I had a three-day assignment in San Francisco’s North Beach — a neighborhood with no big chain hotels or restaurants. Where to eat and sleep? I checked out five lodgings and ate at eight or nine restaurants.
Here are the 10 places I liked best:
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Boheme, 444 Columbus Ave., San Francisco; (415) 433-9111, hotelboheme.com. Fifteen rooms, all on the second floor, bathed in deep greens and oranges with black-and-white photos from the ’50s and ’60s. Most rooms for two start at $265. I spent one night in a room facing Columbus Avenue, heard traffic and pedestrians, and asked to be moved across the hall for the next two nights. Much quieter. There’s no pool and not much public space, so it’s better for couples than families.
San Remo Hotel, 2237 Mason St., Francisco; (415) 776-8688, sanremohotel.com. Dates to 1906 with quaint European feel. Sixty-four of 65 guest rooms share bathrooms that are down the hall. Most rooms for two are $111-$189. I’ve stayed here more than once, and I stopped by again on this visit. Downstairs, Fior d’Italia is still described as “America’s oldest Italian restaurant.” Upstairs, the hotel’s “penthouse suite” (usually $251-$306) is the only unit with a private bath. It measures a relatively modest 350 square feet, but it has a patio with a skyline view.
Green Tortoise Hostel, 494 Broadway, San Francisco; (415) 834-1000, greentortoisesf.com. If you’re a student or have a student-like budget, this place is worth your attention. As many as 125 people can sleep in the building’s 40 units, some dorm style, some private, all sharing bathrooms down the hall. Overnight rates $35-$56 per person, private rooms $80-$151. I showed up one afternoon, talked to the manager and took a tour. There’s always some chaos in any hostel, but this lodging, part of the longstanding Green Tortoise bus tour company, has a lot to offer, including organized events to unite travelers.
WHERE TO EAT
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, 1570 Stockton St., San Francisco; (415) 835-9888, tonyspizzanapoletana.com. I was skeptical after seeing all the pizza contest prizes and Guinness Book of World Record plaques on the walls. But the flavor and texture of my pizza Margherita ($25) put those doubts to rest. Most main dishes $20-$30, pizzas $18-$43.
Caffe Trieste, 601 Vallejo St., San Francisco; (415) 392-6739, coffee.caffetrieste.com.
Poets, painters, political activists, neighborhood characters and tourists have been gathering here since 1956. Most items $4-$8.
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