The 31 San Francisco Commandments

And lo, Mayor Lee and his awesome mustache came down from that one crazy-steep incline to the top of Pac Heights with two tablets and a bottle of Fernet, and gave unto the people of the City by the Bay a list of 31 commandments, wheretofor if followed, the citizens of SF may live happily with lives full of sustainably farmed, locally sourced foodstuffs and mixology. And the tablets read:


1. Have a favorite coffee
And it can't be Starbucks. Philz, Blue Bottle, Ritual, Sightglass, Four Barrel, De La Paz, Reveille -- they're all right here, and they're all pretty damn good. Be prepared to defend your choice, too. And if you don't drink coffee... who are you? Do you even go here?

2. Just keep walking when in the Tenderloin
Chances are, they're not talking to you. And if they are, it still might not be in your best interest to stop.

3. Figure out how to pronounce Gough
It's Gough as in "Cough", not "Go".

Union Square
flickr/Tony Fischer

4. Only go to Union Square on a weekday
Unless you like being stuck behind a million people walking every which way, not knowing where to go, and doing it all so slowly. Then yeah, totally go on a weekend.

5. Let people on your roof (if thou hast one)
Unless thou art a dick.

Cocktails at Trick Dog
Joe Starkey

6. Try every cocktail on the menu at Trick Dog
It's from the Bon Vivants, so even the worst cocktail on the menu is going to be better than half the stuff you've ever had. And since they change the menu every few months, you have an excuse to drink 15ish cocktails every time!

7. Always have cash
90% of the places in the city don't take cards. That's a fact* (*not actually a fact).

8. Move to the middle of the goddamn train car

9. Know how to parallel park on a hill, on the wrong side of the street
In a car with a stick shift.

10.Have a bike that doesn't look too nice
Because otherwise, someone will steal it. Full disclosure: someone is gonna steal it regardless (even if they have to pry open the metal net on your gate to break through the door and take it... or... uh... something), but a crappy looking bike will at least delay the inevitable.

Bike lane

11. Know what The Wiggle is
Because who wouldn't want to ride from Market to Golden Gate Park without having to go over any hills?

12. Bring thine own grocery bags
Unless thou wants to pay $.10 per bag, which is like, the worst thing that's ever happened to thee.

Dim sum
Joe Starkey

13. Dim sum in Chinatown
Either get an expert to guide you, or strike out on your own. A few tips: the more hole-in-the-wall the place, the more mind-blowing your experience is going to be. Also, you can pick up some really cheap BB guns while you're there.

14. Either participate in SantaCon, or stay indoors
It's happening whether you like it or not, so either join them or stay as far away as possible, because anywhere in-between those two options is going to be the worst experience of your life.

Burrito in the mission
Joe Starkey

15. Have a Mission burrito
At least once in your SF life, you need to go on a one-man (or many-man) quest through The Mission to try every random, divey burrito place, because they're all way better than anything North or South of the Mission-Dixon line. Also, if you hit up a bunch, you won't know which one gave you food poisoning. Bonus?

16. Drink Fernet, even if thou dost not care for it
Seriously, just shut up and take the shot, dude.

Baker Beach
flickr/David McSpadden

17. Take a "sick" day whenever it's 75 degrees or higher
"I can't come into work today, I'm sick... " *cough* *cough* *sound of the ocean in the background* "Oh sorry, that's just my white noise machine..."

No turn sign
flickr/Nicola Romagna


1. 6th Street

2. Make a left-hand turn anywhere
Unless it's between 2-4pm on a Wednesday while the waxing crescent moon is in the House of Jupiter... or otherwise posted.

3. Expect the BART escalator to work
It might be shut down because it was too clogged with poo. No, we (we?) are 100% serious.

4. Have a car, unless thou also hast a parking spot
'Cause spending hours looking for one in the Lower Haight the night before street sweeping will probably lead to you murdering someone, which is kinda against a whole other set of Commandments. And laws.

5. Say "San Fran"
Though there are apparently a ton of people that don't agree with this, we're not backing down.

6. Let your friends move to The Richmond
Unless you never want to see them again, except for the odd birthday party here or there. In which case, you mayyyy not actually be that great of friends with them.

The Endup
The Endup

7. Decide that The EndUp is a good decision at 2am
No good decisions are ever made after 2am, and going to The EndUp is maybe the least good-est one you can make.

8. Try to get around SOMA on Giants game day, unless thou are going to said Giants game
Because otherwise, thou will want to slap a... person.

9. Use that fireplace from the '20s
A) Spare the Air, bro, and B) just put some candles in it like everyone else.

10. Hook up with any of thine five roommates
You spent so much time getting this apartment, what with the open houses and the interviews and the other interviews and the getting-to-know-you BBQs, it would kind of suck if you had to awkwardly avoid one-fifth of your roommates, no matter how hot they may be.

Naked bike ride
flickr/Karl Baron

11. Be surprised by public nudity
It's gonna happen, and it's not gonna be pretty (why is it never pretty??), so be prepared to avert your eyes.

12. Believe cabbies who say they can't take cards
They are required by law to take cards, and yes, call them out on the bluff of "I may have to restart the machine". Is it any wonder why Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar are flourishing here?

13. Get excited about that $400/month Craigslist apartment ad
You will either be sharing a closet with someone's in-laws, or be forced to walk around at all times in your underwear, or *shudder* both.

Trash cans

14. Feel dumb for needing at least five minutes to figure out which of three cans thine trash goes into
Okay so the straw is trash, but the wrapper is compostable, while the lid is recyclable, and the cup itself can be digested by one of those talking dinosaurs from The Flintstones. Got it.

Joe Starkey is Thrillist's San Francisco Editor and is pretty sure he's spent a cumulative hour of his lifetime figuring out what goes in which bin. Follow him on Twitter.