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Sail Into San Francisco

Make sure you’ve got the city by the bay totally navigated for the America’s Cup finals, September 7–21.


San Francisco
San Francisco | Photo by GILLES MARTIN-RAGET

This month in San Francisco



Bulgari and Richard Diebenkorn exhibits at de Young Museum


Chocolate Festival at Ghirardelli Square September 7


As the third tallest building in San Francisco, the Mandarin Oriental hotel in the Financial District offers vertigo-inducing views of the America’s Cup racecourse, spiked, so to speak, with the Transamerica Building’s landmark pyramidal silhouette. Rather than brave the throngs of spectators on the ground, watch from the comfort of a luxurious, skyscraping bay-view room, appointed with gold shoji-papered ceilings, velvet chaises, and crisply dressed, feather-topped beds. Fuel your cheers and jeers with fresh-made dim sum and an invigorating Blade gin & tonic, flavored with orange and Thai chili, from room service. Lily gilders are advised to book a celebratory—or consolatory—massage, après-race, in the new suite-only spa. If a front-row seat is more your style, hole up at the Fairmont Heritage Place in Ghirardelli Square, where the Mustard terrace is practically within arm’s reach of the racecourse’s 50-yard line. The two-story lofts feature exposed-brick walls—original architecture from the famous 19th-century Ghirardelli chocolate factory—and are pimped with a wine refrigerator, washer/dryer, and hi-def flat screens, plural. Even if you aren’t part of the Fairmont’s exclusive residence club, you can still be a high roller—they take reservations for overnight stays, too.


Based on the plethora of New Zealand-inspired offerings on the menu at Waterbar, located on the Embarcadero, we can take a guess where chef Parke Ulrich’s America’s Cup alliance lies. No matter. When such delectable dishes as honey-glazed lamb riblets (caramelized, messy, miniature—finger food at its finest) and tangy Champagne-marinated sardines (which loosely crown a thick fried green tomato slice) are lovingly crafted in his kitchen, the chef—who travels to New Zealand to gain hands-on knowledge of the country’s native products—can root on the S.S. Minnow for all we care. More adventurous eaters make haste to Roka Akor in Jackson Square. Haute Japanese cuisine is sublimely executed in the open kitchen, anchored by a mesquite- and hickory-burning robata grill. Don’t try to navigate your way through the extensive menu; instead, take the plunge on the decadent omakase option, which gives the chef full reign over your repast. When such rarefied ingredients as black truffle (shaved over beef tataki), Mendocino uni (accompanied by light-as-air chicharrones), and Australian wagyu beef (served medium rare, natch, and dipped in a trio of exotic salts) are part of the ingredient palette, the element of surprise actually works in your favor. As a digestif—you’ll need one, trust us—sip on resident mixologist Daniel Hyatt’s America’s Cup cocktail, a slightly salty concoction made with Vikingfjord vodka and sea beans.


If you’re in town to watch billion-dollar racing catamarans attain hydrofoil speed, clearly high velocities pique your interest. Further satisfy these fast-and-furious hankerings by visiting the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Its Built for Speed exhibition, on view until September 29, explores the ocean’s swiftest creatures (a sailfish, for example, can go from zero to 60 mph PDQ) and their anatomical adaptations (torpedo-shaped bodies; piston-like muscles). For a livelier, and perhaps deafening, affair, join the 9,000-person sing-along/mosh pit at America’s Cup Park, on Piers 27–29. The al fresco concert venue (take heed: SF’s notoriously chilly weather requires parka-like provisions for such outdoor festivities) will host Journey on September 16, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros on September 20, and the Lumineers on September 25, long after the sails have set sail into the sunset. Say that five times fast.

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