When I am in San Francisco, I spend a lot of time in the Mission District. I like the neighbourhood a lot for being more independent (I haven’t seen any Starbuck’s around there!).
Be sure that every time I am in town, I’ll go at least once to Dolores Park (between 18th and 20th Street and along Dolores Street): It offers a really great view over the city. Lots of people hang around, enjoying the good weather, many many dogs running around, and drinking a beer doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem in that park either. A fabulous way to enjoy a relaxed afternoon in the city among the locals.
Close by there is the Revolution café (3248 22nd Street). It has a bit of a bohème atmosphere and according to Diamond Dave a local hippy, it is still one of the authentic places in town (My friend Annette and I met him in front of our door step. He seems to know everything which is going on in the city, so we followed his suggestion and were not deceived). In that café they regularly have live music, mostly jazz. When we were there for an afternoon lemonade (the bar tender made us a special mix, don’t ask me what it was, it was very tasty though!) we had the chance to have a nice band to make our experience complete.
For a nice sandwich go to Mr. Pickles (3380 20th Street). The sandwiches are seriously massive! We kept half of our sandwiches for next day’s lunch! The place is not particularly comfy but you could for example get a sandwich there and eat it in in Dolores Park which is sort of around the corner!
For the afternoon-coffee-need go to Four Barrels on Valencia Street (375 Valencia St. (at 15th Street). Nice location, lots of hip people and Macs on the counter. Valencia Street is by the way a great street for second hand shopping or decoration shops.
I also got Lili a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans from that shop, since she was kind enough to dog-sit Albert whilst we were gone. I like the simple package and the amazing smell!
A bit further East and slightly less hipster there is Philz Coffee (3101 24th St. at Folsom St.) They have benches just outside, so when the weather is nice it is very enjoyable to watch people passing by. I spent a couple of hours there with Annette watching the city life.
To finish your day in this neighbourhood you should get a drink. In the UK, I was really into pubs. They have something cosy and not too fancy. In the U.S. I discovered the counterpart: Dive Bars. They seem sometimes slightly more dodgy as they are often a bit dark but I like them anyway. The Elbo Room (647 Valencia St.) is a nice divish bar in the way that it is a bit more classy. They serve a nice range of beers. In the dark beers, I can recommend the “Death & Taxes” (I love the name too!).
Have a good one!