Favorite local spots

Favorite spot: Crissy Field at sunset. Photograph by Monte Travis.

Got a special spot — or a special treat — in the neighborhood you’re willing to share? Join the conversation.


From Rae Hagner: I’ve recently discovered the beauty of being on the beach adjacent to the visitors center at Crissy Field at dusk, just as the sun has gone down. There’s usually no one around, except for a lone jogger or two. On a foggy night, all you hear are the foghorns coming out of the clouds obscuring the Golden Gate Bridge; it’s an eerie, lonely feeling, but exhilarating. On a clear night, the place sparkles with lights from the bridge in the foreground and the lights of the city behind the shadow of the Palace of Fine Arts.


From Demi Bowles Lathrop: Two of my favorite neighborhood spots sit catty-corner from one another at Union and Steiner: St. Mary’s of the Virgin Church and Rose’s Cafe. If you crave a quiet place, walk through the wooden entry gate into St. Mary’s courtyard. Sit by the pond and watch the koi swim. Stepping stones wind through the side garden; you will come upon a jumble of climbing roses, ornamental cherry trees, rhododendrons and camellias bearing fat winter buds. The brown shingle Arts and Crafts style church is open to all who want to enter. After a “St. Mary’s Unplugged” service on Sunday at 5:30, a casual dinner across the street at Rose’s Cafe of roast chicken and radicchio and baby romaine lettuce salad dressed with gorgonzola ream is the beginning of a nice evening.


From Mo Sandberg: “A few weeks ago, while wandering Fillmore Street and wondering how best to reward myself after having dental surgery, I happened upon Bittersweet Cafe at 2123 Fillmore. Gazing into the display cabinet, I discovered the new object of my affection: dulce de leche pudding. It is the best chocolate pudding I have ever had — soft, cold and squishy. Only $5. And it has untold medicinal properties.”


From Cheryl Lurie: At the risk of never again squeezing into its dark recesses, I offer my very special spot in the ‘hood: the Black Horse Pub at 1514 Union, near Van Ness. The pub’s 10 chivalrous tenets help maintain the polite and friendly neighborhood ambiance in what is known as San Francisco’s smallest bar. It has a maximum capacity of 22 people.


From Jerry Katz: All year long I dream of my favorite dish at Jackson-Fillmore Trattoria, at 2506 Fillmore. But I have to wait for tomato season before I can enjoy it. On the menu it’s called orecchiette d’elefante — literally, elephant ears — an invention of Jackson Fillmore owner Jack Krietzman. It’s made with veal or chicken cutlets, pounded thin, then breaded and fried to a crisp. The golden cutlets resemble the shape of elephant ears. They cover mixed greens and are topped by a cornucopia of colorful sweet heirloom tomatoes, gorgonzola cheese and balsamic vinegar. The dish is available only while heirloom tomatoes are in season.


Favorite spot: the garden and waterfall in the courtyard of the Fillmore Center.

From Robert Earl Brown: I’m a Southern boy. Now and then I like to slip down to Popeye’s at 1426 Fillmore for fried chicken. I usually get a three-piece combo. While the parking lot at the Safeway is always colorful to look out on, I like to walk across the street to the Fillmore Center. In the middle of the complex is a courtyard and a beautiful hidden garden with trees, a manicured green lawn and a cascading fountain — the perfect place for my private picnic.


From the Bay Guardian: Smooth-talking, heavy-handed bartenders and a packed house of good-looking, hormonal twenty- and thirtysomethings boozing it up in muted, raucous style are part of what make Solstice at 2801 California Street a classic among booty call bars. If you’ve already got a FWB, this place will get you in the mood — and do it in style. And if you’re simply looking for a bed buddy, you’ll have your pick of young execs with flushed cheeks, loosened ties and skirts deliberately pushed up thigh-high.

From Joanne Zsigmond: I have a special jog (or walk) through the Presidio. It’s about a six-mile route which begins on Clay Street at Alta Plaza Park. Continue west on Clay, turn right on Spruce, left on Washington, right on Cherry, then left on Jackson to Arguello. (This route avoids the biggest hills). Turn right on Arguello to the Golf Club, where there is a water fountain and restroom right inside the front door on your left.  Then run into the forest that lines the golf course on the trail that begins at the parking lot. Exit on Washington Boulevard, which eventually leads to gorgeous views over the Pacific. Continue to Ft. Scott (another water fountain by the baseball diamond). From there one heads east to the horse stables, winds up along the military cemetery (worth a visit for its incredible views of the Golden Gate), the main parade ground of the Presidio, and then ends up at the Letterman (Lucas) Digital Art Center for refreshments. To return to Alta Plaza, walk up the Lyon Street Steps to Broadway. You get great exercise, fabulous views and the feeling that you have San Francisco all to yourself!


From Kei Yamagami: I have a favorite spot for walking amongst birds, trees, mellow breezes; it’s safe to walk alone and a place where one can stop for tea. However, it’ll have to remain a secret or everyone on Fillmore Street will be there. But I’ll share a second favorite place. It is a secluded picnic table with an ocean view. I suggest bringing a take-out of choice, some linens and a carafe of wine.  Shhh … it’s lunchtime on a weekday at Baker Beach.

From Laura Rubenstein: I like to take an evening walk through Pacific Heights when very few people are out. I always end up at my favorite spot, a tiny cul-de-sac off Pacific Avenue just down from Divisadero called Normandie Terrace. During the day, Pacific Heights seems like a precise painting void of human touch. But at night, the quiet, untouched nature of the area seems comforting — as if I were the first to come across the beauty of the neighborhood. Once on Normandie, I feel as if I have reached the top of the town and I can disappear for a moment or two. I am protected by the city lights in the distance and by the soft glow radiating from the windows of the houses, reminding me that the world is continuing all around me.


Favorite spot: the rose garden, railing and bench at 2420 Pine Street.

From Marvin Lambert: We are so fortunate to have two world-class bakeries — the Bay Bread Boulangerie and Patisserie Delanghe — in the neighborhood. May they both continue to prosper!

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