Sustainable City Guide: 12 Places To Stay, Eat & Shop In San Francisco, California

Welcome To The Golden State Tech Mecca

San Francisco is home to some of the most cutting-edge startups and Silicon Valley titans. Despite the “move fast and break things” ethos, however, the young professionals flooding the 7x7 mile peninsula are also transforming San Francisco into an increasingly conscious, minimalist city focused on slow living—after all, this is the home of the farm-to-table movement.

If you’ve touched down in town, here are some of our favorite local digs to stay, eat, caffeinate, and shop at—West Coast style.


// Where To Stay // 


The Clift

Why We Love It | Built in 1913, this sustainable hotel was awarded 4 out of 5 from the Green Key Global Eco-Rating program because of practices such as recycling over 70% of their waste, using a chemical-free method that turns tap water into a cleaner more effective than bleach, and awards guests who opt out of daily linen changes a $15 voucher. Not to mention, The Clift Royal Sonesta also features a rooftop herb garden and beehive of approximately 10,000 bees (the hives are designed to mimic San Francisco's skyline), whose honey is used in the hotel's cocktails and restaurant. Did we mention that the bathrooms are stocked with Malin + Goetz amenities?

Where To Find It | 495 Geary St

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W San Francisco

Why We Love It | The first existing building in North America to receive LEED-EB Platinum certification, this eco-friendly hotel declares green the new black. Just to note a few impressive stats, over 70% of lighting is energy efficient, they recycle over 83% of their total waste, they donate all used linens and towels to local nonprofits, and have reduced their water usage by 23% since 2008. If you want a weekend free of a guilty conscience, look no further.  

Where To Find It | 181 3rd Street

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Hotel Spero

Why We Love It | This Spanish Colonial hotel, located near Union Square, was recently renovated and boasts an impressive roster of sustainably-focused programming. In fact, Spero means “hope” in Latin, inspiring how this historic Spanish Colonial hotel spreads positive change through sustainably-focused programming and philanthropy. To start, Hotel Spero provides guests with a reusable water bottle to refill at multiple stations throughout the hotel. In addition, the hotel uses eco-friendly BeeKind products (free of artificial dyes and parabens) that supports honey bees and sustainable pollination research at UC Davis, and encourages guests to leave gently-used clothing to donate to St. Anthony's SF. It also recycles unused soaps to Clean the World, a social enterprise with the mission of reducing the high death rate due to water borne diseases such as cholera through providing hygiene products. 

Where To Find It | 405 Taylor St

More about Hotel Spero 


// Where To Eat //


Nopa

Why We Love It | A neighborhood favorite, Nopa specializes in organic wood-fired cuisine, and is famous for its unique wine lists and weekly changing menus created with seasonal ingredients, sourced from local Northern California purveyors. You won't want to miss this new American restaurant's custard French toast, warm goat cheese with persimmon jam, or wood-grilled hamburger with homemade brioche. The restaurant (and its sister counterpart Nopalito) also houses The Civic Table Project, a series exploring the pressing questions of civic life by engaging diverse voices in conversations that spark action. Past conversations have touched on themes including the new Jim Crow and how the food industry can support the formerly incarcerated.

Where To Find It | 560 Divisadero St.

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Outerlands

Why We Love It | Quintessentially California beachy and laid-back, this restaurant decked out with weathered wood and famous for its apple-topped Dutch pancakes is also committed to all-things sustainability and small business. Located in the Outer Sunset (hence, Outerlands), the restaurant is a brunch go-to and aspires to use food as a way to build community relationships, exercise the creative process, and partner with local farms at every opportunity. Plus, the restaurant is included in the Michelin 2018 guide, so you know it has to be good. 

Where to Find It | 4001 Judah Street

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Burma Love

Why We Love It | Meet the original superstar that started the Burmese food craze in San Francisco. In addition to the restaurant’s delicious, tangy cuisine, Burma Inc. has partnered with the International Rescue Committee for more than 10 years, offering training and jobs for hundreds of refugees to the U.S. over the years (in fact, an ex-refugee now manages the entire SF restaurant). In addition, the restaurant supports multiple initiatives in Burma, including fair trade practices with small local tea farmers and building classrooms for orphans. Try the tea leaf salad from either Burma Superstar in the East Bay or its “new contemporary younger sister” Burma Love in San Francisco.

Where to Find It | Burma Superstar: 309 Clement Street; Burma Love: 211 Valencia Street

More about Burma Inc.


// Where To Sip //


Saint Frank Coffee

Why We Love It | Known for its gold script lettering and bright, clean interior, Saint Frank coffee (named after the patron saint of San Francisco) is paving the way with good by addressing sustainability for coffee growers. Its beans come from all over the world—Honduras, Rwanda, and Thailand to name a few countries, and rumor has it Saint Frank pays its international coffee farmers twice the standard wage. Its sister cafe St. Clare is equally brewing hot, partnering with Not For Sale to address human trafficking by providing job training and donating part of its profits to the organization. Luckily, doing good tastes good too—so good that Saint Frank boasts a standalone location at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park.

Where to Find It | Saint Frank Coffee: 2340 Polk Street; St. Clare: 654 Missions Street

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Sightglass Coffee

Why We Love It | Arguably the most beloved coffee micro-roastery in the Peninsula, Sightglass Coffee is a sibling-owned, independent coffee shop dedicated to perfecting the highest-quality espresso by vowing to small batch production. The interiors of all five locations of Sightglass have nailed San Francisco chic—so chic you can also find its distinctive aroma in the atrium of the SFMOMA—featuring birchwood countertops, greenery, and minimalist touches throughout. 

Where to Find It | 270 Seventh Street

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Bar Agricole

Why We Love It | Ask a local for their favorite bar and Bar Agricole will probably come up—a 4,000-square-foot space committed to farmhouse distilling, natural wines, and locavore mixology; bitters, syrups and sodas are often made with ingredients from Bar Agricole’s biodynamic garden. The best drinks by star mixologist Thad Vogler tweak the classics—don’t miss the fan-favorite Brown Derby, made with bourbon, lemon, honey, grapefruit and bitters—and uses spirits like cognac, imported from small producers and found nowhere else in the world. The bar has been finalists for Outstanding Bar Programs for over six years (and counting!)

Where to Find It | 355 11th St

More about Bar Agricole 


// What To Do //


Visit the Everlane Flagship

Why We Love It | Located on trendy Valencia Street, the recently-opened flagship is a dazzling minimalist representation of the clothing brand’s commitment to radical transparency throughout the supply chain, and ethical factories. Stop by and pick up some essentials, including a perfect striped tee, light wash boyfriend jeans, and leather loafers. The flagship also sells pieces from its 100% Human collection, which donates $5 of each item to organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Equality Now.

Where to Find It | 461 Valencia Street

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Rent A Tesla & Camp Out in Big Sur

Why We Love It | Express your San Francisco visit to the fast lane by doing it Silicon Valley-style, renting a Tesla via platforms like Turo for a spin around the city. When you’ve tasted everything from the salty air around the Golden Gate Bridge to Chinatown’s best egg custards, take full advantage of the Model X’s all-glass roof and partake in the latest valley trend: Tesla camping. Large enough to lay down a twin mattress or a memory foam topper for the optimal stargazing angle, the Model X also includes features like Climate Keep, which will maintain a set temperature overnight without emitting fumes or creating noise pollution. Just you, the car, and the stars.

Where to Find It | Turo, Getaround

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Visit Flora Grubb Gardens

Why We Love It | Locals come here for engagement photos, parties, and just to pick up a new succulent—the owner, Flora, has an unmatched green thumb, and teaches that even plants can have a purpose beyond just looking pretty (whether giving shade, filtering toxins in the air, or soften a wind). Each day, the garden changes with new plants and arrangements. Nestled outside the greenery haven is also a Ritual Coffee outpost so you can grab a capp and take in the serene atmosphere.

Where to Find It | 1634 Jerrold Ave

More about Flora Grubb Gardens


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Alice is a California-based writer thinking on the things shaping urban living, the modern woman’s experience, and living a conscious life of impact in light of a bigger world. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, she recently spent a year abroad in Peru working with a microfinance project. You can follow her latest creative endeavors and musings at Mine Felicity or on Instagram at @alice.zhng.