Just Back from San Francisco: Paul Haggis
"San Francisco is a real city—there's human contact, which is a rare thing in Los Angeles."
OCCUPATION Screenwriter and director HOME BASE Santa Monica, California GOLDEN GATES The Canadian-born television writer turned filmmaker, best known for his Oscar-nominated script for Million Dollar Baby, recently attended the San Francisco International Film Festival, where he accepted an award for screenwriting and showed his directorial debut, Crash. "San Francisco is a city of contrasts, a blending of the bohemian and the deluxe," he says. While in town, Haggis enjoys both, from hole-in-the-wall joints such as Dottie's True Blue Café (522 Jones St.; 415/885-2767; breakfast for two $20) to the haute cuisine of Restaurant Gary Danko (800 North Point St.; 415/749-2060; dinner for two $120). "[Danko's] roasted lobster is exquisite." TRAVELIN' MAN A self-proclaimed homebody, Haggis is still acclimating to the nomadic Hollywood lifestyle. "When I get in a hotel elevator, I think, What floor am I on?The thirteenth floor?Wait, that was yesterday," he explains. SLEEP IS OVERRATED This summer, Haggis, who is currently juggling four projects—including Flags of Our Fathers, set on Iwo Jima (directed by Clint Eastwood and produced by Steven Spielberg)—is heading to La Garde–Freinet, France, then to Orvieto, Italy. His plan: "To drink good coffee, eat great food...and write."
Restaurant Gary Danko
Since 1999, James Beard Award winner Gary Danko’s restaurant has been a San Francisco institution. Serving contemporary American cuisine, the Fisherman’s Wharf establishment boasts a 75-seat dining room with light wood shutters, fresh flower arrangements, and white linens. Danko utilizes fresh ingredients on dishes like seared ahi tuna served with avocado, nori, enoki mushrooms, and lemon soy dressing, and herb-crusted loin of lamb with polenta. The chef’s tasting menu and three to five-course prix fixe options are the best ways to sample a range of dishes.
Dottie's True Blue Café
The first thing diners notice about Dottie’s True Blue Café in the Tenderloin district is the line down the block - an indication that locals in the know feel it’s worth the wait. Although the establishment boasts classic diner features, include a blue-and-white color scheme, the food is anything but. Typical diner fare comes with an an upscale twist: banana chocolate chip French toast with toasted pecans, zucchini cakes, and whiskey fennel sausage. The wait can run anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours, but the service is speedy once you’re inside.