SoMa Days: Dispatches from Downtown San Francisco

I have my morning routine down to a fine art, not least because I don’t rely on public transit to get to work. I hop on my trusty bike around 8:10AM and get to work at 8:30AM — such are the small-city perks of San Francisco life. Many of SF’s hoards of bicycle commuters swear by the camaraderie of the Market Street corridor, but not this one. My preferred route from my home on 16th Street in the Mission District is a straight shot to Folsom Street, where I take the bike lane the whole way to my office in SoMa.

I’m lucky that my building provides bicycle parking space in the basement garage. I used to save a little time by parking my bike on the street, but I learned my lesson the hard way, as many San Franciscans do, when I emerged one lunchtime to discover that some enterprising reseller had stolen my seat. Well, joke’s on them, because it was a knock-off Brooks saddle I got on Amazon — and not even a good one.

I kick off my day in a novel fashion, by checking emails and seeing what’s on my calendar. I’m not one to set a meeting just for the sake of it, but working in communications for a large professional services firm requires a lot of face time. I slip out around 9:15 for coffee. La Capra is close by if I’m in a hurry. If the weather is pleasant (and, let’s face it, that’s most days around here) I like to walk to Special Xtra, my favorite little caffeine-dispensing hole in the wall, on Minna Street. If I’m in the mood for breakfast, Focaccia is a safe bet for oatmeal or an omelette. The omnipresent downtown SF staple Specialty’s is also appealing, especially if I feel like going crazy with a savory croissant. But I digress.

I break for lunch around 1:30PM. My best self would bring leftovers from last night’s healthy home-cooked dinner but I haven’t seen that elusive lady in a while, so to Fremont Street I go, glancing in to see what the Salesforce West lobby video wall is projecting today (a Redwood grove). My destination is Tender Greens. It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” places. You pay at the counter, then make your choice of a delicious protein (I’ll have the fried chicken) either on a ciabatta sandwich, as a hot plate with sides and mashed potatoes, or atop a salad. It’s like farm-to-table met fast casual and had a baby, and I’m all about it. I go to Proper Food on Mission Street when I’m feeling more, er, proper, and grab a fancy salad as the guest star in my Sad Desk Lunch.

I finish up around 5:00 PM and decamp to Yerba Buena Gardens to kill some time before my friends get off. One works at a nonprofit in the Tenderloin, the other at a startup in South Park, but nothing is very far away in San Francisco. This city has a tendency to get absurdly windy in the afternoons but, happily, not today. So I enjoy my book in the park. The plan is to go to the SFMOMA, which opens until 9:00PM on Thursdays, then grab a nightcap at pre-eminent neighborhood watering hole and Prohibition-era speakeasy House of Shields.

Post-art and braced by the heady warmth of more than one Old Fashioned, I find my bicycle, mercifully intact where I locked it to a parking meter, and set off into the night. I completely forgot to eat dinner, so I’m delighted when I remember that my favorite Mission District taqueria, Cancun, has a downtown outpost on Market Street.

San Francisco is many things to many people, and, given its relatively small size for a city of world renown, so are its neighborhoods. Powered by tacos, I race home feeling lucky to have had such a deliciously full day, all within a four-block radius.

PHOTO: Mission Bicycle Company on Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0.