Matt Biggerstaff takes you through really what *not* to do if you visit US for the Berti Voigts Cup.
After what feels like a fifteen year absence, the US Men’s National Team is coming back to San Francisco.
No wait, it feels like a thirty year absence.
I’d say it’s been approximately a Samuel Eto’o lifespan length absence. Anyway, it’s been a while.
San Francisco shall be your host for this lovely affair and since much of TSG is located in SF, we thought we would give you some tips and tricks for the City by the Bay. Ohhhhhhh ohhhhh ohh ohh. Sorry, had to do that. I’m sure there will be some folks traveling for the game and perhaps even making it a long weekend out of it, and we want to help you have the best time possible while feeling like you are an insider.
First, we will start with a warning.
You might associate summer with a particular part of the calendar, and with that you might also associate warmth. San Francisco, and Candlestick Park to a greater extent do not play by your silly rules. Warmth is decided fully randomly, and you should bring a jacket, especially for the game. Layer up like we do here in SF because it might be warm now, but 20 minutes from now when Carl the Fog rolls in and brings his friend freezing wind, you will want at least a jacket, perhaps more, unless you plan on just covering yourself with a blanket of alcohol, in which case carry on. But really, it gets effing cold here. Even in May. Especially at the ‘Stick. Be warned.
Next, some bars that will have the Champions League Final on: McTeague’s, where AO will meet for the night before party, Danny Coyle’s, a solid bar in the Lower Haight friendly to many an MLS game, and Mad Dog in the Fog, one of the best soccer bars in SF. There are plenty more, and I am far too lazy to list them all.
I’ve asked some fellow SF residents for their personal recommendations for you in case you need any ideas while you are in our fine city, both for the game or any other time you visit. First into the spotlight is Eric Giardini, whose US jersey is either going to say Julian Green, Julian Green, or quite possibly Julian Green. He hasn’t decided yet. He has even been kind enough to put in addresses, so the google-impaired will have a shot at actually making it to these spots.
Food: Rosamunde Sausage Grill; Haight (545 Haight St) and Mission (2832 Mission St)
This is a great spot to go for sausage and beer. They have about a dozen different sausage varieties (including vegan if that’s your thing, it is SF) and the fries are legit. The ability to wash it down with one of 50 beers also helps. Warning: It is cash only
*Note: I chose this because I’m assuming someone picked a burrito spot. If not, La Taquiera would be my suggestion
Drink: Cellarmaker Brewing Company; 1150 Howard St
This is my favorite brewery in the City. There are usually 7-10 beers on tap in a cool space that feels like an indoor beer garden (especially when they open the garage door). Grab some beers here and get a growler to take to Candlestick.
*Alternate recommendation: If you are in the Mission, check out Elixir (16th and Guerrero) There’s been a bar there since 1858. Strong cocktail and beer list, plus $8 Jim Beam and PBR combo.
Activity: Lands End; 680 Point Lobos Ave
Yes, this is on the complete opposite side of the city from anything so it’s a bit of a trek; however, there are trails and ruins and old shipwrecks and access to the beach and views of Golden Gate Bridge (if it isn’t foggy). I always forget I’m in a city when I’m out there.
Following Eric is Rob Cann, the National Director of Street Soccer USA, an awesome organization that uses soccer to make a measurable difference in the lives of underserved youth in urban areas and special needs populations, including homeless families, adults, people in recovery, among others. Street Soccer USA is holding their national cup in SF later this summer and I can’t say enough about this organization. Check them out and donate if you get a chance.
Eat: Citrus Club (1790 Haight Street) My wife and I always have a 30-minute plus conversation about where we are going to eat when going out. When we can’t decide, we keep it simple and in our neighborhood-the Haight. If looking for a really good noodle house, pretty fast, and reasonably priced as far as the city goes, drop by Citrus Club in the upper Haight. Order the coconut shrimp wonton soup off the specials menu.
Drink: Amsterdam Café (937 Geary Street) For fans staying in hotels downtown or near Van Ness/Civic Center, venture to the Tenderloin for one the city’s best beer bars – The Amsterdam Café. Friendly staff, extensive beer list, usually interesting bar conversation and occasionally some authentic San Francisco riff-raff wondering in from the streets to keep you on your toes.
To Do: Corona Heights (Roosevelt & Museum Way) Check the calendar at the Castro Theatre to see if there is an awesome throwback movie showing- like the Wizard of Oz sing-a-long or a Mel Brook’s High Anxiety. Probably don’t have time for a movie night while visiting, so the best attraction over in this part of town is Corona Heights. Walk from Market and Castro up 16th street and follow the steps up the peak. It’s one of the best views in all of San Francisco and not that well known.
Next up we have Andrew Laing, part of the original crew that helped bring AO to SF, a big Quakes fan/a fan of some miserable team in the EPL and an all around great guy that will surely be helping lead the (drinking) charge at McTeagues before the US game. Here are his suggestions:
Place to eat: I’ve been addicted to El Garaje lately. Great burgers, panini burritos called “zapatos”, and liter-sized craft beers? I’m in. Others: Little Chihuahua–just up the street from Coyle’s I might add–or Ricky Bobby–just down the street from Coyle’s I might add.
Place to drink: As a beer fan who lives close to Dolores Park, it’s hard to beat a quick walk to Cervezeria Mataveza. They brew their own stuff on-site (including a beer that is brewed without hips and a series of brews that pair with Girl Scout Cookies), and the staff is always real friendly. Plus, if you need something to nibble on, they’ll heat you up a tasty empanada.
Others: Can’t be the Lone Palm dive bar, Homestead’s or Shotwell’s. Good shtuff.
(Editor’s note: Mataveza is great. It’s like a place created after a hipster went on a shroom trip and watched Motorcycle Diaries on loop.)
Something to do: A hike up to Twin Peaks to catch the view is always worth it. If you’re not the outdoorsy type, then Market & Powell/Union Square have plenty of shopping options. If you want something uniquely San Francisco, take a walk around Golden Gate Park and fine the bison pen!
Finally, from your friend the humble organizer of this piece, a man who is rather excited to see both Eric Prydz and the USMNT in a 4 day span (aka all of the best things in life), and is hoping to see Brooks and Besler get a run out together during this match.
Food: Two of my favorite places in SF pop into mind, first is Parada 22 (1805 Haight St) which serves incredibly tasty home-style Puerto Rican cuisine in San Francisco’s storied (aka WEIRD) Haight Ashbury neighborhood. The chicharones de pollo is my jam. Every part of the meal is phenomenal. Second is Ike’s (3489 16th Street) which once you finish will be the best sandwich place you have ever been to. The menu is nuts, make sure you look at their website for the full gauntlet.
Drink: I’m going the nightlife scene direction here, so if you like to dance to that hip electronic dance music, I highly recommend Audio SF and their bar downstairs, Bergerac (316 11th Street). Great drinks downstairs, good tech house/deep house/techno upstairs depending on the night. If you want a bit less music and a bit more bars, Polk Street is where you can find many a drunk SF resident during the weekend evenings and early mornings.
Activity: San Francisco loves parks, and drinking in parks even more so when it is sunny. If our friend the sun graces you with his presence while you are here, head for Golden Gate Park near the Conservatory of Flowers (100 John F Kennedy Drive) and bring food/booze/a soccer ball/your favorite people watching sunglasses. Don’t miss the skate circle that usually happens at 6th and Fulton as well. If no sun, wander through Golden Gate park anyway, or rent a bike to bike through. Watch out for the tourists on segways in their natural habitat and please don’t feed them booze, that’s for you to enjoy.
If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter at the link above or any of these other lovely fellows. Enjoy SF and LET’S GO AMERICA!