SAN FRANCISCO, U.S.A.
At a fraction of her more attention-hoarding sister's population on the Eastern seaboard, San Francisco should technically qualify as a big town but its oversized personality and her absolute ease in her own skin are stuff that big cities, like said sister, New York, are made of. The oversized personality comes from the raging entrepreneurial and creative energy from the start-ups that she (and the region) are renowned for that translates to an exciting and uplifting joie de vivre for San Franciscans and visitors alike; while her ease in her own skin comes from the natural beauty that surrounds her that makes for a rather pretty place to live in. This city is not short on interesting, paradigm-shifting places and that is why this is the first North American city that Bespokcracy is featuring in its wee black book.
Benu marks Corey Lee's heralded return to SF Bay Area after leaving the 3-star The French Laundry in 2010 (and receiving a third for Benu last fall) and it has sizzled up the local gastronomic scene ever since. Lee's signature injection of Asian flavours and techniques invigorates the taste buds and as for the resultant innovative dishes in kaiseki format, many will not disagree that they also double up as art. We approve of the gorgeous tableware and the minimalist overtones around too.
22 Hawthorne St, SoMa | (415) 685 4860 | website
Presidio Social Club
This "gastro-diner" plays to its army barracks roots by offering hearty all-American fare served up by good ol' 40s hospitality. Despite its proclivity towards the nostalgic, it offers some modern fusion surprises on its menu. It successfully updates and modernises the quintessential American diner with minimalist hues and clean-cut lines. The old and the new never looked more comfortable together nor this deliciously tasteful.
563 Ruger St, Presidio | (415) 885 1888 | website
This a true-fashioned supper club and if people are reserving a month in advance to eat past 10pm, you know something is done very right here. Named after Chef Melissa Perello's grandmother, the soulful modern Californian food prepared would surely make her grandmother heart-thumping proud.
3870 17th St, Castro | (415) 621 3870 | website
State Bird Provisions
As its name suggests, it provides patrons with the state bird of California, the quail. It is as cute as it is delicious, especially the deep-fried rendition. Chef-owners Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski recently won the James Beard Best Chef of the West award, the culinary world's Oscars. 'Nuff said. If you can't get a table here (or get Bespokcracy to plan it for you!), try out their sequel, Progress, right next door.
1529 Filmore St, Japantown | (415) 795 1272 | website
People tend to get very personal with bread and which bakery is their favourite but if Christian Puglisi, ex sous-chef at Noma, can go all the way to say that Tartine is "reason enough, by itself, to move to SF", we should have good reason to believe this is one of the best bakeries in town.
600 Guerrero St, Mission | (415) 487 2600 | website
San Francisco is known for her sizeable Chinese population and if they all run to Yuet Lee for a Cantonese cuisine fix, then you know where to go to for a good Chinese meal in SF. It serves honest, authentic Cantonese food, even right up to the wee hours during weekends- for over 30 years now. Yuet Lee might as well be "institution" in Cantonese.
1300 Stockton St, North Beach | (415) 982 6020
Inn at the Presidio
This former army officer's quarters still retains its stateliness steeped in Georgian Revival charm. The fact that it has an enviable spot right in the middle of SF's natioinal park, the majestic Presidio, ensures good views and time to catch up on some quiet time.
42 Moraga Ave, Presidio | (415) 800 7356 | website | from USD300 for a Funston Queen room
Philippe Starck modernist interpretation of Art Deco chic has to be interesting if not for anything. Sitting whimsically by Union Square, this hotel serves up a lesson of who's who in design and visual arts and sleeping in and with (not on) the lesson is what we love best.
495 Geary St, Union Square | (415) 775 4700 | website | fr USD290 for a standard king room
The Scarlet Huntington
Being a hospitality veteran in the posh neighbourhood of Nob Hill carries with it certain expectations and The Scarlet Huntington has been matching them and more for than 80 years. Recently refurbished to the tune of USD15 million, it weaves together the city's vibrant history with a deep Peranakan heritage. This surely will reinforce its said veteran status in the hotels sector for some time to come.
1075 California St, Nob Hill | (415) 474 5400 | website | fr USD340 for a superior room
A beacon of fostering young literary talent for over 60 years, an effort that gave the world Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. It is also USA's first all-paperback bookstore and also continues to be an independent publisher. For fans of the printed word in the physical form, this literary landmark cannot be missed.
261 Columbus Ave | (415) 362 8193 | website
The Voyager Shop
3 shops in 1- and joining forces in a submarine no less. Revolver handles the sartorial, Spartan is in charge of homewares and accessories and Press Works on Paper presents indie publications. The feel is very guerilla and the easy harmony of the 3 concepts make for an interesting retail experience.
365 Valencia St, Mission | (415) 779 2712 | website
MAAS & Stacks
Founded by college buddies Stephen Chen and Otto Zoell, this small Castro space provides sartorial solutions for a man's whole life, from the shirts to track suit, and only the best (cult) brands qualify, like the Band of Outsiders and Robert Geller.
2128 Market St, Castro | (415) 678 5629 | website
When a chef starts making tableware and kitchenware, you know there will be details and aesthetics only an industry professional would pick up on. Sam Hamilton's thoughtful wares and tools are beautifully utilitarian, and you can there's even his own olive oils and preserves to try.
3075 Sacremento St | (415) 931 7433 | website
The Perish Trust
The collective brainchild of a photographer and a stylist, Perish Trust, is a modern-day house of curiosities with an eclectic mix of old and new things which must be a hoarder's little piece of paradise. Things here are so unique though, chances are you may take home things you never knew you needed. Bespokcracy loves the Japanese martini shakers from Umami Mart, another fine purveyor/collector of Japanese mish-mashes.
728 Divisadero Street | theperishtrust.com
The first flagship standalone for this minimalist, swisher version of American Apparel, we are drooling over the industrial bravado of the architecture, rather than the predictable fashion.
489 Hayes St | (415) 437 2345 | website
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