Today, I’m kicking off a new series that I hope will encourage me to get out and explore my city whenever I’m home for a weekend in the Bay. San Francisco Neighbourhoods highlights some of my favourite places to eat, explore and unwind in distinct parts of the city, and I’d be amiss not to get the ball rolling with my own neighbourhood: Fillmore.
When we moved to San Francisco in 2014 we were completely fresh to the Bay – I’d never visited the States, and Navin had only been to Hawaii, so to move our lives over to another Hemisphere was kinda a big deal. The aspect of moving that scared me in the most was finding a neighbourhood to live in with zero knowledge of the city. Back in Sydney, the area where we lived was so important to us – most of our family and friends lived within a 15 minute radius, we had our go-to food spots, great transportation and our church just up the road. We certainly didn’t travel anywhere nearly as much as we do now, so our neighbourhood was our life blood, and I was determined to find something that somewhat matched that feeling in San Francisco.
After a couple of weeks of unsuccessfully responding to Craigslist postings and a handful of apartment tours, we stumbled on The Fillmore Center – a complex in the heart of Fillmore, also known as the Western Edition. We loved the vibe of Fillmore – the amazing restaurants, supermarket across the road, farmer’s market every Saturday, historic music venue (The Fillmore) and great bus routes on our doorstep. It didn’t take us long to sign the contract and move in a few short days later.
31 months on, and we’ve loved getting to know the history of our neighbourhood (the original Jazz district of San Francisco) and nothing makes me happier than a slow-paced stroll up Fillmore St on a sunny weekend afternoon. Our street is lined with dozens of restaurants and shops, so this list could be endless, (and I definitely need to dedicate an entire post to State Bird Provisions – oh my word!) but here are a few highlights from a lazy Sunday afternoon date from a few weeks ago:
Smitten: We may have started our day a little backwards, but when is it ever not a good time for ice cream?! Smitten has to be one of my favourite ice creameries in San Francisco (though Salt & Straw just opened a few blocks north – shall go for a taste test soon!) – serving the best liquid nitrogen churned ice cream in the Bay. The flavours are always inventive but this time I opted for a personal favourite – Salted Caramel with Tcho’s Chocolate Sauce. Pro Tip: leave time to wait in line – there’s always a line at Smitten, and get the $4 small cup – it comes with two scoops and may even be enough for two people looking for a sweet hit!
Pizzeria Delfina: We didn’t eat here this particular day, but since it’s next door to Smitten, it deserves an honourable mention. A good Margherita and glass of Sangiovese never go wrong in my books and Delfina serves both. This pizza is so tasty – thin base and the perfect amount of cheese – so good I may have ordered delivery to my apartment just once or twice.
Glaze: We ended our night with a quick bite at Glaze – one of my favourite ‘fast restaurants’ on Fillmore. Tipping is still something that frustrates me in the States, so I’m all for what I call ‘fast restaurants’ – fast food speed, but restaurant quality meals that you pay upfront for, so you don’t have to leave a huge tip for service later (though a couple of dollars at purchase is definitely appreciated!) Glaze serves delicious teriyaki chicken (or your preferred protein!) – either with salad or rice and an optional side of veggies or gyozas (dumplings in any form, yes please!) Service is fast, food is delicious and reasonably priced, and the staff are super friendly. You can’t go wrong!
Catch a film at Sundance Kabuki Cinema: Okay, I’m still in denial that AMC has taken over our beloved neighbourhood cinema as of last month, but luckily they’ve kept the full service bar, comfortable seats, and order to your seat menu (albeit more commercial – AMC style food). This place used to have the best movie popcorn I’ve ever tasted, not to mention killer smoothies, but despite the recent changes, it’s still a well priced, comfortable and excellently located cinema (great for a before or after film bite on Fillmore!) We saw The Circle (ugh, have never been so disappointed with a film before!) and you can check out the latest movie showing times here. Pro Tip: If you’re looking for the original movie house vibe I described above, your next best bet is Alamo Drafthouse in the Mission (will feature in a future post!)
Get a blow-out at The Dry Bar: Didn’t fit this into my afternoon on Fillmore, but for a day of pampering, a quick stop over at The Dry Bar is a must – blow-outs for $45 that last 3-4 days (pending you’re not walking down Fillmore on a disastrously windy day!) with talented staff, old rom-coms playing in the background and a glass of champagne? Win, win, win.
Nars: I’m a little obsessed with Nars make-up, and as much as I love racking up my Sephora points by topping up on foundation there, I do love talking to the Nars ladies to get the run down on their latest products and nab some samples. Nars on Fillmore is one of my favourite places to poke around for new eye shadows or lip sticks, just keep an eye on your watch, time somehow seems to fly by when you’re in there (unless of course you have a partner who can pull you away!)
Paper Source: While I miss my all time favourite stationary store; Kikki K (Aussie friends reading this, never take for granted how truly wonderful and unique Kikki K is!), Paper Source is a close second and as soon as I walk into the store I may as well surrender my credit card. This shop is small compared to its Marina counterpart but fits plenty inside with a huge selection of cards, gifts for any occasion, and all the perfectly timed seasonal knick knacks a stationary and travel accessory obsessed girl like me could want. Rose gold passport holder? You bet. Purse with rainbow pom poms? Just take my money already.
Okay, there you have it – an afternoon on Fillmore. I’d love to say my next San Francisco Neighbourhoods blog will be much shorter and digestible, but there’s likely even more to say about the next place. I truly love this city!
Let me know your favourite place to eat on Fillmore in the comments, or share a suggestion for the next neighbourhood to explore!