My first day in San Francisco!!! That is my first day on this trip. I have visited this gorgeous city way too many times to even count. I am here for the purpose of scouting locations for a San Francisco episode of Ladies Who Lunch. And while I should be getting down to business, I'm feeling a little laid back today. After all, I had a late night and an early flight. Meaning I am running on approximately 2 1/2 hours sleep. So, I deserve to be a little lazy. Right???
Anyway, my laziness has actually turned out to be a bit of a blessing! After arriving, I spent the morning at a friend's office catching up on some much needed computer work. When it was time to venture out, I decided that instead of work, I would just head to a favorite haunt in North Beach.
On my last trips to SF to scout locations, I totally ignored North Beach. Everyone told me that North Beach was: too touristy, no longer relevant as an in spot, nothing new or exciting to see, shop or eat there. And even though it has always been one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city, I concentrated on "cooler" areas of the city. And yes, I found some really hot spots that I am chomping at the bit to share with you. However, I am beginning to think that ignoring North Beach might not be true to myself.
I wandered through North Beach with the goal of hitting a favorite cafe that I had not visited in what seems like forever. I headed up by North Beach Pizza out of nostalgia. North Beach Pizza was the first place I ate at on my very first trip to SF, back when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth. They have since moved to the corner across the street in a larger space. Their original space stands empty and forlorn with a giant For Rent sign in the window. And even though the inside is gutted, I still relive fond memories of visits to SF and the "must" pilgrimage for North Beach Pizza. Of course, these days the city has way better pizza (which I will soon share with you!), but you can still find me occasionally dining there for nostalgic reasons. And, as usual, I have completely strayed from my focus!!
So, as I strolled down Grant Avenue, I was intrigued to find several NEW boutiques that offered everything from custom tailored clothing, hip new clothes, tchotchkes and even an incredible cake shop. So despite my intent to not work, I ended up doing nothing but!!! AND, North Beach is now definitely on my LWL route!! I am excited about the inclusion of these cool spots on the upcoming episode.
Now to the original intent of this piece: Cafe Roma Coffee Roasting Company. Located on a triangular block with entrances on Columbus and Stockton, it has long been a favorite of mine. The interior is very reminiscent of places that I grew up going to in New York's Little Italy and Greenwich Village (most of which no longer exist in NY). The type of place that is comfortable in its old school italian cafe atmosphere. Add to that the modern convenience of complimentary WiFi and you have my ideal hangout. It's the kind of place like "Cheers", where the locals hang and the baristas and servers know their customers. And even though they did not know me, they treated me with the same familiarity and friendliness.
Offering a great menu of all the usual coffee drinks, pastries, gelato, sandwiches and other cafe specialties, They also boast a fine selection of wines to purchase. I love coming here. They roast their own coffee and have the roaster right in the front window. And it's not just for show. The coffee at this place is amazing, robust and full of flavor. On this visit, I opted for a giant soy latte and I had to have a biscotti to go with it. The coffee was incredible and I liked the fact that they accommodated my soy milk request without batting an eye. The biscotti was great and authentic!! And while enjoying them, I equally enjoyed the atmosphere, the people watching and the leisure of working on my computer unrushed and content.
Which brings me to the moral of this story. While it is fun and rewarding to seek out the new, hot and happening, don't discount the relevance of the old and familiar. And, don't be surprised if some of those new, hot and happening places end up being right there tucked into those old and familiar spots!!