Travel like a local: Living in San Francisco
During a recent trip to San Francisco, we interviewed our friend (and San Francisco local) Tyler Block about what it’s like to call San Francisco home. Consider his “best of” tips when planning your next trip to San Francisco.
No Vacation Required (NVR): A lot of people dream of living in a place like San Francisco. Tell us what it’s like to call San Francisco home.
Tyler Block (TB): I’m very proud to call San Francisco my home. This city is so culturally diverse, and the districts and food truly represent that—and make for an amazing experience.
NVR: Let’s say someone is planning a trip to San Francisco. How long do you recommend they stay and what area do you recommend they stay in?
TB: I think a week would be best, and I would definitely find a place in the Lower Nob (that’s where we live). It’s away from Union Square avoiding the tourists there, but also in a place that’s super central to everything else you might want to do in the city. The Tenderloin is right below us and that’s probably the grungiest and most ghetto part of the city; it provides a lot of character though for the surrounding neighborhoods, and it influences a lot of the international food choices we have nearby. We’re also a quick 15-minute walk to the Fisherman’s Wharf or North Beach or Chinatown.
NVR: What are three can’t-miss activities?
TB: 1. Biking along Crissy Field and across the Golden Gate Bridge.
2. Taking a walk in Lands End, checking out the labyrinth and the Sutro Baths. The best views of the coast are here—as well as an amazing panorama of the Golden Gate Bridge.
3. Heading over to the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building on Saturday morning and taking in the sites and sounds.
NVR: We’ve been to the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building! What’s your favorite purchase when you are there?
TB: Chanterelle mushrooms at Far West Fungi. Also, sourdough breads from Della Fattoria—made in brick ovens, heated by a wood fire.
NVR: Where is one place you take all of your out-of-town guests?
TB: On a walk through Chinatown and through North Beach, which is our little Italy. From there, it’s a question of “how do you like your pasta?”
San Francisco doesn’t have a single identity, which is what I love about this city. You can go up one hill and be in China, go down another and be in Mexico, over another hill and be in Italy or France or Turkey. There is so much diversity and so many beautiful places to visit that you will never get sick of this city.
NVR: Okay, we’re going to make you give it up. What’s your insider restaurant pick? Why?
TB: LihoLiho Yacht Club! A Hawaiian-French fusion restaurant with great food and great cocktails, nestled below Nob Hill. Strong drinks and mostly standing room only—make your reservations well in advance.
NVR: That sounds delicious, and you know we love a Hawaiian vibe. Which dish should we order?
TB: Fried oyster with beef carpaccio. It comes in threes, but ask for a fourth to share with your date.
NVR: And we’re going to make you do the same for your favorite bar? Why?
TB: Le Colonial. You enter from a nondescript door on the street and through a curtain. It’s like Casablanca but just Vietnamese/French instead. They have a live band and swing dancing most nights.
NVR: Two questions: What cocktail should we order and can we go after this interview?
TB: Go for the Bonnie and Clyde (rye whiskey, housemade hibiscus syrup, fresh lemon and pale ale) and the Grand Greyhound (basil vodka, St. Germain elderflower, grapefruit, lemon and fresh basil). And, yes!
NVR: What’s one thing that you think more visitors should know about San Francisco?
TB: San Francisco is only the starting point to an amazing Northern California experience. If you want to witness the most amazing coastline you can drive up Highway 1, or you can drive through the rolling hills with grape vines and wineries situated in Napa Valley or Sonoma. You can also hike among giant redwoods right across the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco is the city meets the outdoors, and there’s so much to explore along the way.
What do you love about San Francisco?
After traveling with Cirque Du Soleil for seven years as an acrobat, Tyler—a Bay Area native—returned to pursue a career in coffee, which evolved into a career with a small start-up that rates restaurants.