After living in San Francisco for 8 years, then Singapore for 3 years, it was nice to revisit the old stomping grounds in the Bay Area while being back for the holidays. This is the way I would spend a regular Sunday in San Francisco. See below for circled areas.
I personally enjoy my mornings by the water and what better area to do that than by the ferry building where all the piers are?
Before heading to the Ferry Building, I pop out of the Embarcadero BART station and go to Philz Coffee for an iced Tesora blend with cream and sugar. That’s my normal order, or I would get a mint mojito—sweet and creamy. I generally like to see what the street vendors are selling while I make my way to the ferry building.
5 Embarcadero Ctr, San Francisco, CA 94111
The Ferry Building
Inside the ferry building, there are a variety of stores to walk through. A few recommended places to try include:
- Blue Bottle Coffee – a specialty sustainable coffee that uses organic ingredients and tradition; they’re more on the pricier side, but delicious!
2. Hog Island Oyster Co – great for fresh oysters, drinks, and view by the water.
Expect a long wait if you’re at peak hours!
3. El Porteño Empanadas – the store is located inside the ferry building, but you can
queue up to try one of their empanadas; it’s best for sharing!
4. Señor Sisig – if you want a quick bite and spot in front of the water, you can get
the filipino fusion burritos, which are my favorite here. I always get the burrito
California style (with fries)
You can also walk to Pier 7, which has a great boardwalk view. It’s a 10 minute walk from the ferry building and all flat ground too!
There are folks fishing and crabbing, but many visitors like to go there for a quiet minute or to take photos for the scenic views.
If you happen to be around there during lunchtime or dinner, another nearby great outdoor restaurant is Coqueta, a Spanish restaurant that serves delicious tapas and cocktail drinks. It’s a cute date spot if you ever want to bring your partner there too.
Strolling in Chinatown
I noticed police strolling around in the area, mostly to ward off any potential crime that has increased with the Asian hate crimes in San Francisco during the pandemic. It was good to see, especially since many elderly and vulnerable frequented this area.
We wandered into Chinatown from the ferry building, primarily to get our fill of delicious egg tarts at Golden Gate Bakery. I’ve been told their hours are erratic, but we went on a Sunday afternoon around 12 noon. There’s even a Facebook page that focuses on “Is the Golden Gate Bakery open today?”
To no surprise, we waited around 25 minutes, but it was completely worth it. I was a bit shocked to learn that egg tarts were now $3.50 each and $42 for a dozen—appreciate the hustle though. It was great to see this business still thriving, but wow—my wallet was crying.
Golden Gate Bakery is cash only and there are ATMs (Chase, Citi, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) nearby. You can see the menu below on the bottom right. There are also other options to try, like the moon cakes, but I’m a custard egg tart kind of girl.
Afterwards, I was craving something savory and we headed over to another local favorite, Dol Ho Dim Sum. I found it randomly on google maps and it seemed pretty decent to me. The thing about Chinese restaurants is that you want to go to a 3.5 star rated restaurant because Chinese people don’t care about ambiance, they care about the taste itself. That leads them to not provide great customer service, hence the deductions of stars by mainstream reviewers.
Watch this viral TikTok to better understand the theory behind it.
I would personally recommend getting shrimp dumpling, sticky rice with chicken in leaf, bbq pork bun, stuffed fried tarot root, turnip cake, and chicken feet if you’re feeling up for it! Just be prepared to be spitting out a lot of bones at the table.
The restaurant itself is cheap, no frills, and you have the option to take away or grab a seat. If you’re there in the later mornings, expect a wait because all the uncles and aunties will be there too, either eating or catching up with their friends in Cantonese.
We went around 1:30 pm PT and still waited 10 minutes while I watched an elderly couple seated comfortably together at a table, wearing headphones while bringing out a newspaper and iPad. It was cute.
Salesforce Park (free admission)
Summer Hours (May 1- Oct. 31): 6 a.m.-9 p.m.
Winter Hours (Nov. 1 – Apr. 30): 6 a.m.-8 p.m.
We decided to go to the Salesforce Park as well, just to walk a few circles and explore the nature it offered. My favorite was seeing the Australian shrubbery since it was not native to California and some of the plants just seemed to come from movies. We ended up sitting by the elevators, underneath the bamboo forest—it was beautifully calming to watch the long bamboo shoots sway in the wind.
Quick tip: there is a gondola at the park, but they don’t allow people to go on it from the top to bottom. According to SF Travel, “this one-way gondola ride that takes you from ground level to the park operates 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (May 1-Oct. 31) and 8 a.m.-7 p.m. (Nov. 1-Apr. 30), and is free of charge.”
Then we ended the night at House of Pancake, which is one of my all time favorite restaurants in the city. I used to come here all the time in college and order the same things: beef pancake roll, beef noodles, and pork dumplings with chives. The noodles are hand pulled, which if you’re lucky, you can see them doing it in the back of the kitchen.
937 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116
I also liked using my Mandarin here with the boss (老闆). Please leave them a good tip when you dine here; they work really hard and I love this restaurant—I never want to see them close.
NOTE: this place is cash only, but there is a Chase ATM right across the street.
In my opinion, that would be a perfect Sunday in San Francisco! Everything I listed above is pretty walkable, except to the Sunset neighborhood. You have three options: take the bus, muni, or call an Uber or Lyft.
If you use Muni public transportation, I recommend using the MuniMobile app which you can download easily and pay for tickets on your phone. “Save time and money with MuniMobile®, San Francisco’s official ticketing app for Muni buses, trains, cable cars and paratransit rides.”
If you ever get questioned or stopped by police, you can show them the app and proof of purchase—this happens fairly often because they’ll try and catch those who don’t pay for their transportation tickets.
Hope you enjoyed this guide! If you have questions, feel free to let me know in the comments below. Love this content? Support the blog here!