San Francisco is a lot of things. It’s hipsters, hippies, fauxhemians and creatives. It’s full of bridges, fog, wind and a tiny bit of sunshine. And in the midst of all that is a whole lot of creativity. From the Mission and The Haight to South of Market and the Tenderloin, we’ve searched out two handfuls of maker places you won’t want to miss if you happen to find yourself in the middle of it all. Channel that creative spark and jump on these 18 excuses to make a road trip or buy a plane ticket to the City by the Bay.
Where to Stay
1. Hotel Tomo: Located in the heart of Japantown, Hotel Tomo embraces Japanese culture with its J-pop/anime vibe. Find your inner chi in the funky, friendly 130-room hotel. When you stay here, you’re also doing good for the community. Each year, the hotel donates a minimum of $200 per guestroom to organizations in the community. It’s all about MAKING things happen!
2. Hotel Triton: This is not your standard, cookie-cutter hotel. Designed with you in mind, Hotel Triton is set for you to express your individuality and independent spirit. Within the vibrant walls, you’ll find an upbeat experience with playful amenities, hip elevator music and employees who sport whatever hip clothes they want. P.S. There is even a specialty Haagen-Dazs ice cream suite!
3. Phoenix Hotel: If you live the rock star lifestyle, you’re going to want to rest your head where the rockstars rest theirs, and that’s at the Phoenix. With an updated ’50s vibe and one badass pool that is no stranger to impromptu synchronized swimming displays, this hotel has lots of swagger. Make sure to score brunch reservations at their poolside restaurant Chambers.
What to Eat
4. Taqueria Cancun: There is fierce debate around the best Mission-style burrito, so don’t take the decision lightly. Taqueria Cancun loads their super burritos with your choice of filling — juicy pollo, lengua, rich carnitas, smokey carne asada, pastor or some righteous veggie options, along with rice (and lots of it!) scented with tomato and cumin, tender pintos, crema and thick slices of avocado. You won’t wait long before you’re settled into one of the indoor picnic tables amid bright yellow and red walls and ornate paper flags.
5. Foreign Cinema: Food, art and film all under one roof… you betcha! Get ready for a quintessential San Francisco dining experience in an industrial-chic setting, befit with a fireside dining room, mezzanine and an art gallery. As rad as all of that sounds, Foreign Cinema’s special feature is the foreign and independent films (hence the name) projected on the outside wall that serve as a backdrop to your patio experience. Partners Gayle Pieri and John Clark have implemented an ever-changing California-Mediterranean inspired menu, complete with oyster bar. And in a city that loves to brunch… let’s just say you’re going to want to get there.
6. SOMA StrEat Food Park: What if we told you that you could find a plethora of the greatest eats on four wheels that the city has to offer all in one locale under the freeway?! It’s true. Get to SOMA’s StrEat Food Park for a collection of food trucks ready to quell whatever craving you’re experiencing. Oh, and don’t miss out on StrEat Brew, the first food truck to serve beer and wine in San Francisco. Cheers to that! (via Fun Cheap SF)
7. Gracias Madre: There’s never been a better time to be vegan. This Mexican restaurant serves up all of your favorite dishes sans any animal products. If you’re a Mexican food purist, you’re picky about your tortillas, and these are legit. Head to the back of the restaurant and watch as they press them and cook them. Yup, what hits your table is that fresh.
8. Dandelion Chocolate: The duo behind Dandelion started by growing small cacao plants in their apartments and are now full-on craft chocolatiers with their very own artisanal chocolate factory. You absolutely cannot miss out on this bean-to-bar craft chocolate cafe, which uses beans from local farms. You can watch chocolate being made while you bite, sip and slurp artisan chocolate treats like Dandelion’s Nibby Horchata, House Hot Cocoa or Frozen Mocha. And get this: they’ve blended their knowledge with Woods Beer Company to concoct a cocoa brew… Hello Willie Wonka! P.S. Dandelion Chocolate encourages you to do three things while you’re there: Taste chocolate, meet with a maker and eat a treat. Don’t mind if we do!
9. Dynamo Donut: If you still have a sweet tooth, march over to Dynamo Donut in the Mission. Made by Sara Spearin, Dynamo’s tasty rings of dough are definitely above average. Flavor profiles include Chocolate Rose, Passionfruit Milk Chocolate, Strawberry Earl Grey and Focaccia Bacon. Can’t decide which one to sink your teeth into? Try the donut that is truly dynamic and just so happens to be the first recipe Sara came up with, the Vanilla Bean Donut, a robust flavor profile of salty, sweet, sour and bitter, all pulled together with a little spice. (via Serious Eats)
Where to Drink
10. Sightglass: Start your morning off at this independent coffee roaster. Get a taste of what Sightglass is all about by heading to their SOMA locale. There, you can watch roasters display their craft and witness baristas preparing artful beverages before your eyes at the open coffee bar.
11. Sow: If you’re on the hunt for a refreshing juice, Sow is where it’s at. Inspired by the planting or scattering of seeds in or on the earth and specializing in hand-crafted, organic and seasonal produce, plus herb and flower combinations, Sow’s juices are made fresh to order. Get energized with the Archetype (beets, carrots, oranges, apples and ginger) or The Prescription (organic apple, orange, celery, kale, mint and parsley.) For your dose of Sow, get to San Francisco’s Ferry Building on Saturday morning for the farmer’s market, get a fresh squeeze and check out the astonishing number of local makers and growers. (via The Food Craftsmen)
12. Magnolia Pub and Brewery: Life is brewtiful in this microbrewery in Upper Haight that pumps out an insane list of inventive beers and seasonal pub grub. Always packed with neighborhood hospitality, Master Brewer and owner Dave McLean believes that, “Bringing people together around the pleasures of the pint is just about the coolest job in the world.” In fact, Dave loves it so much, Magnolia Brewing recently expanded its operation with a BBQ joint, Smokestack in Dog Patch. Take your pick; either way you’ll love the beer and the food.
13. The Alembic: Challenge your palate and get your craft cocktail fix at this nationally acclaimed bar in the Haight. Be prepared to study the encyclopedia that is their cocktail menu, filled with old stalwarts and fresh concoctions that will tantalize the senses. Mixologists use green tea, birds eye chili tinctures, garam masala spiced-apple syrup, peppercorn syrup and strawberries pureed with xanthan gum to transform ordinary cocktails into inspired masterpieces. If craft cocktails don’t lure you in, The Alembic is expanding, which means you’ll get to have an array of tasty bar snacks to pair with your cocktail. (via Afar)
What to Explore
14. Brit + Co SF: This is Brit + Co’s very own outpost where you can make and shop under one roof. Head over to Union Square to the make stations, and DIY something delightful to brighten up your desk space, like a funky terrarium, or shop the latest wonders made by artisans and designers from across the country, like Mason Jar Shot Glasses and Pantone Espresso Mugs. Get inspired and dream big, try out one of the 3-D printers, design a gift for a friend or sign up for a class like laser cutting. Pencil in some time, you could be here all day. It’s truly a maker’s paradise.
15. Vantigo: We get it. You want to see the city in a concise way, but you’re not a fan of the whole corporate big bus affair. Don’t miss out on this unconventional adventure. Hop into a fire-engine-red 1971 VW bus named Lillie, and see San Francisco on one of their tours, including 7×7 City Tour, San Francisco City Lights Tour, The Oyster Experience or one of the Brew Tours. Your well-informed guide, VW bus enthusiast and playlist remixer Erik Hormann will supply you with a memorable experience, filled with new friends and lots of laughs, all while learning and experiencing some fascinating things about San Francisco. Book your Vantigo, get to know the city and get ready for the ride of your life! (via Cool Hunting)
16. Free Gold Watch: Custom screen printing meets pinball arcade near Golden Gate Park. What started as a modest silk-screen printing shop has morphed into a game lover’s haven. Jeffrey Levine, the owner of Free Gold Watch, began his business printing in his garage and grew it into a successful brick and mortar printing shop. When Levine opened up shop in his current space, he was trying to make use of a long hallway that serves as a showroom leading to the workshop. A golden idea struck, and the first pinball machine was added. Now it’s a full-on arcade, the perfect place to tune up your pinball skills or shop some graphic tees. Worth noting: Free Gold Watch is BYOB. (via Guru Energy)
17. Rare Device: If you love all things beautiful, get to Rare Device, where every object has its own story and is either handmade, well-designed, useful or beautiful. Find something for yourself, your home, family or friends. Wares are produced both locally and as far off as Japan. With merchandise ranging from jewelry to agate coasters, you won’t leave empty handed! The store also hosts monthly art shows, workshops, trunk shows and book signings.
18. Proxy: This project was born out of the economic downturn that led to abandoned lots brought on by the destruction of the former Central Freeway in Hayes Valley. The temporary space, comprised of renovated shipping containers, explores flexible urbanism, food, art, culture and retail space all while encouraging a fresh rotation of ideas, businesses and art. Come, see for yourself. Not only will you always be surprised at what you’ll find, but you can currently enjoy shopping for apparel, a pop-up fitness hub, liquid nitrogen ice cream, a bike tour, craft coffee, juice, food trucks, a biergarten and an outdoor movie theater.
Spill your secrets to the best maker spots in San Francisco in the comments below.