I’m excited to bring you a travel guide for a short trip to San Francisco and Napa in Northern California. A few weeks ago I took a much-needed mini-vacay with some girlfriends to visit San Francisco and Napa. I love international travel just as much as the next gal, but don’t knock a domestic trip. Domestic trips are great because your cellphone plan will still work, you don’t have to worry about language barriers, and you can usually find pretty good deals on flights/hotels.
As soon as we arrived in San Francisco, my girlfriends and I immediately had tacos and margaritas. For me, the key to an amazing vacation is simple: eat, drink, sleep, repeat. I like looking up a few key places in different neighborhoods so I can pick one main activity and then play the rest of the day by ear if I want to wander around. Luckily, my friends are the same way. One of my girlfriends lives in San Francisco so she did all the research for us. I tried to take as many pictures as possible in between stuffing my face and taking gulps of coffee. I narrowed down my favorite spots and pics for this post, so I hope you enjoy!
- Frog’s Leap
This is a lovely, small winery that offers a tastings by reservation. We tried the Signature Seating Tasting ($25/person), but I’m sure their Garden Tasting ($20/person, Friday-Sunday only) would be lovely as well. Frog’s Leap has an intimate, relaxed environment and it’s the perfect place to start your wine tasting.
- Stags’ Leap
This is one of the older wineries in Napa. The main house located on the grounds has some gorgeous architectural details and holds a lot of stories–it used to have a speakeasy in the basement! The reservation-only Historical Tasting Tour ($55/person) includes tastings of their smaller batch black label wines and a tour of the grounds.
- Oxbow Public Market
This market is much smaller than your typical city-center market, but that’s part of it’s charm. It’s a nice spot to pick up souvenirs, have a snack, and relax a little.
- Bottega Ristorante
Try getting a table on their patio so you can enjoy all that fresh Napa air while you sip (more) wine and eat gourmet Italian food. I highly recommend the Cavatelli e Gamberoni.
SF Cafes & Coffee Shops
- Flora Grubb Gardens for Ritual Coffee
Ritual Coffee has several locations, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a spot more lovely than Flora Grubb Gardens, an outdoor nursery/garden store. My coffee got cold because I was too busy taking pictures and looking at all the beautiful plants and garden furniture. I wanted to buy all their succulents, but I didn’t have room in my suitcase. Also, the TSA probably wouldn’t have liked that.
- Saint Frank
I love Saint Frank’s branding. If you’re interested at all in design and coffee, look no further than Saint Frank. Their cafe is so light and calm. The vaulted ceilings, skylights, and minimalist design create the perfect environment for relaxation and focus (I’m guessing this would be a great place to sip coffee and do a little work).
- Linea Caffe
This is a small spot where you can grab coffee to-go before you explore the Mission. It has a nice neighborhood feel that’s hard to resist.
- Four Barrel
Four Barrel roasts their beans on site, so I highly recommend ordering an Almond Milk Latte and drinking it in the back. You can watch while employees roast all the beans.
- Sightglass Coffee
Sightglass also roasts their beans on site, but their store front is by far the biggest on this list. You can try to get some seats on the second floor near the balcony for prime people watching and coffee roasting action.
- Craftsman & Wolves
Do not, I repeat, do not leave here without trying a pastry (take your pick) and The Rebel Within. Craftsman & Wolves is known for The Rebel Within, a savory asiago, sausage, and chive muffin with a soft boiled egg in the middle. It’s totally worth the hype. Also, their pastries are works of art and I probably could’ve spent all day trying all of them, but we didn’t have time.
This is a great late night spot for fish tacos, chips and guac, and margaritas. What more could you possibly want from a late night eatery? We ate here right after we landed and it was the perfect meal.
- Rich Table
Homemade pasta and fresh ingredients? You can really go wrong. We split the Dried Porcini Doughnuts to start and I had the Bucatini with Octopus. The doughnuts are perfectly savory and light, so don’t forget to put in your order. The portions are just right, but when you get to the bottom of your bowl, you’ll wonder if you should’ve ordered more. Don’t do it—save room for dessert!
If you want a hearty southern brunch, head over to Brenda’s. My favorite dishes, by far, are the Crawfish Beignets and Shrimp and Grits. Pace yourself. Do not make the mistake of trying to have a quick meal here. The portions are generous and the food is deliciously rich. Just let the euphoria of food coma slowly wash over you.
- Swan Oyster Depot
Guys, when I was editing these photos, I almost cried because I was staring at my pictures from Swan Oyster Depot and craving all of their food. Anthony Bourdain made a stop here while filming an episode of The Layover. The fresh seafood is dressed simply and served by friendly staff in the small 19-seat restaurant. Get here at least 30 minutes before they open to avoid an insanely long wait. Pro tip: you can order a beer from inside and take it back with you in line.
- Izakaya Sozai
Ramen is my comfort food. There’s something about the combination of broth and noodles that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Izakaya Sozai is a bit further from the city center, but definitely worth the trip. Start with the takoyaki (octopus fritters) to tide you over while you wait for the main course because they do not disappoint. The ramen is simple, but you can make additions like fried soft boiled egg and pork belly—both of which you should order.
- Pizzeria Delfina
I have a secret: I love thin crust pizza. I know, I know—that sounds crazy coming from someone living in Chicago. I will remind you that I’m actually from California and I grew up eating thin crust. I still like deep dish! Can we still be friends? (I hope you said yes.) Okay, back to the food. If you like spicy food and anchovies, definitely order the Napoletana. I love cheese, but I did not miss it on the Napoletana. You can also order the classic Margherita pizza to round out your meal.
- Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem
Admittedly, I didn’t actually eat here. I did, however, enjoy their solid list of cocktails. Dr. Teeth has a great back patio that was made for day drinking, which just so happens to be one of my favorite summer activities. My three favorite cocktails: Kentucky Mule, Blackberry Fix, and Strawberry Gin Fizz. Bottoms up!
- Off the Grid
California has an awesome food truck scene and to skip food trucks altogether would be a tragedy. Off the Grid is a traveling food truck market that sets up at different locations around San Francisco. We went to Off the Grid Picnic at the Presidio so we could pack a picnic, bring some wine we purchased in Napa, and try some of the food trucks. This does take a little bit of planning, but you can just pick up a cheap picnic blanket and some snacks at a grocery or drug store. Picnics don’t have to be fancy, you just need fruit, cheese, wine and a blanket.
- Hog Island Oyster Bar
This restaurant is located at the Ferry Building. If you’ve never been there before, this is the perfect spot for you. It does tend to get crowded with tourists, but for good reason. Hog Island’s outdoor seating has a perfect view of the ocean so try to get a table there. You should obviously order fresh oysters. My favorites are the Paradise Cove and Pacific Gold, but if you’re not sure which oysters to choose you can’t go wrong with the sampler!
People celebrating in the Mission District after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Photo by Butter & Type.
We had the sheer luck of being in San Francisco when the Supreme Court announced that it ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. The celebrations were a sight to behold and I will never forget it. People were just in the streets celebrating and it really felt like love won that day. Yay, love!