THE BLOG

5 San Francisco Secrets You Won't Find in Guidebooks

From neighborhood pop-ups to back-alley street art to the most precisely curated design shops, the city is teeming with cool happenings.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

2016-03-03-1457047428-4261676-Spot_SpottedSF_Sightglass_Coffee_San_Francisco_Intro.jpg
When most people think of San Francisco, they think: bridge, cable cars, Alcatraz (we get it, Clint Eastwood was great in that movie). But, from neighborhood pop-ups to back-alley street art to the most precisely curated design shops, the city is teeming with cool happenings. And we should know--we're based here.

When we want to play tourist, we frequently hit the blog Spotted SF for fresh ideas. It's the passion project of San Francisco-native Leslie Santarina, who does all the writing and photography for her finger-on-the-pulse little black book in her spare time. Her approach to discovering new places in her city is simple, and profound:

"I think about one thing that would bring joy to my day, do it, and see what else I can explore around it."

An SF lifer, Santarina is intimately familiar with nearly every last corner of this city, so we asked her to share a few amazing experiences you're not likely to find in a guidebook about San Francisco.

Below you'll find her five picks. But first, the one definitely-in-a-guidebook place she considers worth it? "The Ferry Building--especially on Saturday morning, which is farmers-market day. It's a great opportunity to see, taste, and shop from the best local food growers and makers. Come hungry and eat your way through all the stalls in the building."

From the team at Spot. Get our brand-new app for free in the App Store.

2016-03-03-1457047457-2906973-Spot_SpottedSF_The_Mill_San_Francisco.jpg

BYOB Pizza Night: The Mill

The Whereabouts:
"The Mill is a cafe and bread shop on Divisadero Street in the NOPA neighborhood."
The Scoop:
"They are known for great coffee, thick slices of toast with toppings, and fresh loaves of bread made onsite by head-baker Josey Baker's team. Yes, that's his real name."
The Insider Tip:
"My favorite time to go is for Monday Night Pizza. It is a one-type, no-options pizza on a really delish sourdough crust. You can order by the slice or a whole pie. The best part is that it's BYOB. It makes for a tasty, affordable, and casual walk-in dinner spot."

2016-03-03-1457047489-4029813-Spot_SpottedSF_Perish_Trust_San_Francisco.jpg

A New Kind of General Store: The Perish Trust

The Whereabouts:
"You'll also find this gem on Divisadero Street in NOPA."
The Scoop:
"It's a general store full of vintage items, found pieces, handmade objects from local artists, beautiful quarterly magazines, and books. You'll discover something new each time you visit. And owners Rod and Kelly are a fun duo."
The Insider Tip:
"They host a number of pop-ups throughout the year to showcase the work of local and visiting artisans."

2016-03-03-1457047681-9187481-Spot_SpottedSF_Freda_Salvador_San_Francisco.jpg

A Local Cult Footwear Line: Freda Salvador

The Whereabouts:
"Their shop is on Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights."
The Scoop:
"The two designers behind the brand--Megan and Cristina--understand the modern, always-on-the-go SF woman. Their designs are cool and casual, elegant but edgy, and totally walkable, and each pair is made with lush leathers and cool hardware in Spain. You can easily go from day-to-night in these."
The Insider Tip:
"They host a killer sample sale each year."

2016-03-03-1457047708-9694968-Spot_SpottedSF_Sightglass_Coffee_San_Francisco.jpg

A Trending Neighborhood Strip: The 20th Street Corridor

The Whereabouts:
"Essentially it's the section of 20th Street that runs between South Van Ness and Potrero Avenue in the Mission District."
The Scoop:
"It's full of great eateries including
,
,
,
, and
(above). Sightglass is a warm and cozy spot serving coffee freshly roasted on site and some of the best baked goods in the city. Salumeria is a delicious spot for lunch with a bright, enclosed patio that's perfect for any kind of weather. And Trick Dog is a bar with one of the city's most inventive menus. There's also a thriving artist community here with plenty of studios, galleries, and street art to explore."
The Insider Tip:
"Trick Dog's cocktail menu is ever-changing--the most recent is inspired by a kitchy-cute dog calendar. But there is always a 'Trick Dog' you can order off the food menu, which is a hamburger shaped like a hot dog."
2016-03-03-1457047760-3595757-Spot_SpottedSF_Heath_Ceramics_San_Francisco.jpg

An Artisan Hub: Heath Ceramics

The Whereabouts:
"A couple blocks away from the 20th Street corridor."
The Scoop:
"Heath Ceramics has been making beautiful dinnerware since the 1940s and several years ago they took over a massive campus space to house their tile factory, a retail showroom, a gallery to feature the works of visiting artists, a café, and other artists' studios in the adjoining spaces."
The Insider Tip:
"You can visit all of these by signing up for a tour. And soon they'll have a bakery and restaurant opening as well."
All images courtesy of Spotted SF.
To discover more great places, give our beautiful new app a try.