Tribes: Who likes this place?
What the scores mean:
These scores tell you how well-liked a place is in each Tribe. Gogobot Tribes are groups who share a certain travel style, like Family Travelers or History Buffs.
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- 98%Local Culture
- 84%History Buffs
- 71%Budget Travelers
- 66%Family Travelers
- 53%Green Travelers
Member Reviews (164)
- ChinatownMember ofHistory BuffsLocal CultureOutdoor Enthusiasts+ 6Feb 13, 2014
Over the years, I have had many different and enjoyable Chinatown experiences. The first one was as a teenager when my Iowa family visited San Francisco on vacation. I specifically remember a treasured puzzle box that I bought at some unnamed shop on Grant. Here are some others:
- Visiting a girlfriend before I moved to the Bay Area and naively enjoying my "genuine" cultural experience at Brandy Ho's (No MSG!) on Columbus.
- Strolling my favourite tourist route. I get off at Powell BART, walk through Union Square to Chinatown, move onwards through North Beach and on to the Fisherman's Wharf/Ghirardelli Square Area, enjoy an Irish Coffee or ice cream, and then take the Hyde Street Cable Car back (with at stop at Lombard Street).
- Riding the 30 Stockton Bus!
- Walking through the Dragon Gate (on Grant), but first stopping at St. Mary's, the adjacent square that includes a memorial to Chinese war veterans, and the Church's gift shop.
- Breathing in the smells and energy of the Stockton street market scene.
- Being taken to Lunch in Chinatown for Lunch by my Landlord. I could never find this place again on my own, and I was certainly in the minority. And I took his advice and avoided the thousand year-old soup dish.
- Watching the Chinese New Year Parade (in the rain of course).
- Attending Kung Pao Kosher Comedy at the New Asia Restaurant. And did you know that observant Jews have a separate set of dishes for Chinese?
- Going to Dinner years ago with an Orthodox friend of mine. At that time, 2 of the very few Kosher restaurants in SF were in Chinatown.
- Hanging out in Portsmouth Square (Chinatown's Livingroom) and watching many of the SRO occupants playing chess and practicing their Tai Chi.
- Taking a guided walking tour and exploring the history of Chinatown via the alleyways.
I'm sure that more pleasurable experiences will be forthcoming. And all I need to do is show up, look around, and pay attention.
- ChinatownCommunity ManagerMember ofHistory BuffsLocal CultureFoodies+ 4Feb 13, 2014
It took me awhile to fully appreciate what San Francisco’s Chinatown truly offers. At first, what you see are the crowds, the aggressive Chinese shoppers (I’m Chinese and oblivious shopping is part of our culture) and the tacky souvenir stores. In the past few years, however, I started taking a closer look into a neighborhood so many of us locals so quickly disregard.
For example, not all of the gift stores are tacky. If you take some time to meander through some of the stores, you’ll not only find great deals on a number of things, you’ll also get a hint of culture.
Tea shops are starting to proliferate the neighborhood as well. And these are no casual tea shops. The owners know exactly what they are doing, willing to explain the world of tea artistry to anyone willing to listen. This may also be your chance to try some really (really) expensive Chinese teas for free. Vital Tea Leaf is a particular favorite of mine, and there are two locations within Chinatown.
I’m still relatively unaware of the best places to eat. The problem with tourist neighborhoods is that it’s a hit or a miss, and when you miss, you miss the sides of barns. However, I can say with confidence that if you’re looking for some Chinese pastries, Golden Gate Bakery is the stop for you. You’ll notice it right away because there’s almost always a line out the door. They make some of the best custard and coconut tarts you can get outside of Hong Kong. My Chinese parents verified this.
Finally, you’d be remiss if you didn’t explore some of Chinatown’s historic alleys. And of them, be sure you search for Ross Alley, the oldest alley in San Francisco. It’s like stepping back in time.
- ChinatownMember ofHistory BuffsLocal CultureOutdoor Enthusiasts+ 2Jul 01, 2013
Even though it is filled with tourists, stores are filled with overpriced junk and parts resemble an outdoor shopping mall it is hard to dislike Chinatown. There is enough history and enough continuing cultural life to make a visit worthwhile.
- ChinatownMember ofHistory BuffsBudget TravelersFamily Travelers+ 1Feb 16, 2014
If you live in a city with a large & well known Chinatown, then this one isn't that special. It definitely is old & historic though.
- ChinatownAug 21, 2012
Fun place. One can easily spend several hours browsing through antique shops, chinese specialities such as carved ivory, etc and soak in the general atmosphere. San Francisco Chinatown also happens to be one of the oldest chinatowns in the world originating from the 1849 Gold Rush Years. Its history is closely intertwined with the history of the city of San Francisco itself. A MUST VISIT.
- ChinatownMember ofLocal CultureBudget TravelersFoodies+ 2Jul 17, 2012
Chinatown in San Francisco is the largest outside of Asia and the oldest in North America. With such history, it's no wonder that stepping through the gate, you're whisked into a different vibe of the city. There are shops, restaurants, bars, street vendors. Steamed BBQ pork buns? Yep, they've got it. Peking-style duck? Yes, right over there. If you're hankering for some awesome Chinese food, you won't go wrong here.