Portlandia’s Fred and Carrie Share Their Must-Hit S.F. List!

One ritual we wouldn’t dream of passing up: Clocking time in front of the boob tube, satisfying our constant craving for the witty, counter-cultural sketch-comedy that is Portlandia. Our week just isn’t complete without some belly laughs courtesy of the now cult-followed duo of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. And being the mega-fans we are, we knew that Fred and Carrie had some serious love for S.F. (the two met some time ago at S.F. Sketchfest, according to Fred!). Well, pinch us, because we were lucky enough to gab with the dangerously funny team, who spilled the beans on their top Portlandia-approved San Francisco spots. Click through to see Fred and Carrie's five must-hit picks. And be ready to answer a resounding "Yes" when your most in-the-know friends invariably ask, "Did you read it?"
Photo: Courtesy of IFC/Chris Hornbecker
1 of 5
You both met at S.F. Sketchfest, so you have spent some time in the city. What are your favorite 'hoods and haunts?
Carrie: "I love Potrero Hill and Bottom of Hill. There are some really great Italian restaurants up there that I love. I also really like the Mission. But I think I like Potrero Hill the most. I frequent restaurants in that area the most when I am in town."

Hip Potrero Hill bar Bottom of the Hill. Photographed by Christine Ting
2 of 5
Any shops you absolutely love?
Carrie: "Gimme Shoes in Hayes Valley. I love that there are two right across the street from each other. They both are pretty amazing."

In one of the Portlandia skits Carrie shows up looking a little "too San Francisco" — is there such a thing as being too San Francisco?
Fred: "I think we picked S.F. so we could point out that Portland was a certain way, and wanted to juxtapose it against another city. We wanted to do it with Seattle but couldn’t really figure out what Seattle would be. However, San Francisco has a much older, and a much more rooted feeling in that kind of lifestyle. Everything that Portland is I think existed in San Francisco in the ’60s. We just wanted to find something that was established that people would recognize right away. So, it’s just something that we can identify as alternative."

Loads of pretty shoes perched on shelves at Gimme Shoes. Photographed by Christine Ting
3 of 5
What are some of your must-hit restaurants when you come to town?
Fred: "We stopped by the really great restaurant, Bar Tartine, the last time we were in town."
Carrie: "I went to a really great bar recently in Hayes Valley. It’s right across the street from Absinthe. And then I walked over to Blue Bottle Coffee — it was really good."

If you could bring one thing from Portland to San Francisco what would it be?
Carrie: "More bike lanes. I don’t know how people bike in S.F. — it’s so dangerous! We have plenty to spare."

S.F. staple Bar Tartine. Photographed by Christine Ting
4 of 5
Any favorite must-see spots you care to share?
Fred: "I love the Exploratorium."

How would you compare and contrast the culture of Portland and San Francisco?
Carrie: "I think San Francisco is a much more cosmopolitan city than Portland. S.F. just has a big-city quality, but it is actually quite small and dense. But Portland is still a few years behind, and transitioning. It’s like the cousin or the sibling city in the West Coast. You have L.A. S.F., and Seattle. They are still very much established, but Portland is still growing."
Fred: "San Francisco feels like a big city, but it also feels so international."

A light-soaked Exploratorium. Photographed by Christine Ting
5 of 5
Any other spots you frequent when in S.F.?
Fred: "I love Amoeba. It’s one of the best record stores ever."
Carrie: "Yeah, Amoeba is amazing. I also love San Francisco, not just in terms of the shopping, but also in terms of the nature. I love the Golden Gate Bridge and Muir Woods. I really associate it in terms of nature."

A music-fiend's dream, Amoeba Records on Haight St. Photographed by Christine Ting

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