In the western part of San Francisco, you'll notice a generous sprinkling of Chinese signs along Clement and Geary streets. Behind them are shops and restaurants where daily life goes on, minus the souvenir junk. You might spot a grandpa out for a stroll with his grandson or a great deal on flip-flops. One of the best spots to dine is Ton Kiang, where you can actually find dim sum at dinner. Start with dumplings, then order from a full menu of other dishes, some in Hakka-style clay pots. Finish with tiny, warm custard tarts. How local is this place? On my last visit, San Francisco resident Robin Williams was chowing down and absolutely nobody pestered him.
Ton Kiang (415-387-8273, www.tonkiang.net) is at 5821 Geary Blvd. near 23rd Avenue. Most entrees are in the $9 to $14 range.
The Vallejo, Oakland, and Larkspur ferries make their way into and out of the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
(Eric Risberg - AP)
You may pop into Virgin when roaming the Union Square area, but to miss its local competitor would be a mega-shame.
To head home with the coolest CD nobody's ever heard of, stop by this store in the Haight-Ashbury or swing by the original Amoeba, which opened 15 years ago across the bay in Berkeley. The store specializes in up-and-coming artists, along with a massive assortment of new and used media. The atmosphere is classic funky-scruffy "Haight," so don't be surprised if fellow customers sport an astonishing array of tattoos and piercings. "Amoeba Music Compilation Vol. V" has two disks packed with 39 tracks by local performers -- many of them Amoeba staffers -- for just $5.98.
Amoeba Music (415-831-1200, www.amoebamusic.com) is at 1855 Haight St. near Shrader. The Berkeley store (415-549-1125) is at 2455 Telegraph Ave.
Besides Rice-A-Roni (eek!), sourdough bread is San Francisco's most famous treat. Folks say the foggy climate is perfect for nursing the "starter" that produces the trademark dense, sour loaf. You can buy versions at almost any local bakery, but Boudin's dominates the tourist zones.
San Francisco foodies think sourdough is so . . . gold rush. They chow down on all sorts of designer loaves. Look for whole-wheat walnut rounds or herb slabs by Acme (whose baker is an alum of the famed Chez Panisse), or visit Tartine -- a bakery so popular it doesn't even have a sign -- for fresh-from-the-oven Euro-style breads, killer pastries and sandwiches you can make a meal of.
Acme Bread (415-288-2978) is at the Ferry Building and upscale grocery stores. Most loaves are in the $3 to $6 range. Tartine (415-487-2600, www.tartinebakery.com) is at 600 Guerrero St. You can lunch here for around $10; cookies start at 50 cents, with individual pastries in the $3 to $5 range.
Crooked Lombard Street.
Join the line of cars slowly snaking down lovely Lombard Street in the block between Hyde and Leavenworth. If you like a landscape of pretty flowers pocked by Detroit's finest, this is your hill. But if you're looking for the "crookedest street in the world," you've gone astray.