A guide to fine dining in San Francisco

A holiday in San Francisco is full of colours and flavours, whether this is referring to the city’s culture and nightlife or its culinary scene. Spending the days visiting a wealth of tourist attractions is bound to build up an appetite and with so much to choose from in terms of eating establishments it can be hard to know where to begin.

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Be sure to sample the delights of all the different communities that make up San Francisco, as well as the destination’s obsession with fusion food. Having booked your trip with Air Express, then you can start planning your dining experiences. And there is no better place to start than right here.

Frances, 3870 17th Street

Since your San Francisco holiday is likely to take you on a culinary journey around the world, it makes good sense to start off in the place that you have chosen to travel to – California. Making a reservation well in advance or queuing up before 5pm when they open is the only way to get a table at Frances.

It is a world-class restaurant where chef Melissa Perello serves up great Californian cuisine alongside a huge helping of warmth and personal service. The produce is local and cooked with innovative creativity, leading to excellent dishes. Try the baked cherrystone clams or a bavette steak prepared perfectly.

State Bird Provisions, 1529 Fillmore Street

This is another establishment where it is worth planning in advance to visit otherwise you may not find yourself getting seated. An ever-changing menu of imaginative dishes is presented to customers and carts – almost like a Californian tapas or mezze.

Guests can therefore experience a wide selection of flavours within the course of one meal. The fried state bird of the restaurant’s name is quail, with other notable delicacies including duck liver mousse and pancake with smoked sturgeon. Of course the offerings are likely to have changed by the time you visit, but there are bound to be a whole new selection of tempting morsels to try.

Namu Gaji, 499 Dolores Street

From California, wing your taste buds to Korea with this amazing restaurant that fuses flavours from the Asian nation with produce from the United States. It is the brainchild and collaborative project of three brothers – the Lees, who also run a small farm from which they source all their vegetables and herbs.

Expect Korean fried chicken, beef tongue and potato puffs to all grace the menu. The team of waiting staff will also be able to advise you on which of the fine selection of wines will complement the dishes perfectly. And if you can’t get here for your evening meal, they are also open at lunch times.

Nopalito, 306 Broderick Street and 1224 9th Avenue

It is always a good sign when an establishment has to open up a second restaurant in order to cope with demand and this is exactly the case with Nopalito. The selection of tequilas is just as good as the tamales and carnitas that are served up by chefs José Ramos and Gonzalo Guzman.

They have gathered inspiration from several different regions of Mexico, making the menu a varied mix of fine dishes. Many of these are the perfect way to warm yourself up on a foggy San Franciscan day.


Discover the Boston Freedom Trail

If you’re planning your first-ever trip to Boston, make sure you factor in a little time to walk the amazing Freedom Trail. In my opinion, this is one of the city’s greatest attractions, plunging you into its history and culture and ushering you to its most important sights, all in a 2.5-mile walk.

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There are plenty of hostels in central Boston too, which are a reliable choice for keeping the cost of your trip down – though there are plenty of reasonably priced hotels too if you fancy a little extra comfort

The Freedom Trail – background and overview

First of all, let’s take a quick look at what the Freedom Trail is – and exactly why you should make the effort to visit it. A walking route with a difference, the Freedom Trail leads its followers to 16 of the city’s most historically important sites.

It was created back in the 1950s, when Bostonians decided that something needed to be done to safeguard the story of the American Revolution – after all, it did begin in Boston. As a result, the Freedom Trail was born, and today you can clearly see it marked out on the ground with either a painted red line or in brick.

Since it’s so clearly laid out, it’s really easy to follow it independently – and doing so means you can always stop to look at anything that interests you that little bit more closely. Alternatively, go on a 90-minute tour by the Freedom Trail Foundation; this is an absolutely brilliant way of learning more about the sights you’ll pass. And speaking of sights, here are a few of the highlights to whet your appetite…

Boston Common

First on my list is Boston Common, which is the oldest public park in America. It was founded back in 1643 and was used as a place to graze livestock until 1830; since this time, it has also acted as a camp for troops during the British occupation, as well as a site for puritanical punishments. Happily, today it’s used for public events and entertainment – much more appealing!

Massachusetts State House

With its spectacular golden dome, Massachusetts State House is pretty hard to miss. As well as being one of the oldest buildings on Beacon Hill, it is considered by many to be one of the most impressive state buildings in the country.

Old Corner Bookstore

This is one of my favourite spots on the Freedom Trail. Having begun its life as an apothecary shop, the Old Corner Bookstore opened in 1828 and thrived until 1903, seeing particular success when it was under the management of Ticknor and Fields, which was one of the nation’s favourite publishers in the mid-19th century. It is one of the most historical buildings in Boston.

Bunker Hill Monument

The first thing to remember about Bunker Hill Monument is that despite its name, it is actually on Breed’s Hill. This 221 ft high granite obelisk marks the site of the first major battle of the Revolutionary War, which took place on June 17th 1775. As a quick tip, you can find out more about the skirmish itself at the nearby Battle of Bunker Hill Museum.

USS Constitution

Last on my list is the USS Constitution, which is the oldest commercial warship still afloat today – not only in the US, but in the entire world. Usually she’s berthed at Charlestown Navy Yard, but around six times a year she’ll sail into Boston Harbor. To learn more about her, board the ship for a look around and check out the USS Constitution Museum.


How to Explore Hawaii as a Couple

Hawaii is a romantic destination for any holidaying couple. Made up of six major islands (plus a handful of smaller ones), the Aloha State has a lot to explore. No matter what sort of couple you are, Hawaii is sure to have something geared towards your tastes – from hiking to the peaks of active volcanoes to scuba diving with the manta rays, there are great activities for everyone.

Cultural Relaxation

One of Hawaii’s lesser-known traditions is the art of LomiLomi – an ancient form of massage steeped in the culture of islands. Believed to have spiritual healing powers, just about every spa in Hawaii will offer you the chance to experience the muscular bliss.

The two of you should get yourselves down to Maui at pop in to the Spa Grand at the Grand Wailea. This spa is famous all over the world for its amazing range of treatments, and these are all carried out in the traditional Hawaiian manner.

You’ll get an hour of hydrotherapy in The Terme, where you will find waterfalls, plunge baths and aromatherapy tubs. What could be more romantic than a pamper session?

Night Diving

The Islands of Aloha are the perfect place to indulge in a bit of scuba diving. The marine life around Hawaii is amazingly diverse – you’ll find coral reefs, white tip sharks, vivid tropical fish, whales, dolphins and even an endangered green sea turtle or two. This variety, combined with the beautifully clear, warm waters, makes it the ideal destination for any divers.

Head to the Kona Coast (just off the shore of the Big Island) and you will be able to swim with the angels of the sea, the giant manta rays. Often growing to a wingspan of a whopping 14 foot, swimming with these beauties is something you won’t be forgetting any time soon.

Head out on a tour boat – the operators will shine lights on the surface of the water, which attract the mantas. The two of you will then be caressed by the swarming of the gentle giants in the experience of a lifetime.

Picnic on PuuPehe

Hawaii flights aren’t cheap, we know that. But visiting the gorgeous PuuPehe is completely free! PuuPehe, also known as Sweetheart Rock, is a monumental tower of rock that rises spectacularly out of the Pacific just a few metres from Lanai’s coast.

There is an old romantic tale surrounding PuuPehe, from which it takes its moniker of Sweetheart Rock. A warrior from Lanai was so overcome with grief when his lover died in an awful storm that he climbed to the top of the rock and plunged to his death.

Okay, so that might not be the happiest of stories, but it certainly has a Romeo and Juliet “star-crossed lovers” feel to it! The rock is a beautiful sight, and isn’t particularly known by tourists just yet. Pack a nice picnic and bring some champagne – enjoy it at sunset for the ultimate romantic date.