May 2nd, 2022
#LikeALocal Featuring Lauren Vojvoda
Each month we feature a local resident and share their favorite places to eat, drink, and hang out in San Francisco. In May, we feature Lauren Vojvoda, Complex Director of Group Sales for Stanford Court.
How long have you lived in the city?
I have lived in the City since I moved here for school in 1999 but grew up only 45 minutes down the Peninsula and would visit a lot. When it was time for college applications there was only one to be sent – SFSU! In these 20-ish years I have had the pleasure of living in different parts of the City: the Sunset, Polk Gulch, the Tenderloin, and now Nob Hill!
What do you love about San Francisco?
I love the diversity - the people, the food, the neighborhoods, the architecture. So much packed into 7x7 miles! This is a city best explored on foot, for sure – you never know what you may find or what awesome view is just around a corner. A few of my favorite sort of secret spots are Ina Coolbrith Park & the Filbert Stairs on the East side of Telegraph Hill.
What makes Nob Hill so special?
To me, this is the epitome of the San Francisco that I have always loved to learn about, which has to do with all of the history of the city: the cable cars, the Victorian homes, and the original mansions when San Francisco was just still just a “small town”. I get excited every time I hear the cable car passing with a ‘ding’ and definitely wave to those on board!
What is something that locals know that visitors may not?
You can swim in the bay! You may catch me at Aquatic Park on a sunny day in September- which is generally when we have the warmest weather! My favorite spot to lay a towel and slowly dip in is next to the Dolphin Club, which was founded in 1877. Regular swimmers are not the slightest bit phased by the temperature – you may have heard of them as being the hosts of the polar bear swim challenge where members attempt to swim 40 miles in the bay - in Winter!
If you were helping a first-time visitor to SF plan a trip, what are the top 3 things they MUST do/see/experience?
1. I think that riding a cable car is such a thrill & you have to hang off the side, or else it doesn’t really count. While the two lines up and down Powell offer the most hills, the California Street option usually has no line and is more of a ‘locals’ route – but you still must hang off the side!
2. A walking tour is a great way to see the City’s personality and easily customized to your interests: murals in the Mission, food tours in Chinatown & North Beach, Ghost tours in Union Square / Nob Hill, Victorian home walk, Crusin’ the Castro, Haight-Ashbury ‘hippie’ tours…lots of fun options.
3. Related to the above, explore the neighborhoods of the City for all of the local flavor. There are unique events in every area: Yoga on the Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral, the Alemany Farmers Market in Bernal Heights, Japantown “shopping center”, food trucks at Fort Mason’s ‘off the grid’ or SOMA Street Food Park, North Beach’s First Fridays, etc.
What is a lesser-known attraction that should be on the list?
Head West to the Sunset District and climb the colorful 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, if you take the N-train you can get off a little early and catch the more secret Hidden Garden Steps on 15th Avenue and Kirkham, first! After all that walking – keep going for a bonus view all the way out to the Ocean (if Karl stays away) at Hilltop Park Grandview Park.
Public art is everywhere in San Francisco. What is your favorite?
Language of the Birds is an older piece but is my favorite because it ties together two of the oldest and most influential neighborhoods: North Beach and Chinatown. I also have to include the Wood Line in the Presidio – which I love in a totally different way, surrounded by nature.
What are your favorite three restaurants in the city and why?
1. Liholiho Yacht Club - (Temporarily Closed) I watched it being built in Nob Hill and come together over many years and had high expectations, which were then blown away over and over throughout the years. This is a higher end restaurant inspired by chef Ravi Kapur’s Hawaiian heritage with the more casual (and easier to get into) Louie’s Gen-Gen Room serving drinks and bites downstairs. Their house-made spam, tuna poke, and Manila Clams in coconut curry being favorites; but I would often have to try one of the specials like the yellowtail sashimi with strawberries or the whole roasted cauliflower with bone marrow hollandaise and you have to end the meal with the Baked Hawaii.
2. Hyde Street Seafood House along the cable car line is the perfect neighborhood spot to dine al fresco and have some fresh seafood prepared En Papillote. We also seem to order the Cajun prawns & scallops each time – they do not disappoint! It feels like a special occasion spot, but for any occasion – the pricing is very reasonable for the quality of food you get to enjoy there.
3. Good Mong Kok Bakery - I have waited in line up to an hour before on Stockton Street for Good Mong Kok Bakery (dim sum “to go”) in Chinatown and it is always worth it! My go-to items being shrimp dumplings, beef shumai, soy sauce chow mein, and the green onion cakes.
What are your favorite three bars/nightlife in the city and why?
1. The divey Li Po Cocktail Lounge on Grant Street is the only place to have a Chinese Mai-tai, and it is not just me- this was one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite stops in SF so you know that it is something special <3
2. Stookey’s Club Moderne is like stepping back into the 1930s in the most non-cheesy way! To really get in the mood, stay until 8pm for some appropriate live music, like Emily Day’s Swing Quartet or Clint Baker & his Hot Four! For me, the Fernet flight is the way to go (with a ginger ale back) – did you know that San Franciscans are responsible for consuming 35% of the fernet imported into the country?!
3. Barebottle Brewing Company in Bernal Heights is the place that I have to stop myself from going every weekend – with lots of *really tasty beers on tap, guitar hero and packman games inside, and food trucks out front, it is my favorite hangout to relax with a brew (& my dog).