San Francisco: Chinatown
San Francisco’s Chinatown needs little introduction. The Chinatown Gate is one of the city’s most iconic images, this neighborhood attracts hordes of tourists each year and there’s never a shortage of things to see and do. What the travel brochures don’t tell visitors is that there really are two Chinatowns: one is for the tourists, and the other is for those that live there. Unlike other San Francisco tourist destinations, there is no “best way” to see everything and experience the place. If you really want to experience all that Chinatown has to offer, start exploring anywhere but the Gate. By beginning your explorations from another side of the neighborhood, you’ll get to see the Chinatown that goes to work in the morning, caters to locals instead of tourists and best of all, you’ll get to taste and experience the real Chinatown.
When it comes to taste, few neighborhoods in San Francisco or any other world-class city can rival Chinatown for variety and quality of authentic Chinese cuisine. If you wander into some of the more touristy Chinese eateries, you can expect good food that is overpriced. If your exploring takes you down side streets, you can expect great food that has the prices and spices for local palates. These places will be well worth the extra steps. To give you a nudge in the right direction, consider these Chinatown restaurants:
• Chef Jia’s, 925 Kearny Street, 1-415-398-1626
You may have difficulty reading the menu in this place, but who cares? Consistently great food at good prices, but be forewarned. If you choose to order your entrée “hot,” you had better be ready for new frontiers on the Scoville scale.
• Golden Gate Bakery, 1029 Grant Avenue, 1-415-781-2627
Get there early or plan on standing in line. This place is popular with locals and tourists alike and for very good reason. Incredible baked goods that you may not be able to pronounce, but no matter. “Mmmmmmm” means the same thing in all languages.
• Hang Ah Tea Room, 1 Pagoda Place, 1-415-982-5686
Hard to find, but well worth it for authentic Chinese fare at fair prices, pearl drinks made from tapioca and fresh fruit and perhaps best of all, homemade ice cream made from fresh fruit. You will want to leave room for dessert, but good luck with that.
For shopping, you’re better off staying away from the main tourist drag, Grant Avenue, unless you’re into kitsch and other tourist fodder. Side streets will also be your best bet here for finding the unusual and authentic priced for local clientele.
Make sure you do your Chinatown shopping and sightseeing during the day. But you should also experience this neighborhood at night when most of the tourists have left. If you’re planning a visit, why not enjoy Chinatown and the rest of San Francisco in style by renting a San Francisco limo? Compared to parking or cab fare, renting a limousine in San Francisco from NLS Limo doesn’t cost much more. You’d get to enjoy many benefits both practical and indulgent such as being picked up and dropped off right at the door and having your own transportation at all times. Make your San Francisco visit extra memorable by calling 1-800-339-8936 and choose from the Bay Area’s best selection of luxury limousines, party vans, antique cars and much more.