My Town // Andrew Jervis Presents San Francisco
February 21, 2013
“My Town” is a new feature wherein friends and family from around the world give us the lowdown on their home town – favourite bars, restaurants, record shops and more. Forget Time Out – this is the only city guide you need.
Formerly steering the ship at Ubiquity Records, Andrew Jervis currently hosts the weekly Friday Night Session radio show and is chief curator at The Sport of Selection blog.
Andrew Jervis is about to start a new A&R and editorial role at Bandcamp. He has lived, loved, and learned in San Francisco since 1991.
Tell us where you like to….
We have some great green spaces to relax in, most famously Golden Gate Park, which stretches over 3 miles from the top of Haight Street all the way to Ocean Beach. Inside the park there’s more than enough room to join a drum circle on hippie hill, don your vintage roller skates, fling a Frisbee, or visit one of the park’s two excellent museums. Golden Gate Park also hosts some great music festivals throughout the year.
If you want to chill indoors with some adult beverages then I’d recommend Bourbon and Branch, a speakeasy-style bar that recalls prohibition-time secret drinking sessions. Once you’ve figured out the password, you can quaff creative Absinthe cocktails in a cosy room with a fake bookcase that pivots to reveal an additional library-styled bar room behind it. In the East Bay a similarly intimate and mellow watering hole is the slightly sideways leaning Heinhold’s First & Last Chance Saloon in Jack London Square.
The city’s baseball team are the world champion San Francisco Giants, and their stadium has a prime setting right on the waterfront in the shadow of Bay Bridge. Daytime games are a fun way to chill in the sun (or even the summertime fog.)
If you are in San Francisco for a few days then some of the best places to relax are just outside the city and in the greater Bay Area. Head to Marin and follow the windy cliff-side to the little coastal town of Stinson Beach (above). Stay on the road a little further and you’ll find yourself amidst the bohemian-surfers in Bolinas (just remember to turn left 5 miles outside of Stinson, the locals remove the signage.) If you go a little further, visit the Marshall General Store for oysters and a wine barrel and sit overlooking the stunningly beautiful Tomales Bay.
In full disclosure I raved in the late ‘80s, partied in the ‘90s, and chilled some in the 2000s. So my raving boots have been semi-retired. But, a good night, with DJs or live acts providing the soundtrack, can almost always be enjoyed at Public Works, The Independent, Brick and Mortar, The Elbo Room, 111 Minna, Mezzanine, or, the first place I ever saw live music in the city, the subterranean and slightly seedy Victorian venue, Café Du Nord.
Eat & Drink :
We’re completely spoiled when it comes to eating. There are just too many good places, so come hungry. In San Francisco you could do worse than pick from the high-end nosh served-up at Commonwealth, or the beach-cabin vibe of brunch at Outerlands. The bustling Tadich Grill is California’s oldest restaurant staffed by some of San Francisco’s oldest and most courteous waiters. Pick up a deli sandwich the size of your face at Lucca Ravioli Company, get some eccentric Chinese food at House of Nan King or Mission Chinese, try Indian Pizza at Zantes, or wait in line for hours to eat samosa soup at Burma Super Star. San Franciscans are crazy for coffee whether it’s at one of the new breed of coffee holes like Four Barrel in the Mission, or at Café Trieste, which has been serving Italian-styled coffees to local eccentrics and tourists in North Beach since the 1950s. Head to the East Bay by way of the Bay Bridge or BART train and be sure to try anything at Pizzaiolo. Get a heady cocktail and a great bite at the deco-themed Flora, find yourself in a hidden but lively yakitori spot called Ippuku, or chow down some forward thinking Mexican food at Comal.
Where is the best place to buy music?
People who come to San Francisco but neglect to visit the tiny, but extremely well stocked, Groove Merchant should be publicly shamed. I also love a quick pop into Recycled Records to see what vintage treasure and estate sales have just come in. Estate sales, yes, that’s right, dead people’s stuff. Honorary mentions go to the massive Amoeba Records and recently opened Stranded in Oakland. And, as we’re in the shadow of Silicon Valley (or close enough,) it’s worth mentioning that there are lots of people figuring out new and exciting ways to find new music. Sure iTunes, Pandora and Rdio are all on our doorstep, but also Vinyl Dreams which sells on-line and via random pop-ups in the city, and also Bandcamp which is based here in SF and empowers artists worldwide.
Best places to shop?
Pick up USA-made threads at dope local emporiums like Unionmade, MAC, and Taylor and Stitch. Deck out your walls at the Fabric 8 gallery and check out the supremely curated curios and homeware at Accident and Artifact. Also worth looking into is Creativity Explored which stocks amazing and unique works created by developmentally challenged artists, and satisfy your vintage-shopping urge first Sundays at the humongous Alameda Flea Market.
Go catch a movie at the beautifully maintained Castro Theatre; get there early enough to see/listen to the Wurlitzer organ as it rises up from the pit to keep you entertained prior to a classic Hitchcock on the big screen. The Audium Theatre of Sound-Sculptured Space is a really unique experience; like a bizarre trip backwards in a space age time capsule to see what people thought the future might look or sound like. The Musee Mecanique houses vintage mechanically operated musical instruments and antique arcade machines, and the Wave Machine is a wave-activated acoustic sculpture located on a jetty in the San Francisco Bay.
What’s the local expression/saying?
Hella: as in Hella Tight, I Hella love that, You’re Hella stoopid . . . etc.
Sum up your town in three words…
My favourite town.
What’s the best local delicacy/street food/snack?
SF is home to a couple of hundred roaming food carts serving, from The Magic Curry Kart to The Crème Brulee Cart. New carts seem to pop up weekly, check Roaming Hunger for the latest or keep an eye out for Off The Grid events which brings together more food carts than you can eat at in one night. Food carts aside, you can’t beat SF for Burritos! Everyone has a favourite taqueria, check Burrito Eater - the source for burrito insider info. But I recommend you get to any of the Taqueria Cancun stores and be ready for some spice with those rice and beans.
Who is the best local talent in your area?
Toro y Moi and Tuneyards are two of the areas most well known bands of late, and their output clearly reflects the diversity and creativity of the Bay Area music scene. But be on the look out for up and comers Bells Atlas (above) who boast an infectious melding of soul, African music, post rock and jazz. I’ve a soft spot for funky soul boys The Monophonics who are currently recording a new album with legendary vocalist Mike James Kirkland. And I know I can always rely on Tycho, Blackbird Blackbird, and newcomers Shock to churn out lush clubby tunes. Be on the look out for Oakland-based West In Dust who released a killer self-titled comp of forward thinking electronic tracks last year. Also Tree! Is the pseudonym for local lad Oliver Tree Nickell who blurs hip hop, electronics, and poppy stylings, and is set to release his debut on R&S records. On the jazz-front Meklit Hadero is an awesome vocalist to check for, and GP-favourite Idris Ackamoor (and his Pyramid collective) are based here, too. Of course the Bay is home to a ton of musical greats, including a talented producer, DJ, and record collector extraordinaire, called Shadow, but I’m guessing you already knew all about him …
10 Tracks Inspired by The Bay Area . . .
Toussaint McCall – Saigon to San Francisco
Rodger Collins – Foxy Girls in Oakland
Bobby Hutcherson – San Francisco
Gabor Szabo and the California Dreamers – San Franciscan Nights
Grover Washington Jr – Sausalito
People Under The Stairs – San Francisco Knights
Mark Murphy – San Francisco
Carmen McRae – I’m Always Drunk in San Francisco
Airto and Flora Purim – San Francisco River
Otis Redding – Sitting on the Dock of the Bay
Check the other My Town features
Lefto Presents Brussels //Mari Presents Tokyo // Edgaro Presents Havana // Hiatus Kaiyote Presents Melbourne // Clea Presents Stockholm // Sinden Presents Los Angeles // Ahu Presents Istanbul // El G Presents Buenos Aires // Bobbito Garcia Presents Harlem