transit

BART

Kind of a dinosaur, but nice to get to parts of Oakland and Berkeley from the city. Service on sundays and nights can be bad - 20 minutes between trains.

BART has been introducing new train cars for a few years now which are much, much better. The old stock is literally 50 years old at this point.

MUNI

The light rail is kind of useless except for very specific routes. Good for getting to Golden Gate Park maybe.

I cannot recommend the busses, but they are fine. (I mean, it's a bus.)

Baywheels

I'm still salty that the city couldn't run this service, so instead Lyft bought it an hiked up the prices.

However. Highly recommended mode of transport if you're willing to bike. The e-bikes are great and can overcome most moderate hills in the city.

Lyft Rentals

If you really need a car (i.e. to drive outside of the city), Lyft Rentals are actually pretty good in SF. It's easy to do through the app and has a lot less of the nonsense you usually get with regular car rental agencies (refueling at a reasonable price, central location).

shopping

Dog Eared Books

I think this is my favorite book store, just from proximity to home. I like that a considerable amount of the store is dedicated to used books, and the recommendations are great to browse.

Berkeley Bowl

The best grocery store in the bay area. There are two locations.

The highlights here are the ready-made food (delicious onigiri - try the unagi or shrimp tempura!) and the expansive produce selection. If it's in season, it's here. Spring through fall: go for peaches, cherries, and nectarines. In the winter, the grapes are great.

Green Apple Books

Nice spot with many shelves of recommendations.

There used to also be an annex down the block with just used books. Sadly, during my most recent visit, it seemed like it was on its way out.

coffee

Sightglass

I like the pour-overs here. The beans here are light roast, if you're into making your own coffee.

Ritual

I like the cold brew here, but the pour over is also good.

Saint Frank Coffee

The coffee is good. I like the beans too. I would have come here more often if it weren't a bit out of the way.

Atlas Cafe

The coffee and food is fine. I like the relaxed vibe and that it's open late. On warmer days, the outdoor patio is very nice.

snacks

Bob's Donuts

Delicious donuts. Good choice if you happen to be around to see a movie at the nearby AMC.

The right choice here is to ask for whatever is freshest.

Monk's Kettle

I like the fried chicken sandwich here. There is also an extensive beer selection. I like only the sour beers.

The Sweet Booth

The most delicious taro smoothie you've ever had. I like it without boba.

I have gone countless times, but the proprietor (Calvin) does not seem to recognize me which makes me a little sad. Last time I went, it seemed like they were looking to sell the business, so window for experiencing this tier of taro smoothie may be closing.

YakiniQ Cafe

I don't like the attached barbeque restaurant that much, but the cafe is good. The vibe kind of feels like a study cafe from a college town.

My favorite here is the yuzu honey tea, whether hot or cold.

Garden Creamery

Great ice cream. Lots of interesting, rotating flavors. My favorites are the rice cake (for CNY), ube pandan, and matcha gold.

True Laurel

All of the cocktails are good. The snacks are great too. I like the fried mushrooms and the cookie.

Common Sage

I like the onigiri here a lot. I also like their selection of sake and Asian snacks.

They also sell ramen but I have never tried it.

lunch

I'a Poke

It's good poke. Embarassingly, I like the sushirittos the most.

Tartine Manufactory

Tasty but pricey. For snacks, I like the tres leches cake, bread pudding, and almond croissant. they used to make a great rice pudding.

For lunch, items that are baking-first (sandwiches, tartines, toasts...) are quite good. Other things are okay. The coffee is fine at best.

There's also Tartine Bakery a few blocks down. Maybe surprisingly, the flavors and textures are not quite the same and worth a try.

Salumeria

I like the fried chicken sandwich. Jelle tells me that Salumeria is gone and this spot is now called Flour + Water Pasta Shop. Online, the menu still has the same fried chicken listed, so perhaps it was just a rebrand? YMMV.

Plow

Classic SF brunch. I don't know. It's pretty good? Try going during burning man to avoid a long wait.

Taiwan Bento

It's good Taiwanese bento. Simple flavors but really hits the spot. My favorite is the fried pork chop.

Turtle Tower

The thing to get here is the pho ga. The chicken broth has a great umami flavor and reminds me of my mom's cooking from childhood.

Stonemill Matcha

The drinks and food are all good, though a little pricey. My go-to is the ochazuke and katsu sando. I'm not a big matcha fan, so my picks are the hojicha and sesame lattes.

On Sundays, they sometimes make Japanese milk bread which is by far my favorite. The baking schedule seems a bit irregular though, so it can be hard to get.

bon, nene

French, Japanese fusion - this one's a hidden gem. My favorite here is the mentaiko pasta.

activities

Exploratorium

Go on thursday nights when it's adults only and drinks are served. The hands-on demos are fun to play with.

YamaSho

The spot for karaoke. I've never been to the restaurant on the ground floor.

Alamo Drafthouse

It's a movie theatre chain from Texas. Smallish screens, but the food and beverage service is good. I like the grilled cheese.

The boozy milkshakes are good, but a bit strong.

SFMOMA

This place is big. YMMV depending on what's on view. My favorite used to be the Serra Sequence in the sitting area, but it was removed circa Dec 2018.

sushi

Basa

Cheap (like $5), but delicious maki rolls. My go to order is a set of tuna tekka, negi hama, and sake.

Geta Sushi

This place is really solid for the price. The move is to just order a ton of nigiri.

Hinata

The sushi is very solid and great for the price. Would recommend calling and making sure you have a seat at the counter and not a table.

Kinjo

Pretty good. The best experience is still at the counter, even though it costs more.

Sushi Hon

It's not bad, but less consistent than other places I've been to. I think the owners also run Sushi Shio. Between the two, I like Shio more.

The Shota

My favorite place for omakase in the city. I like the tuna model that Chef Ingi sometimes shows off.

SaSa

Kaiseki that shares roots with Hinata. Everything's pretty solid, especially for the price.

Sushi Shio

The flavors here are on the less traditional, heavier side. I like salt (shio), so it's a good fit for me.

dinner

House of Pancakes

Note the missing International. My favorites are the spicy fish, beef roll, and eggplant are my favorites. The pan-fried noodles and dumplings are also not bad.

Izakaya Rintaro

Nice Izakaya. I like the vibe and the food is pretty good, though on the pricey side.

Daeho

It's kalbijjim (korean shortrib stew). The wait can be long, but you can get in line on Yelp at opening and time your arrival.

I think the right order is the kalbijjim with cheese and veggies. The banchan is solid and I also like the kalbitang (soup).