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A Day In San Francisco's Union Square

(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Known as the heart of San Francisco, Union Square is a vibrant center rich in history and culture with a diverse selection of lodging, dining and shopping. Indeed, featuring many of the world's designer stores, it's also one of the best shopping districts in the country. If you are visiting Union Square just for the day, this guide will help you sort through where to shop and where to dine.

Where to Dine

Super Duper Burgers - Budget
721 Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 538-3437

Consistently ranked as the best spot for burgers in San Francisco, Super Duper Burgers has even been mentioned among the nation's top 10 best. Using artisanal hamburger buns, locally sourced dairy and sustainably farmed beef, there are five locations in the city, including one at 721 Market Street near O'Farrell Street.


Sushirrito - Budget
226 Kearny St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 544-9868

There may be a line out the door at Sushiritto, but repeat customers say it's well worth the wait. Described as the original sushi-burrito, the Union Street location is at 226 Kearny Street between Bush and Sutter. Most items are under $10, such as the Mayan dragon and Buddha belly.


Katana-Ya - Moderate
430 Geary St.
San Fran​cisco, CA 94102

A Michelin Guide recommended establishment, this low-cost Japanese restaurant is just one block from Union Square Park. The menu from Katana-Ya only features a small selection of appetizers, ramen noodles, sushi and entrees, but the prices are hard to beat. The most expensive items are beef teriyaki and salmon teriyaki, both priced at $12.95.


Tad's Steaks - Moderate
120 Powell St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

With its glimmering neon sign attracting visitors on Powell Street, Tad's Steaks has been a local favorite for over 45 years. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the most expensive dish is either Tad's Famous Steak or fresh grilled Pacific salmon, still at bargain at just $13.79.


Bourbon Steak - Upscale
335 Powell St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

An award-winning steakhouse, Bourbon Steak is led by one of San Francisco's most celebrated chefs - Michael Mina. Located at the Westin St. Francis across from Union Square Park, the restaurant offers a Before Sunset Menu, bar and lounge menu, extensive wine and cocktail list, dinner and five-course tasting menu. A new Bourbon Steak recently opened at Levis Stadium, the new home stadium of the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara.


Campton Place Restaurant - Upscale
340 Stockton St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 781-5555

Led by Executive Chef Srijith Gopinathan and Master Sommelier Richard Dean, Campton Place Restaurant is one of the finest restaurants in San Francisco. Featuring Cal-Indian cuisine, the restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star for four consecutive years. Master Sommelier Richard Dean is one of only 150 active Master Sommeliers in the world.


Powell Street Cable Car

Part of the allure to Union Square is due to the service of two of San Francisco's world famous cable car lines. Both the Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines originate at the turnaround at the intersection of Powell and Market Streets. Powell-Hyde runs up Powell through Union Square, before proceeding past a section of Nob Hill, Chinatown, North Beach, Russian Hill and terminates at Hyde and Beach Streets, near Fisherman's Wharf. The Powell-Mason line also serves Nob Hill, Chinatown and North Beach to Bay Street, three blocks from the heart of Fisherman's Wharf.


Union Square Park/Dewey Memorial

First established as a public park in 1850, Union Square was the scene of Union Army rallies during the Civil War. Bordered by Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton Streets, the centerpiece of the park is the 95-foot-high Dewey Monument, dedicated to Spanish-American war hero Admiral George Dewey. Atop the 83-foot granite column is a 12-foot bronze statue of Victory. Union Square is the site for discount theater tickets at the TIX booth, bike rentals, several public events and  the city's annual Christmas tree lighting.



There are various shopping opportunities in Union Square. Check out the Weinstein Gallery to take home some truly unique pieces. For beauty essentials, LaBelle Day Spas and Salons is a great spot to put on your list. If looking for a new outfit, there are some moderately priced items within Banana Republic. But if you have some money to spend, stop into Vera Wang or get everything you need at Saks Fifth Avenue. Remember your time spent in Union Square with a shiny new piece of jewelry from Tiffany & Co. Whatever your budget, you can find something to walk home with.

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on



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