There are only 3 reasons a local would come here...out-of-town visitors, a one-time novelty outing for the kids/date, or you're escaping from a conference at the Bonaventure Hotel.
The claim to fame is the 360-degree views from a 34th floor revolving bar (1 rev/hour). Drinks are served in tourist-kitschy cups, but you can lower the price if you ask for a regular glass. Nice views at night. Because they serve some food, kids are allowed. To further your vertigious experience, the Bonaventure's cityview glass elevators (anyone seen "True Lies"?) are a gut-turning thrill ride up.
I've been using the UCU for 20 years and haven't needed a regular bank. When I was a college student, I liked the low minimum account balance ($25). When we were buying cars and home, we took advantage of the low-rate loans. Nowadays when banks are nickel-and-diming us with every possible fee, the credit union is a calm safe port in the storm. They even have internet banking now, where you can see scanned copies of the checks you wrote (since you don't get check returns).
It's for UCLA employees only, but once you're in, it's for life. The only downside is the few ATMs. Going to a network ATM at another bank means I pay that bank's $2 fee, but hey, supermarket checkout withdrawals are still free.
There are only a few companies left that pump out septic tanks/seepage pits. As the tanks get older and the ground gets saturated, we're literally SOOL. Randy is a one guy, one truck operation who knows tanks inside and out (just picturing that makes me admire him). He came to our rescue during several emergencies, but at other semi-rush times, he doesn't show up or call for days. If we need immediate action now, we call Andy Gump. If we need expertise and can wait a few days, we call Melinda at Pelland, who then tracks down Randy.
Have you ever thought, "If I were Oprah [who hasn't?], and could hire a personal chef to make food that was healthy AND delicious with all MY favorite ingredients, I would would be as fit as...well... maybe not Oprah, but y'know, fitter than I am now"?
Think of the Dressing Room as your personal chef, but cheaper. The salads are made-to-order with a huge selection of really fresh ingredients. You can either pick from tested favorites like "The Napa Delight," "The Denim," OR fill out a census-size form of greens/ingredients/dressings/proteins including fish prepared different ways. It's daunting at first, but who doesn't want to be Oprah? To complete the Oprah fantasy, you can reward yourself with a huge brownie or cookie.
Priced no higher than the made-to-order salads at mall food courts, but MUCH better quality. One of my "favorite things."
Little Saigon is about 10 blocks of mini-malls, with great deals on pho, fabric and other culturalia. This is the granddaddy, with the most ornate entrance, best food court, and highest end jewelry shops (still reasonable by American standards, especially if you bargain). They even have a wi-fi seating area upstairs, though it's mostly where husbands cool their heels / nap.
Jump around the food court sampling tropical fruit juices, green papaya salad, the "che" bar (soup desserts based on beans / fruits). There are a few "stalls" upstairs reminiscent of the Vietnamese markets, selling Asian style ready-to-wear. Most grownups get the ao dai custom made by a tailor, but I love browsing for kiddie outfits.
The only thing it doesn't have is a supermarket, but you can pop across the street to Ranch 99.
Though R-Tech mostly serves local businesses, they were equally attentive and fast with my personal computers, including rescuing an ancient laptop the size of a Five Commandments tablet. They also sell computers and software, but when I mentioned that I was going to get a laptop at CostCo, Roger still spent 1/2 hour helping me figure out what kind I needed. Great, personal, trustworthy and reasonably priced.
Unless we're in a cultural tourist mecca like Taos, mid-range hotels in most cities are so indistinguishable, our indoor memories of Denver melt together with our stay in Detroit. San Francisco has some delectable boutique hotels (uniquely branded by Kimpton or Joie de Vivre), but they're pricey for most families who just want to hop on a boat to Alcatraz.
The Tuscan is Best Western's attempt to carve its own spot in our memories. With rooms done in "Tuscan" red, white and black, and biscotti in the lobby, it's fun and still on the clever side of kitsch. Even our kids want to have more pillow fights in the "cartoon room."
Frommer's named it "The Best Hotel in Fisherman's Wharf" for 8 years. Tight space, like all of SF. Decent service, really nice concierges. We'll be back.
Does your tongue need extinguishing from that vindaloo? Did the manifold sari you bought make you realize a few more inches 'round the middle won't matter?
Perfect time for the exotic hotcool ice cream at Saffron Spot. This funky New India spot has everything from fruit flavors (jack fruit, chikoo, passionfruit) to interesting spice mixes, to kulfi and other traditional desserts, to complex constructions that make the banana split feel naked.
They have a cute Youtube video too ;)
It's fine for younger kids if daily swimming in a convenient city location is most important to you. By age 8, my daughter was bored stiff. The campus is tiny, many areas are off-limits, and the questionable business practices gave us all a bad taste.
In 2008, the grassy field had been under construction for months. We were assured at open house that the field would be finished by summer, and that on the off-off-off chance that if it wasn't, the kids would get bussed to Balboa Park (2 blocks away) for sports activities. This never happened. The kids played on the basketball court breathing in construction dust all summer. I wanted to pull my kids out but my son didn't want to leave his friends, who had nowhere else to go. I felt cheated.
Furthermore, enrollment has decreased over the years, and so has the pool of qualified counselors. They're still peppy and sweet but seem to be getting younger or just goofier each year. Still, the price isn't bad for daily swimming and the variety of activities. As long as the field is open, 3 stars
Whether you have an ancient box camera or the latest 500-megapixel wonder, Zvi can fig it out. And charge you much less than the manufacturer. You just need a lo-o-o-ot of patience.
We emptied out the camera drawer and brought it all to him. The Sony, he said was worth less than the replacement part (It would have cost $20 to send it to the company to diagnose). The ancient EOS required an expensive replacement lens, but he said we could sell it to film enthusiasts who had their own lenses (I checked. Yep, folks wanted it), and the digital wonder apparently needed a tiny part which he dug up from his ample camera graveyard.
He only charged for the one he fixed. And it only took 3 weeks(!) Don't bother calling; he won't answer. He's the Camera Whisperer