Peter Medilek
August 27, 2015

Not long ago, downtown San Francisco was a ghost town on weekends, a neighborhood only worth visiting when after-work crowds kept the area buzzing. But recently a new wave of hotels, restaurants, and bars have revived this concrete corner of the city—yes, even during the weekend. Ready to check it out? Here’s exactly how:

Where to Stay

When Hotel G opened late last year, it offered travelers a much-needed stylish, affordable alternative to downtown’s old-school status quo. Since then it’s earned a reputation as a place that feels more like a chic apartment than a generic hotel. Against a neutral backdrop, the 151 well-appointed rooms come with Etsy throw pillows and local art on the walls. Downstairs, the Klyde Cafe and Wine Bar and 398 Brasserie teem nightly with chatty locals, ensuring you always have quick access to insider intel.

Where to Eat

One of this year’s best new restaurants lies just south of Market Street, on a strip that not long ago housed a spate of office buildings and on-the-go lunch joints. Now, Mourad, opened by the chef-owner of Michelin-starred Aziza, has claimed it as a new dining destination, if only for the surprising industrial-meets-Moroccan décor and North African-inspired dishes inside the renovated PacBell Building. A new lunch service on weekdays means more opportunities for dining on basteeya, with duck rhubarb young almond and verjus.

Edging toward North Beach, newcomer Trestle is perfect for dinner, with a $35 three-course prix fixe served in a sleek dining room strategically positioned near Jackson Square’s burgeoning nightlife micro-hood. Expect artful presentations of simple California fare, like crispy skin branzino with roasted cauliflower, charred scallions and salsa verde. For dessert? How about a brown-butter financier with lemon curd?

What to Do 

Across the street from Trestle, newcomer Doc Ricketts is the neighborhood’s go-to destination for subterranean entertainment: every night features a different act, be it music, comedy, or racy, light-hearted burlesque shows in a historic theater. Cocktails offer modern takes on pre-prohibition classics, as a salute to the area’s Barbary Coast roots.

Day Trip

If, come Sunday, you’ve had enough concrete views, walk to the Ferry Building and catch the next ferry to Angel Island—one of those rare activities that sounds touristy on paper, but is actually wonderful in real life. From here, you can circle the island by foot or bike, admiring 360-degree views of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge, Oakland, and Marin County along the way. Finish with oysters and ceviche at the Angel Island Cafe.

Jenna Scatena is on the San Francisco Bay Area beat for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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