You don't have to be a whiskey drinker to enjoy yourself at The Alembic — but it certainly doesn't hurt. Boasting one of the most impressive selections of bourbon, whiskey, and rye in the city, this Haight spot can be a little cramped at times, but is well worth the effort it takes to secure a seat. The cocktails are excellent, covering bases both old and new, and the selection of beer, wine, and other spirits is impressive, as well. Rounding out the offerings is a food menu made up of small plates that are as impressively creative as the drinks.
While the name of the place couldn't be more vague, there's definitely a distinct vibe to General Store. Located in Outer Sunset, this quaint shop offers a well-curated selection of goods both new and vintage. Inside the brightly-lit space, expect to find everything from furniture and books to clothing, housewares, and even plants. While you're not going to show up and furnish an entire dwelling, you're certainly likely to find a few items that will transform your personal space into something a bit more refined. For those living in the southern part of the state, there's also a location in Venice.
There are plenty of bars in the Financial District — the afterwork crowds alone are enough to sustain many a spot — but few offer cocktails on the order of Rickhouse. This well-appointed bar features an enormous selection of liquor, which it leans on to create its artisanal cocktails, with the help of fresh fruit juices, natural sugars, and local produce. There's also a decent selection of local beers and wines on offer, and if you happen to arrive with a group, it's recommended that you go ahead and order up one of the punch bowls, which are amongst the best in the city. There's also live music every Saturday and Monday, letting you decide whether you want the extra ambiance or simply want to imbibe in tranquility.
To most of us, Pez are just those whimsical licensed toys with so-so candy that they sell at the checkout line. But those little pouches of fun have a long history — a history that's celebrated at the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia. Located not far from SFO, this unusual ode to candy dispensers features an example of every Pez ever sold — over 900 of them, in total — as well as a selection of new, vintage, and imported Pez available for purchase in the gift shop. And should you tire of Pez, this museum actually holds two others inside, one dedicated to classic toys, and one dedicated to banned toys.
A great barbershop should be more than just a place to get your haircut. The guys behind Fellow Barber agree. Founded by former motorcycle racer Sam Buffa, this small chain of shops was started on the Lower East Side of NYC as a place for men to come and "discuss sports, politics, and culture while getting a haircut or shave." Indeed, that's what the shop — originally called F.S.C. Barber — was, and what it continues to be, with uniquely designed outposts in the West Village, SoHo, Williamsburg, and San Francisco's Mission District. Along with haircuts, trims, and shaves, be sure to browse the selection of grooming products from the likes of Baxter of California, Malin + Goetz, MCMC Fragrances, and others.
At most markets, you're lucky to find a handful of stands offering interesting handmade goods. At the Renegade Craft Fair, you'll find nothing but. Held every Summer and Winter in Austin, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and London — and with upcoming dates scheduled in all six cities — this curated independent craft marketplace features a huge array of goods from talented artisans, spanning everything from clothes and jewelry to furniture, lighting, and artwork. Food and drink will likely be on offer as well, so all you really need to bring is yourself — and your wallet.
Not everyone takes their tea seriously — and by seriously, we mean does more than simply order up the Passion Fruit variety at Starbucks from time to time — but if you do, you need to make a stop at Song Tea & Ceramics. This new Pacific Heights shop is run by Peter Luong, whose family runs the well known Red Blossom Tea Co. But unlike the huge variety on offer there, Song focuses on two dozen-or-so high-quality teas, several of which are unavailable elsewhere in the U.S. The teaware — made by respected Taiwanese artisans — is also impressive, as is Luong's willingness to teach customers more about tea and make recommendations. The finishing touch? A zen-like sales floor that goes perfectly with the calming effects of the product. [Scouted by Michael]
It doesn't matter if you're looking for jeans or shoes and socks, established brands or up and coming tags — Welcome Stranger has you covered. This Hayes Valley men's shop offers a highly-curated selection of high-quality wares from brands ranging from APC, Filson, and Woolrich to Happy Socks and Jungmaven. They also offer some self-branded goods, and in addition to the normal lineup of jeans, shoes, shirts, socks, and outerwear, there's a well-considered selection of accessories, grooming goods, books, and other essential man gear.
It's certainly not modest — the neon sign hanging inside boasts of the best tacos and burritos "in the whole world" — but when you're cranking out food as consistently tasty as La Taquería, you don't have to be. This casual Mission joint offers affordable burritos and tacos, and not much else, but with filling choices that include fantastic carne asada, carnitas, chorizo, chicken, cabeza, and lengua, you don't need much more, other than the queso, chips and salsa, aquas frescas, and cervezas that round out the menu.
Okay, so technically the Xanadu Gallery could (should?) fall into the Shop category, but despite its standing as a place of business, it's the building itself that's the bigger draw. Located just steps from Union Square, this historic structure was originally known as the V. C. Morris Gift Shop and was designed by the great Frank Lloyd Wright in 1948. And while that fact alone would be enough to draw visitors in — along with the striking arch entranceway — it's the interior design and its spiral ramp theme that's most interesting, as it links this design with the far more famous Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in NYC. And who knows — you might enjoy exploring the space so much you end up buying something.
A great cocktail bar doesn't necessarily have to theme its menus, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Trick Dog is one such example. Widely known for its Pantone color-themed menus — complete with tall cards and numbers — this Mission District haunt's new offerings are inspired by classic records, which you can peruse via "Record Album" menus. In addition to highlights like Eye of the Tiger (mezcal, honey, mustard, apple, and lime) and Goldfinger (Tanqueray Malacca and Tropical Vermouth), there's also a killer selection of food that's perfect for filling your stomach before your next round of drinks.
Fresh off a $300 million investment in its new Embarcadero home, the Exploratorium is set to move up the list of Bay Area must-dos. While it's not the ideal place for germaphobes — you have to touch nearly everything in order to experience it — it is frankly amazing for both kids and adults alike, with literally hundreds of exhibits that teach you about the world while keeping you entertained. Be sure to visit the West Gallery of human phenomena while you're there — and bring lots of hand sanitizer.