Cycling around San Francisco with chef Danny Bowien
One of San Francisco’s most appealing virtues is the way its landscape cuts from dense city streets to deep natural beauty in the space of just a few miles. One of the best ways to see it is on a bike—whether, like Danny, you need to get between points in the Mission, or your ride takes you along foggy stretches of Outer Sunset, or north through the old growth of Muir Woods.
Adolph Sutro opened his leisure complex Sutro Baths in 1896, with a series of salt water swimming pools fed by the Pacific and enclosed beneath a majestic glass canopy. The structure burned to the ground in the 1960s and only the foundational ruins remain. The site is now part of the protected Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and it’s a favorite stop for tourists and locals who, like Danny, appreciate the area’s sweeping ocean views.
Sutro Baths: Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco; 415-426-5240
When Danny talks about the genesis of Mission Chinese Food, he often evokes Spices II: Szechuan Trenz. The restaurant is one of the first places he encountered the distinct pleasures of Szechuan cuisine, and it inspired the chef to begin experimenting with the region’s flavors.
Spices II: Szechuan Trenz: 291 6th Ave, San Francisco; 415-752-8885; spicessf.com
Liz Prueitt and Chad Robertson of Tartine are an inspiration for Danny, who admires the couple’s slow-burn approach to success. Tartine’s exceptional breads are a pivotal part of the bakery’s allure. These sourdough rounds are only available in the later part of the day when the ovens have freed up. Danny likes to pick up a loaf, stop at nearby Bi-Rite Market for butter and salt, and take the snack over to Mission Dolores park to watch the sunset.
Tartine Bakery: 600 Guerrero St, San Francisco; 415-487-2600; tartinebakery.com
Bi-Rite Market: 3639 18th St, San Francisco; 415-241-9760; biritemarket.com
Liz handles the pastry end of Tartine, keeping the cases stocked with bread puddings and flaky morning buns, buttery cookies, towering cakes and gorgeous seasonal fruit tortes like this strawberry beauty. If you can’t grab a seat at a table, the counter in the window, facing Guerrero Street, is a sunny place to eat.