Now that you’re totally prepared for DreamForce 2014, you’re probably starting to consider the fact that, aside from Golden Gate park and the conference itself, you don’t really know what to do in San Francisco. Lots of human things need to transpire while you’re there (eating, drinking, unwinding) and, if you’re inclined to follow the path of least resistance, you’ll likely spend a lot of time in your hotel’s lobby/bar. But you didn’t come all this way to eat $20 hamburgers (of, if you did, you expected them to taste a little better) and go to bed after the last session of the evening. You’re in a great place with like-minded people. It’s time to enjoy it.
The Area Near DreamForce 2014
The area you’re likely staying in—if you’ve booked a hotel near- or on-campus—is surprisingly hard to pin down in terms of a name. Some call it Yerba Buena, some SoMa (South of Market Street), and I’ve even heard one or two people allude to it being at the extreme end of the Financial District, but, regardless, it’s beautiful. Open space, culture, delicious food and bars. Oh, and over 100,00 people more than it’s used to. So there’s that. What follows are some choices for you adventurers, those who reject Holiday Inn continental breakfasts in search of greener pastures, who think power-lunches should be held at Michelin-starred restaurants, and who know that all work and no play… something something.
The Obligatory Power Lunch
So ubiquitous to business culture in general, the power lunch can be observed, in any city, at any fancy restaurant that dares to offer lunch. Typically comprised of a few individuals looking to make a deal of some kind, conferences like DreamForce are uniquely suited for bigwigs and middle-weights alike to sit down with prospective clients/partners/connections and make things happen. But deals don’t happen over Whoppers, or, at least, they shouldn’t. In addition to making sure you follow the unspoken “code” of the modern business lunch, the grub needs to be exceptional.
Fortunately, San Francisco is suited to the task. When looking for a spot to power lunch around DreamForce 2014, you may want to consider:
- Boulevard Restaurant (1 Mission Street): Just a quick jog up Market Street, this New American heavy hitter is sure to please. With yums that range from fresh sea food to a Waygu beef burger, you can’t lose.
- Campton Place (340 Stockton Street): Located near the Westin St. Francis, Campton Place offers both a Michelin-starred restaurant and a bistro featuring its inspired Mediterranean/California fair.
- Kombu Kitchen ( 747 Market Street, 4th Floor): This Asian fusion/vegan friendly spot, located right in the vicinity of the Moscone Center, is sure to please a more diverse crowd with different food needs.
- Coffee Bar (1890 Bryant St): This no-frills, straight up best coffee-house in San Francisco boasts locally roasted beans and tasty sandwiches if you’re into that sort of thing.
However, some of you may want to stay on campus. After all, lunch does occur in the middle of the conference day. Fortunately, San Francisco’s hotels have stepped up their lunch game as well. In the hotels where the conference is taking place, you’ll find:
- Bin 55 Restaurant and Wine Bar (Marriot Marquis): With a simple and yummy lunch, Bin 55 is best suited to those of you who power-lunch casually. There’s no top chef in the kitchen, but what they put out is tasty and, for those of you at DreamForce on your own dime, affordable.
- Luce (InterContenintal): This place is Michelin starred, was voted a top-5 power lunch in San Francisco contender, and rocks a delectable Modern American menu. Sometimes at business lunches you need the big gun, and this place is it.
- Pied Piper Bar and Grille (The Palace Hotel): If you’re looking for that classic California flavor, or you’re just really into pub fare, this might be the place for you.
- Urban Tavern San Francisco (Hilton Union Square): If local and seasonable are your passions, this Gastropub in the answer.
- Maso (Westin Market Street): With a décor featuring old laboratory equipment, vintage schoolroom stuff, and early computer tech pieces, Maso serves up contemporary California cuisine with an emphasis on wild, antibiotic- and hormone-free meats and poultry and seasonable vegetables.
- The Oak Room (Westin St Francis): For those looking for a playful American meal, look no further.
“I’m On Vacation” Indulges
While you’re not technically on vacation, all the excitement surrounding DreamForce 2014 can make it feel otherwise. I mean, making contacts, attending off-site ragers… it’ll definitely put you in the mood to treat yourself. Fortunately, San Francisco, in my mind, is one of the indulgence capitals of the US. It may not have all the class of Vegas or Reno ;), but the Bay Area features some of the best bars and restaurants in the country. While your per diem might not cover some of these places (that’s what savings is for, right?), it would be tragic, tragic, not to indulge at least a little.
In the Greater San Francisco:
- Rich Table (199 Gough Street): Though I’ve never eaten here, my understanding from a huge number of sources is that it’s the best restaurant in San Francisco. With an eclectic, menu that defies categorization, look for beautiful, bright, local, and surprising to define your evening.
- Quince (470 Pacific Avenue): Coming in at about $190 per person for a 9-course tasting menu, Quince is not for the faint of heart. Obsessed by Northern California cuisine and Michelin-starred, it’s good enough for Julia Roberts (so it’s probably good enough for you too).
- SPQR (1911 Fillmore Street): This is the best Italian restaurant in San Francisco. That’s all.
- The French Laundry (6640 Washington Street, Yountville): While not technically in San Francisco, this restaurant, once named the best restaurant in the WORLD, is a must for foodies in the area.
- Frances (3870 17th Street): This place serves bacon beignets. BACON BEIGNETS.
Near DreamForce 2014
- Super Duper Burgers (721 Market Street): A local favorite, Super Duper does double-patty, diner style burgers with a twist. The twist, you ask? That everything is locally sourced, handmade whenever possible, and jump-for-joy delicious.
- Hog Island Oyster (1 Ferry Building, 11A): If you’re in the mood for some of freshest, most delicious shell fish you’ll ever have the pleasure to eat, go here. Immediately.
- ‘wichcraft (868 Mission Street): Top Chef Judge Tom Collichio opened a sandwich shop in San Francisco. Do you really need to know anything else?
- Yank Sing (49 Stevenson Street): For those who love traditional Chinese Dim Sum, or who’ve never had it but aren’t afraid of a little weird, Yank Sing is just tops.
In the Greater San Francisco:
- Rickhouse (246 Kearney Street): A whiskey bar through and through, it’s easy to get lost in all the artisanal cocktails and wake up face-first on the sidewalk.
- Wilson & Wilson (505 Jones Street, Inside Bourbon & Branch): So exclusive that it’s a speakeasy locating inside another speakeasy, Wilson & Wilson casts a Noir ambiance on the pleasures of drink.
- Smuggler’s Cove (650 Gough Street): Revered as one of the top tiki bars in the world, it only makes sense that, if you intend to have a few too many, you do it here.
Near DreamForce 2014
- Press Club (20 Yerba Buena Lane): Renowned for their stellar selection of local wines, the Press Club is the quintessential San Francisco wine bar.
- Thirsty Bear Brewing Company (661 Howard Street): For beer nerds who love throwing back a cold one, Thirsty Bear is where it’s at.
- Hard Water (Pier 3, The Embarcadero): Nothing goes together like fine whiskeys and fried chicken, and the folks at Hard Water know it.
- Occidental Cigar Club (471 Pine Street): There’s nothing quite like kicking back after a long day at a conference and enjoying a fine cigar along with a single malt scotch, single barrel bourbon, or a glass of seriously fine wine.
- Cigar Bar and Grill (850 Montgomery Street): For those days when you think to yourself, I’d rather go to the other awesome cigar bar.
Now I may have painted a fairly bleak (or fairly awesome, depending on you) picture of San Francisco as a capital of excess, but there’s so much more to do. If you’re one who likes to see the sites, you can check out the classics like Golden Gate Park or Haight-Ashbury, get cultured in the Cartoon Art Museum (655 Mission Street) or the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (151 Third Street), or shop ‘til you drop at the high-end Westfield Center (865 Market Street). If you’re feeling really adventurous, I hope you’ll spend at least a small part of your DreamForce 2014 trip looking for Nicholas Cage’s career on Alcatraz. I don’t think it ever made it out.