Hi there, I’m Clare Kanaley! Welcome to my column, Where You Left Your Heart. Long before Tony Bennett made the song famous, thousands of people had already left their heart in San Francisco. However, each left theirs in a different part of the city for various reasons. For some, it was at the towering image of the Golden Gate Bridge against a tie-dyed sky at sunset. For others, it was in the tiny Chinese restaurant at 11 pm that was the only place open to satisfy their late-night cravings. Through my photos, descriptions, and experiences, I hope to draw you into the hidden treasures of this city that steals people’s hearts.
The first time I encountered the Rincon Center was (against my will) early on a Saturday morning. My mom, a low-key San Francisco history buff, insisted there was a building that I just had to see. After sitting through a twenty minute MUNI ride next to a guy who smelled a little too funky, this building competed for the most memorable part of my day. Upon encountering the outwardly normal building, tucked away at the dead end of Mission Street, I was underwhelmed.
But isn’t your mom’s most annoying piece of advice ‘Don’t judge a book by its’ cover?’ Upon entering the center, I was hit with a panoramic explosion of colors. Wrapped around the lobby of the center is a twenty-seven panel painted history of San Francisco, which spans the time of Native American inhabitants to the Spanish conquest, the 1906 earthquake and fire to the Roaring Twenties.
The spectacular mural, painted by Anton Refregier in the late 1940’s, is both a spectacle and a history lesson about how San Francisco came to be.
After the time-travelling lobby, you will progress to another breathtaking part of the building: the Atrium. Featuring Chinese, Mediterranean, Thai, and American restaurants, as well as an eighty-five foot water sculpture, the Atrium gives you a (literal) taste of modern San Francisco. Just outside the Atrium is a quiet courtyard, surrounded by the center’s luxury apartments. If you’re looking to get your zen on with a bowl of steaming Korean food, I highly recommend this little hideout.
While the food court in Rincon Center offers a plethora of scrumptious dining options, the only place that I allow myself to eat when on the Embarcadero is Super Duper. Arguably the best burger place in the world, Super Duper has a relatively limited, but ultimately to-die-for menu. You have the choice of a regular, veggie, or cheese burger, as well as a chicken sandwich, to which you can add a wide variety of toppings. I highly recommend their veggie burger with hummus and cucumbers on top. Don’t get me wrong, I love a disgustingly greasy bacon burger as much as the next person, however, the crunch of the grains in the patty mixed with the soft sweetness of the corn and the weirdly complimenting flavors of the hummus and cukes are enough to turn any carnivore vegan (at least for one meal). Without question, you must order the tangy garlic fries on the side, and to finish off your mouth-watering indulgence, their soft serve ice cream is a must. To add to the list of reasons why Super Duper trumps all other burger places: they’re completely environmentally conscious, as all their produce is both organic and local, and all of their wrappers, plates, and utensils are compostable.
To finish off your day, a walk down by the bay is in order. Just a block from Rincon and Super Duper lies the waterfront, with Embarcadero Street running along it for a huge stretch. While strolling down the typically fog-free promenade, you not only get a view of the natural beauty of the city, but also the human-made. Dozens of public art displays litter the Embarcadero, most notably the enormous Cupids Bow, as well as several other sculptures, both large and small. One of the best places to hang out on the Embarcadero is Pier 14. The 637-foot long walkway reaches straight into the bay and provides one of the best views of both the Financial District and the Bay Bridge. You can get your lunch to go, and munch on it while watching ferries pass by or looking for seals. If you and your friends are seeking a mini-photoshoot location, Pier 14 is the place to go. On a sunny day, you’ll have a surplus of like-worthy profile pictures and cover photos.
Words and images by Clare Kanaley
Atrium image via Stephan Dorian Miner