Help! Where do I take my teenage daughter on our visit to San Francisco

A friend of a friend recently asked me for advice on where to take his daughter on their trip to San Francisco from the East Coast. Specifically, she wants to check out good thrift stores, and dad wants tips on restaurants that are teenage-friendly (read: nothing too fancy).

Without knowing details, I figure they’re only minimally familiar with the city, so kept my suggestions to the more traveled parts (no ‘outer’ anything). It’s no fun driving all over an unfamiliar city, navigating our streets, trying to find some tiny outer Richmond restaurant that some who and who recommended, especially with a completely unimpressed dining companion. But I wanted to recommend unique local places, so no chains or corporate restaurants.

With that, here’s what I emailed:

Thrift stores? they should just walk down Haight St. in Haight Ashbury. There’s a bunch of vintage/thrift/second-hand stores packed with lots of clothes, and one of the best Goodwill stores around (at least it used to be). There’s also the humongous record/cd store Amoeba at the end of the street. The Mission district, along Valencia and Mission streets, is another good option, though it’s more spread out there, so more walking involved.

For food, it depends on how adventurous or refined her tastes are. But generally I would suggest fun, tourist-friendly places like the Stinking Rose for Italian in North Beach (though all the restaurants there are similar in quality and price) and Mama’s is good for breakfast, R&G Lounge on Kearny in Chinatown for Chinese (my favorite), Papalote on Valencia in the Mission for Mexican (another favorite). Also in the Mission, Delfina has good wood-oven pizzas and Tartine Bakery is amazing. In Fisherman’s Wharf, Cioppino’s is good for seafood and Boudin and In N Out Burger are good lunch places. In the Haight, the Pork Store has good breakfast, the Citrus Club has good Asian noodle soups, Kan Zaman is a fun Middle Eastern place and has belly dancers some nights and Cha Cha Cha is a decent Cuban place and fun. Or you can always just go to the Ferry Building, which is like a fancy food court, and all of the places there are good.

As is common in San Francisco, some if not most of these places will have lines depending on when you go. Enjoy!

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