For some reason, there's an apparent a rift between NorCal and SoCal. Though I've never felt much need to personally get involved in it, I do wonder how it began. Maybe it started with the Dodgers vs. Giants rivalry? Or maybe its roots go all the way back to the Gold Rush? Either way, the tension usually consists of San Franciscans painting Angelenos as hella vain, culture-less douchebags while we gloat about our warmer weather and laid back lifestyle (and rag on NorCal's constant use of the word "hella"). Yet despite this pointless competitiveness, Californians still love to travel and momentarily forget about how much they hate one another to take advantage of all our state has to offer. I recently enjoyed a short trip up North to celebrate the launch of Hana Gin, and in my few days there, had the chance to stay in a cool boutique hotel, check out some delicious restaurants, and enjoy an intimate shopping experience with a local brand.
To Stay : Hotel Zetta in SoMa
Honestly, this was one of the first trips I had made to SF in years, and I almost forgot that the city is now ruled by Silicon Valley. But that instantly changed when I arrived to Hotel Zetta; a Viceroy property aimed at the young and tech-savvy, the boutique hotel is modern, upscale, and complete with a game room and Virtual Reality experience. Situated in the trendy SoMa neighborhood, the hotel is a friendly enclave for travelers who want a nice, cool place to stay without too many bells and whistles.
For A Power Lunch : Bellota in SoMa/Mission Bay
Like LA, San Francisco is home to a diverse range of cuisines and restaurants. But if Spanish tapas are what you're craving, look no further than Bellota. The SoMa/Mission Bay hotspot has been open for about a year, but the large, beautiful space is still an idyllic place to take a power lunch meeting. The food was ridiculously yummy; from the fermented brussels that were bursting with umami yet still surprisingly light to their prosciutto-laden take on the classic Patatas Bravas, I loved the modern take on classic tapas. Other favorites include the garlicy Gambas, the rich and crispy Croquetas, and the indulgent dual paella (we got the seafood and the crispy pork belly). Bellota is undoubtedly a must-visit during your next trip up north.
For A Boutique Shopping Experience : Modern Citizen Showroom
Though Hotel Zetta was conveniently located next to a giant Westfield (and across the street from Nordstrom Rack #dangerous), we decided to try out a unique shopping experience with Modern Citizen's showroom. The local brand is designed and based in SF, with their offices functioning as an appointment-only boutique. Designing modern clothes for the modern woman, Modern Citizen is making refined, sophisticated clothing affordable and and accessible. Their minimalist showroom was definitely right up my alley, while I loved almost everything I tried on (does that ever happen when shopping?). The line boasts ultra-cool, of-the-moment pieces like off-the-shoulder gingham tops, as well as classic basics like slip dresses and silk blouses. My favorite piece was a lightweight striped button down maxi dress that was ultra-flattering and can be worn in so many ways.
For a Casual Happy Hour : Belga
One thing SF does a bit better than L.A. is fine dining. While most restaurants in LA necessitate little more than jeans and a nice top when it comes to appropriate attire, San Francisco boasts more restaurants of the white table cloth variety. But when you're in town for a few days, sometimes you don't only want to have huge, fancy meals. Instead, meet your local friends for a laid back happy hour at Belga in Cow Hollow. Next to the brand new Flores, the neighborhood mainstay is offering the best of Belgium like beer flights, currywurst, and fries. Their happy hour offers $5 fries, sausages, beers, and ham and cheese croquettes (my favorite).
For an Upscale Dinner : Nomica
However, if you do decide to indulge in an upscale dinner, look no further than Nomica, the almost one year-old Japanese drinking den in The Castro. The impressive menu consists of Japanese dishes with contemporary twists, like their must-have salmon belly sashimi that was buttery, fatty, and doused in the perfect amount of ponzu. Even something simple like oysters were enhanced with an incredibly flavorful oyster vinaigrette and cold seaweed granita. Miso Black Cod was easily one of the best I've had-- tender, melt-in-your-mouth, and just a bit sweet. To accompany the flavorful bites, don't shy away from their creative cocktails, like the Koi Pond-- a gin and aloe concoction appropriately served in a beautiful terrarium-like glass. Overall, the meal was one to remember, and definitely proved SF has got their own impressive Japanese-food scene too.