For episode 3 of Tripping Out with Alie & Georgia (tonight at 10:30pm ET), we revisit one of our favorite cities in the world, San Francisco. It’s the city of Alie’s birth, and where Georgia lived for a happy three years in the early 00s, so it was only natural that the “city by the bay” be on our list of “must visits” for our first season.
Like a more manageable, less intimidating Manhattan, San Francisco offers diverse neighborhoods complete with ethnic cuisine from all over the world, a fast paced lifestyle yet plenty of great spots to find respite, and a storied history that gives visitors something to ooh and aah over around every corner.
We both love the city, but we lived there many years apart, so we took our visit as an opportunity to show one another our personal favorite spots around town. We also had a chance to discover some fun new destinations that have cropped up since we both left. Considering we did our touring on a scooter, we think the fact that we didn’t die is reason enough for our later celebrations back in our beloved Los Angeles.
Alie’s Favorite Spots:
Caffe Trieste — A tiny Italian corner cafe in North Beach, Caffe Trieste is the oldest espresso house on the West Coast. Alie’s family has gone there for cappuccinos for generations, and the owner of the cafe even sang at her parents’ wedding. Another patron? Just Francis Ford Coppola, who wrote much of The Godfather while sipping espresso at Trieste. Now that’s an offer you can’t refuse — especially when it comes with a delicious chocolate croissant.
Specs Bar — Tucked into a weird, inconspicuous corner in North Beach, where you can find beatnik book stores and more than a few seedy strip clubs, Specs is an old whaler’s watering hole decorated with ancient news clippings and nautical paraphernalia. It actually defines itself as a museum/cafe/bar, and it’s one of Alie’s favorite bars in the country. Order a Fernet, a locally popular digestif, and read through the overflowing basket of postcards sent from patrons past.
Zeitgeist — The Bloody Mary served here is the only one Georgia has ever liked (tomato juice = gross), and the divey bar boasts great people-watching (think hot bike messengers rubbing elbows with dot com nerds). The picnic tables on the large back patio overflow with locals on rare sunny San Francisco days, and the burgers, while probably made with questionable meat, are super tasty.
Edinburgh Castle Pub Quiz — This was a Tuesday night regular when Georgia lived in the city. With “King of Quizzes” Carl Gibb asking questions that get tougher as you delve deeper into your pint of beer, the pub quiz is a great way to avoid small talk and sharpen your brain just a bit. Don’t forget to order a newspaper-wrapped package of fish and chips, which will help soften the blow of realizing you know nothing about current events or foreign politics.
Cool New Things:
Craftsman and Wolves — This spot made the list thanks to its Devil Inside (chocolate cake with toffee ganache center) and the super crazy/beautiful/popular Rebel Within (runny egg baked inside a savory muffin, WHAAAAT?!). Craftsman and Wolves makes us almost glad we moved away from the city, as there’s not enough cardio in the world to counteract the allure of this place. It’s a “must visit.”
826Valencia — Along Valencia Street is the SF chapter of 826, a non profit working to help children with writing skills and get them excited about books. The storefront sells weird and bizarro pirate tools to fund the nonprofit literacy center in the back.
Seward Street Slides — Hidden in a Castro neighborhood are these random public slides known as the Seward Street Slides. There are cardboard pieces scattered about, and you can grab a square and zip down the slides atop them. It’s definitely a “hidden city” kind of a spot, as many locals don’t even know about it.
We have no shortage of favorite spots in San Francisco. It’s the kind of city where you’re always discovering something new and awesome, but you can rest assured your tried-and-true favorites aren’t going anywhere. As much as we adore sunny Los Angeles, a bit of our hearts will always be in San Fran.
Watch Tripping Out with Alie and Georgia Fridays at 10:30pm ET on Cooking Channel.