuse and drink request based on the crown and complexity of that drink. Better not ask for a bloody mary during their busier hours (which vary day to day) but do try it, they’re made with habanero saturated vodka and hangar one chipotle vodka. See, a piece of art! What keeps this venue exciting is the ever-changing art exhibits and constant rotation of DJs to keep things fresh.
Hours vary on day of week
500 Divisadero Street


AUDIUM – Audium is the only theatre of its kind, methodically designed for a “sound movement” experience. The seating room, a pitch-black void, allows you to explore “space in music”, thrusting you into a unique soundscape. Here, sound is a 3-dimensional effect manipulated by velocity, volume, phasing combinations, and colliding airwaves – administered through the 176 speaker system that encompasses the spectator from every angle. Each show is performed live by a tape performer, creating compositions using field recordings and electronic sound experiments. With the world visually inaccessible, your mind interprets sounds and translates it into images similar to that of Jodie Foster in Contact. Although conceptually birthed in the 1950’s and finally born in the 1970’s, to this day Audium is an innovative art form that is still ahead of its time.

Friday and Saturday at 8:30 pm
1616 Bush Street
P: 415.771.1616


LIBRARY at BOURBON AND BRANCH – Secret tunnels, brothels, and foreign settlers accompanied the many Prohibition-era speakeasies. One still stands to this day, San Francisco’s Bourbon and Branch. This lounge is set against the backdrop of the city’s gritty Tenderloin, where the neighborhood demographics change from street to street. To escape the “suits” that frequent the scene, we prefer to head next door to the “secret” library (or “Nucky’s study”). There the menu selection is extensive and labor-intensive, so you’ll definitely find something stiff that’ll knock your pork-pie hat right off. Take a restroom break from your spouse in the B&B and come make-out with your mistress in the dimly lit bibliotheca. Your taboos are safe here.

Offering Mixology classes, with local farmer’s market ingredients.
501 Jones Street, *Library password: books
Reservations here