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San Francisco: Local Insights

Chief Concierge Antonio Barrios shares insider knowledge about the decadent and comforting winter activities awaiting guests of The St. Regis San Francisco. – By Caroline Hatano

The concierge team at The St. Regis San Francisco knows all the top places to dine, shop and play in the city this winter. Here, Antonio Barrios shares a few of his best recommendations, cultivated through his years of experience at the St. Regis.

Holiday Shopping

After maintaining its reputation for high-quality craftsmanship for 150 years, GUMP’S has become a name synonymous with San Franciscan style. Barrios says the store is “one of the city’s ideal destinations for spectacular seasonal gifts.” With an inventory that ranges from luxury gifts and jewelry to personalized holiday cards, a visit to Gump’s is a guarantee that you’ll find something unique for everyone on your list. (415-982-1616; gumps.com)

If you have a loved one with a sweet tooth, spoil them with a special treat from one of Barrios’ favorite boutique chocolate shops. XOX TRUFFLES offers 27 innovative truffle flavors, like spicy cayenne tequila and Earl Grey, all handmade by chef Jean-Marc Gorce. The high-quality chocolates have earned the store fans as far away as Italy. (415-421-4814; xoxtruffles.com)

For a wider variety of chocolate products, visit TCHO, the maker of “New American Chocolate.” The shop’s owners take flavor so seriously that they even source their own beans. TCHO carries traditional chocolate bars and specialty items, such as chocolate-covered mango, as well as many other equally enticing options. (415-981-0189; tcho.com)

Winter Wonderland

Embrace the holiday spirit with Barrios’ favorite San Francisco winter events, perfect for the entire family.

Barrios says guests shouldn’t miss the holiday ice-skating rinks at JUSTIN HERMAN PLAZA and UNION SQUARE. A classic winter activity loved by the whole family, spending time on the ice conjures up images of hot cocoa, mittens and snow-covered streets no matter where you are.

The holiday cheer continues at Fisherman’s Wharf, where the annual LIGHTED BOAT PARADE will take place on Dec. 14. More than 60 boats adorned with festive lights and colors will sail along the waterfront offering those at Pier 39 and Aquatic Park the best viewing locations for the parade. If you happen to miss out on the once-a-year festivities, the Fisherman’s Wharf Fishing Fleet will remain lit throughout the entire holiday season.  

Wine and Dine

After a full day of shopping and winter activities, cozy up for a romantic dinner at one of these hot spots Barrios recommends for an evening on the town.

James Beard Award-winner and TV personality Hubert Keller opened FLEUR DE LYS in 1986, and has been preparing modern French cuisine in the enchanting setting ever since. The restaurant offers three, four and five-course menu selections for diners who want to savor their evening—and with such an extensive menu, it’s your best option for a flavorful night out. (415-673-7779; hubertkeller.com)

Located in a warehouse designed to be a meatpacking and smokehouse facility, TWENTY FIVE LUSK encourages contrast between its historic building and modern menu. The restaurant, which focuses on making fine dining approachable with seasonal ingredients, offers guests a tasting menu for the full culinary experience, as well as a long list of specialty wines and cocktails. (415-495-5875; 25lusk.com)

COI is also another force to be reckoned with: The chefs not only create the inventive dishes, but also brine, cure and smoke their own products in addition to sourcing seasonal ingredients from local farmers. The wine list is no less dazzling, boasting 350 wines selected with careful consideration. (415-393-9000; coirestaurant.com)

Sweet Endings

To top off a quintessential San Francisco experience, Barrios recommends stopping by one of the city’s best bakeries for a decadent treat.

For fresh-baked bread and pastries, Barrios refers guests to TARTINE BAKERY & CAFE. Chef-owners Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson won the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Pastry Chefs in 2008, and continue to offer quality pastries in addition to hot-pressed sandwiches and breakfast items. (415-487-2600; tartinebakery.com)

MISSION PIE is another of Barrios’ favorite spots for an indulgent dessert. Located in the bustling Mission District, the bakery follows a homegrown philosophy and strives to use only the freshest ingredients from farms with similar values. The menu at Mission Pie features delectable sweet and savory pies, the flavors of which change seasonally, as well as other homemade baked goods and salads. (415-282-1500; missionpie.com)