14 Souvenirs That Scream San Francisco
1. Olive Oil
Stonehouse’s Silver Ridge grove harvests Mission olives along with Manzanillo (the most common variety of Spanish olive) and Barouni olives (a tree developed in Tunisia). Olive oil has been called one of the healthiest cooking oils due to its antioxidative properties and high levels of monounsaturated fats (which lower cholesterol and improve overall heart health).
Extra Virgin House Blend costs $14.
Ferry Building Plaza, 94111
Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 9AM-7PM; Saturday: 8AM-6PM; Sunday: 10AM-5PM
The Stonehouse farm is located east of Chico in north-central California at the edge of the volcanic Table Mountain plateau and on an 80-plus-year-old organic olive grove called Silver Ridge. Its store is in the Ferry Building Marketplace.
Other local chocolate manufacturers include Ghiradelli, Scharffen Berger, TCHO, XOX, and Michael Mischer. Recchiuti’s factory is located in the Dogpatch – a mixed-used industrial-residential zone east of Potrero Hill.
The Black Box of 16 original handmade chocolates costs $44.
Ferry Building Plaza, 94105
Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 10AM-7PM; Saturday: 8AM-6PM; Sunday: 10AM-5PM
The Ferry Building dates to the first San Francisco ferries which, during the mid 1800s, connected the city with Sacramento. At one point during the 1930s, it was the second busiest transportation terminal in the world, and in 2003, after several decades of declining use, the building was renovated for office spaces, restaurants, and gourmet specialty stores. A farmer’s market is held there on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
A wholesale business for most of its hundred-plus years, the store opened its first retail outlets in 2006, and two and a half years later began opening locations around the country. Also exclusive to the stores is the 1333 Minna Collection, designed by local tattoo and graffiti artists, printers, and illustrators working from an industrial warehouse at 1333 Minna Street in SoMa. The hats incorporate custom fabric combinations, screen-printing, and embroidery.
1333 Minna Collection, $55-100.
Haight Street – 1446 Haight Street, 94117
Operation Hours: Sunday-Friday: 11AM-7PM; Saturday: 11AM-8PM
North Beach - 1612 Stockton Street, 94133
Operation Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11AM-7PM; Friday-Sunday: 10AM-8PM
Downtown - 111 Geary Street, 94108
Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 11AM-7PM; Saturday: 10AM-7PM; Sunday: 12-6PM
A classic, classy, tall-ceilinged Victorian-style hat shop done up in dark mahogany woods and decorated with hat boxes and crystal chandeliers, the original North Beach location of the Goorin Brothers hat company opened in 2006. Another Haight Street location exists at the intersection of Ashbury, and a smaller store Downtown near Union Square.
PlumpJack: Founded by former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom in 1997, Newsom’s wine career began with a wine shop called PlumpJack in the city’s Marina district in 1992 (named after an opera written by Gordon Getty, father of Newsom’s then business partner Bill Getty). PlumpJack is now a restaurant, bar, wine shop and resort group and, above all, a Cabernet house winery. Opus One: A joint venture between fellow Napa winegrower Robert Mondavi and baron Philippe de Rothschild, the elite operation is based out of a minimalist Napa Valley bunker and begins at $50 a bottle. Crops are aged in single-use $700 French barrels. “The standard is not to be excellent here, it is to be perfect,” Robert’s son Tim Mondavi once said.
Boutique Wineries such as…
Hill Family Estate: The estate has worked with athletes and musicians to promote their 12-vineyard operation, marketing a “Hill Harvest Red”-stained surfboard and, for Fender guitars, “Hill Harvest Red” instruments. Hill Family Estate 2007 Pinot Noir ($37). Prager: Specializing in Portuguese port-style wines, Prager lies at the end of a one-lane dirt road in the Napa Valley. Flavor comparisons have been made to caramel popcorn, black licorice, chocolate, and cherries.
For all the rest, there are tastings at the store on Saturdays between 2 and 5:30PM.
250 Taraval Street, 94116
Operation Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10AM-6:30PM
Napa has been, at times, a quicksilver mining region, a lumber mill, and (as it is today) one of the world’s premier wine growing regions at a fraction of the size of most of the great competing regions. It’s climate is characterized as “Mediterranean” where warm summers meet mild winters – hot enough for grape ripening, preserved by evening fog, and without a December frost.
5. Giants Black & Orange
SF Giants Ballcap is $18-37.
24 Willie Mays Plaza, 94107
Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 10AM-5PM; also open during games
AT&T Park opened in 2000 in the China Basin district of San Francisco between a canal, a yacht club, the bay, and the city. The Giants had originally played at Candlestick Park on a windswept extension of South San Francisco called Candlestick Point. Even before that, after first moving west in 1957 from their original location in New York, they played at Seals Stadium, a now defunct minor league ballpark.
Heathered Map Slim Wallet is $15.
1345 18th Street, San Francisco, CA, 94107
between Missouri and Texas (Potrero Hill)
Park and Pond
1422 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
between Green and Union (North Beach)
1371 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA, 94122
between Irving and Judah (Inner Sunset)
The inspiration for a pirate supply store may have been the sailing culture of the San Francisco Bay or else that section of town, called the Barbary Coast, named during its Gold Rush hey day after North Africa’s pirate-infested Barbary Coast for its lawlessness. Now, 826 is one of many tutoring and writing centers associated with Eggers around the country, with additional locations in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Ann Arbor, and Seattle. All pirate supply proceeds directly benefit the writing programs.
Black Eyepatch ($4) and Color ($5).
Operation Hours: Monday-Sunday: 12-6PM
A non-profit named for its address and founded by local author Dave Eggers – who first gained notoriety with the book A Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius, 826 Valencia serves underprivileged students as both a tutoring center and pirate supply store. Valencia Street in the Mission District occupies a long, low expanse of unkempt alternativeness in a rare pocket of quasi-eternal San Francisco sunshine.
Two of the most influential promoters of the era – Bill Graham (also responsible for transforming the Fillmore Auditorium at the intersection of Fillmore and Geary into a fully-functional concert venue) and Chet Helms (founder of Janis Joplin’s Big Brother and the Holding Company and partially responsible for San Francisco’s 1967 Summer of Love) – contracted over 500 of these advertisements. Graham would also convert an ice rink at Post and Steiner to a music venue named the Winterland Ballroom where, in October of 1968, Jimi Hendrix performed six shows over the course of three days. By decree of the San Francisco City Supervisors, September 13, 2011, was declared Jimi Hendrix Winterland Day in honor of a CD release based on those six shows.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience poster is $40-275.
1851 Powell Street, 94133
Operation Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10AM-6PM
A relatively non-descript storefront save for the large winged eyeball above the window, here is the source for all things rock and roll art related. South of the city, an archival framing outlet serves the San Francisco store which is located in North Beach, just off the main Columbus Avenue thoroughfare.
9. Messenger Bag
Beginning in 2000, the “Build Your Own Bag” system allowed for custom paneling and custom logo colors. In a city where the homes are blue and pink, the bodies painted, and clothing at times optional, so too the customization - another vehicle for expressing identity. Handles may be right- or left-handed, interiors with or without laptop pockets, and additional reflective tabs available upon request. All bags are sewn in San Francisco and are guaranteed for their lifetime.
Custom Messenger Bag ($64-170).
506 Hayes Street, 94102
Operation Hours: Monday: 12PM-6PM; Tuesday-Friday: 11AM-7PM; Saturday: 10AM-7PM; Sunday: 11AM-6PM
Located in Hayes Valley, the neighborhood was rebuilt following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake when a freeway that used to run through the area collapsed. Also available in the Timbuk2 store is a bike sharing program that allows visitors to borrow a bike, helmet, and lock free for the day. The bikes are cruisers.
Shitake, tree oyster, king trumpet, bear’s head, and maitake are some of their top producers. Porcini – one of the more difficult varieties to cultivate due to the symbiotic relationship it forms with other plants in the area, has become one of the top selling gourmet mushrooms. Wood ear leads the food chain in terms of vegetable fiber and contains three times as much iron as liver and two times as much calcium as milk. There are chicken-like varieties – chicken of the woods, and peppery ones like yellowfoot; large, red parasitic lobster mushrooms and two-pound chanterelles. Once harvested, they are sold at the San Francisco store and at farmer’s markets around the Bay Area.
Dried Mushrooms ($5-20).
Ferry Building Plaza, 94111
Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 10AM-6PM; Saturday: 8AM-6PM; Sunday: 11AM-5PM
The Far West Ferry Building store services a family farm in Moss Landing, a commercial fishing town on the Monterey Bay. Mushrooms are grown there in petri dish cultures and cultivated in blocks of treated sawdust. Ian Garrone manages the store and helps run the farm along with his farther, stepmother, and brother.
The name “Four Barrel” refers to the gas-heated, four-barrel roaster at the back of the store where about 7,500 pounds of coffee are turned out every week. A series of single-origin roasts are for sale along with the most popular Friendo Blendo blend.
Jeremy Tooker, founder of Four Barrel, also co-founded Ritual Roasters with Eileen Hassi, so the styles can be similar, in this case something called “Scandinavian.” Culinary coffee drinkers have called it superior in many ways, the perception being that Scandinavians roast lighter to allow the flavor of the coffee bean speak for itself. Their single-origin blend, Sweet Tooth, rotates throughout the year, a new esoteric coffee grower chosen every month.
Once described as “more coffee rave than cafe,” the Blue Bottle kiosk first existed in the garage of an architect’s woodshop in Hayes Valley and its brewing headquarters in a 182-square foot room in Oakland. Its Three Africans blend combines Ugandan and Ethiopian coffees for something chocolaty, unthreatening, and easy to like. The Hayes Valley Espresso was created for the launch of the Linden Street store and is their darkest.
Four Barrel Friendo Blendo 12oz. ($13.75)
Ritual Roasters Sweet Tooth 12oz. ($15.95)
Blue Bottle Three Africans 12oz. ($16.50)
375 Valencia Street, 94103
Operation Hours: Monday-Saturday: 7AM-8PM; Sunday: 8AM-8PM
A Mission District institution, the Four Barrel cafe occupies a stylish, wood-paneled oasis of cool with tasting, roasting, grinding, sitting, and standing around stations evenly divided.
1026 Valencia Street, 94103
Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 6AM-10PM; Saturday: 7AM-10PM; Sunday: 7AM-9PM
Six blocks from Four Barrel on Valencia Street, Ritual Roasters shares in common with its neighbor its ownership and roasting style minus the coffee bar and with more medium roasts than the stronger Four Barrel style.
Ferry Building Plaza, 94111
Operation Hours: Monday-Saturday: 7AM-7PM; Sunday: 8AM-5PM
With additional locations downtown and in the Ferry Building marketplace, the original store is located in the Hayes Valley at 315 Linden Street. (Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 7AM-6PM; Saturday-Sunday 8AM-6PM)
12. Vintage Levi’s
Levi Strauss worked as a dry goods merchant in San Francisco and made most certainly a greater profit outfitting prospectors than many of the miners did themselves. The oldest 501 in the world dates to around 1879 and is called the “Double X”, meaning “extra strong” or “double extra heavy” for the denim used. No one seems to know why the lot number “501” was chosen.
1944 501 Jeans ($250).
300 Post Street, 94108
Operation Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10AM-9PM; Sunday: 10AM-6:30PM
Located at the lower level of the Union Square flagship store next to the Tailor Shop, Levi’s Vintage Clothing carries 501s from the late 1800s to the mid 20th century. A wall display shows the evolution of the 501 over time.
13. Pint Glasses
Devil’s Acre refers to the section of Kearny Street between Pacific and Broadway in what is now North Beach. During the 1970s and 80s, it was the Barbary Coast – a 40-square block area occupied by miners, farmhands, sailors, pickpockets, and prostitutes along with a series of beer and dance halls, gambling tables, and rickety wood-frame buildings. A few saloons dating to the era of handlebar moustaches still exist, among them the Comstock Saloon, the Savoy Tivoli, and the Gold Dust Lounge. The Taverna Aventine at Washington and Montgomery has been built along a 150-year-old seawall which marked the edge of the district.
Devil’s Acre Pint Glass ($8)
66 Gough Street, 94102
Operation Hours: Wednesday: 4-9PM; Saturday-Sunday: 12-6PM
Located in Hayes Valley and founded by graphic designer Laureano Faedi, who designs all of the merchandise and who has also produced work for Gap and Levi’s, Gangs of San Francisco has been built in a closet-sized wooden shack of a store decorated with old whiskey and wine cases and fading black and white portraits.
14. Muni T-Shirt
Muni Squiggle Shirt ($20)
440 Brannon Street, 94107
Operation Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 11AM-7PM
Located in SoMa, 440 Brannon showcases local designers and limited edition lines in a gallery-style setting that gives way to a sewing and fabrication workshop for local artists and apprentices. Once the city’s fashion district, South of Market is now a collection of warehouses, low-rise commercial buildings, and low-budget hotels, along with the Museum of Modern Art, the Giants Stadium, Moscone Convention Center, and the Yerba Buena Gardens and Center for the Arts.
Other Interesting Souvenirs from California
If traveling to California is not on your immediate agenda, or you simply can't afford an extra space in your luggage, fortunately, these days, you can find a wide selection of authentic and truly interesting West Coast souvenirs online. Presented here are some of the West Coast products sought by foreign visitors, now available online for your convenience.
2. Coola Suncare -Sun protection for a range of skin types and lifestyles; from the sensitive nature of FACE and LIPLUX, to the versatile BODY, and the demands of SPORT. COOLA products feature natural and organic ingredients and antioxidants designed to calm, exfoliate, hydrate and protect the skin in or out of the sun. If you want a healthy and youthful-looking tan without exposure to harmful UV rays, COOLA is the right solution.
3. Tapatio Hot Sauce - One of the greatest hot sauces ever made, hands down! Spicy with tons of flavor, Tapatio is good on everything it touches, from bland travel food to breakfasts on the go to camp stew to hot dogs to eggs or potatoes! You simply can't go wrong with Tapatio, as it blows red hot out of the water. Great for backpacking, camping, fishing, road trips, or even air travel!
4. Cactus Cooler Soda - Inspired by Fred Flintstone, who used to drink a beverage called Cactus Cooler, this delicious mix of orange and pineapple, with a hint of cream soda, may seem like an an odd combo, since both are very distinct flavors. But when mixed together, they create a taste similar to a tangerine or a clementine. Unknown to most Easterners, this soda is something well remembered by those lived on the West Coast. A regional drink that brings back lots of memories! If you're in the mood for something sweet and refreshing, try Cactus Cooler!
5. Rainbows Sandals - Rainbow Sandals is a staple attire for those who want to look cool. Considered world's best since 1974, these sandals boast premier leather, top grade nubuck, double stitching, double layer midsole, and arch support triple glued, for maximum durability, to the non-slip Rainbow bottom. Watch out for an original woven label on the strap, as this is the mark of a genuine Rainbow Sandal. With an unbeatable Rainbow Guarantee, your Rainbow Sandals will carry your feet for miles.
San Francisco Walking Tours
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.5 km
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 km
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 km