The KANE on Tour Blog series was called to life with a single purpose in mind: to travel and explore as much of the globe as possible. If you haven’t done much traveling yet, remember the world is potentially humongous, so it’s never to early to start! If you can’t get the time off work to travel as much as you would like, we respect that – a KANE man is a hardworking man – but by proxy then, let KANE take you on tour to some of the world’s most interesting and iconic cities the world has to offer. With us on our journey; the Black Code face with a Silver Mesh and a Classic Black leather strap, because of it’s versatility and ability to match any outfit and suit any situation, and the Gold Club Gold Mesh for those one or two fancier nights out.
This time KANE sent a team member to San Francisco to see what the New York of the West Coast has to offer. We began our trip touching down at the vast SFO International Airport and soon discovered that driving into the inner city by car is a really bad idea. The traffic is a nightmare (during rush hour and basically at every other time of day) and parking spaces, once you have managed to find one, are exorbitantly expensive.
Insider Tip #1: Instead, take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport – a metro-subway-train mix) straight to Powell or Montgomery street in the heart of the city’s financial district.
The tall glass-windowed skyscrapers emerge from a surrounding sea of redbrick houses, fronts and facades lined with iconic fire escape stairways, and remind us big things are happening in the world. Standing amongst these ivory towers and experiencing the powerful energy that surrounds them up close and personal, fuels our ambitions to make bold moves and master our own feats of greatness.
The financial district between the BART station Embarcadero (North-East) and Powell (South-West) boast an array of posh and fancy haute-cuisine restaurants where star-chefs battle it out to offer the most experiential and ultimately savoury culinary experiences. These fine-dine restaurants and the long-established underground jazz and blues clubs that showcase nightly appearances from distinguished local and national legends, are the perfect places to show off your Gold Club Gold Mesh timepieces. Here in a sea of Breitlings and Audemars, your Gold Club reminds you to be true to yourself and celebrate your own achievements. Most of the Jazz and Blues clubs charge a $20 cover charge that is usually worth it (if you check and find to like the programs of the evening), and once inside drinks are quite affordable. The most famous or well known of these jazz rooms is Biscuits & Blues on Mason Street, which has been delighting crowds with big name performances consistently since 1995. Whilst there are older and more underground clubs off the beaten track, Biscuits & Blues is the spot for some uncomplicated and reliably good Blue and award winning southern cuisine.
As the best jazz clubs, bars and restaurants mostly only open from 6:00PM, we head to our hotel on Mission Street which acts as the unspoken southernmost boundary of the Mission District. At our hotel we are joined by our friend Matt, an Applications Developer who is one of our earlier supporters and has been rocking his Blue Arctic Silver Mesh since February, only two months after we launched the Brand. Matt agreed to take us out and show us what the inner city has to offer. We start right outside the hotel on the outskirts of the Mission District, which is filled with hip bars, hangouts and local wateringholes, and head north towards the Dragon’s Gate which marks the entrance to Chinatown.
Insider Tip #2: Affordable inner-city hotels can be found either here or towards the northern boundaries of Chinatown just South of Broadway and Columbus Ave.
Probably the best known “Chinatown” of the world, the district once served as the home of the Amero-Chinese martial arts legend Bruce Lee, and although having lost some of this glamour, in the present day still boasts awesome Szechuan and dim-sum restaurants. The best and by coincidence simultaneously most relaxed restaurant is the Spicy King on the corner of Clay Street and Waverley Place, which offers a wide variety of Szechuan delicacies at in a comfortable and homey atmosphere. If Chinese is not your thing, just keep walking North on Grant until you hit Columbus which marks the start of the North Beach district and Little Italy. Here you will find anything from a cheesy slice of P or a mouthwatering cone of gelato, but also arguably the world’s best Cioppino. The Italian-American fish-stew known as Cioppino contains everything from crab, mussels, squid and fish to fresh Roma tomatoes and linguine pasta, and counts as one of the most traditional local specialties. For the best cioppino head to Sotto Mare on Green Street, but be sure to bring plenty of patience with you as waiting times range from 45 minutes to over an hour.
Insider Tip #3: Reservations are a must for any good place to eat in SF – but not all places take reservations for groups smaller than 6 people. The workaround: make a reservation for 6 even if you are only 4 and give the table away once you are seated, claiming two of your friends are no-shows.
After dinner we start off our night at the Top of the Mark, one of the oldest Sky Lounge Bars nestled into the top of the Intercontinental hotel on 999 California Street. Although the bartenders and cocktail maestros are at least in part world-renowned, this is a place to come for the view, not necessarily the drinks. To one side patrons can enjoy a view of the bay and the Golden Gate bridge illuminated by a play of lights after 7pm, or on the other side look back over the sea of houses on the hills that stretches far beyond the city limits. Afterwards we make our way down Nob Hill and into Sansome Street where tucked away, seemingly hidden between skyscraper office buildings and the Federal Reserve, we stumble into The Barrel Room. What seems like just another financial district after-work hangout, actually covets a secret speakeasy located in the establishment’s cellar. Once you figure out that there is a hidden doorway behind a bookshelf at the back you’re in! And from thereon out a quirky theme bar with great cocktails and drinks creations awaits, that even offers a few limited seats in an old vault of a former bank used to be located there.
If all this is too fancy and upscale just continue walking till you are back in the Mission District and check out one of the local wateringholes such as the Tempest on Natoma Street opposite the San Francisco Chronicle building. Here no one cares about class or etiquette as long as you pay for your Beer and Whiskey shot. If grungy and underground is your thing head even further South until you hit Folsom Street. Here within a seemingly unremarkable residential area you can find the best electro, house and techno joints the city has to offer. Check online, book ahead, drink responsibly and don’t piss off the bouncers – ticket sales at the door are only available sometimes and these places tend to fill up fast.
If you exercise a healthy amount of self-discipline and find yourself in bed before the early hours of the morning you might just make it for a run across the Golden Gate bridge in time to see the sunrise. Alternatively head to Fisherman’s wharf for a full Dungeness crab or a bread bowl of clam chowder to cure the hangover. But don’t be fooled by the everyman’s tourguide recommendation to head to one of the sit down restaurants at Pier 39 – these are generally overpriced and the food is mediocre at best. Instead head to Nick’s Lighthouse or Sabella & La Torre off Taylor Street. Still on a pier, just a less famous one, these seafood restaurants have been there since the 1930’s and give you the choice of sitting in the back or standing right outside the crab steamers to enjoy your meal – and boy do they know! From there it’s a stone’s throw to Coit Tower, which although only 64 meters tall, sits atop Telegraph hill and offers stunning views over San Francisco and the Bay. We check our KANEs on top of Coit and find we are quickly running out of time to do all the things and see all the sights SF has to offer.
Insider Tip #4: Park up at Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point, jog across the bridge, and walk back all the way past the viewpoint parking to Battery Spencer for an amazing view of the Golden Gate in front San Francisco’s skyline silhouette and the rising sun.
Before jumping back on the BART we make a quick detour on foot past Lombard Street, a picturesque winding road which although heralded for its beauty and iconicism is just overrun with tourists and picture hunters. Verdict: do not waste your time on going there in person, instead drive/jump over it in you GTA San Andreas ride and score some extra points! We get off the BART at 24th and Mission, which is arguably in the center of the vivid and colorful Latino cultural district. Feeling peckish after our walk up to the Tower, we stumble into the first taqueria we see to grab a quick bite to eat. By pure luck and chance we ended up in Taqueria el Farrolito, which is described as one of the best OG Burrito and Taco havens in the neighborhood – ordering 3 more times before we left, we can only agree! Even Esquire magazine claims their Burritos are absolutely “life-changing” – read the article here.
Insider Tip #5: Street food is often KING! By that we mean way better than fancy restaurants or fine-dine venues. Look for grungy looking exteriors with a line of people outside or follow your nose – what smells good usually tastes good.
We round off our inner city adventures with a 20 minute bus ride to Haight Street, another colorful and ethnically diverse neighborhood that used to be the epicenter of Hippie activity in the 1960s – and arguably still is today. Amongst the many vintage stores and costume boutiques which still have a very 60s Free Love Burning Man kind of feel, a new era of high-end independents and small specialty restaurants have sprung up and nestled themselves in. We stop at one of these called the Blue Front Café where we are privileged to sit and enjoy one of the best damn Greek coffees ever brewed. The Greek-Orthodox brothers Khoury stop by for a quick chat and tell us about how they’ve been doing their thing since the early 90’s. If you need a break between all the shopping, looking and drinking, come here and hang out!
To recover from the adventures of big city life, in the last few days we decided to rent a car and undertake some day trips to nearby oases of calm such as Carmel or Sausalito. Although nice for relaxation and sights from oceanview restaurants, we find most establishments overpriced and not all that great. However renting the car made it possible for us to head across the bay to Berkeley and visit a College American-Football game: UC Berkeley Bears vs. Oregon State Beavers. The Cal Bears kicked some serious Beaver butt! We definitely recommend going to one of these games if you’re into sports, as college tickets are easier and cheaper to obtain than ones for the NFL (and usually more fun too).
Exhausted and filled with glee we return the car and board the plane for the way home. San Francisco has been a pleasure that has filled us not only with amazing tacos and locally brewed craft beers, but also newfound inspiriation and motivation to do great things and change the world!
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