San Francisco's soaring rents and well-documented high cost of living constantly inspire me to find ways to be frugal. One of the easiest is to bring my lunch to work. I work Downtown in the Financial District, and try to spend as much time as possible away from my desk. I like my job, but it really helps me refocus and reset if I spend some time away from a screen and out in natural light.
If it's a sunny day, you can find me outside, enjoying my brown bag lunch, in on of the FiDi's hidden lunch oases. POPOS, walkways, courtyards, parks, pretty much anywhere the sun manages to permeate the high rises that monopolize space downtown, make perfect lunch spots. Some are secluded, some are good for groups, and all offer the rejuvenation that you won't find scarfing down your Seamless order at your desk.
Below : 5 of the best outdoor spots to have lunch in the FiDi
1. Embarcadero Center Walkways
Stretching from Battery Street to The Embarcadero, the Embarcadro Center Walkways are elevated walkways that cross mid-block and offer tables, benches and plenty of sunny spots.
Because they're elevated, you don't have to wait for traffic lights to change or cars to move. You also get to experience the FiDi from a new, elevated perspective. At the Embarcadro end, there are a few tables with Bay views, and others nestled in bamboo gardens. The landscaped containers throughout the walkways are always full of cheery flowers and colorful Japanese Maples. There are plenty of tables, and long concrete benches. The Walkways are a great place to meet a group of friends for lunch, or seclude yourself for a few minutes of reflection.
2. Maritime Plaza
Adjacent to the Embarcadro Center, you'll find Maritime Plaza. Named for the dark, exoskeletal building at its center, the plaza features several grassy areas, four separate courtyard spaces with public art, Olive trees, pink Camellias, succulents and Boxwood hedges. It can be windy, but I like to find a spot under a tree or in the sun. If the wind is blowing from the right direction, the building will act as a wind block and you can enjoy your lunch, and the sun, in peace.
3. Redwood Park
Hidden behind the Transamerica Pyramid, currently the tallest building in SF at 850 feet, you'll find Redwood Park. This shady spot was created in the late 70s when the Pyramid was constructed. Contrary to popular belief, the trees are not native to the site--they were brought in, full grown, from the Santa Cruz Mountains. During the summer, you'll find live music by various performers on Thursdays at noon. If it's not a Thursday, the park's fountain offers a nice respite from the daily grind.
4. Empire Park
Nestled off Commercial Avenue, which has recently sprouted a few cute shops like Legion and Chapel Hill Coffee, you'll find perfectly tiny Empire Park. The gate is unlocked during business hours nearly everyday. There are a couple tables, a few benches, and the feeling like you've entered a secret garden. The fountain is dry now, but might start running again if we get some respite from the drought.
5. 343 Sansome Street Rooftop Garden
Enter off either Sansome or California, head past the surly security guard, hop on the elevator, and head up to the 15th floor. Even on sunny days this rooftop spot is relatively uncrowded. There are tables, chairs, trees, a sundial thing, and views of The Bay. It's fun to bring someone new to The City here, or someone who is usually chained to their desk.