By Laurie Jo Miller Farr
Quick quiz: Can you name San Francisco’s sister city?
If you said Paris, you’d be correct. And if you said Seoul, South Korea, or Bangalore, India, you’d also be correct. In fact, San Francisco is paired with 19 global sister cities as part of an international cultural program introduced by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. A mock street sign on Market Street at Powell Street near the cable car turnaround is a tribute to all 19 sister cities. We talked to San Franciscans to identify fun places and tasty dining spots that best reflect half a dozen of the city’s international siblings.
Paris feels a lot closer when you’re sipping an espresso and people-watching from a cozy bistro table. Surprisingly, Parisian-style Café de la Presse is on the doorstep of Chinatown. 352 Grant Ave., cafedelapresse.com.
A larger-than-life bronze statue of The Thinker by Auguste Rodin presides over the entrance at the Legion of Honor, where the elegant beaux-arts galleries are filled with a permanent collection of 18th- and 19th-century French art, including Water Lilies by Claude Monet. Lincoln Park, 100 34th Ave., legionofhonor.famsf.org
Built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the Palace of Fine Arts was designed with ancient Roman and Greek architecture in mind. The monumental structure that resulted suggests ruins beside a lagoon. 3601 Lyon St., palaceoffinearts.com
Check out Kokkari Estiatorio for its white linen service and roaring fireplace, wood-burning oven and “modern Greek cuisine driven by the philoxenia, the art of making a stranger a friend.” 200 Jackson St., kokkari.com
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest in North America; its Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall is dedicated to the founding father of the Republic of China, aka Taiwan. A 12-foot statue is dedicated to the revolutionary leader at historic Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral + Chinese Mission. 660 California St., oldsaintmarys.org
Bruce Lee, who was born in Taiwan and became famous in San Francisco, is depicted as poised for action in a mural at Grant Avenue and Commercial Street; his wax figure is displayed at Madame Tussauds, Fisherman’s Wharf. 145 Jefferson St., madametussauds.com
Make the connection with San Francisco’s namesake saint at the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi in the heart of North Beach, the city’s “Little Italy.” 610 Vallejo St., shrinesf.org
Grab a table for people-watching and espresso at historic Café Zoetrope, where owner Francis Ford Coppola worked on a number of his films, including The Godfather parts II and III and Apocalypse Now. 916 Kearny St., cafezoetrope.com
A vintage cuckoo clock and a miniature Swiss train greet diners at Matterhorn restaurant, where traditional raclette-cheese fondue is served with housemade sourdough bread. 2323 Van Ness Ave., matterhornsf.com
Visitors to 5-acre Salesforce Park can arrive via gondola, a free 30- second ride to the beautiful rooftop space above the transit center. 425 Mission St., salesforcetransitcenter.com
San Francisco’s Japantown, Nihonmachi in Japanese, is one of only three remaining in the U.S. Its centerpiece is a five-tiered peace pagoda, presented by the city of Osaka in 1968 as a symbol of unity and peace. sfjapantown.org
The peaceful, harmonious Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is America’s oldest, created in 1894 as a Japanese Village for an international exposition. Admire the arched drum bridge, Buddha statue, pagodas and, in April, cherry blossoms. 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, japaneseteagardensf.com
San Francisco’s 19 Sister Cities
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; Amman, Jordan; Assisi, Italy; Bangalore, India; Barcelona, Spain; Cork, Ireland; Haifa, Israel; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Kiel, Germany; Krakow, Poland; Manila, Phil-ippines; Osaka, Japan; Paris, France; Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai, China; Sydney, Australia; Taipei, Taiwan; Thessaloniki, Greece; and Zürich, Switzerland
Photo credits: San Francisco sister cities signs, The Thinker, Greek salad at Kokkari Estiatorio, Chinatown, Gondola at Salesforce Transit Center by Laurie Jo Miller Farr. Cafe Zoetrope courtesy Cafe Zoetrope. Japanese Tea Garden, Wikimedia CC.