Insider Favorites: JoAnneh’s Guide to San Francisco & Burlingame
When I’m on the road and people ask where I’m from, I always say San Francisco, since that’s the recognizable and geographical draw. But our actual town is Burlingame, about a 15-minute drive from the city center, just beyond the fog line. The town is a quiet, tree-lined, gorgeous little community set just at the base of the rolling mountains and bordering the bay. It has a high-rent vibe (Silicon Valley is right here), but with that comes a bright mix of culture, dining, and a good dose of a progressive Northern California groove. It’s liberal, it’s hip, and it’s more than livable.
What I love: the historical sound of the train bells clanging throughout the day a few blocks away and the amazing walk-friendly downtown just blocks from our place that’s full of groovy restaurants and bars. I’m always charmed by the beautiful, antique-style library. I love cycling through the foothills, jetting over the hill 20 minutes to the Half Moon Bay beaches, or hopping in the car or catching the train and being in the center of San Francisco’s Union Square in the same amount of time. I love that it’s sunny here, that the fog breaks just for us, and that summers are warm and sweet. I love the beautiful 1947 building we live in and all of its charm. My husband and I are very involved in local community work, and that’s drawn us into the heart of our town. Since we spend a lot of time in San Francisco, too, I’ve opened up my favorite places range to include the city as well as our town.
I want to share with you my favorite…
- Quick-service restaurant: Grace’s Tea Plus Noodle Pho house in Burlingame; Himawari for sushi and noodles in San Mateo; La Corneta Taqueria on Mission Street in San Francisco—particularly on Friday afternoons when they have live Mariachi music.
- Mid-range restaurant: Brickhouse in San Francisco for grass-fed, natural everything
- Fancy restaurant: Trapeze in Burlingame; Spruce in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights
- Al fresco dining spot: Miramar Inn, on the patio by the fire, overlooking the ocean
- Chill bar: Il Fornaio or Zambra for Friday night happy hour in Burlingame
- Cocktail bar: Bix Supper Club in San Francisco
- Dance club: We long for the old days when we used to go the big barn of a place on Haight Street called the I-Beam. It was a totally mixed and sweaty crowd in mini-skirts and barely there T-shirts and had huge tequila shots.
- Live music venue: Tuesday night open mic night at Angelica’s in Redwood City
- Sporting event: Oakland Raiders football games (across the bay and easy to get to via the BART train) as well as local girls’ softball and soccer
- Hiking trail: Purisima Trail, accessible from the ridge at Skyline Boulevard or from Half Moon Bay Oceanside—a three-to-four-hour hike through the redwoods and mountains
- Place to get a view of the city: Standing on Nob Hill looking out toward the Bay Bridge
- Place to watch the sunset: Up from the Fillmore in San Francisco on the hill in Alta Plaza Park, looking toward Alcatraz and the Golden Gate
Culture and Attractions
- Museum: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the de Young (both for architecture and for sculpture at the De Young)
- Historical landmark: Walk up from the north side of Telegraph Hill, taking the stairs along the cliff to get to Coit Tower
- Place to take your family: San Mateo Central Park—five minutes away, peaceful, and it’s the place my husband’s and my parents took us when we were children
- Place to take your special someone: Bix Supper Club for one of Bradley’s terrific cocktails, then stay there for dinner or wander over to the historic Tadich Grill for some amazing seafood dishes (I love the crab a la monza). After that, head up the hill for a nightcap at the Fairmont Hotel. If it’s lovely out, head across the street and take a bench in Huntington Square to watch the moonrise.
- Brand-name shopping mall: I shop Burlingame Avenue’s shops and Fillmore Street and Union Square in San Francisco rather than malls. If we’re heading to a mall it’s usually Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto.
- Boutique shopping spot: Santa Cruz’s Pacific Avenue. We love to shop here—we make a day of it, head for downtown, shop, have lunch at Zoccoli’s, go to the beach, come back and have a margarita and burritos on Pacific Avenue, then go to the movies.