I often have people visiting from out of town ask me what to do with a free day in San Francisco. They don’t want to go to the wharf or ride cable cars- they want to do something that the locals do. For me, this always means eating. Below is a step-by-step guide to the perfect day in a wonderful San Francisco neighborhood: The Divisadero Corridor (also sometimes called NoPA, Divis, or Alamo Square). What we lack in the neighborhood for a consistent nomenclature, we make up for with an amazing variety of places to eat and things to see. Welcome to my neighborhood- enjoy your Sunday!
First Stop: The Mill
It’s probably relatively early, so you’ll want to start your day at The Mill. The Mill is a beautiful marriage between local roasters Four Barrel Coffee and Jose Baker Bread. It’s also one of the most beautifully designed coffee shops I’ve ever seen. You’ll want to sit and enjoy a pour-over coffee or cappuccino in the beautiful, bright interior or hang out outside at the parklett.
If you skipped ahead and saw all the high-calorie deliciousness that awaits you and you are thinking about skipping breakfast...think again. Jose Baker Bread is some of the best I’ve ever had. My husband and I are originally from Vermont and for years we could not find the rustic, homemade quality bread that is easy to come by back home. Jose’s bread is baked on premises and delivers everything you want in a thick, warm piece of toast: crunchy outside, chewy inside, rustic, flour-dusted crust and toppings like cream cheese, almond butter or jam. It was no surprise to me to learn that Jose is actually from Vermont. And ladies, he’s also very nice to look at.
Stop 2: Farmer’s Market
After you’ve woken up a little bit, wander down toward the Sunday Divisadero Farmer’s Market. This market is relatively small compared to some of the others in the city, but it’s got everything you need. You can literally start to smell the fresh strawberries from almost a block away. Pick up some of your favorite fruits and veggies for later- you’ll be needing the healthy-food karma.
Stop 3: 4505 Meats
After feeling all fresh and healthy at the farmer’s market, you’ll be ready to attack lunch with vigor at the newest (and much welcome) addition to the neighborhood: 4505 Meats. This brand-new barbecue joint is a wonderful, wonderful place. Their menu is simple: sandwiches, bbq meat platters and side dishes. The atmosphere is easy and unpretentious- you can eat outside in the sun at a picnic table. The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful, offering you drinks while you wait in the long line to order. (There will always be a long line. Just get over it and get in it.)
Get a beer (they have a great selection) and order one of the meat platters. Their classic meat choices like bbq ribs, pulled pork, and brisket are all mouth-wateringly juicy and tender. The platters come with a choice of two of their amazing sides which are (dare I say?) my favorite part. One of the side options is something called Frankaroni- a deep-fried creamy mac and cheese with pieces of hot dog in it! I rest my case.
Stop 4: Alamo Square Park
About this time you will need a break from eating and so a brief foray into sightseeing is in order. Leave 4505 and walk up Grove Street to Alamo Square Park. This gorgeous hilltop park offers great views of the city, frolicking dogs, and picnicing locals. Flop yourself down on the grass and digest for a bit. When you feel up to it again, I suggest walking the perimeter of the park (it’s only one square block) and checking out the classic San Francisco architecture, including the famous Painted Ladies.
Stop 5: Rare Device
Head back down to Divisadero (via Hayes) and do some browsing at one of my favorite local shops- Rare Device. Rare Device is the quintessential San Francisco shop- they have a curated collection of beautifully designed jewelry, art prints, home goods and stationery. A lot of the merchandise is locally made, and you will likely spot a few CBL member’s work there. If you are from out of town, I can’t think of a better place to get a souvenir of your trip that you will actually want to keep.
Stop 6: Bi Rite Creamery
All that sunshine and shopping has likely made you hungry. Wander down Divisadero a little farther and explore the wonders of Bi Rite grocery store. Crazy varieties of fruit you never knew existed, amazing artisan cheeses, and hundreds of locally made products await you. I don’t recommend getting your groceries (hellllloooo $14.99/lb chicken breasts!) but instead getting in line at the creamery- Bi Rite’s ice cream is legendary (and with good reason). Their most famous flavor is the salted caramel, and if you don’t get a scoop of it, at least get a sample. It might change your life.
Stop 7: The Page
It’s been a long day. You couldn’t eat another bite if you tried. I don’t blame you. All you want now is a cold beverage. Walk a few more blocks down Divisadero and grab a table at the neighborhood’s favorite bar: The Page. Cozy is the best word to describe this excellent neighborhood pub. As the wind starts to blow and the fog rolls in, The Page awaits with dark leather and decor that looks like it came out of your grandfather’s hunting lodge. Small but excellent beer selection, pool, and friendly people will keep you occupied as long as you choose to stay.
That was a Sunday well spent. You enjoyed my neighborhood as the locals do- for the most part with your stomach.