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Among many familiar images of the greatest cities that come to mind from classic American movies, San Francisco is one of the most prominent. Of course, it's no Hollywood, but no doubt it at least shares second place with New York. San Francisco's notable standing among other significant cities is no accident, but is due to incredible uniqueness of its evolution. This city has repeatedly made its way into the history books, and has become one of the most famous cities in the world.
San Francisco is surrounded by waterfronts; on the East lays the San Francisco Bay which at its widest point is almost 20 miles wide and spans 60 miles; while the Pacific Ocean lies on the West. San Francisco's close proximity to the ocean keeps its climate mild, with soft transitions between seasons. The locals sarcastically refer to its weather as "a phenomenon which is always with you". San Francisco is a city of skyscrapers, drifting sand dunes, glorious bridges, and wooden electric street cars which have been around for more than 150 years.
This magnificent city has survived two catastrophic earthquakes and gave birth to a spring of the universal love - the hippy movement. This is the place where the television and the microprocessor were invented to forever change the way of life and work of the mankind. Here is where AIDS was diagnosed for the first time as a reminder that human civilization is vulnerable to diseases in spite all of its great technological advancement. Millions of tourists from all over the world come to San Francisco to find surprisingly that romanticism still exists on the far West.
No wonder one of the popular souvenirs here is a music box that plays a nostalgic song "I left my heart in San Francisco..." San Francisco is perhaps the least American city among all the US megalopolises. From the beginning, it has taken a very special place in the American history.
The oddity of this city shows even in how it was born. San Francisco was founded in 1776 by an expedition of Spanish monks who in a thick fog missed their destination, city of Monterey. Instead, they reached a bay which was later named after Saint Francis. Spaniards quickly built a Catholic temple, the so called Mission, which was supposed to bring knowledge and kindness, but brought devastation and death to the early natives. The land was taken from the natives in the name of Spanish crown by cruel force, with muskets and swords.
However, in 1848 history had corrected its miss. In an unusual turn of fortune, this sleepy settlement of 700 Christians became the headlines of all newspapers of the world: 70 miles from the settlement, in the foothills of Sierra Nevada, was found ... gold. Countries from around the world sent their best gentlemen of fortune, adventurers, swindlers, journalists, gangsters, builders, prostitutes and saints to dig, rinse, weigh, search and seize, for purchase and theft, construction and robbery, gambling and praying, binge drinking and poetry-making, for honor and deadly sin; they came to create unseen in history blend of races, cultures, languages, traditions, laws and freedoms - all that gave it its scathing, but accurate name - Wild West!
One and a half century later, California has become the most populous and affluent states in America. New cities were built with incredible buildings and highways, new businesses were established, but San Francisco, the city were all these had begun, remains the symbol of everything that brought to this place people from around the world in their pursuit of happiness.
Freedom and tolerance multiplied by incredible entrepreneurship, ambition and risk taking of the pioneers, created this astonishing city where you can find everything to your taste. Speaking of taste, there is no accounting for it in San Francisco. Its architecture can be described by just one word - eclectic. It seamlessly weaves quarters of Victorian houses of the late 19th century with Spanish villas, ultra-modern Catholic Church with imperial monumentalism of the City Council, pyramids of skyscrapers with bungalows of freelance artists.
Here, in San Francisco, had blossomed the genius of and utter banality of ; socialists from the University of California, Berkeley, peacefully carry on an endless war with conservatives from Stanford University, although mostly in baseball matches. One can walk in the city forever. Each of the countless hills opens amazing vistas of the Bay, mountains, ocean and bridges. But the city is mocking you with its crazy landscape - you can not physically get over more than a couple of these hills by foot, but it always seems that the most incredible view is still ahead.
And you start to believe that the famous American action movies with police car chasing and rolling over were made here, although the residents of these incredibly expensive neighborhoods see police only when they watch those movies. Ingenuity of the American engineers is striking; both the American trolley and streetcar use just a single wire current collector; famous Bay Bridge's support beams are mounted on boat-like floating pontoons; skyscrapers are built on special rollers in order to withstand earthquakes.
Plurality of sexual orientations is in plain view; an absence of a "rainbow" bumper sticker might tell that the car is likely rented by a tourist. There are many homeless people here, who contend for the warmer spot near the metro ventilation grids.
Similarly, sea lions also fight for the best place on the floating wharfs. What is common for these two populations (homeless and sea lions) is that both are fed by the tourists; ones get some change, others get pieces of bread from hamburgers.
Tourists have to sign up a month in advance to get to a tour of the notorious Alcatraz island-prison, once considered the toughest Federal prison in America. China Town strikes with its neatness and cleanness.
Downtown impresses with its green squares and very few people. Wonders don't stop in the city itself. Outside of it, groves of giant sequoia trees border with renowned vineyards of the Napa Valley, petrified forest leads to geothermal wells and springs which guarantee eternal youth, although who can prove that?
Mountain skiing resorts of the Squaw Valley neighbor the magnificent highlands of Lake Tahoe, and right next to it there is a vanity fair of Nevada casinos of Reno, the younger sister city of the famous Las Vegas. If you are planning to visit San Francisco, this utterly strange, contradictory, and all liberal city, do not try to prepare yourself reading numerous guide books. Just watch Basic Instinct - the movie that could only be made in San Francisco; you will find there everything you need: mysticism, haze, little homosexuality, cliffs and the ocean, and , and of course car chasing.
Well, maybe you shouldn't waste your time at all because when you come to San Francisco, you will be surprised and captivated anyway, and everything will be different from what you expected.
You will see this city from a different angle. The geometry of its images is unique and cannot be described by any stereotype. It will inevitably show you its unmatched, unusual and ever-changing sides that nobody has ever seen besides you. Don't argue about that with those who saw it before or after you. It was a different city, at a different time and for different people...
Yes, it is strange, yes, it is unforgettable, and yes, you risk to "leave your heart in San Francisco..." “Every time we have business visitors from Russia or Ukraine, we always call Questing California Co.
For us it's one stop solution for reliable and professional tour guides, escort personnel and technical interpreters. They're the best and always available even on a short notice.
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With a flood of tech funds still rolling in, many San Francisco restaurants are putting their money where the mouths of their patron's are. Anyone who has read the news about the Bay Area lately knows the biggest topic is the continued surge of tech money into the city's coffers. Although many locals are legitimately concerned about gentrification and the displacement of longtime Bay Area residents, astute and thoughtful business opportunists are taking advantage of this surge of funds.
Restaurants, for example, are doing everything they can to enhance what they are already offering. Whether they decide to expand their wine lists or diversify their organic choices, one thing's for sure: it's a fantastic time to dine out in San Francisco.
Although San Francisco has always been known for its food, now is the time to visit and try out some of the world's best fare. From perfect pasta in to sizzling Szechuan in Chinatown, the variety and quality of Bay Area dining is incomparable. And just when it looked like dining couldn't get any better, a new wave of restaurants emphasizing local and organic ingredients has flooded the city.
Here's our mix and match of the old and the new tastes of San Francisco. Simplicity and authenticity reign at this small, popular restaurant. Zinc tabletops and exotic hardwoods bear this out, as does the incomparable Italian fare with its top-notch local and organic ingredients. Although Delfina has garnered much acclaim since it premiered, the trattoria still delights with casual ambience, friendly service and satisfyingly reasonable prices; all boons to dining aficionados. Delfina is a great example of a restaurant that doesn't just rest on its past success.
While the service and quality of some fine dining restaurants seems to drop their popularity rises, Delfina's innovative menu is always searching for that next big and bold taste. If romance is the reason you've come to The City by the Bay, Boulevard is the picturesque place to dine.
Located in an historic waterfront building, this eatery's intimate Belle Epoque aesthetic and sumptuous food hit all the right notes. The menu showcases regional flavors and French style with dishes like Sonoma Foie Gras and California Sea Bass a la Plancha.
A sommelier and 500-item wine list ensure the perfect pairing. Surrounded by Pat Kuleto's timeless Belle Epoque inspired design, Chef Oakes wonderful expression of American regional flavors with a French influenced style has made Boulevard a culinary landmark on San Francisco's revived Embarcadero waterfront. Patrons can't find enough good things to say about La Folie, the small family-run restaurant that mixes sure-handed French cuisine with a refreshing lack of pretense. In the intimate dining room, lush drapery, mirrors and exotic woods impart a note of luxury.
The aesthetic is echoed beautifully in the restaurant's artful fare. Chef Roland Passot's joie de vivre shines through in his cooking and is visible in quail and foie gras lollipops, a trio of roasted rabbit with baby vegetables, and sautéed halibut cheeks with tomato confit. Three-, four- and five-course meals satisfy many appetites, as do vegetarian and à la carte options. If you believe the most successful plan is a simple one, Flour and Water might just be the spot for you.
The name says it all; Chef Thomas McNaughton is serious about the flour and water that goes into his many different kinds of pasta, pasta that he insists on getting right time and time again. (He was trained in Bologna by "committed pasta artisans.") But don't fear that dinner will just be a bowl of pasta; the pasta based dishes are enlivened and dresesd up with a gorgeous array of locally sustained fruits, vegetables and meats.
This is cooking with a conscience, for sure. Greens, one of the city's finest vegetarian establishments, is owned and operated by the San Francisco Zen Center, which helps supply it with organic produce.
Inside the voluminous space, diners are afforded spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay. Chef Annie Somerville, the creative force behind the menu, has an artistic touch, as proven by Asian-inspired curries, fresh pizzas and luscious pastas.
Soups, sandwiches and salads also delight taste buds, as does a tempting wine list. The view is a calm and tranquil shot of the bay, at least on days when the fog hasn't rolled in. Nopa defies categorization as either old or new because it has some of both. Although it's only been around since 2006, chef Laurence Jossel worked at several traditional and popular restaurants before Nopa and brings professionalism and expertise to every dish.
But tradition bends to experimentation, and that wonderful blend creates some of Nopa's most famous dishes, such as Moroccan vegetable tangine and wood-roasted king salmon. What's more, as one of the more popular restaurants in the city, Nopa makes a concerted effort to be a friendly, active, and concerned neighbor. And from Prather Ranch to Balakian Farms, Nopa's dedication to local, organic, and sustainable products is truly impressive.
Acquerello's mission statement says it best: "At Acquerello, we believe that refined luxury is always in style. Our desire is to provide our guests an experience of classic and contemporary Italian tastes in an elegant dining atmosphere." Elegant and subdued, this intimate restaurant (whose name means "watercolor") exhibits artistry in both cuisine and appearance. Its serene ambience and its vaulted, beamed ceiling evoke Acquerello's former incarnation as a chapel.
Contemporary Italian dishes are the main draw, though, and a frequently-changing menu features dishes like parsley-encrusted pork loin, beef carpaccio with hearts of palm and black truffles, and tuna in fennel-dill crust with saffron sauce. The wine list features fine Italian and California vintages. If you ask a longtime San Franciscan what's the one restaurant a tourist shouln't miss, chances are they'd say Gary Danko's. Hard to knock this longtime favorite off any list.
Sleek and contemporary yet warm and inviting, this restaurant showcases classical culinary knowledge, a flair for the creative, and an appreciation for local ingredients. All are in attendance on the restaurant's seasonal menus, which include dishes like mushroom-dusted sea scallops with cauliflower purée, juniper-crusted venison, and Moroccan-spiced squab with orange-cumin carrots. The cheese cart alone, a delectable delight that rolls out up to twenty different cheeses from all over the world, is alone worth a visit.
High ceilings and awesome Bay views establish a unique atmosphere at this well-received waterfront venue. Style and spectacle are grounded, though, by Slanted Door's authentic country Vietnamese dishes, which get a California kick from local ingredients.
Taste the results in the catfish claypot, crispy peppercorn duck, shaking beef, spicy squid and mesquite-grilled pork chops. Spring rolls also come highly recommended, and great cocktails and scrumptious desserts are worth indulging in. And with a world-famous chef/owner like Charles Phan in charge (author of the fantastic cook book "Vietnamese Home Cooking"), you'll get quite a crowd.
And don't forget to keep an eye out for celebrities! The magnificence of Benu begins with James Beard award-winning chef and owner Corey Lee. The best example of how seriously this Asian/American fusion restaurant takes its food is the fact Lee spent over a year just planning the idea of his restaurant with the best purveyors, gardeners, designers, architects and manufacturers he could find.
From that high ideal, everything else flows, including the impeccable and knowledgeable serving staff and the inventive small courses, which are delicious on their own and downright unforgettable when thoughtfully paired with each other and the fantastic wine list. If you are ready to eat - and willing to pay for - a meal that is planned from the moment you step into the door to the moment you leave, visit Benu.
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