Underinsurance has been reported to be the most common and formidable impediment to
financial recovery for homeowner disaster victims in California today, with homeowners
underinsured by an average of $240,000. The recent appellate court decision of the fire
insurance claim against State Farm Insurance in Everett v. State Farm Insurance
Company deals a blow to many homeowners who believed they could rely on their
insurance agent’s verbal promises to provide “full insurance”. The certification of this
decision for publication was opposed by the California Insurance Commissioner and
numerous consumer advocates because it gives an official seal of approval to two
insurance company profit-driven schemes: routinely undervaluing the cost of rebuilding
and referring to strictly limited coverage as “replacement cost”. Despite the thoughtful
comments of the Insurance Commissioner and other consumer advocates, the California
Supreme Court allowed the decision to remain published to be used as case precedent in
future matters. Insurance companies are already trying to expand the use of Everett to
further limit homeowners’ rights after a disaster.
After the Oakland Hills fires and other natural disasters of the late 1980’s many insurance
companies attempted to limit their payments to the “policy face value” (the amount listed
on the declarations page) even though it was well below the actual cost of replacing the
homes. Homeowners objected, claiming a combination of policy language and agent
negligence and misrepresentation required full replacement cost payments. The author
assisted a number of policyholders in forcing insurers to honor the replacement cost
language of their policies and pay the full cost of putting their policyholders back in their
homes. A number of consumer groups including United Policyholders also intervened
with carriers and legislators to protest and assist.
In the following years, the insurance companies changed their policy language
eliminating true replacement cost coverage and, with the help of the state legislature,
enacted legislation to “notify” homeowners of the newly-limited policy language (and
use these state-sanctioned notices to exempt themselves from misrepresentation claims).
Their goal was to enforce the limit listed on the declaration page (with some possible
small adjustments depending on the policy form) as the new upper limit of the insurance
The question for homeowners then became whether the limit listed on their declaration
page was enough to really rebuild their home in a disaster and whether they were
adequately informed that their coverage was not really replacement cost anymore. In
their decision dealing with the changed policies and new law, the Everett court of appeal
decided that notices that conform with state law allow elimination of true replacement
cost coverage and that the insurance company isn’t responsible for giving the homeowner
lousy advice on what it costs to repair or replace a home. Despite the Everett decision
there still are several legal arguments that homeowners can make to pursue their claim of
reliance on the promises of their agent. These claims are however now more complicated
because the insurance companies have the new defenses set out in Everett.
Most homeowners rely on their insurance agent to tell them what the correct cost of
repair or replacement of their home will be in a disaster. Unfortunately the insurance
companies have a vested financial interest in underinsuring their homes. It is easier to
sell insurance if the price is lower, and when disaster strikes the insurer saves substantial
sums if they don’t have to pay the full cost of replacement or repair.
In light of this new decision, what should a homeowner do prior to a loss to better protect
themselves? First, specifically request IN WRITING from your agent that they calculate
the cost of replacement for your specific house in your specific neighborhood (not using
some generic computer program supplied by the insurance company). And, make sure
you confirm in writing that they are doing this. Next, check with local contractors to find
out what the upper end of per square foot reconstruction cost is for the area you live
(factoring in an extra amount for a disaster related market increases) and multiply that
times the square footage for your home to see if the number you receive from the
insurance agent is in the correct ballpark. Third, request IN WRITING that the insurance
agent up your limits to the higher of the amounts you and they have calculated. And, get
written confirmation that this has been done. Finally, keep the correspondence and policy
information in a safe place other than your home, so that it won’t disappear in case of a
disaster. Try scanning the documents and emailing them to yourself through one of the
online email services such as Gmail.
Although the preceding checklist isn’t an iron clad guarantee that you will be insured for
the full cost of replacing your home following a disaster, each step you perform will give
you an ever better chance of achieving that goal.
About the author:
Lee S. Harris is a partner at G3MH (Goldstein, Gellman, Melbostad, Harris & McSparran, LLP), San
Francisco with over 30 years experience fighting for consumers against insurance companies. He has also
served as chair of the American Association for Justice, Insurance and Bad Faith Litigation groups and
on the board of Consumer Attorneys of California. He can be reached at www.g3mh.com.
The number of building permits issued for single-family homes is the best indicator of how many newly built homes will rise over the next few months. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Residential Sales Report, the number of these permits were up 7.7% over last year.
More inventory means more options. Danielle Hale, Realtor.com’s Chief Economist, explained this is good news for the housing market – especially for those looking to buy:
“It’s not spectacular construction growth, but it’s slow and steady in the right direction. Eventually, the pickup in single-family home construction will mean [buyers] will have more options. Especially with the limited number of sales right now, more options are really needed.”
More inventory means more competition. Today, because of the tremendous lack of inventory, a seller can expect:
With an increase in competition, the seller may not enjoy these same benefits. As Hale said:
“As new construction continues to increase, home shoppers will eventually have more [choices] and a bit more time to make purchase decisions compared to today’s quick-moving housing market.”
If you are considering the sale of your home, it might make sense to beat this new construction competition to the market.
This weekend has many great things to do for free and on the cheap. From Wharf Fest at Fisherman’s Wharf, to the International Archaeology Day at the Presidio to the International Archaeology Day in SF. The events below will help you fill your calendar with fun!
View even more events here.
How do you select the members of your team who are going to help you make your dream of owning a home a reality? What should you be looking for? How do you know if you’ve found the right agent or lender?
The most important characteristic that you should be looking for in your agent is someone who is going to take the time to really educate you on the choices available to you and your ability to buy in today’s market.
As Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:
“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”
Do your research. Ask your friends and family for recommendations of professionals whom they have used in the past and have had good experiences with.
Look for members of your team who will be honest and trustworthy; after all, you will be trusting them with helping you make one of the biggest financial decisions of your life.
Whether this is your first or fifth time buying a home, you want to make sure that you have an agent who is going to have the tough conversations with you, not just the easy ones. If your offer isn’t accepted by the seller, or they think that there may be something wrong with the home that you’ve fallen in love with, you would rather know what they think than make a costly mistake.
According to a Consumer Housing Trends Study, millennials have already started to prefer a more hands-on approach to their real estate experience:
“While older generations rely on real estate agents for information and expertise, millennials expect real estate agents to become trusted advisers and strategic partners.”
Look for someone to invest in your family’s future with you. You want an agent who isn’t focused on the transaction but is instead focused on helping you understand the process while helping you find your dream home.
In this world of Google searches, where it seems like all the answers are just a mouse-click away, you need an agent who is going to educate you and share the information that you need to know before you even know you need it.
The Mission is one of the most eclectic and multicultural neighborhoods in the city, which makes it one of the most interesting to dine in. Allow yourself plenty of time to walk up and down Valencia Street and 24th Street, two of the Mission’s busiest streets, to take it all in. Consider riding a bike, since the neighborhood is flat and bike-friendly.
Foreign Cinema (2534 Mission St.)
One of the most atmospheric venues in the city, this Mission pioneer has a huge patio where films are screened on the back wall while you dine. The industrial chic interior still impresses after more than 15 years. The Cal-Med menu includes quality charcuterie, oysters, and their incredible fried chicken. The weekend brunch is one of the city’s best (they do magical things with eggs)and their Bloody Mary’s have a cult following. www.foreigncinema.com
Dosa on Valencia (995 Valencia St.)
Explore the lighter cuisine of Southern India, which includes dosas (similar to a crepe) and uttapam (like a tangy pancake), fish and coconut and some incredible brunch items (like pani puri!). This spot is casual but urban, with a full bar, well-chosen wines and a California sensibility for quality ingredients. Dosa is a great option for vegetarians (try the okra and snap bean masala!) and people with allergies. www.dosasf.com
Lolinda (2518 Mission St.)
This spacious restaurant is built for groups and birthdays, and the dim lighting makes it right for a date, too. The Argentine steakhouse menu features a variety of meats and cuts from the grill (including the 26 oz “Gaucho” ribeye), with salads, Latin American small plates and good cocktails as well. www.lolindasf.com
Lolo (974 Valencia St.)
This lively Jalisco-style Mexican restaurant will hit you with a blast of color and playful décor. The cutting-edge cocktails then steal your attention, quickly followed by the inventive dishes made with seasonal and local ingredients, like the taco tropical, panko avocado taco, chicken tinga tostadas and tuna tacon. Brunch (vegetarian and gluten-free crispy chilaquiles anyone?) is also served Friday–Sunday.
La Taqueria (2889 Mission St.)
Anyone who comes to San Francisco and doesn’t experience one of the (off menu) “tacos dorados” at this benchmark taqueria is missing out. A crispy taco comes wrapped in a soft one, stuffed with your meat of choice. Get their superlative carnitas or carne asada, and whether you want it “super” or not is up to your appetite. Their atomic salsa verde is pure magic. Pro tip: You can also get any of their burritos“dorado” style as well.
Belmar Meat Market – La Gallinita (2989 24th St.)
If you want a true 24th Street experience, head to this Mission meat market that also serves tacos inside. The salsas are fiery and the meats are freshly cut (try the salty cecina and suadero). Try a trio of chorizo tacos and top them off yourself with condiments and salsa .
El Farolito (2779 Mission St)
Don’t be surprised to find a line out the door at 2 a.m. at this Mission institution located right next to the 24th Street Bart station. Burritos, tacos and their special big fat super quesadilla “suiza” leave the crowds with full-bellied satisfaction. You can even get them served with a cold Tecate or giant margarita at the local dive bar of the same name next door.
Delfina (3621 18th St.)
A long standing San Francisco classic for Cal-Italian, you’ll find dishes that follow the Italian culinary ideology: simply prepared and letting the ingredients stand on their own. The spaghetti, trippa alla fiorentina (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!), and hanger steak are all local faves, but the seasonal dishes really shine. The city’s best panna cotta awaits at the end of your meal. Next door, you’ll find the much-adored Pizzeria Delfina (Neapolitan-style heaven), and on Valencia Street is Locanda, their Roman-inspired restaurant with a full bar.
Gracias Madre (2211 Valencia St.)
An organic, vegan Mexican restaurant is a dream for many, but one bite of the molé enchiladas (in housemade tortillas) should be enough to convince even the proudest carnivore, too. Same goes for the butternut squash quesadilla. The space is casual, with big wood chairs and tables, which is where you’ll be sharing the dulce de leche “ice cream” for dessert.
Californios (3115 Mission St.)
For those looking for one of the city’s up-and-coming gems, Californios is the ticket. This intimate and stylish restaurant features a modern tasting menu, highlighting ingredients and inspiration from Mexico and California. The multi-course menu is $97 and offers quite the exciting seasonal culinary journey, both playful and serious. Wine pairings are a smart choice since you won’t know what’s coming next—the menu is a surprise.
Wise Sons Deli (3150 24th St.)
Anyone craving superlative matzo ball soup, chopped liver or pastrami on rye needs to come to this Mission deli with everything made in-house. Dishes like pastrami cheese fries, pastrami and eggs, and their patty melt (with pastrami ground into the patty) will keep you returning. Open all day, brunch is popular, too.
Tacolicious (741 Valencia St.)
This is a Valencia Street spot that’s popular with a younger crowd (it gets boisterous – especially around happy hour). Weekend brunch is also a scene. Tacolicious offers well-crafted margaritas to go with a variety of tacos (like beef short rib, Baja-style fried Pacific cod, or potato and chorizo), chile con queso and other playful Mexican and Mexican-inspired dishes.
Flour and Water (2401 Harrison St)
Wood-fired pizza and handmade pasta (from eggplant tortellini to hen polpettini) are the heart of the menu at this simple yet stylish Italy-meets-Northern California eatery. Pasta making classes and culinary education events happen frequently here, and a variety of private dining options, including the dough room and the central kitchen butchers block, let you watch your meal being prepared, while you down fine Italian vino and awesome antipasto. www.flourandwater.com
Central Kitchen (3000 20th St)
Locally sourced plates (which are meant to be shared family style) have created a devoted following for this Mission superstar. Stand-outs include the sea salt roasted whole chicken, with sides including charred summer squash with yogurt and black garlic. Start things off with a craft cocktail and the house-made sourdough loaf, served with cultured butter. For some serious indulgence, do the California vs. France wine dinner menu, where not one but two glasses of wine come with each course. www.centralkitchensf.com
Looking for unique dining experiences in San Francisco? The city is filled with great food and the restaurants who serve them. And while many of these places are delicious, some dining experiences are more unique than others. From a dinner that’s ticketed like a concert, to a lunch or dinner tour that takes you to four different restaurants, to a dinner that takes place totally in the dark, these experiences are perfect for diners looking for something a little different. Don’t forget to check out our previous list of 5 unusual places to dine.
Lazy Bear (3416 19th St.)
In a city where chefs are likened to rock stars, Lazy Bear sells tickets to their dinner, much like a concert. Each month, tickets for two seated dinners per night go on sale and are usually scooped up quickly. The dinners include communal seating and a 14-plus-course tasting menu with prices varying by day and time. Diners don’t know what they’ll be eating until they arrive as the menu changes by meal. The chefs come out and describe each dish to the diners as they all are served and eat together. It’s like a dinner party, but with new friends instead of established ones.
Avital Tours offers unique four-course dining experiences, giving guests the opportunity to explore an iconic neighborhood through the food and culture. Each restaurant in the Mission, North Beach and Union Square has been chosen for its importance to the story of San Francisco. At each stop, guests meet restaurant owners, chefs and culinary experts while enjoying appetizers, an entrée, and dessert and learning about the history of the location and neighborhood. The dining experiences have been built by locals, for both locals and travelers looking for an appetizing way to explore the city. www.avitaltours.com
Opaque (689 McAllister St.)
Dining in the dark is literal at Opaque. Diners eat in the pitch black, totally abandoning one of their five senses so they can focus more on the sounds, smells, tastes and feels of the experience. Servers at Opaque are visually impaired or blind and have been trained to serve these meals in complete darkness. Before entering the dark room, diners are able to view a menu to choose their meal, which is created by a sighted chef. Opaque is a unique place to experience food while using your other senses to create a complete picture.
This weekend has lots of great things to do for free and on the cheap. From the Vintage Fashion Faire in Alameda, to Pizzafest in Berkeley to the Pier 39 Birthday Bash in SF. The events below will help you fill your calendar with fun!
View even more events here.
Year-over-year, a low inventory homes market dropped even lower, while buyer demand increased to keep the pot boiling in San Francisco through the third quarter, when activity typically cools down between the spring and autumn selling seasons. Since closed sales in each month mostly reflect the market heat in the previous month, when the offers are actually negotiated, we will not have hard data on September until October sales data becomes available in November. One thing we do know is that the number of new listings coming on market in September, which is usually the month of the year with the highest number of new listings, is down considerably from last year – but the number of listings accepting offers increased: Less inventory, but more demand.
Q3 SF Median Home Sales Price Changes since 2005
The Q3 SF median house sales price was $1,365,000 and the median SF condo sales price was $1,175,000, considerable year-over-year increases over Q3 2016 prices: 7% and 11% respectively. It is not unusual for median prices to drop from Q2 to Q3, to a large degree due to the seasonal decline in luxury home sales, as well as the typical overall market cooling during the summer, and this occurred for houses, which dropped $75,000 from Q2, similar to drops in previous years. But condos bucked this trend and increased $40,000 quarter to quarter. (Q2 to Q3 change is not illustrated on this chart.) However, while the house inventory in the city has been relatively unchanged for 60+ years, tens of thousands of new condos have come into the market over recent decades, which means that comparing the basket of sales in different periods is not always apples to apples.
Q3 San Francisco Market Trends since 2005
Comparing Q3 statistics for the past 12 years
Q3 New Listings Coming on Market since 2005
New listings hitting the market dropped appreciably year-over-year, doing no favors for buyers competing for homes in Q3 overall, and in September specifically.
Months Supply of Inventory (MSI), Q3 since 2005
MSI compares demand to supply in one statistic: The lower the MSI, the higher the demand vs. the number of listings available to purchase. The MSI for the SF house market in Q3 2017 was as low as in any Q3 during the past 12 years. For San Francisco condos, the MSI was somewhat higher, but still historically low (but does not include the substantial inventory of new-project condo listings, not listed in MLS). Both are down significantly from Q3 of 2016: 2016 was a cooler market between two very hot markets in 2015 and 2017.
Average Days on Market, Q3 since 2005
Overbidding List Prices
by Month since December 2015
In the last 6 years, overbidding percentages have usually declined from the Q2 spring selling season to the quieter Q3 summer market. But not this year: This year overbidding increased in July and September to their highest points since mid-2015.
Context Economic Factors to Bay Area Housing Markets
We recently completed a report placing the Bay Area housing market within the context of a wide variety of other economic and demographic dynamics, such as population growth, employment and hiring, the stock and the IPO markets, consumer confidence, interest rates, commercial lease rates, , aging homeowners (who sell less frequently), housing affordability and new housing construction. Because conditions, trends and cycles seen among them are, more often than not, closely interrelated. The full report is online here: Economic Context Report.
San Francisco Luxury House & Condo Markets
In September, we issued 2 detailed reports on the San Francisco luxury house market, and the SF luxury condo, co-op and TIC market. Above are 2 of many updated analyses. The complete reports can be found here:
San Francisco Investment Property Market
After dropping in 2016, SF residential rents appear to be making a small recovery, though the data is still very short-term, and there are thousands of new apartments in the new construction pipeline in the city. This chart is from our latest report on the San Francisco, Alameda and Marin multi-unit residential markets:
Trends in Selected San Francisco Neighborhoods
We have dozens of analyses of appreciation trends within specific SF neighborhoods and districts, and below is a sampling, some by median sales price and others by average dollar per square foot value. Some city neighborhoods plateaued or saw declines in values in 2016, when segments of the market distinctly cooled: Generally speaking, these were more expensive home segments, and condo markets most impacted by new-project condos coming on market with major new supply. Affordable house markets largely continued to appreciate in 2016. In 2017 to date, most areas of the city have experienced further appreciation.
Changes in these statistics do not necessarily correspond exactly to changes in fair market value, as they can be affected by a variety of factors. Neighborhoods with relatively few sales and broader ranges in individual sales prices are most prone to fluctuations unrelated to changes in fair market value. Longer-term trends are always more meaningful than shorter term. If you are interested in a neighborhood not included below, please let us know.
Please let us know if you have questions or we can be of assistance in any other way. Information on neighborhoods not included in this report is readily available.
SF neighborhood home price tables: Median Sales Prices by Bedroom Count
All our real estate analyses can be found here: Paragon Market Reports
Over the past 12 months, Paragon sold more San Francisco residential and multi-unit residential real estate than any other brokerage. (Dollar volume sales reported to MLS per Broker Metrics.)
It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific, tailored, comparative market analysis. In real estate, the devil is always in the details.
These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and are subject to revision. It is not our intent to convince you of a particular position, but to attempt to provide straightforward data and analysis, so you can make your own informed decisions. Median and average statistics are enormous generalities: There are hundreds of different markets in San Francisco and the Bay Area, each with its own unique dynamics. Median prices and average dollar per square foot values can be and often are affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value. Longer term trends are much more meaningful than short-term.
© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group
No one knows San Francisco real estate better than Paragon.
San Francisco can be an expensive town to visit. But it’s still possible to eat like royalty without breaking the bank. Here are some of our top picks for where to dine deliciously on a budget.
Merigan Sub Shop has it all: local produce, house-butchered meats, wine and beer—and it’s all just a couple blocks away from AT&T Park, home of the beloved San Francisco Giants. Spectators are actually allowed to bring food into the park, for those catching a game. Everything on the menu is delicious, but the Italian combo, meatball sub, and chicken or eggplant parm are definite favorites. Don’t forget to add burrata for maximum indulgence! (636 2nd St. at Harrison, 415-536-2991)
Dim sum is definitely San Francisco treat not to be missed. It’s a bit of a trek out to the Sunset, but S&T Hong Kong Seafood is totally worth it. There aren’t any carts, but it’s still a blast. Don’t miss the shrimp noodle roll, har gow, and shrimp and chive dumplings. And don’t forget to ask for the English translation menu at the front desk! (2578 Noriega St. at 33rd Ave., 415-665-8338)
The Mission District is a must-visit, especially for those seeking cheap eats and delicious Mexican food. Family-owned San Jalisco is the best for chilaquiles any time of day (try the Chilaquiles Veronica), and any of their platters are sure to satisfy. Stay refreshed with a Michelada or Chelada. (901 S. Van Ness. Ave. at 20th St., 415-648-8383)
The Mission-style burrito has become famous nationally, and welcome to where it all started. Taqueria Cancún makes a monster carne asada burrito (even the vegetarian is delicious), and Taqueria El Farolito’s two locations are fabulously open until 4am. (Taqueria Cancún: 2288 Mission St. at 19th St., 415-252-9560. Taqueria El Farolito: 2779 Mission St. at 24th St., 415-824-7877, 2950 24th St. at Alabama, 415-641-0758)
Tortas are another specialty that don’t always get the same recognition as the burrito, but they are some of the best over-stuffed sandwiches you can ever hope to find. La Torta Gorda is another friendly, family-owned joint—with superlative tortas and darling retro décor (plus there’s a back patio). The pierna enchilada torta is excellent, ditto the tinga. (2833 24th St. at Bryant, 415-642-9600)
Also in the Mission, but a far cry from the traditional taqueria or Mexican food experience, is Middle Eastern restaurant Old Jerusalem. This is one of those magical places where vegetarians and meat eaters can dine together—the meat platters and vegetarian dishes are equally well prepared. The chicken shwarma is noteworthy, and the mezze platters are fresh and enormous. Plus, they bring pita bread warm from the oven, pickles, dip, and olives for snacking while you wait. No going hungry here, trust. (2976 Mission St. at 26th St., 415-642-5958)
Pro tip: head across the street to Mission Pie for dessert. Any of their seasonal fruit pies are the perfect end to a meal, and don’t forget to make it à la mode! (2901 Mission St. at 25th St., 415-282-1500)
The Ferry Building is a magical wonderland for those who like to eat. But it can be expensive! The best way to do it? Bring a friend with whom to share and graze at a few different places, getting a sample of everything. If the weather is nice, take it all outside and enjoy the stunning views of the Bay Bridge and boats on the water. And don’t forget to pick up edible souvenirs! Check out local cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery (the helpful staff can answer any cheese-related question), along with freshly baked bread from Acme Bakery next door. Humphry Slocombe scoops some of the best ice cream in town and has a developed a serious following for their unusual and sophisticated flavors. Secret Breakfast, with bourbon and corn flakes, is their most famous, and rightly so. The egg salad sandwich at Il Cane Rosso is actually more of an open-faced melt—with aged provolone melted on top of egg salad made with fresh, local eggs. For fantastic local oysters, don’t miss Hog Island Oyster Co. The hot dog at Prather Ranch is great for meat eaters, and as with everything else at the Ferry Building, it’s made with top-notch ingredients (ditto their chili). For a pick-me-up after all that good eating, sample some of San Francisco’s best third wave coffee at Blue Bottle. The Gibraltar is basically a short, wet cappuccino, and it offers a perfect ratio of espresso and milk. (Ferry Building Marketplace, 1 Ferry Plaza at Embarcadero)
In the last few years, San Francisco has become a bit of a hot spot for barbecue made with quality meats. Leading the charge is 4505 Meats from local butcher Ryan Farr. His burger developed a cult following at farmers’ markets, and now he’s got his own shop on Divisadero, called 4505 Burgers & BBQ. The locally loved burger is on the menu, as well as smoked meat platters with offerings such as ribs (so good!), brisket, and chicken, plus sandwiches and sides. (705 Divisadero St. at Grove, 415-231-6993)
Everyone loves pizza, and North Beach is a fun place to do it. Tony Gemignani has made a name for himself faithfully recreating pizza styles from all over the world, and his Tony’s Coal-Fired Pizza & Slicehouse, next to the world-famous Tony’s Pizza, is the best place to check out his pies on a budget. A New York-style meat lovers slice is a winner, or feel the California vibes with a California veggie slice. Night owls have flocked to Golden Boy Pizza for a slice of their thick Sicilian-style pizza for decades (garlic lovers, get the clam and garlic!). (Tony’s Coal-Fired Pizza & Slicehouse: 1570 Stockton St. at Union, 415-835-9888. Golden Boy Pizza: 542 Green St. at Grant, 415-982-9738)
A visit to Chinatown should start with a visit to Good Mong Kok Bakery. This is dim sum in a no-frills setting: order a pork bun at the counter, grab a napkin, and walk around, taking in the narrow streets, sights, and sounds of the busy neighborhood. Make your way to Golden Gate Bakery for dan tat, but don’t be surprised if they aren’t open. The shop is famous locally for its odd hours; there’s even a website dedicated to their current open status. For a sit-down meal in Chinatown, Z & Y Restaurant is always a winner, with spicy Szechuan dishes and a pleasant atmosphere. (Good Mong Kok Bakery: 1039 Stockton St. at Jackson, 415-397-2688. Golden Gate Bakery: 1029 Grant Ave. at Jackson, 415-781-2627. Z & Y Restaurant: 655 Jackson St. at Kearny, 415-981-8988)
There is also some excellent Thai food to be found in San Francisco. Right near Union Square is Kin Khao, offering dishes not often seen outside of Thailand, and a full bar to boot. There’s also the super casual Lers Ros in the Tenderloin, which has some of the most authentic, spicy dishes around. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. (Kin Khao: 55 Cyril Magnin St. at Eddy, 415-362-7456. Lers Ros: 730 Larkin St. at O’Farrell, 415-931-6917)
For a special bonus round of cheap eats, there are always food trucks to explore. Off the Grid has different groups of trucks together almost every day of the week, in different neighborhoods. Find the one that works best and get munching, but be sure to bring layers in case the famous fog rolls in. The SoMa StrEat Food Park is in an odd location under the freeway, but the space offers heated seating, beer and wine, and even a television for watching the game. The trucks change regularly—check their website schedule for each day’s offering. (Off the Grid: locations and times vary. SoMa StrEat Food: 428 11th St. at Bryant)
Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column about the SF dining scene, subscribe for free at www.tablehopper.com. Out now is her first book, The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion, a groundbreaking new style of guidebook. And check out her new app, Tablehopper’s Top Late-Night Eats, which highlights 95 SF spots serving food past 11pm!