NFT San Francisco Russian Hill / Fisherman's Wharf

Russian Hill / Fisherman's Wharf

Join your sweetheart in a romp through romantic Russian Hill. Steep, tree-lined hills inhabited by old-money families give way to leafy enclaves offering unbeatable views of the city and the Bay. Down along the waterfront, tourists and buskers entertain each other at Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, and the Cannery at Del Monte Square.

Head to Hyde and Polk Streets for the eclectic mix of cafés, restaurants, boutiques, and bars. On both streets, outposts for the posh set mingle with longtime local businesses. On sunny days, grab an ice cream from Swensen's and watch tourist-packed cable cars grind to and from the Wharf below.See more.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
People Soup: Tourist Tourism

By Dan Bollwinkel
Tourists: Graceless, smelly, and reminiscent of an M.C. Escher lithograph. Or so Dan Bollwinkel would have us believe. But that doesn't mean the fools are all bad. After all, they sure know how to pick a pretty bridge to photograph, and they do serve as visual examples of how the other 49 states live. So swallow your pride, and flagrantly violate the eponymous creed of our books and website. Follow the tourists!


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Peter Malfatti
Photo:  Peter Malfatti

Bistro Boudin
What's a trip to San Francisco without chomping on some sourdough? What's a great trip to San Francisco without enjoying some freakin' sweet Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl? Yup, my mouth is watering, too. Located at Fisherman's Wharf, overlooking Alcatraz, Boudin Bakery allows you to take a small tour and through huge windows watch them make the bread, and then go upstairs to the bistro and enjoy it. I'm a huge Clam Chowder fan. If it's on the menu, I must have it. When someone told me a long time ago that I have the option of not just enjoying some great Clam Chowder, but then eating the receptacle it's served in, it was a gift from the heavens. Boudin obviously isn't the only place to do it, but they certainly are the masters at it. How is it that more restaurants don't put their chowder in a Sourdough bread bowl? Can anyone tell me?

Posted By:  Cheri Lucas
Photo:  Cheri Lucas

Swensen's Ice Cream
From their Green Tea to Turkish Coffee to Cookie Dough flavors, this sweet shop at the corner of Union and Hyde is a neighborhood delight. There's often a line out the door, whether it's a hot afternoon or a Friday or Saturday night, when folks shuffle out of nearby restaurants like Zarzuela, Frascati, and Luella. (And if the bar crowd down on Polk has the energy to walk up the hill, you'll sometimes have to wait to order among drunks, too.) Overall, Swensen's is a tried-and-true stop for ice cream. Its only shortcoming? It's closed on Mondays, and when you don't remember this, it's quite a let down.

Posted By:  Jennifer Anthony
Photo:  Jennifer Anthony

Cobb's Comedy Club
Few activities promote psychological health like a night out at a comedy club. In 2009, Cobb's Comedy Club in North Beach is celebrating its 25th year doing its part to make people happy and mentally fit. In January, Cobb's is also participating in the Eighth Annual SF Sketchfest, a month-long festival held at various venues throughout the City. My friends and I were lucky enough to catch a staged reading of the MTV show The Hills, with such comedic greats as Janeane Garofalo, Rob Huebel, Rob Riggle, Rachael Harris, Mike Phirman, Tom Kenny (the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants), Dannah Feinglass, Danielle Schneider and Robin Shorr. The crowd was fun. The drinks were strong. The performance was zany and funny. After a stressful workweek, the comedic timing and spirit lifting came just in time to lift our spirits.

Posted By:  Dan Bollwinkel
Photo:  Dan Bollwinkel

San Francisco Art Institute
A recent work experience led me to the campus of the San Francisco Art Institute, where among the typically entertaining sight of undergraduate art students in full ennui regalia huddled in angst-soaked chain smoking sessions, I stumbled upon one of the better views in all of San Francisco. Aside from the sweeping vistas of Alcatraz, the bay, and Coit Tower from the observation level and cafe, there is of course much more to see at the architecturally stunning part Mission-era, part modernist concrete-and-glass campus. One of the city's four Diego Rivera murals, entitled The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City (1931) adorns an entire wall of one of the campus' larger galleries, and is something to behold. After that, either sit and behold one of the very creative and mildly pretentious sandwiches from the school's public cafe, or plop down on a bench with your brown bag and take it all in. Everything tastes better when you're surrounded by beautiful--and strange--things.

Posted By:  Cynthia Popper
Photo:  Cynthia Popper

Girls enjoy a good pedicure the way guys enjoy a fine scotch and a ball game. It’s the simple pleasures that make life grand, and Lavande Nail Spa in Russian Hill certainly aims to please in grand style, but without the big spa price. Sweet tea and munchies greet you as you select your colors and sit down for your 40 minute Spa classic. Waxing, manicures, facials, and massages are also available, but the Pedi-centric should arrive early to browse the shop’s trendy shoe selection. Product selection includes polishes by Chanel, Opi, and Essie, with footwear by L.A. designer Joseph Griffin.

Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

It’s one of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks, but why have I been there and seen it only once? And that was only when I tagged along with a friend when her friend was visiting from overseas. Even my cousins who’ve never lived on the West Coast have been there more times than I have. Along with Cable Cars and Alcatraz, it’s one of the few things that most born-and-bred San Franciscans and Bay Area natives wouldn’t be caught dead doing. True, the reason for its curves and turns is that it would be too dangerous and risky to roll down the 27-degree slope, rather than to make it a tourist attraction. But for its neighbors, it must get old dealing with the traffic going down, while tourists stand by and gawk. I have to admit, though, it would be a dream to live by a street as picturesque as this one. And I’ll admit one last thing: when I saw it for the first time, I became one of those camera-wielding tourists. Don’t tell my bosses at NFT.

Posted By:  Lina Swislocki
Photo:  Lina Swislocki

Le Petit Robert
Apparently, San Francisco has a French quarter. Not that it has anything on that of New Orleans, but it exists; and it’s kickin’. Let’s say that it’s 9 pm on a Sunday, and you are overtaken by the desire for crème brulèe. And not just any crème brulèe. You want good crème brulèe. And coffee. Yeeeeeeeeessssssssssss. On a night such as that, you should take yourself to Le Petite Robert, on Green and Polk. You should get dessert and coffee. You should sit outside and watch the traffic and the neighbors and the drunks from the near-by bars. Truthfully, the menu is probably overpriced. We paid $13 for a cup of house coffee, an espresso, and of course, a crème brulè. But all of it was so delicious and the service was so great that we truthfully did not mind. The restaurant has delightful street-side patio seating in addition to the usual indoor tables, a full bar and a complete menu. They open at 11:30 for lunch and stay open until 10-ish (said our waitress) for desert and what-have-you. It was like Paris without the stench and pretension. And, of course, the desert was delicious.

Posted By:  Jody Ryan
Photo:  Courtesy of Ghirardelli Square

Ghirardelli Square
Calling all chocolate lovers…this is your event! For an entire weekend, Ghirardelli Square at Fisherman’s Wharf, will host its 10th Annual Chocolate Festival benefiting Project Open Hands. Festival-goers will have the opportunity to sample specimens from more than 20 booths offering treats from the Bay Area’s most praised eateries and bakeries. Visitors can attend chef demonstrations, participate in the “hands-free” Earthquake Sundae Eating Contest, decorate cookies, have their face painted, and, of course, eat chocolate! The event is free and open to the public, except for chocolate tasting, which costs $18 for one person, $14 for 2 people, and $20 for 3 people. Each person gets five chocolate samples from any of the participating vendors.

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