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Whatís new in San Francisco New attractions in the city with the Golden Gate
By Phyllis Steinberg
It has been three years since I
was in San Francisco and there were so many new and exciting things to do
and places to visit that I wanted to tell Guidebook America readers all
The newest attraction which is a must
see in San Francisco is the Asian Art Museum which opened in March. It
is located in its new home at the Cityís Civic Center. The museumís
core is a permanent collection of more than 13,000 objects, spanning
6,000 years of history and representing the countries and cultures
The museumís new site was created through the
rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of the cityís former Main Library, a
1917 Beaux Arts-style building recognized as one of San Franciscoís
most important historic structures.
Stepping back in time and across the continent of
Asia, the museum contains three floors of treasures that you will
enjoy viewing. Be sure to allow at least three hours to go through
this massive collection of items.
Youíll see a decorated box of the Maharaja from the 15th
century from Pakistan, an Elephant Throne from India, a crowned Buddha and
throne from Burma and more at the new Asian Art Museum.
If you like baseball, a visit to the
new Pacific Bell Park is a must. The old Candlestick Park where the
San Francisco Giants previously played is now used for concerts and
other activities. Pacific Bell Park opened in 2000 and the ball park
now has a tour program.
What fun! During the
nearly two hour adventure through San Franciscoís waterfront landmark
and home of the 2002 National League Champion Giants, I along with a
small group of tourists, got to learn how the unique ballpark was
built and also was able to see many of the facilities in the ballpark
that only the players and staff get to see.
The tour started with a short film which told the
history of the Giants franchise. Then we were able to go inside the big
league clubhouse, sit in the visitors dugout, step on the field and visit
the playerís locker room.
We also were escorted into one of the sky boxes where
big corporations watch the game in style.
The tour is for all ages and quite fascinating. The tour
guide was so knowledgeable. There wasnít a question about baseball he
couldnít answer. Pacific Bell Park is a beautiful baseball stadium and
easy to reach. I took the subway and the train stop is right in front of
the baseball park.
The San Francisco Ferry Building has reopened with a
dramatic renovation . The ground floor is designed to become a gourmet
market and arcade comprised of 47 shops featuring many of the Bayís
artisan food producers as well as restaurants and cafes. Spend the
afternoon looking at the various products and craft items then stop and
have a lunch. There are things here that you simply wonít find anywhere
I also enjoying trying new restaurants.
Iíve really never had a bad meal in San Francisco, but I like to
search out new places and this trip I found a wonderful and modestly
priced restaurant. Itís called Aziza and the chef is Mourad Lahlou, a
native of Marrakech. Lahlouís Morrocan cuisine is top notch. A
self-taught chef, Lahlou creates beautifully plated dishes with the
heart of homestyle food. Organic and locally produced ingredients are
prominently featured on a thirty-dish menu that contains Lahlouís
unique creations and modern versions of Morrocan classics.
I tried the Chefís five course tasting menu ($39 per
person) which encompassed the entire range of the menu. My tasting meal
began with an organic green lentil soup with a lemony tomato base, which
was a shear delight. Then the chef brought out new star spinach and feta
fingers, a bastilla of baked phyllo dough pie filled with saffron braised
chicken and spiced almonds, draped in powder sugar and cinnamon. They were
savory and sensational. For my main course, I chosen the steam saffron
scented coucous with stewed lamb, a specialty of the house, which was
The restaurant opened in 2001 and is worth a visit. On
weekends the restaurant also has a belly dancer performing. I was there on
a Monday evening so I didnít get to see the show, but the food was more
than enough of a reason to seek out Aziza.
Not new, but tried and true is the
Charles Nob Hill restaurant on Jones Street. This elegant 10-table
gourmet restaurant is expensive but still remains one of my favorite
places to dine in San Francisco. At the top of the hill on Jones
Street, this small elegant eatery serves nothing but the best in
style. The chef always gives you little extra dishes with his
compliments and when you leave you get a little black box filled with
truffles. Need I say more?
Campton Place Hotel
is another elegant place to dine. With roomy and comfy booths and
tables spread out with plenty of privacy, this place is great for a
power lunch. I ordered lobster salad but the presentation was almost
too beautiful to eat, but I succumbed and devoured the entire
If you are planning to stay in San Francisco and have never been there
before, I highly recommend the Mandarian Oriental. My view of the city
from the 47th floor was spectacular. The service was also outstanding.
Mandarian Oriental Hotels, wherever they are located, always deliver a
first class experience. There are a bit on the pricey side, so they
are not for everyone.
More moderately priced
is the Kensington Park Hotel, just steps from Union Square and all the
fine department stores. Macyís and Saks Fifth Avenue are walking
distance from the hotel. The staff is friendly and the rooms are
adequate. The hotel is not air-conditioned, but you seldom require air
conditioning in San Francisco.
I enjoyed my stay at the Kensington. I
especially liked that I could use a computer for free anytime I
wanted. Many hotels these days charge for that service.
View from Mandarian Oriental
Photos by Phyllis Steinberg
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