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San Francisco Two Ways

LOCALS' OWN:

• Crookeder Vermont Street.

Vermont Street is even crookeder than Lombard Street. And that's about all that can be said for it. But if you want bragging rights, head for Vermont and 20th Street and prepare to muscle your steering wheel through some tight turns before being deposited onto 22nd Street. Bonus: Before descending, walk through the community garden, a block away at 20th and San Bruno Avenue, for an amazing view.


The Vallejo, Oakland, and Larkspur ferries make their way into and out of the Ferry Building in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg - AP)

_____San Francisco Two Ways_____
Interactive Map


Waterfront

TOURIST ZONE:

• Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf gets you down by the bay, but you're surrounded by a gazillion touristy shops and restaurants. And unless you visit in winter, that crab cocktail is most likely frozen, not fresh off the boat.

LOCALS' OWN:

• The Embarcadero and the Ferry Building.

Head south of Fisherman's Wharf on the Embarcadero -- the street that hugs the water -- and park near where the Bay Bridge hits land. Stroll along the water, inspect fireboats at a waterfront fire station, read about San Francisco history at kiosks along the way and soak up poetry embedded in the sidewalk. Hungry? Hit the refurbished Ferry Building and discover a Chinese tea- room, Japanese deli and a host of other dining options -- or sample a briny oyster, fresh from Tomales Bay. On Saturdays, check out the Farmers Market, where the people-watching is as juicy as the heirloom tomatoes. If you're craving a real wharf-rat experience, saunter over to Pier 30 and Red's Java House for a burger and beer.

The Ferry Building (415-693-0996, www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com) is at the foot of Market Street. The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (415-291-3276, www.cuesa.org) runs Saturdays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and extra days high season. Red's Java House (415-777-5626) is on Pier 30.


Mexican Food

TOURIST ZONE:

• Taco Bell, Chevy's, Del Taco, etc.

Hey, you can eat this mass-produced Mexican fare almost anywhere. So hop in your Chevy (or other fabulous rental car) and point it toward the Mission district.

LOCALS' OWN:

• La Taqueria and Cha Cha Cha.

In the Mission, the heart of San Francisco's Latino community, La Taqueria is arguably (and the locals love to argue about it) the city's best spot for burritos. This joint is short of atmosphere and long of line, but well worth it. Besides, the queue moves fast, you get to watch the mesmerizing taco master at work, and you can stuff yourself for under $10. Just down the street -- or in the original Haight-Ashbury neighborhood location -- you'll find Latin groove food served up at Cha Cha Cha. This sit-down spot specializes in hefty plates of tapas, such as chunks of potatoes with a spicy aioli sauce, hot spinach salad and grilled chicken in a creamy Dijon sauce. Order a pitcher of sangria and ponder the Frida Kahlo-on-acid decor. Tapas are $6 to $9 a plate.

La Taqueria (415-285-7117) is at 2889 Mission St. at 25th Street. Cha Cha Cha has two locations: 1801 Haight St. at Shrader Street (415-386-7670) and 2327 Mission St. near 19th Street (dinner only; 415-824-1502, www.cha3.com).


Islands

TOURIST ZONE:

• Alcatraz.


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