Full of retired hippies, Victorian architecture, hilly streets and summer fog, San Francisco is California’s must-see.
District by district, the city shows a new side of itself. In SoMa – South of Market – and the Mission districts, hip hop and electro dominate the club nights, while the Marina has a much glossier feel. Castro is the center of the gay community, but you’ll find gay bars dotted around most districts. This is, after all, America’s liberal heartland.
Haight-Ashbury is the place to meet veterans from the Summer of Love. It’s also the best district for pub culture – the Kezar and the Mad Dog in the Fog being two popular venues.
Beer is big in San Francisco. Fact: the city has more microbreweries than New York, despite being much smaller. Anchor, who make Anchor Steam, brew on Potrero Hill – they offer tours if you want to get involved. If you’re just looking for a good pint, San Franciso Brewing Company’s pub can be found on North Beach, while in SoMa there’s the Thirsty Bear and 21st Amendment brewpubs.
Thanks to its proximity to Napa, San Francisco treasures wine as much as it does beer. The Marina has the lion’s share of wine bars thanks to its young professional crowd – try Bin 38, Vino Moda and Cellars 360 to find out. There’s also a flashy 3,000-bottle list at the Michael Mina bar in the Millennium Tower. But more intimate venues – like Hotel Biron near Market Street – have a better atmosphere if you’re not with a group of friends.
Cocktail enthusiasts haven’t been forgotten! The hottest bar at the moment is Bourbon & Branch, which insists on making cocktails ‘market fresh’. It’s housed in an old speakeasy and channels the Prohibiton vibe – you need a password to get in. The Alembic on Haight Street is also good, even though you don’t need a password to drink there. Tiki fans must drop in on the definitive Trader Vic’s on Golden Gate Avenue. And wherever you go, try a historic pisco cocktail. San Franciscans have been drinking the Peruvian brandy since the Gold Rush, and it’s done them no harm!
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