Christina Stembel is the founder and CEO of Farmgirl Flowers, an e-commerce floral company based in San Francisco, California. With a team of around 140 people, the company ships thousands of their signature arrangements, from burlap-wrapped bouquets to house plants, to recipients all over the lower 48 United States each week.
“San Francisco is pretty much permanently air-conditioned,” says Stembel on some of the many reasons she loves her home city. “Then there’s the food.”
Stembel spends the majority of her time in the Dogpatch & Potrero Hill neighborhood where the Farmgirl Flowers warehouse is located. A former shipbuilding hub, the industrial vibes lend a cool, understated aesthetic to this up-and-coming indie hood. Here, Stembel shares her favorite places to eat carbs and explore the area, including a local made-to-order clog designer and the best boba you’ve ever had.
Christina Stembel’s Perfect Day in Dogpatch & Potrero Hill
10 a.m. — Coffee, pastries, breakfast, oh my!
I get a mocha with whole milk from Neighbor Bakehouse, and I also have to get a pastry because this place makes the most amazing baked goods I’ve ever had. If I’m feeling savory, I go with an Everything Croissant; if I’m feeling sweet, the Chocolate Claw wins. Sometimes I get one of each, but let’s keep that between you and me.
If you want a full breakfast, my top choice is Plow. Like most things in San Francisco, it’s up an extremely steep hill from Farmgirl HQ, but I remember that the biscuit makes up for the climb as soon as I sit down. They make them fresh daily and serve them with honey butter. It could be its own meal, but I always order more because everything is good. My other go-to order is the pancakes—the flavor changes seasonally, but they’re fluffy and delicious and magic and, most importantly, worth the wait. Even on a weekday, you’ll usually need to wait at least fifteen minutes for a table.
11:30 a.m. — Craft happy
Dogpatch has become a hub for creatives, which means there’s a ton of opportunity to benefit from amazing makers. The Museum of Craft and Design is a great way to see some of the beauty that’s budding out of this mostly industrial neighborhood. Plus, it’s just steps away from my favorite neighborhood scoop shop, Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous.
1:30 — Petit dejeuner
In San Francisco, there’s always a choice when it comes to eating. One of my favorites is a French place called Chez Maman. My go-to is an order of frites with the french onion soup. I’m a pescatarian, but I will absolutely make an exception for beef stock in this homey favorite.
3 p.m. — Boba-a-go-go
Head to Boba Guys on 16th for an English Breakfast Milk Tea with boba (of course!) and just a hint of sugar. Not only is their tea, which they source and blend themselves, absolutely amazing, but the founders are also just about as nice as they come.
3:15 p.m. — These shoes? They’re made for walking.
Next head up to the Bryr Clogs studio in Dogpatch. Their beautiful shoes are made to order and can be shipped to you when finished in a few weeks (bonus points—nothing extra to squish in your suitcase). The space is gorgeous and I can’t picture a better afternoon than shoe shopping and supporting a great, locally-made, and female-owned brand.
4:30 p.m. — Snack break!
Farley’s up on 18th is great for a quick snack. They have a good amount of outdoor seating (not always a given here!) and have more than just standard café fare if you need something more substantial. They’re also part newsstand and sell a pretty wide selection of magazines.
5:15 p.m. — Walk it off…
If I felt extra energetic, I’d go for a walk towards Oracle Park (home to the Giants). There are a few pedestrian-friendly routes that have beautiful views of the bay. And if I wanted to go the extra mile, I’d keep walking to the Embarcadero for views of the Bay Bridge and, on a clear day, into the North Bay. There’s no better way to see the city than on foot.
8 p.m. — If San Francisco were an Italian restaurant.
Flour + Water is my go-to whenever I’m taking someone from out of town out to dinner. It’s my idea of a perfect San Francisco meal—a little Californian and a lot Italian. Thin crust pizza, delicious pasta, a salad or two thrown in for good measure. The menu changes often to reflect seasonality, and you would be remiss to leave and not try a pizza and pasta. Get a few of each and share with the table.
10 p.m. — Venture out.
Our neighborhood is more of a daytime operation, so there’s not a lot of late night excitement. But if I’m in need of a night out once I’ve wrapped up at the office for the day, I head out of the neighborhood to Horesfeather in the NOPA district for excellent cocktails (the breakfast punch is a fun one) and a bar menu that feels like a fancy dinner menu. The entrance to the bar is basically a greenhouse filled with plants, which makes me feel right at home!
Where to stay:
Read before you go:
If you’re the book type, I’d recommend waiting until you get to the city and going to a bookstore to pick up a few souvenirs. There’s a bookstore for everyone here (this article gives a quick rundown!) but City Lights is the most well-known.
Know before you go:
I think the biggest mistake tourists make about our city is assuming it will be sunny. People think California and think beaches and bikinis, and San Francisco is anything but. Weather is one of the biggest challenges when packing for San Francisco. A really gray, foggy morning can burn off by around 12:00 p.m. and turn into a fairly warm day. I always recommend packing layers.
Wardrobe-wise, even when you’re going to traditionally dressier destinations—the theater, a nice restaurant—denim is the dress code. I’m not saying you’ll see Hawaiian shirts and slides in a fancy restaurant (though I’m not saying you won’t either!) but if you want to fit in like a local, don’t get too gussied up!