True to its name, The Hidden Vine has grown from a tucked-away alcove in a Union Square-area hotel to its own financial district space. Despite the move, the place has kept the same atmosphere, allowing wine connoisseurs and neophytes alike to enjoy themselves. The selection features a different region of the world each month, so there's normally something new for you to try — and if there's not, you might seriously be coming here too often — but beyond that, the place also offers something you're not going to find in many other wine bars: a bocce court.
The Bay Area is home to many a market, but few offer the fantastic views of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Situated outside the iconic Ferry Building with the Bay on one side and the skyline on the other, this certified farmers market is operated by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, ensuring that the producers selling there are certified by the counties in which they grow. It's open on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and also offers a section for prepared foods and products, as well as a wealth of food trucks and local restaurants serving up ready-to-eat meals.
You might have to wait a while — a long while — to score a reservation, but the food at Rich Table is well worth it. Nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant, this largely unpretentions spot in Hayes Valley is surprisingly affordable for an eatery of its pedigree, with highlights including the bread — yes, bread — sardine chips, and spaghetti with pancetta, seaweed, and sunflower seeds. A healthy drink list with beers, cocktails, and a ton of wines rounds out the offerings. And should you not have time to wait for a reservation, you can always try to get a seat at the bar, which is reserved for walk-in customers.
Named for the highway that runs from Naples to Canosa, A16 is one of the Marina's best places to go for Italian eats. Specifically, Southern Italian cuisine, with a particular focus on Campania, as well as a commitment to quality that includes local ingredients whenever possible, fresh pasta, house-butchered and -cured meats, and wood-fired Neapolitan pizza. Of course, it wouldn't be an Italian place without a standout wine list, and A16 doesn't disappoint with over 500 selections, over half of which are Italian and many of which come from the Southern regions.
Given its proximity to a great many vineyards, it's unsurprising that the Bay Area is home to quite a few wine bars — and the Press Club is among the best. Located at the foot of the Four Seasons, this classy affair is just two blocks from both Union Square and Moscone, making it a perfect retreat from the crushing conference crowds — WWDC, anyone? Now open seven days a week, it offers a great variety of wines and craft beers, as well as small plates like Dungeness Crab Balls infused with Local Citrus and larger portions like Roasted California Quail — all with suggested wine pairings that perfectly complement the dishes, and plenty of comfy seating that's perfect for conversation.
Whether you're looking for beef, pork, lamb, or sausage, The Local Butcher Shop has you covered. This neighborhood shop — founded by former Chez Panisse chef Aaron Rocchino — offers sustainably raised meat, all of which comes from within 150 miles of the shop, has been pasture raised, and is antibiotic- and hormone-free. They bring in whole carcasses, so they can give you pretty much any cut you desire, and should your hunger get the better of you imagining all the tasty meals you'll be cooking, simply grab up their Sandwich of the Day, which is consistently fresh and consistently good.
We always love it when a business stays true to the history of its surroundings — and the Comstock Saloon is no exception. Housed in a space that's served as a bar since 1907, this upscale drinkery specializes in turn-of-the-century fare, an attitude that runs through both the limited food menu — think mashed potato fritters and fried shrimp po'boys — and the drink menu, which includes such classics as Pisco Punch, the Manhattan, and the Sazerac. If you're looking to visit on the cheap, arrive during lunch on Friday and receive your food for free with the purchase of two adult beverages.
Live in the Bay Area? Like beer? Then you owe it to yourself to attend SF Beer Week. This multi-day event, put on by the San Francisco Brewers Guild, kicks off with an opening celebration Friday, February 8 at the Concourse Convention Center. It continues through the 17th with events scheduled at bars, breweries, and shops all over the area, reaching as far south as Pacific Grove and as far north as Santa Rosa. No matter where you decide to go or which events you decide to attend, you can expect copious amounts of great beer and good times.
We've long been fans of Aether's lineup of apparel, and now there's finally a dedicated place to go shop for it. AETHERsf is the company's first stand alone store, located at the Proxy in Hayes Valley. This being Aether, of course, they didn't just open up any old shop — instead, they teamed with Paris-based designer Thierry Gaugain to create a store made from three shipping containers. Inside, you'll find a glass-encased cantilevered lounge, reclaimed oak floors, a belt-driven conveyor system, and a wide range of outerwear for both men and women.
While there might not be a lot of the original ship left, that doesn't make The Old Ship Saloon any less historic. Located in the Financial District, this pub was originally opened in 1851 inside the remains of a ship named the Arkansas that had crashed into Alcatraz in 1849. While the "gud, bad, and indif'rent spirits" cost far more than the $0.25 that the original sign advertised, they are still available — the Pisco Punch is particularly noteworthy — as is a reasonably varied food menu.
Enjoy a bit of Rome right in the Mission district with a visit to Locanda. Food highlights include the fried sweetbreads and artichokes, the roasted squash, the lamb chops, and anything containing the pasta that's made fresh on-site. Equally impressive, however, is the cocktail list, sporting many drinks incorporating Italian elixirs, and the wine list, which boasts vintages from all around the ancient Roman empire. The only omission we saw? No Caesar salad.
Why are so many great restaurants hidden inside hotels? We're not sure, but you can add the Fifth Floor to the list. Located inside the Hotel Palomar, this new American restaurant offers up fine cuisine with a Mediterranean twist. Thanks to the city's farmers markets, the restaurant's own rooftop garden, and a menu that changes daily, you can be certain that you're getting the freshest food available, and thanks to the award-winning wine list and hand-crafted cocktails, you're sure to find something equally enticing to drink.