On your next visit to San Francisco, skip the usual tourist haunts and visit these hidden gems instead. Concierge and Les Clefs d’Or member Marianne Wong of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco thinks these things to see, do and eat are some of the city’s best.
Favorite museum secret: “For those who enjoy photography at its finest, one of the most exciting private collections is now available to visitors at a museum called Pier 24. This unique private museum established by the Pilara Foundation provides a contemplative environment for viewing their remarkable collection, comprised of luminaries such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus and a retinue of international artists in the field of photography. The location of the museum is very unexpected, beneath the dramatic steel footprint of the Bay Bridge; the area surrounding the museum is also notable along the waterfront. To ensure a serene viewing experience for visitors, the museum requires advance booking, but the price of admission is free.”
Favorite culinary secret: “Dungeness crab is a favorite local delicacy, and the season begins in November. I know friends who serve Dungeness crab for Thanksgiving instead of turkey because the start of the season finds this crustacean at its meatiest. Steamed and cracked, boiled, sautéed, baked or any way you like it, it’s truly the San Francisco treat. Some of my favorite destinations for enjoying this are Swan Oyster Depot for the chilled, cracked version; Anchor Oyster Bar in the Castro for their amazing cioppino, a tomato-based seafood stew; R&G Lounge in Chinatown for their salt-baked version; and Crustacean for roasted crab with garlic butter.”
Favorite Wine Country secret: “The culinary team at Sonoma’s St. Francis Winery offers a unique wine and food pairing experience featuring a multicourse, small-plates menu created to accompany a selection of St. Francis wines. I very much enjoy this style of dining, especially while wine tasting; it adds an extra dimension to the experience of sampling wines. A small group of guests is seated in a glass box of a private room, adjacent to grape fields. The views of the grape vines are front and center, with surrounding mountains as a dramatic backdrop. The chef takes you on a food and wine tasting journey with interesting and remarkable flavor combinations — the dishes are well crafted and visually creative. A host is there to provide introductions to the courses and accompanying wine selection. The experience feels intimate, relaxed and exquisite. Reservations are highly recommended.”
Favorite spa secret: “The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco offers four private suites — three single spa suites and a couples suite. This is a unique feature that encourages guests to embrace relaxation and rejuvenation whether as a couple or in solitude. All of the spa suites are furnished with individual shower facilities and changing rooms, allowing guests to prepare for their treatments and relax afterward in privacy. After completion of each treatment, guests wishing to linger and reflect longer are invited to our Relaxation Tea Lounge to enjoy specialty tea selections.”
Photos Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group