Faves and raves by Laura Sydell
AGE: A lady never tells her age
YEARS IN THE CITY: 10
NEIGHBORHOOD: Cole Valley
OCCUPATION: Digital culture correspondent, National Public Radio
SELF-DESCRIPTION: Irish, Catholic, Austrian, Hungarian, Russian Jew from New Jersey who’s still searching for a good bagel or a good slice of pizza in San Francisco
FAVORITE WINE BAR
CAV Wine Bar and Kitchen
WHERE: 1666 Market St., between Gough and Franklin streets
WHAT: Good wine, organic food, ambience
INFO: (415) 437-1770 or www.cavwinebar.com
I confess: I initially got hooked by the place’s high-design feel. I love the stainless steel tables and the wine cork wall. But, it’s really the wine and the food that keep me coming back. Full dinners here are great, [with] good organic ingredients. But if you are a cheese lover, get a cheese plate as big as you like.
FAVORITE PLACE TO SEE A FILM
WHERE: 2261 Fillmore St., between Clay and Sacramento streets
WHAT: Obscure film, good fresh popcorn, comfy old theater
INFO: (415) 267-4893 or www.landmarktheatres.com
Like everyone else these days, I see most of my movies at the multiplex. But I sure don’t like ’em. Give me one nice and big old theater with one obscure foreign film and mix it with some good, fresh popcorn, and I’m happy. The Clay is a little bit rundown and feels like it could be in a small Midwestern town in a David Lynch movie.
FAVORITE PLACE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWNERS
WHERE: Pier 39
WHAT: Glide under the Bay Bridge in a kayak
INFO: (415) 357-1010 or www.citykayak.com
You don’t have to be an experienced kayaker because they have the kind of boats that don’t roll over. On a clear day, the water sparkles and so does The City. If you take them on a Saturday morning, you can head over to the farmers market in the Ferry Building for breakfast afterward.
FAVORITE PLACE TO LISTEN TO LIVE MUSIC
Hotel Utah Saloon
WHERE: 500 Fourth St., at Bryant street
WHAT: Discover some of San Francisco’s up-and-coming stars
INFO: (415) 546-6300 or www.thehotelutahsaloon.com
Every Monday night, JJ Schultz, an engineer from Pandora and a musician, runs an open mike. San Francisco isn’t L.A., but these days L.A. isn’t L.A. Tom Waits even showed up the other night to check it out. Plus, it’s free and drinks are cheap.
FAVORITE PLACE TO DO YOGA
WHERE: 1823 Divisadero St., between Bush and Pine streets
WHAT: Uncrowded, room to stretch, showers
INFO: (415) 292-5600 or www.yogaworks.com
I moved here from New York City and decided to get a black belt in yoga. I followed a favorite teacher over to this studio after my former favorite yoga place closed. The teacher’s long gone, but I love this space. It isn’t super crowded, so I can really stretch out as I swan dive forward into a Vinyasa.
FAVORITE PLACE TO SEE ART
Southern Exposure Gallery
WHERE: 3030 20th St., between Florida and Alabama streets
WHAT: Local art, artist run, been around for 35 years
INFO: (415) 863-2141 or www.soex.org
Where else can I go to a show on Americanitis where they set up a still in the gallery and make an elixir to cure it from fruits and herbs from San Francisco backyards? Maybe it’s the local connection and the smart programming of Executive Director Courtney Fink, but in the midst of an economic downturn this place raised enough money to open a new space.
FAVORITE PLACE TO BUY PRODUCE
Alemany Farmers Market
WHERE: 100 Alemany Blvd., at Bayshore Boulevard
WHEN: Saturday mornings
WHAT: Abundance of produce, diverse clientele
We are so spoiled and so fortunate here. Even in the middle of winter, there is an abundance of oranges, apples, squash, potatoes. I like the Alemany Farmers Market because the clientele is diverse. There are a lot of different ethnicities that visit that market. It’s low-key. Find the deal of the day, come home and cook.
FAVORITE PLACE TO GET A CUP OF COFFEE
Peet’s Coffee and Tea
WHERE: 2257 Market St., between 16th and Noe streets
WHAT: Hub of cute dogs and good coffee in the Castro
INFO: (415) 626-6416 or www.peets.com
I love stopping at this particular Peet’s. It’s like the gay, nonalcoholic version of Cheers. It’s a hub of attractive gay men and their adorable dogs from the neighborhood. It’s the kind of coffee shop where some people sit and read for hours. Even when I’m stressed out, if I stop here my heart rate slows the minute I pet some cute dog sitting out front.
WHERE: 816 Folsom St., between Fourth and Fifth streets
WHAT: Wood-fired oven; try the roasted chicken
INFO: (415) 495-5775 or www.restaurantlulu.com
Lulu has a wood-fired oven that they use to perfection. I particularly like their roasted chicken, which comes out sweet and juicy. It’s in an old warehouse, so the dining room is open and can be a little noisy. I like to sit at the tall tables near the bar where you can look out the huge windows and watch the street traffic.