In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Garrick Ramirez of Weekend del Sol guides us through North Beach, San Francisco.
5 Things: North Beach, San Francisco
Garrick Ramirez of Weekend del Sol
I love my North Beach neighborhood for its European feel and atmospheric patina. Like most older cities, it encourages aimless strolling and sight-seeing—tree-lined streets sport historic, human-scale buildings with ornate facades and vintage neon signage. Cafes and bars spill out onto the sidewalks fostering a vibrant street life. In the 50s, North Beach was a refuge for the finger-snapping generation of Beats and bohemians. Today, a new crop of eateries, cocktail bars, third-wave coffee shops, and hip boutiques keeps the village vibe humming.
Tosca Cafe, 242 Columbus Avenue, (415) 986-9651
It’s tough to single out a favorite restaurant in food-obsessed San Francisco, but Tosca makes it easier with great food, expert cocktails, and ambience for days. Romantic, century-old interiors glow with flickering amber-hued chandeliers, red votives, and a vintage jukebox warbling old jazz and opera 45s.
Start with a pitch-perfect Negroni or a Polo Cup cocktail, which is a bright fragrant mix of gin, elderflower, cucumber, mint and basil. For dinner, I always order a shareable meal of guanciale-spiked Bucatini (Bon Appétit likes it, too), a better-than-it-should-be vegetable side, and two “secret” off-menu items: spicy meatballs and a thick, salt-crusted slab of aromatic rosemary focaccia. After dinner, sip a famous House “Cappuccino” made with local Dandelion chocolate.
A kid-conscious note: Tosca welcomes children, but the vibe doesn’t exactly speak to crayons rolling off the table all night. Instead, treat your little ones to Tacolicious where a kids’ menu doubles as a cut-out food truck with tips on how to run your own successful truck (apparently, Twitter accounts and tattoos help). Or get in line at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, where kids shape raw dough, parents nurse craft beer, and everyone enjoys one of the better pizzas in the city.