VMworld Hands-on Labs

Where to hang out, eat during VMworld 2013 – San Francisco


I thought it would be good to list some of my favorite places to hang out and eat in San Francisco – we created a similar post last year and wanted to update it for our friends joining us at VMworld 2013. I hope these are helpful – I know its always tough finding a good spots where locals eat or hang out when traveling.

Some notes to our readers: I did not add the address / phone number for these places – I think the mighty google machine can do that if you are interested in them. I also added approximate distance in terms of time via a cab or walking,,,


Morning Coffee / Tea

Blue Bottle Coffee @ Mint Plaza (2 blocks from Moscone) This is one of my favorite coffee places in this part of town – be warned it’s hard to find as there are no store front signs, just look for the long line of people looking for a coffee fix. A huge bonus is that this place is also very close to Moscone and the Marriott

Cafe Bellini In Westfield Mall (1.5 blocks from Moscone) I like this coffee shop as it is a nice way to get away from the crowds and take a breather; they also have a pretty good café style menu. The other big perk is that they serve – Blue Bottle Coffee.  Note this is inside the Westfield mall – enter through Mission St.  Once inside the Mall go down 1 floor through Bloomindales into the central food court.  They open when the mall is open.

Westfield Mall Hours (for the shoppers out there)

Monday 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
Tuesday 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
Wednesday 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
Thursday 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
Friday 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
Saturday 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
Sunday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm

Café Greco – North Beach (25 minute walk from Moscone) This is our favorite Cafe spot in the North Beach – its as close to Italy as you are going to get in San Francisco. Its stays open late and always fun to watch the tourist while you sip your Latte.

Tartine Bakery  – (20 minute cab ride from Moscone) Probably the best bakery in San Franciso – they run a tight ship and if you have trouble finding it look for a long line of people on the sidewalk. Its really worth the trip if you want to get away and explore Valencia / Mission area. www.tartinebakery.com/

Lunch / Dinner Spots

I have been fortunate enough to grow up here in San Francisco and tend to gravitate towards places that are a little bit more locally minded and focus on quality and dining experience (I’m into hole in the wall places, not really into fancy table clothes or napkins for me – most of the time:)

The Sentinel (3 blocks from Moscone) I called this out in my last post and have had a hard time finding a better sandwich shop close to Moscone. The guys here really push the bar when it comes to their menu. Note there is no place to sit down so plan to grab and go. This is right across the street from the Palace Hotel – and near the House of Shields. One of our favorites is the Hot Roast Beef Sandwich http://www.thesentinelsf.com/


The Ramp Restaurant – (10 minute cab ride from Moscone) This is a short cab ride from Moscone – about $10.00 each way; well worth it if you have the time. I like this place because it’s a neighborhood that has been “up and coming” for the last 20 years and recently it has slowly turning for the best…be sure to pass by the new construction near the docks – this part of San Francisco Mission Bay project.  Its nice to see the new construction of the new High Tech buildings / Condos coming up. http://theramprestaurant.com/Home

Burma Superstar  (15 minute cab ride from Moscone) I just have not been able to find anything better than this place,,, the food is superb, and if you walk down 4th street you can see where I lived when I was a youngster. I really enjoy the Tea Leaf salad, Pea Shoots, Pumpkin Pork, and Walnut Prawns. Its best to call ahead to put your name on the list but this is not always an option. Burma Super Star does not offer reservations.

Some tips for not waiting in line over an hour.

  • Show up to eat around 5:00 PM, the crowds have not arrived yet – San Francisco prime dinner time is 6 – 8 PM
  • Put your name and phone number on the wait list and go to the Plough and Stars down to block for a cold pint – Note the Pool table is broken – Andrew and I tried to fix it but no luck
  • Call ahead – tell them you are close by and wanted to put your name on the list.
  • Visit the twin restaurant down the street – B Star, I know it’s not the same but if you cannot wait it’s an option.

Than Long (Outer Sunset District – 15 minute cab ride from Moscone) This is a classic San Francisco restaurant in the Sunset District.  It is known for its garlic noodles and cracked pepper crab. For folks looking for a light healthy meal this is not it. The bartender makes a pretty mean martini. Closed on Mondays and they do take reservations so call ahead. If you are not into looking for parking with your co workers boss in the car they do offer Valet – Be sure to tell them the guys from the VMware HOL team sent you –http://www.anfamily.com/Restaurants/thanhlong_restaurant/displaypages/homepage.html


Original Joe’s – Union St. San Francisco This is my classic San Francisco Italian American experience. Original Joes has a great menu and even better bar.  Parking is tough in this area but they do offer Valet ($6.00 or so) Be sure to say hello to Marie the owner. Some of my favorite dishes here are the simple ones – Cheeseburgers, Spaghetti and the Gnocchi’s are exceptional.

The Ferry Building  (5 blocks from Moscone – good walk) This seems to be where everybody gets sent to when they visit San Francisco – it’s a nice spot with plenty of good places to eat. Yes there is a Blue Bottle Coffee in the Ferry Building – if you cant find it look for the long line of people along the main corridor.

Slanted Door The ultimate in California Vietnamese Fusion…. SlantedDoor has been a San Francisco institutions for many years – Simply put Chef Charles Phan  Rocks it – it will be a very long time before you find anything like this place. Be sure to have your sales rep or partner pick up the tab – it can get pricey. The Shaken Beef is very good, and the Spring Rolls pretty much set the pace for the place – be sure to dress up and wear your best black tshirt. http://slanteddoor.com

Ferry Plaza Seafood Great place for seafood without the hassle. I really enjoy hanging out at the counter with the view of the bay – the best part is that it is pretty easy to find a counter seat – the Anchor Steam beer is always on tap and fresh; the Clam Chowder never misses the spot. http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/ferry_plaza_seafood.php


Cocktail Time

There are tons of places to go in San Francisco – maybe too many for one blog post but here are some favorites.

Lower Haight Neighborhood (20 minute cab ride from Moscone) Helping set expectations – these are mostly dive bars that have been around a long time and are all within 50 yards of each other. It also seems like I always end up here no matter where I start – I recently did learn that San Francisco allows only one hard liquor license per city block – helps keep the balance in the neighborhood.

Molotov Molotov is the only place on this block with a hard liquor license – not sure if much more needs to be said. This bar tends to attract the rocker “Defiant” types but most nights its pretty safe to have a drink here and leave soon after.

Noc Noc This bar is right across the street from Molotov and no they do not have hard liquor – they are actually happy they don’t – seems like hard liquor tend to attract more bar fights. I like this place #1 because of the name and #2 it looks like a cave with Christmas lights. Either way its good way to see some fun entertainment.

Toronado Pub Its beer heaven in the Haight – this is a good place to get started for a long evening of beer tasting www.toronado.com

Well that is just a short list I am sure I forgot plenty of good places to hit up.. If you have some good recommendations please be sure to let our readers know of some of your favorites…

Enjoy and looking forward to hearing from you – swing by the Hands on Labs rooms and let us know if these places worked out for you..