Making the most of WWDC with @rganguly
(This is part of an email interview series we’ve created specifically in advance of WWDC. Since so many people come in from out of town to attend the conference, we thought it would be helpful and fun to get some advice from long-time attendees and SF residents about how to make the most of your trip to the Bay Area)
We got a lot of great information from folks like Buzz Andersen, Ryan Nielsen, Justin Williams, Ash Ponders, Jonathan Barbero and Andrew Wooster about what to do in SF during WWDC. As a former SF resident and a big fan of the city, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.
Remember to check out the Foursquare list we’ve created that has this bounty of recommendations.
Are you going stay near the Moscone Center when you’re in town for WWDC?
Nope, I stay near Alamo Square with a good friend of mine. In general, when I visit cities, I prefer to stay with friends, it’s a good way to catch up with people and save money on hotels :).
What ONE place would you say WWDC attendees from outside of the Bay Area have to go?
If you’ve never been to Golden Gate Park and have a few hours to walk or bike, you absolutely have to visit it. On a sunny day it’s absolutely stunning and when can you get to see buffalo, a Japanese Tea Garden and hit golf balls in the same park?
What is your favorite place to grab a drink and run into random WWDCers?
Smuggler’s Cove, a rum punch bar near the Civic Center is a regular favorite that’s far enough away from the core of the conference to have smaller crowds and more intimate conversations. Sharing a Scorpion Bowl with 9 new WWDC friends is absolutely a favorite memory from last year.
Since that’s a bit far away from the center of things, however, I’ll add another. The Chieftain is a bit lower key and is a great spot to grab a late afternoon beer and maybe catch a soccer game on one of the tvs.
If you could lead a field trip for 15 WWDC attendees where would you take them?
I’d lead a group to Golden Gate Park’s Disc Golf Course. A few hours, some beers and a leisurely walk through the 18 “holes” is an excellent way to spend an afternoon and we’d get a chance to explore the park in more detail afterwards. What’s that you say? You’ve never played Disc Golf before? No time like the present to learn :)
What is the best cocktail you’ve had in San Francisco and where did you have it?
The one I’m having with a longtime friend, of course :). Getting cocktails in San Francisco is pretty easy – a lot of great selection. So, instead of making a cocktail recommendation I’ll point you in this direction: Fernet. San Francisco has an obsession with Fernet, so order it with your bartenders, ask them to make you cocktails with it and if you want to find the bar that sells the most Fernet in the country, head over to R Bar.
Where is the best beer in San Francisco?
I swear that the beer at Zeitgeist tastes better on a sunny day than beer anywhere else. The outdoor patio is delightful and I truly appreciate their commitment to real glass pitchers instead of the chintzy plastic pitchers most places offer.
Have you found a coffee shop worth working in and skipping WWDC sessions for? If so, where is it?
These days, Sightglass is a great spot to hang out, get some work done and see a lot of the emerging startups stopping by for interviews, meeting and just plain work. It’s not far from Moscone, as well, which is nice.
What’s the best meal you’ve had in San Francisco and where did you have it?
There are a lot of excellent meals to be had in the city, so that’s never a tough thing to find – the problem is trying to pick just one. So I’ll cheat and choose a breakfast and a lunch spot.
For breakfast, you absolutely can not go wrong by making a trip to Mama’s in Washington Square. Go midweek and bring cash and you won’t be disappointed. Fridays are often much busier, so beware if you wait on this until the end of the week. I’m not normally a huge fan of pancakes and I can’t get enough of the perfectly fluffy buttery hotcakes here.
For lunch, another cash-only SF secret is Swan Oyster Depot. This family-owned and run seafood counter has some of the freshest crabs, oyster and clams in the city and enjoying a cup of their chowder with an Anchor Steam and a hunk of fresh sourdough bread while watching them prep your dozen oysters is a powerful moment of joy and anticipation every time I go. The lines can get long, so show up before 11 or after 1.
What’s the most fun thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?
Pick a neighborhood and explore it on foot. Head to the Mission for a stop in at several taquerias for a taco or a torta and to soak up the atmosphere. Visit North Beach and dip into a few pizzerias or Italian restaurants to get a sense for them. Wander through the Haight and window shop (and get a second hand high). San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods and exploring one of them on foot is a delightful education about how it feels to actually live there.
What’s the most unique thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?
It would have to be a walk over the Golden Gate Bridge. Most residents, much less visitors to the city, ever take the time required to walk over and back the bridge but it’s absolutely worth it. On a clear day you can see the city, the ocean, Alcatraz, the East Bay and Marin, all from on the bridge.
What one thing do you bring home from SF every time you visit?
A bag of Blue Bottle beans. As beans go, these are pretty top notch and it’s always nice to get them straight from the source.