How to Experience San Francisco Like a Movie Star
It’s easier than you think.
In humble, some might say un-glitzy, San Francisco (the home of hoodies and Birkenstocks) the biggest celebrities often consist of techies, chefs, and winemakers. Not that spotting Mark Zuckerberg at a taqueria in the Mission doesn’t thrill, but historically the city hasn’t had nearly the star appeal of its sister city in SoCal. Lately, though, that’s all been changing. An increasing number of films and TV shows are being shot nearby (in 2015, blockbusters like San Andreas and the Age of Adaline, as well as TV shows Silicon Valley, HBO’s Looking, and The Mindy Project), luring in the actors who work for them. Here’s where to catch a glimpse of glam in the City by the Bay this Oscar season.
Where to Eat
Cala may have only been open for a few months, but even so it’s already on the A-list’s radar, having hosted the likes of Rick Bayless and Jake Gyllenhaal. We suspect the draw is due in part to this being the first stateside venture for renowned Mexico City chef and restaurateur Gabriela Cámara.
At Mission District staple Foreign Cinema, stars don’t only appear on the movie screen that hangs over the interior courtyard wall. Ashton Kutcher, Neil Patrick Harris, and others have been spotted tableside at this movie-themed restaurant, where California fare is served as classic films project on a wall (there are speakers next to each table). For real star treatment, rent the Director’s Table with a group of flashy friends.
It’s no surprise celebrities like Jon Hamm and Gwyneth Paltrow frequent Vietnamese restaurant the Slanted Door, considering its investors include Quentin Tarantino and Mick Jagger. With shaking beef nearly as famous as the actors themselves and a million-dollar view of the bay from its window seats inside the Ferry Building, this makes for an ideal pre-Oscar dinner venue.
Where to Stay
Live the lifestyle of the stars at the St. Regis San Francisco’s presidential suite, where celebrities including the cast of Game of Thrones have been spotted recently. Get the same A-list treatment with their signature butler service and Bentley house car.
Though it’s located in the gritty Tenderloin neighborhood, the Phoenix Hotel has seen its share of celebrities since opening in the 1980s. What began as a crash pad for musicians (David Bowie, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Moby, to name a few) playing at the nearby music hall, The Fillmore, has since transformed into a city gem. Now the funky-chic hotel hosts popular art events and pool parties for the city’s in-crowd, and their bar, Chambers, is a go-to spot for a swanky evening of craft cocktails.
Where to Drink
It’s no coincidence that one of North Beach’s most cinematic buildings is called Cafe Zoetrope—it’s owned by director Frances Ford Coppola (American Zoetrope is the name of his film studios, and his winery includes a “Zoetrope Collection”). Inside, a dramatic dining room channels The Godfather, with a cast of well-dressed servers delivering martinis. Italian fare like spaghetti and meatballs pairs with wines from Coppola’s own label.
The Redwood Room, named after its original redwood paneling that sets a sultry ambiance, has hosted stars from Gwen Stefani to Sean Penn and Leonardo DiCaprio. Get the VIP treatment at this bar, located in the Clift Hotel, by reserving a table or attending one of their infamous events.