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A Culinary Tour

It’s not just San Francisco’s close proximity to the Napa Valley and the Northern California farmland that makes it such an incomparable destination for dedicated foodies. With the tech boom, an entire new culture of dining has emerged: fine dining with the rarest and highest-quality ingredients. Airy bistros that you could lounge in all day. And, thanks to a diverse immigrant population, a large variety of international cuisine. Come very hungry.

Day

1

MORNING
  • Sinfully Good Cinnamon Toast.

    Locals flock to the unassuming Trouble Coffee in Outer Richmond for a dead-simple sweet: thick sourdough bread slathered with butter and topped with a thick layer of cinnamon and sugar. Get a slice and coffee for a morning walk on Ocean Beach.

MIDDAY
  • An Unforgettable Hike.

    Drive to the Coastal Trail to hike the breathtaking Lands End. What begins with a steady incline through towering trees and wildflowers leads to a dramatic view of the Bay, a shipwreck, and the ruins of the majestic Sutro Baths, a saltwater swimming pool complex from the 19th century that was destroyed in a fire.

  • Reward Yourself.

    Outerlands serves one of San Francisco’s best brunches: enormous Dutch-style pancakes with ricotta, garlic grilled cheeses cooked on a cast-iron skillet, and kale and Gruyere quiches. Be prepared to wait for a bit on the weekends.

AFTERNOON
  • Small Bites at the Ferry Building.

    San Francisco’s old ferry terminal is now home to a gold mine of delicious food: Marla Bakery’s fluffy English muffins, the Imperial Tea Court’s dumplings, and Mijita’s Mexico City-style quesadillas. Sample international cheeses at Cowgirl Creamery and pick up a beautiful handmade vase or mug from Heath Ceramics.

  • Explore Chinatown.

    Just the walk into Chinatown, through an epic dragon-flanked red gate, is an experience. Within the 1.3-square-mile neighborhood, hundreds of stores sell produce and antiques. Stop at Golden Gate Fortune Cookie for freshly baked fortune cookies.

  • One to Get the Night Started.

    Chinatown’s Li Po Lounge, near The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, is famous with locals for one thing: Chinese mai tais. The drink incorporates rum, pineapple and a Chinese liquor. Drink under the kitschy paper lanterns.

EVENING
  • Sophisticated Mexican.

    After you’ve sampled from the city’s many taquerias, try Cala, a high-end Mexican restaurant opened by an acclaimed chef from Mexico City. Everything is good — especially the impossibly flaky rockfish and giant grilled sweet potatoes with spicy bone marrow salsa.

  • For Delightful Cocktails.

    At a large international bartender contest, the staff from ABV recently took home top prize. Sip on Mumbai Mule (like a Moscow Mule with Indian spices) or the smoky, complex, sugarless Whiskey in Church.

Day

2

MORNING
  • A Breakfast of Sweet Pastries.

    B. Patisserie consistently wins James Beard awards for its French pastries. The especially famous kouign amann — a crisp, caramelized pastry from Brittany made by folding dough with layers of butter and sugar — is pronounced like this: queen-a-mahn.

  • A Morning in the Park.

    An unmissable experience in San Francisco, the 1,000-acre Golden Gate Park contains a Japanese Tea House and Garden, the stunning Conservatory of Flowers, a carousel, and even a herd of bison. Devote a few hours to this unparalleled urban oasis.

MIDDAY
  • The City’s Best Charcuterie.

    It’s likely that a meal at the bright and stylish Trou Normand will include spotting a large animal being rolled into the kitchen. Everything on the menu is made in-house by the staff. Don’t miss the excellent list of local wines.

  • Art to be Experienced.

    Begin on the first floor of the newly reopened San Francisco Museum of Modern Art by looking up at the stunning oculus and wandering the Richard Serra installation. Then continue exploring all seven levels of modern masterpieces from artists including Alexander Calder and Dan Flavin.

AFTERNOON
  • A Break for Tea.

    Local gem Samovar offers a long list of interesting tea drinks: matcha lattes, turmeric chais, and odd, rare teas like Pu-erh. Take them to go or enjoy them on the sunny patio.

EVENING
  • A Wine Tasting.

    Tucked away in the hotel lobby is the private and elegant JCB Tasting Room — an intimate, velvet-covered lounge where you can enjoy a flight of rare, exclusive and interesting wines from winemaker Jean-Charles Boisset.

  • Pitch-Perfect Pizza and Pasta.

    Flour + Water serves the kind of pizza and pasta you might find in small-town Italy: chewy tortellini with truffles and crisp Neapolitan pies topped with stracciatella and sweet Calabrian chilies. As locals love this spot, make reservations far ahead or prepare to wait a little while.

  • Ice Cream with Personality.

    Humphry Slocombe makes oddball ice cream flavors that will make you smile — for instance, Elvis: The Fat Years, made with banana, peanut butter and bacon, and the super popular Secret Breakfast, made with cornflakes and whiskey.