I (Carolyn) was up in San Francisco for the ALA Annual Conference this past weekend in San Francisco, but I only attended the conference Saturday and Sunday. Earlier in the week I had a wonderful couple of days exploring the city with my former babysitter-now-turned-awesome-friend-and-mentor Kate. Here are some great places I've visited over the past week.
On Wednesday night, we went to a Longreads event at Booksmith, where a select group of writers each read aloud one of their longform journalism pieces from Longreads. Booksmith is a great bookstore, right in the middle of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood (location of the famous 1967 Summer of Love). The store stocks lots of different genres of books, as well as book-related items, and while the seating for book events is limited (I'm sitting on the floor in the picture on the right), the store has a great atmosphere.
Chronicle is one of my favorite publishers, and since I already going had some business with awesome Chronicle publicity people, I stopped by their store on Second Street. While there was a plethora of books, there also was a wealth of awesome gifts and items available as well. If you can't make it to one of their retail locations, all of their merchandise is also available online, but it's definitely worth the trip to see all of their offerings in person.
Green Apple is a fantastic bookstore that sells a wide variety of new and used books. We went to the Green Apple in the Sunset neighborhood, and we each grabbed about six different books in the span of twenty minutes. I made off with the six books pictured for less than $65 (the bottom four are all used). I love supporting independent bookstores, especially when I can buy used books and paperbacks from them.
Elite Coffee Bar is an interesting coffee shop. As you can probably tell from the name, the retail space is split into a coffee shop in the front and an audio store in the back room. The coffee is pretty good, and they have a few pastries (donuts from Dynamo on the day I was there). There's bar seating in addition to a couple of tables, although the space is pretty small. While there is free wifi, there are only two outlets, each by table. Be forewarned, though: despite 60-degree weather, the table seating is all in the area behind massively thick glass windows that will focus the sunlight on you until you melt into a blob of unproductiveness.
To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what Galvanize is. Is it an office? Is it a cafe? Is it a school? I have no clue. Their cafe is pretty good; they offer some fantastic pressed juices (pictured above with a Dynamo Bacon Donut I picked up elsewhere), as well as a selection of pastries, coffee drinks, and granola bars (I picked up a KIND bar there as well). They have free wifi, and there are some outlets available, though not all of them work. There's this cute little area tucked away by the elevator that has three black chairs and a table and the outlet there definitely works; the long bar/counter area along the front window has an outlet that definitely doesn't work.
Picnic on Third is a cute little cafe in SoMa. They have a pretty limited breakfast menu, and they only accept credit cards, and they don't have wifi or outlets. That being said, their pain au chocolat is pretty fantastic, and their giant sea salt chocolate chip cookies are heavenly. If you want just a pastry and a quiet spot to read, this is a great place to chill.
The Ferry Building, in addition to being a classic area for tourists to visit, has some pretty amazing food. For lunch, we went to several different places. Boccalone Salumeria has all sorts of delicious cured meats, and I opted for a meat cone - you can pick three kinds of meat you want (I got the Orange and Wild Fennel Salume, the Brown Sugar and Fennel Salume, and the Prosciutto Cotto). Cowgirl Creamery has a wonderful selection of cheese in their store in addition to selling all sorts of delicious sandwiches, and since I wanted something small, I chose to get their cheese platter - the three cheeses of the day with some fruit and nuts (asian pear and almonds, in my case). We then went over to Acme Bread Company, where I picked up a small torpedo roll. Later, I got some pretty amazing Vietnamese coffee ice cream from Humphry Slocombe, and Kate got boba from Out the Door (the to-go counter for the restaurant Slanted Door).
Probably most famous for its mac-and-cheese stuffed grilled cheese, American Grilled Cheese Kitchen is a cute little restaurant specializing in - you guessed it - grilled cheese. The Piglet sandwich (cheddar, Vande Rose Duroc ham, apple mustard, and rosemary butter on Pinkie's levain) is phenomenal; the mustard mixed with apple butter adds a slight mustard note without the spiciness detracting from the other flavors. The delightfully eclectic decor gives this restaurant a perfectly quirky ambiance.
I love crêpes, so I jumped at the chance to order some from this cute little crêpe stand on the corner of 2nd and Howard. I ordered a savory crêpe (ham, cheddar, and caramelized onions) and a sweet crêpe (Nutella with strawberries and banana), both of which were fantastic. They use buckwheat in their crêpes, so in addition to tasting delicious, they also are all gluten free.
Bonus category: Cat cafe!
KitTea is a cat cafe that just opened up this past Wednesday. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a cat cafe is a small restaurant where you can get something to eat or drink and then consume said sustenance in an area with cats. KitTea offers an hour of cats and unlimited tea for a flat rate, and also offers little snacks that can be ordered à la carte. The cats were pretty cute, although the combination of warm weather and the timing (we went from 3-4 PM) meant that the cats were a little sleepy. There were about 6 or so cats in the room with us, although one was chilling on a wall installation and another was hiding in a cat bed for most of the time. Most of them didn't want to play, they just sort of vaguely appreciated being loved and petted. One of the cats (pictured on the right) was super adorable; she curled up on a cushion and dozed while people petted her, occasionally stirring to snuggle her face into her belly. The cats are all adoptable, and some of the fee you pay goes towards helping cats find forever homes.