Literary City Guide | San Francisco, CA


San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth.
— William Saroyan
It seemed like a matter of minutes when we began rolling in the foothills before Oakland and suddenly reached a height and saw stretched out ahead of us the fabulous white city of San Francisco on her eleven mystic hills with the blue Pacific and its advancing wall of potato-patch fog beyond, and smoke and goldenness in the late afternoon of time.
— Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Tour Guide: Stacy Ladenburger

Stacy is the creator of the blog Delightful Crumb. A native of the great state of Michigan, she lives in sunny Oakland, CA, with her dashing husband, Ben. She enjoys farmers markets, running, and baked goods paired with coffee in the afternoon. (All photos by Stacy Ladenburger.)

Q&A

Relationship to San Francisco: Recent transplant to the Golden State

Writer you'd like to invite to dinner: Anne Lamott

Chef you'd like to prepare the meal: Nigel Slater and/or Alice Waters (Can they join us for dinner as well?)

Writing soundtrack: Bon Iver, The Weepies, Rosie Thomas

Pen or Pencil: Pen

Coffee or Tea: Coffee

Paperback or Hardback: Paperback 

 


Good Reads


BOOKSTORES

Omnivore Books on Food. charming shop filled entirely with books about food and drink, including a vintage collection. Owner Celia Sack has impeccable taste.

Green Apple Books. This independent bookstore in the Inner Richmond has a wonderful selection and a down-to-earth spirit that I love.

Book Passage. Housed in the Ferry Building, this offshoot of the original store in Marin County is small but mighty.

City Lights. An independent bookstore and publisher, City Lights is famous for its relationship to the Beat Poets. This fascinating history seems to radiate from the shelves.

LIBRARIES

San Francisco Public Library. For the best selection, head to the Main Library. For a quiet place to work and a gorgeous view, make your way to the Portrero Hill branch.

The Prelinger Library. This independent research library boasts a collection of historical ephemera, books, periodicals, and maps—but only from 1 to 8 pm on Wednesdays!

READINGS & CONFERENCES

Omnivore Books on Food. Guests pack this tiny bookstore many times a month to listen to the wonderful cookbook authors and chefs Celia lines up as speakers.

Book Passage. Regular events and classes at Book Passage feature well-known writers and cover a wide variety of topics.

Litquake. This 9-day annual event is the largest independent literary festival on the West Coast.

OTHER FINDS

826 Valencia. Dave Eggers’ nonprofit encourages young people to write through programs for both students and teachers. Visit the Pirate Supply Store, a quirky shop whose sales benefit the organization.

Lit Crawl. On the closing night of Litquake, restaurants, shops, and even laundromats throughout the Mission District host authors for brief readings in the spirit of a bar crawl. 

Good Eats


COFFEE SHOPS

Blue Bottle Coffee. My favorite of the Blue Bottle locations is the tiny kiosk in Hayes Valley, but Mint Plaza is the most pleasant for lingering (preferably with a baked good!).

The Mill. One of several Four Barrel Coffee cafes. The Mill's daily menu includes three variations on toast—each one thickly sliced, perfectly toasted, and layered with top-notch ingredients.

Coffee Bar. This airy space on the border of the Mission District and Portrero Hill is perfection when there’s work to be done.

A PROPER MEAL

Nopa. Aptly dubbing its locally focused cuisine “urban rustic,” Nopa strikes the balance between innovation and straightforwardly good food, with an excellent wine list and creative cocktails to boot.

Outerlands. This cozy gathering place is an ideal stop after a chilly morning exploring Ocean Beach. House-made sourdough, hot ginger lemon apple cider (bourbon optional), and blankets for your lap included.

Pizzeria Delfina. One of many fantastic pizza joints in the city, Pizzeria Delfina is always bustling. I love the charred and crisp-yet-chewy crust of their pizzas.

Gracias Madre. Delicious vegan Mexican food, who knew? Even the carnivores leave happy. 

Plow. A sunny little spot for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. The crispy potatoes deserve the hype.

TREATS

Tartine Bakery. Pastry Chef Elisabeth Prueitt’s pastries are as delicious as they are beautiful; husband and co-owner Chad Robertson bakes truly epic bread.

Craftsman and Wolves. A sleek, contemporary patisserie inventively combining flavors and textures to produce pastries, cakes, and other tasty confections.

Arizmendi Bakery. This worker-owned cooperative has several Bay Area locations, including one ideally situated for a pause before walking through Golden Gate Park. The oat scone should not be missed.

Bi-Rite Creamery & Humphry Slocombe. I tried very hard to choose a favorite ice cream shop but just couldn’t do it. These two are tied for their refreshingly unorthodox flavors.

Miette. For petite cakes, cookies, candies, and a solid dose of charm, this sweet shop is the place to go.


It’s an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world.
— Oscar Wilde

Bay Bridge Lights.JPG

Stacy's 5 Favorites


1. Favorite bookstore. Omnivore Books, hands down. An adorable shop full of cookbooks, with regular events featuring food folk I admire--what could be better?

2. Favorite place to write. Lately, I've been writing at home. But when I need inspiration, I head to Tartine, where I enjoy a pastry, tune in and out of the conversations swirling around me, and write in my journal.    

3. Favorite museum. I love the de Young Museum. The stunning art collection is rich in history, and the view from the tower is unbeatable.

4. Favorite coffee shop. The Mill. Great coffee, lots of light, and the best toast I've ever had.

5. Favorite thing about San Francisco. I love the vibrant culinary scene, the variety of people here, and the juxtaposition of wild, natural spaces with the bustling city.