A City for All Seasons: San Francisco

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer

One of my favorite cities in the world is San Francisco. In any season, it is a great place to visit but during a Michigan winter it offers a wonderful respite from our frigid temperatures. Always temperate, San Francisco is a city of unique neighborhoods. Winters are marked by sun while summers can be very foggy.

On this particular trip, shopping and eating topped our list of activities. We decided to stay near Union Square, a shopping and dining mecca. We did smile when we walked into the square only to find a winter wonderland of ice skaters, all going around a manmade rink in the middle of the square. More ice we didn’t need.

Every store we could possibly want, however, was in the vicinity. Within a three-acre square, boutique and luxury retail shops, flagship hotels, art galleries, cafes, restaurants, and theatres, all beckoned. Union Square got its name because it was once used for rallies and support for the Union Army during the Civil War when it was a city park.

We decided to stay slightly off the square at the Prescott Hotel, a historic venue and part of the Kimpton chain. Over 100 years old, the hotel was showing its age and is slated for a significant renovation later this year. The staff, however, made up in charm what the hotel lacked in freshness. With a cozy, early evening, free wine tasting and a tasty continental breakfast on the club level, the Prescott had many nice elements. Our room was a strangely shaped affair but had two excellent beds, which was perfect for the three of us.

Right up Post Street was a small but fun crepery and café called Honey Honey. The menu was written on a wall-sized chalkboard and offered a variety of sweet and savory crepes, among other things. My husband enjoyed a mimosa with his Miami Heat crepe, filled with chicken, avocado and a spicy sauce. I settled for a very nice omelet.

Dinner was a much fancier affair at One Market, an upscale restaurant, located on the Embarcadero near the waterfront. Only a short walk away, this white tablecloth restaurant offered impeccable service and an innovative menu. My dining partners both settled on a perfectly done steak with absolutely marvelous mashed potatoes while I ventured into the unknown with an arugula risotto.

At the other end of the dining spectrum was Gott’s Roadside, a small chain of burger joints, done in quintessential California style. All the ingredients were local and the burgers were delicious, especially when paired with a milkshake. The lines were long as this Gott’s was in the Ferry Building, another charming upscale shopping area.

For another kind of dining adventure, try one of two Yank Sing’s in the city. This Chinese restaurant in the Rincon Center, offers Deem Sum, a very special kind of cuisine. As wait staff pushed their carts by our table, we were offered all manner of tasty items, some of which we could even name. The barbequed pork buns and steamed and fried dumplings were wonderful. The seas bass was a surprise treat, too. With a very large Chinese American population, choosing Chinese cuisine is rarely a bad choice in San Francisco.

Filled to the top with wonderful and diverse foods, and credit cards maxed out, we ventured out to Alactraz Island for a brisk afternoon of touring. Once the most secure super max prison in the country, it’s now a very well developed tourist attraction and well worth an afternoon or morning.

With so much to do, our brief three-day visit only scratched the surface of the wonderful city by the Bay.