Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oldest Buildings in Downtown San Francisco

Jackson Square is home to the oldest buildings in downtown San Francisco.  Built in the 1850s and 1860s, these buildings survived destruction in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire three times.  The story is amusing and to hear it, you'll either have to take a private tour of San Francisco with Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel or join one of the walking tours that frequents the neighborhood.  The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society offers walks along the Barbary Coast Trail that visit Jackson Square.

To commemorate the survival of these buildings, a ditty was written in 1906 and memorialized on a plaque on the building wall on the east side of Hotaling Alley at the corner of Jackson Street.  The poem goes:  "If, as they say, God spanked the town for being over-frisky, why did he burn the churches down and spare Hotaling's Whiskey?

Be sure to check out the old bank on the northeast corner of Jackson and Montgomery Streets.  The plaque on the Jackson Street side of the building tells you about the bank director who want on to fame as a Union general during the civil war.

Today, Jackson Square is home to upscale antique, shops, galleries, and restaurants.  To see a listing of retail establishments in the area, visit the Jackson Square Antique and Art Dealers Association website:  www.jacksonsquaresf.com.

To take a private, custom tour of San Francisco that includes a visit to Jackson Square and many other historical sights, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Neighborhood French Restaurants

I enjoy casual French bistros with friendly staff, nice ambience, and both traditional and contemporary French cuisine.  I don't want anything fancy.  I just want to feel like I'm in France for a little while.  In January, I wrote about Le P'tite Laurent in Glen Park that I enjoy immensely.  The owner, Laurent, is always friendly; the staff are from France; and the food is delicious.

Last night, we dined at L'Ardoise the chalk board) in the Castro Disrict, another bistro that makes me yearn to return to France.  We had a charcuterie plate with tasty pates and sausages, an interesting portobello mushroom salad, and butter fish with potatoes landaises, a French classic.  The wine selection is mostly French with a few interesting Californians thrown in for variety.

Another good neighborhood restaurant is Baker Street Bistro, near the Presidio's Lombard Street Gate.  Here too you'll find some French classics at reasonable prices.  Unlike Le P'tite Laurent and L'Ardoise, Baker Street Bistro is also open for lunch and weekend brunch.

I recommend checking out any of these restaurants next time you want a quick hit of France without the hassle of standing in line at the airport.  If you have any additional recommendations, please comment.