Insider's Guide to San Francisco

The 411 on the 415 from the PRSA-SF Host Committee

Coming to town for the 2012 International Conference? Check out the personal recommendations from our local team for places to eat and things to do in San Francisco!

For more San Francisco visitors information and ideas, visit San Francisco Travel, and for more of the best SF restaurants, check out the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100.

 

Our Insiders and Their Personal Favorites

CLARK HSUHost Committee Co-Chair

Clark-Hsu.jpgSenior account executive at Edelman with a love for all things food, travel, fashion and tech. In his free time, you can find him exploring SF’s neighborhoods (including his home base, The Fillmore) and scoping out all the good eats.

Restaurants:

-        Cotogna: A rustic Italian eatery in Jackson Square. I keep going back for their house-made pastas, wood-oven pizzas and spit-roasted meats (the porcetta is to die for). For something more upscale, sister restaurant Quince (also amazing) is next door.

Places To Go/Things to Do:

-        Golden Gate Park: I love taking a nice leisurely stroll around the expanses of Golden Gate Park and exploring all the great SF gems within. From the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum to the Hagiwara Tea Garden and Conservatory of Flowers, there is something for everyone.

-        Off the Grid: SF’s various Off the Grid food truck gatherings are a food lover’s dream. From Senor Sisig (Mexican/Filipino fusion) to Bacon Bacon, there are lots of good eats to be had.

 

KIM SKELTIS, APR, Host Committee Co-Chair

Kim-S_SF-Coastal-Trail-082.jpgPR consultant who moved to San Francisco with her husband on a temporary assignment in early 2011 after living her whole life in the Midwest.

Restaurants:

-        Curry Up Now: My favorite food truck, not just because of the clever name, but for their creative presentation of Indian street food. A must entree is their tikka masala burrito.

Places To Go/Things to Do

-        Sutro Baths and Lands End: I love to show visitors this place on their first night in SF. This amazing, ancient bath house is a modern-day ruin that shows the decadence of an earlier time, juxtaposed against the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. It's a great spot for a sunset and cool photographs. Then I love walking down a mile of coastal trail out to Lands End point for incredible views and a very cool, hidden stone labyrinth at the end of the walk out. 

PHYLLIS GOODMAN, APR, PRSA-SF President

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I’ve lived in San Francisco for five years, and love it here.  It’s a cozy version of New York City, my hometown, without the blizzards or humidity.  I live in the Financial District (FiDi), which means easy access to public transportation.

 

Restaurants:                 

-        Kokkari: for me, this spot in the Financial District :is the best restaurant in San Francisco. Its Greek and Mediterranean menu presents numerous luscious dishes with fresh, local ingredients. You could select your dinner from their lengthy list of appetizers. If you must have a main dish, indulge in the grilled lamb chops…you will be changed forever.  Reservations required.

-        Great Eastern: a taxi driver recommended this Chinatown restaurant to me more than 20 years ago on a visit to San Francisco and I made a pilgrimage there every visit afterward. Now that I live here and can walk to it, I still love to go there for any of their shrimp or prawn dishes. They do have fried chicken feet, should you have a craving.

Places to See/Things to Do:

-        Free walking tours with City Guides: dozens of tours from which to choose. I’ve done the Barbary Coast, Nob Hill, Mission Dolores, Castro and Pacific Heights Mansions tours, and enjoyed all of them.  The guides are all volunteers who research and plan the tours themselves. 

 

LESLY SIMMONS, APR Publicity Committee Chair

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Lesly's a social media strategy pro who works in the Financial District, lives in Haight-Ashbury, and hangs out (and eats out) across the city!

Restaurants:

-        Boxing Room: a taste of New Orleans right in the middle of San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. Delicious and authentic, from the alligator to the oysters to the po' boys, you'll leave full and oh so happy. Make a reservation and come hungry!

-        Nob Hill Café: a tiny, tasty Italian bistro in the heart of Nob Hill. If you find yourself touring the area, stop in for lunch or dinner. Their traditional entrees are Italian comfort at its best, and the specials are twists on loved favorites. And don’t miss the tiramisu.

Places to See/Things to Do:

-        California Academy of Sciences: In Golden Gate Park, this is an aquarium, planetarium, history museum, living rainforest and more. All ages will love it here - plan to spend lots of time exploring the exhibits. The cafe is also really good, and the gift shop is full of unique fun things for kids and adults. 

 

LINDY WAGNER, Hospitality Co-Chair

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Healthcare communicator at Blue Shield of California who loves writing, amazing food and wine, and exploring her city on foot. Venturing out from their Inner Sunset hood, she and her chef husband connect with SF by eating their way around town. 

Restaurants:

-        Frances: intimate little neighborhood spot in the Castro that just happens to have a Michelin star, with amazing food on a small, daily-changing menu (I love taking 4 people and ordering the entire thing!), and impeccable service. Reserve a table or get there early for a bar spot.

-        Nopa: my favorite go-to place in the city, Nopa is California cuisine at its finest, with meticulous attention to detail, in a relaxed atmosphere (but one that’s always buzzing). I love it for dinner, or weekend brunch, or drinks (they have a great bar program) and late night food (their kitchen is open until 1am).  

Places to See/Things to Do:

-        Hit the beach: California’s known for amazing beaches, but I don’t think people realize you can go the beach within the city of San Francisco. Take the N-Judah MUNI line through the Sunset District (my hood!) to Ocean Beach on the Pacific Ocean (visit the Cliff House while you’re there), or head to my favorite, Baker Beach, which is on the bay in the Presidio, with great views of the bridge. 

 

ANDREA MAHONEYHospitality Co-Chair

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Vice President in Corporate Communications at Wells Fargo Wholesale Services Group, focused on treasury management and innovation and payments strategyShe lives across the Bay in a small town called Alameda, and enjoys commuting into the city on BART. She appreciates SF’s diversity - it’s never boring!

Restaurants:                  

-        Allegro Romano: I have two kids and we love Allegro Romano for a luxurious dining experience. The photos on the wall of famous people with the chef-owner make great dinner conversation.

Places to See/Things to Do:

-        Chinatown: is always a treat and you won’t want to miss the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company where years ago the fortune cookie was invented. 

 

JUDITH HULKAHospitality & Publicity Committee

Seasoned in non-profit, agency and corporate communications, she now follows her bliss as a PR consultant and does pro bono work for causes she cares about.  Since moving here in the late 70s, she’s lived in six unique San Francisco neighborhoods with five different microclimates, and she still feels wanderlust when she walks out her door.

Restaurants:

-        Sociale (so-shee-ah-lay): To feel like I’m in Viareggio without leaving town, I meet family or friends for lunch at this hidden-from-the-street Italian food gem tucked within the tiny Laurel/Presidio/Pacific Heights residential neighborhoods. Eat in the chic, cozy dining room or on the outdoor, enclosed patio. Try the fried olives, white bean crostino, pappardelle with braised duck or whatever is seasonal.

-        Greens: Local or yocal, this world-class vegetarian restaurant plays sleight of hand to satisfy even died-in-the wool carnivores. I’m not a vegetarian, but I go here often because the food is luscious, fresh, creative, and their waterfront location on the Bay in Fort Mason is priceless.

 

KIM BARDAKIANOpening Night Reception / Diversity Mixer Chair

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Former New Yorker who can't imagine living anywhere but the SF Bay Area! Loves to plan the perfect party and play a good game of tennis.

Restaurants:

-        Boudin Bakery: It's rare to find a local anywhere near Fisherman's Wharf, but I recently stumbled upon Boudin. Once you tour the bread making facility and spend way too much in the gift shop, go upstairs to the bar for a drink and to watch the game.

Places to See/Things to Do:

-        Hike Mount Davidson Cross: If you want to see the highest point in San Francisco and experience a spectacular view, take a hike up to Mt. Davidson Cross. Well worth the exercise!

-        Strolling Fillmore Street: a great street in the heart of SF that will surely capture all tastes. From a pizza at Delfina to oysters at the famed Elite Cafe, plus lots of great boutique shopping, this neighborhood is not to be missed!

 

JOAN LEVYHospitality Committee

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Tech PR maven obsessed with staying on top of news, who loves running, sunshine and gardening. A city girl, you can find her working at Blanc & Otus during the day, and at the shops and restaurants of the SF Marina District in her off time.

Restaurants:

-         Tacolicious: Mexican food for the young (at heart!), this vibey spot with outlets in the Marina, Mission and Ferry Plaza boasts delicious tacos and a margarita menu. Try the frozen margarita sampler, roasted veggie taco and devilish queso.

-         State Bird Provisions: Warning - Bon Appétit named State Bird the Best New Restaurant in the U.S. for good reason. Delicious food/wine & unconventional service (American dim-sum) - but prepare yourself for a long wait! (Put your name in & hop over to Fat Angel to pass the time).

Places to See/Things to Do:

-        View from the Marriott Marquis: Smack in the middle of downtown, right in the conference hotel is a view to die for. Located at the 39th floor of the Marriott Marquis, the View Bar is a great place for a networking nightcap.

 

SEVAG SARKISSIANHospitality Committee

Media relations specialist for State Farm Insurance and a proud native San Franciscan who loves history, travel, movies, theater, and exploring the city and the Bay Area on a bicycle.

Restaurants:                

-        Press Club and First Crush: When in the Bay Area, many people want to go to Napa Valley. Well, you probably don’t have time for that, you have a conference to attend! These two places, within short walking distance of the hotel, are ideal for those looking to explore the world of wine. They both have restaurants if you want to stay for dinner. 

 Places to See/Things to Do:

-        Ferry Building: Weekly farmers markets are on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday, full of the region’s finest produce. The interior of the building houses shops and eateries to delight any traveler from near or far!

-        Cable Cars & Cable Car Museum: if you haven’t already, take a ride on a Cable Car (Powell/Hyde or Powell/Mason lines). Mid-way on your trip, step off and visit the San Francisco Cable Car Museum. Small, free, and an insight into the history and current operation of a world famous transit line, this is a great little place to get a slice of San Francisco history! 

 

SUZI OWENSHospitality Committee

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A passionate public relations leader with a love of good wine and beer, the outdoors and cheese. With three year old twins, she’s often out exploring the beach and parks, but when she has a break she makes sure to make the most of the culinary delights in San Francisco.

Restaurants:

-        Velvet Cantina: a great little Mexican place located in the heart of the Mission district. Make sure to order the specialty margarita of the day!

-        Firefly: my favorite restaurant in San Francisco. California cuisine with a twist that will delight your pallet whatever you choose.  This hidden gem is tucked away in the quaint, yet bustling neighborhood of Noe Valley.

Places to See/Things to Do:

-        Crissy Field: a huge grassy space (formerly an airstrip) in the foreground of the Golden Gate Bridge where you can walk along the bay from the Marina District into the Presidio. Enjoy the view of the Golden Gate bridge, fly a kite, grill up some lunch, sip some wine (it is legal in this park), and watch the local kite surfers. Stop halfway along the walk to the bridge at the Warming Hut Café for a sandwich, a latte, or some souvenirs. 

 

DEB MCMANUS, APR, Hospitality Committee & Volunteer Coordinator

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Communications strategist and consultant whose suitcase is always packed for an exotic or “off the beaten path” travel destination.  When home, you can find her trekking through the East Bay Regional Parks, sampling some of the best wines from California’s oldest wine region in the Livermore Valley, relaxing poolside with a great novel, or hosting dinner parties for family and friends.

Restaurants

-        Fat Angel: Small, unpretentious neighborhood gastro pub in the Fillmore district with a great selection of beers and wines paired nicely with sliders, cheese platters and even mac and cheese. Get there early to beat the steady crowds.

Places to See/Things to Do:

-        Valencia Street (Mission District): Take BART to 16th and Mission and walk west to Valencia Street. Check out the plenty of comfy coffee houses, bohemian bars, restaurants, and boutique shops infused with a hip/artistic vibe. 

Header photo courtesy San Francisco Travel