Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dining in Glen Park

One of the things that makes San Francisco a great place to live is the number of high quality restaurants found throughout the city. It's nice to be able to have a good meal out without the fuss of going downtown.

Unfortunately, my neighborhood -- the Sunnyside -- continues to be a culinary wasteland. We've got a few mediocre Chinese joints and one bad pizza place. The next neighborhood, Glen Park, was only marginally better for many years. It had a couple of decent breakfast places, but not much else. Then a few years ago, Chenery Park opened. This restaurant serves very good American food in a casual setting. Tuesdays are kids nights, when families with children are welcomed.

A couple of months ago, the dumpy, old pizza place in Glen Park closed. The storefront was transformed, and Gialina Pizzeria opened. This new restaurant makes some of the best thin-crust pizza in San Francisco.

Finally, two weeks ago Le P'tit Laurent, a casual and very reasonably priced French restaurant opened. Owned by Laurent Legendre, formerly co-owner of Clementine in the Richmond District , Le P'tit Laurent offers French classics at a good price. In addition, the wine list contains many good wines with prices under $40/bottle.

More restaurants may be coming to Glen Park, including a sushi restaurant that has been in the planning process for a couple of years.

There is one downside to this growth of restaurants in Glen Park. The neighborhood is so desperate for good food that Gialina Pizzeria and Le P'tit Laurent are constantly packed. I suggest making a reservation if you want to dine at either place.

If you are visiting San Francisco and want to visit one of these neighborhood restaurants, Glen Park is on the BART system. It's a ten minute ride from the Powell Street station to Glen Park. The three restaurants are within two blocks of the Glen Park BART station.

Now, if some good restaurants open in the Sunnyside, I'll be a happy man. Perhaps the new Japanese restaurant will start a trend when it opens.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Summer in Muir Woods

Summer brings the crowds to Muir Woods, home to the coastal redwoods -- the tallest trees in the world. Parking can be difficult, especially on weekends when visitors may need to park a half-mile away from the entrance. Here are three tips for avoiding the crowds and making your visit more enjoyable:

1. Visit early or late. In the summer, Muir Woods is open from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. If you arrive before 9:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m., not only will you avoid the crowds but you will not have to pay an entry fee. I recommend arriving before 9:30 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m. if you want to have a more peaceful experience.

2. Take a tour to the park. The scheduled tour operators all arrive around the same time, so you won't avoid the crowds. However, you will not have the hassle of finding a parking space. If you take a private tour, such as with Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel, you can time your arrival so you are not there when the big tour buses are at the park.

3. Take public transit to the park. Golden Gate Transit runs shuttle buses to Muir Woods from Sausalito, Marin City, and the Manzanita parking lot at the Route 1 exit of US 101 on weekends and holidays through September 30. Buses that stop in Sausalito meet Golden Gate Transit's ferries to and from San Francisco.

Blue Heron provides private, custom tours that include Muir Woods. You also can visit Muir Woods as part of a tour of San Francisco or a tour of Wine Country. For more information, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

"Stairway Walks in San Francisco"

When touring in San Francisco, my guests frequently comment about the hills and the steepness of the streets. They say how San Franciscans must be in good shape if we are going to climb up and down the hills.

One can easily plan a walk to avoid the hills; however, it's fun to take walks that include ascending and descending some of the hills. A great guide to help you enjoy San Francisco's hills is "Stairway Walks in San Francisco" by Adah Bakalinsky and Marian Gregoire. The 27 walks detailed in the book explore many of the City's hills and feature the stairways that facilitate walking from level to level. Many of the stairways were built where the hills are too steep for roads.

My favorite walks are on Russian Hill. Here you can see homes that escaped destruction in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire and explore Macondray Lane, a narrow alley that was the inspiration for Armistead Maupin's Barbary Lane in his "Tales of the City" series of books.

If you are planning to visit San Francisco, purchase "Stairway Walks in San Francisco" before you arrive so you can read about the various walks and then follow the routes that look like the most fun during your stay. If you would like help with planning your visit to San Francisco, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.