SAN FRANCISCO ●Attractions●Neighborhoods/Shopping
900 North Point St./Larkin St.
Built in 1900 as a chocolate factory and converted into a festive marketplace in 1964, this beautiful brick complex was the nation’s first quaint upscale shopping center. It is now a National Historic Landmark and home to an assortment of shops and restaurants. Musicians entertain on the courtyard stage each weekend (daily in summer).
image courtesy of venue
Each September, a Chocolate Festival caters to those who are loco for cocoa.
Shops include my personal favorite:
elizabeth W Named for owner Albert Nichols’ great grandmother, Elizabeth Wrightman, the lovely locally made products from this artisanal perfumery include items for the bath, body, and home. I love the lavender products particularly—the sachets, luggage liners—and the attractive letterpress packaging. Items make practical souvenirs, and this is my own go-to spot for memorable gifts. Once I gifted my daughter-in-law with a soft washcloth filled with fragrant bath salts and some bath fizzers, and my granddaughter with a bunny shaped sachet and an egg-shaped fizzer. They loved them.
Don’t miss indulging in good eats at:
image copyright Katy Greene
Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory & Soda Fountain A small working chocolate factory using original equipment from the early 1900s still operates for show in the back of this classic ice cream parlor. All of the chocolate sauces and syrups are made on site, as is the fudge sold in the shop. After selecting from the mouth-watering menu, ice cream-lovers take a seat and await the fulfillment of their ice cream fantasy. Special concoctions include The Earthquake Sundae, which serves four or more people (eight flavors of ice cream with eight different toppings accented with bananas, whipped cream, chopped almonds, and cherries), and The Alcatraz Rock, available only by request (rocky road and vanilla ice cream covered with a shell of chocolate, chopped almonds, whipped cream, and a whole cherry). Hot fudge sundaes, sodas, and milkshakes are also available. Ghirardelli chocolate goodies, including a 5-pound chocolate bar, are sold in an adjoining shop. This ice cream shop has several outlets around the square, including one with a view of the bay. If one has too long a line, check out one of the others.
Kara’s Cupcakes Made from scratch and baked on site daily, these cupcakes are simply the best. A personal favorite is Sweet Vanilla--a vanilla cupcake topped with heavenly Madagascar bourbon vanilla buttercream frosting—but the Kara’s Karrot and the Meyer Lemony Lemon are also pretty darn good. Who needs a sit-down lunch?
McCormick & Kuleto’s Seafood Restaurant Though most tables in this splendidly appointed seafood restaurant have spectacular views, the half-circle booths on the second of three tiers are choice. High ceilings, floor-to-ceiling leaded-glass windows, and fantastical light fixtures add to an overall elegant ambiance. Designed to please every appetite, the extensive menu changes daily. Starters include delicious crab cakes; sweet, crisp rock shrimp popcorn; and a satisfying, nicely seasoned clam chowder. Among the many seafood dishes, which are fresh whenever possible, are an excellent pan-fried petrale sole with caper-lemon butter and a delicious blackened sea bass with a side of homey mashed potatoes. Pastas, salads, sandwiches, and a variety of meats round it out. A more casual lounge area offers the same incredible view with a less expensive, less extensive menu and the additional option of a hamburger.
The Pub at Ghirardelli Square 851 Beach St./Hyde St.