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January 19, 2016

How I See San Francisco: Chef Michael Mina

To get to know San Francisco, you need to see it through the eyes of the locals. See how award-winning chef and San Francisco ambassador, Michael Mina, sees the city he calls home. In addition to Michael Mina, his eponymous signature restaurant at 252 California St., Mina and his partner Andre Agassi have opened 25 operations under the auspices of the Mina Group since 2010. In October 2015 Mina began transforming Bourbon Pub & Bourbon Steak at Levi's Stadium into Michael Mina's Tailgate for every home game. A livelong 49ers fan, Mina wanted to create the ultimate tailgate experience. Now he is teaming with the NFL and NFL Foundation to create On the Fifty - A Charitable Dining Experience restaurant at RN74, 301 Mission St., Mina's RN 74 menu will be featured along with a specialty menu of themed dishes honoring all 32 NFL teams and the two Super Bowl 50 participating teams. 

Describe your perfect day in San Francisco
8 a.m. - Tartine Bakery for a morning bun and Four Barrel Coffee and then I walk around the Mission and Dolores Park.
12 p.m. - Swan Oyster Depot for Lunch and a walk down to Fort Mason.
6 p.m. - ABV or Hard Water for pre-dinner cocktail
8 p.m. - Zuni Café for their wood fired chicken for dinner
11 p.m. - Tosca Café for night cap and late-night snack and a walk around North Beach with maybe a stop for some blues at the Saloon. 

What should every visitor to San Francisco do at least once?
I absolutely love visiting the Presidio, and think it’s a special place within San Francisco to visit. It’s hard to believe you’re still in the city when you’re standing in the middle of the forest! Another fantastic place to check out is Land’s End. It’s a beautiful place to walk around—be sure to check out Sutro Baths. You can also watch the sunset from Ocean Beach, which is close by. 

What’s your favorite neighborhood to explore?
I always find something new and interesting in many different neighborhoods.  Russian Hill and Polk Gulch seem to be growing and expanding with a lot of exciting options.  Stone’s Throw, Belcampo Meat Company and Lord Stanley are all new additions to those neighborhoods.

What’s your favorite place to take a photo?
There’s a spot right in between Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge that’s a great lookout for photos.  After all of these years of living in San Francisco, this is still one of my favorite spots. 

Where do you indulge your artistic side in San Francisco?
My artistic side still comes through in my cooking, so all of the different farmers markets in the Bay Area really give me a lot of inspiration.  I love the farmers market at the Ferry Building, and also the Marin farmers market – which is a bit closer to my home.

What’s your favorite event that happens in San Francisco?
I’m pretty excited for Super Bowl 50.  But aside from that, I love La Paulee.  The event comes to San Francisco every other year, and is a celebration of burgundy wines. There’s always great camaraderie amongst the chefs, winemakers and burgundy enthusiasts, as well as great food and wine.

Where and what would you choose for your last meal in San Francisco?
It would have to be Hana Japanese Restaurant. I have profound respect for Chef Ken Tominaga – for his skill and ability to make Japanese food delicious and approachable. I’d completely leave it in Chef Ken’s hands, and do an omakase menu. As for a restaurant in San Francisco, it would have to be Zuni Café. I have special memories of dining there as it was one of my first meals after I moved to San Francisco, and really introduced me to California cuisine. The roasted chicken can’t be beat.

Which restaurant is still on your list to dine at?
There are a few!  It can be hard to keep up with the new openings, especially with my travel schedule.  But I have really been wanting to check out what Ravi Kapur is doing at Liholiho Yacht Club.

Any last final advice for travelers in San Francisco?
Layers.
Try to get lost.  There is romance, mystery and beauty in random corners of the city.
Forget your diet and indulge.
Layers. 

SEE HOW MORE LOCALS SEE SAN FRANCISCO

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