CHESTNUT STREET/MARINA DISTRICT’s best
Betw. Fillmore St. & Divisadero St.
Getting here by public transportation: From Union Square area, the Muni 30 bus line travels to Chinatown and then to Chestnut Street, but it can be extremely crowded and slow.
Parking is also particularly difficult. Rates at the Lombard Street Garage at 2055 Lombard Street are a reasonable $1 to $2 per hour.
Originally dunes and marshes, most of the Marina was developed in the 1920s. Now this popular area is centered around Chestnut Street and its side streets, where restaurants, bars, and trendy shops abound. But not too far away, the north end of this district fronts the bay holds and offers some spectacular scenery.
Major stores include Apple, The Gap, Melville, Pottery Barn, and Williams Sonoma.
Books, Inc. 2251 Chestnut St.. This is a branch of the West’s oldest independent bookstore. The small but deep space provides a great browse. It has an extensive magazine section, and an inviting children’s section.
Marina Supermarket 2323 Chestnut St. This is the perfect place to pick up supplies before you head home--or for a picnic.
Presidio Theatre 2340 Chestnut St./Scott St. Built in 1937, this historic theater now has four screens and shows first-run movies.
The Dorian 2001 Chestnut St./Fillmore St. D Tu-Sun, Sat-Sun Brunch. Anchoring the east end of busy Chestnut Street, The Dorian provides a comfortable and spacious interior. You can sit in the area surrounding the mega bar, where there are inviting half-moon booths and raised nooks, or you can move on in to the striking interior dining room with its high ceiling and gigantic chandelier plus booths, banquettes, and tables with posh velvet-covered chairs. I sat in a booth that provided me with a great view of the room and my dining partner with a great view of the street and bay beyond. We began our brunch with The Mimosa Experience, which consists of a bottle of sparkling wine plus three fruit juices (we chose passion fruit, pear, and classic orange); each additional bottle of sparkling wine that you order costs less. This was oodles of fun. Classic and creative cocktails are also available. We began brunch with a fragrant, gooey sticky pecan bun that reminded me of the ones my mother used to make sometimes as an after-school snack. For mains, I chose crispy buttermilk fried chicken with an also crispy cheddar-bacon Belgian-style waffle topped with a lovely honey syrup, and he chose a tasty wild-mushroom and goat-cheese frittata. Many diners here each choose a dish and share from the center of the table. Additional inviting items include a kale Caesar salad, lemon-ricotta pancakes, and spicy chorizo avocado toast. A burger with “fancy sauce” and more is also an option. Dinner brings on heftier dishes that also share well--a seafood tower; steak tartare with smoked quail egg, and a ribeye with bourbon steak sauce. More images.
Lucca Delicatessen 2120 Chestnut St./Steiner St.
BY THE BAY
image courtesy of venue
Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture Laguna St./Marina Blvd. Free. In addition to housing the park headquarters for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, this complex of buildings is home to theaters, art galleries, museums, and myriad other facilities. Highlights include:
image courtesy of venue
Readers Bookstore Thousands of bargain books, records, and tapes are on sale here, and the West’s largest used Big Book Sale is held each September. Proceeds benefit the San Francisco Public Library.
Green’s Restaurant For description, see below.
Young Performers Theatre
Marina Green Park Along Marina Green Dr. Dogs ok. Free. When you take a nice walk beside the bay here, your view includes the yacht harbor, Alcatraz, and peeks of the Golden Gate Bridge. The huge expanse of grass that is the green is perfect for a picnic, flying a kite, and throwing a Frisbee.
Wave Organ 1 Yacht Rd./off Marina Blvd. Free. Located at the eastern tip of the breakwater forming the Marina Yacht Harbor, this unusual musical instrument is reached by a road that runs behind the Golden Gate Yacht Club. And though it is directly across from the Marina Green, a water channel requires that you park near the club and then walk back along the breakwater path. Designed by Exploratorium artist Peter Richards in collaboration with stonemason George Gonzales, this tiny park consists of more than twenty pipes extended down through the breakwater into the bay and provides a constant symphony of natural music. You can relax in a small granite-and-marble amphitheater and listen while viewing the San Francisco skyline. The organ plays most effectively at high tide. (On my most recent visit I heard nothing.) It’s the perfect spot for a picnic or a frolic in the shallow waters of an inviting sandy beach with a straight-on view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Bobo’s Burger Bar 1434 Lombard St./Van Ness Ave.
Greens Restaurant Laguna St./Marina Blvd., at Fort Mason Center, Bldg. A. With high ceilings, large windows framing the Golden Gate Bridge, and colorful modern art hanging on the walls, this trendy, all-vegetarian restaurant packs ‘em in. Starters on the ever-changing menu might include a fragrant and flavorful black bean chili or a delicate watercress salad with pears and walnuts. Entrees include pastas and sandwiches. Desserts are uncomplicated but delicious--perhaps a pear-almond upside down cake or a fabulous apricot tart with pistachio nuts and toasted almond ice cream. On Saturday nights, a fixed-price three-course dinner is the only menu option. Greens is run by the San Francisco Zen Center, and many of the fresh herbs and vegetables are grown at the center’s West Marin farm.
Greens To Go operates off the entry and packs up many menu items as well as the delicious house breads, pastries, and desserts.