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City Guides

January 24th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Random Stuff | #
Just my thoughts and notes on where to go in each city, what's worth seeing and doing, what I enjoy in each city anyway.  Not so much a guide as much as a set of bookmarks for myself.

United States

Chicago
- Best Area to Live: The Loop
- Centers: North Side (improv/comedy), Jackson/Loop (finance), Michigan Ave (shopping)
- Conventions: Chicago SketchFest, Blues/Jazz Festivals, Venetian Night, Summer Dance
- Restaurants: Wasabi (Japanese; ramen), Greek Islands (Greek; flaming cheese, octopus, lamb), Purple Pig (Mediterranean), Quartino Ristorante (Italian), Lou Malnati (deep dish pizza), Cafe Iberico (Spanish; tapas, octopus)
- Shows: Blue Man Group, Second City
- Sightseeing: 360 Chicago, Skydeck (glass ledge), Bean, Lincoln Park

Los Angeles
- Best Area to Live: Santa Monica Promenade
- Best Way to Get to SF: Megabus ($1), CA Shuttle Bus ($10)
- Centers: Santa Monica (tech/gaming/media), Century City (film/media), Studio City (film/media), everywhere else (starving artists)
- Conventions: E3 (gaming), SIGGRAPH (animation), CTN Animation Expo, IndieCade (gaming), VidCon, GameSoundCon, Comic Con (San Diego), Anime Expo, CES (Las Vegas)
- Ice Cream: Erewhon (organic ice cream smoothies)
- Restaurants: Tsujita (Japanese; char siu ramen), Shin Ramen (Japanese; kotteri miso ramen), Tsuri Sushi (Japanese; chef's special sushi with wasabi), Ulysses (Greek; flaming cheese, octopus), Aussie Pies (meat pies), The Georgian Hotel (French toast, penne rigate, lava cake, key lime cheesecake), Chez Jay (clam chowder, also famous for JFK regularly eating here)
- Shows: Second City, but only for Ithamar Enriquez (best show being "Ithamar Has Nothing to Say").  Most other LA improv and theater is really forced and half-hearted compared to Chicago and NYC.  The technique is also very sloppy and unrefined (arms giving out halfway through a gesture, expressions not matching the emotion, etc).  More just loud and awkward than funny or engaging.
- Swing/Dance Venues: Calendar at http://swingdance.la/, Lindy Loft (downtown, private lessons and classes), Clifton's (less for actual swing which is just a small square and more for the four floors of restaurant/bar/museum), Camp Hollywood (largest annual events, competitions and more advanced classes/groups)
- Tennis Courts: Ocean View Park, Mar Vista, Cheviot Hills, Colorado Center
- Theater: IMAX at Studio City near Universal.

New York City
- Random Tips: No one wakes up before noon.  You can go to Max Brenner at 2 and wait 1.5hrs, but if you go at 11:30, there is literally no line.
- Best Area: Battery Park City
- Centers: Wall St (finance, duh), Chelsea (improv/comedy), Times Square (theater/broadway), Union Square (tech/startup), West Village (jazz), Madison Ave (shopping)
- Conventions: Tribeca Film Festival, TechCrunch Disrupt, PAX East (gaming)
- Ice Cream: Blue Marble, OddFellows, Chinese Ice Cream Factory, Ample Hills, Eddie's Sweet Shop
- Other sweets: Macaron Cafe (maracons, delivered in 2 hours), Ladurée (macarons), Mariebelle (chocolate cafe)
- Restaurants: Uncle Nick's (Greek; flaming cheese, octopus, lamb), Kiki's (Greek; flaming cheese, octopus, braised lamb), Pio Pio (Puruvian; rotisserie chicken), Iroha (Japanese; cheap, squid, sushi), Jin Ramen (Japanese; kukuni ramen), Max Brenner (chocolate on everything), Amada (Spanish; tapas and paellas)
- Sightseeing: Central Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, High Line Park, Breakneck Ridge, Dater Mountain Nature Park
- Shows: Wicked, Book of Morman, Chicago, Trike at Magnet Theater (their musical improv is also pretty good)
- Swing/Dance Venues: Swing 46 (nightly, most lively at midnight), You Should Be Dancing Studios (aka Club 412 / Frim Fram Jam for Swing on Thursdays, standard/latin other days), Stepping Out Studios (standard/latin/swing), more on Eileen's This Week in Swing
- Tennis Courts: Hudson River Courts (only free courts in the city)
- Theater: AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13
- Things to Do: Sky Rink/Chelsea Pier (indoor ice skating), Fat Cat (rec games and jazz), Uncommons (board games cafe), Rehearsal Studios NY (piano rooms)
- Work Cafes: Bread and Butter on 303  5th Ave (basement lounge), Tous Les Jours (desserts)

San Francisco
- Best Area to Live: Embarcadero
- Best Way to Get to LA: Megabus ($1), CA Shuttle Bus ($10)
- Centers: Embarcadero (finance), SOMA / Montgomery / Powell (tech/startup/conventions)
- Conventions: Game Dev Con (GDC), TechCrunch Disrupt, Startup Conference, LAUNCH Festival
- Ice Cream: Humphrey Slocombe (Tinfoil Sundae), Bi-Rite, Mitchell's, Fenton's, Three Twins
- Other sweets: Chantal Guillon, Miette Patisserie
- Restaurants: Slanted Door (Vietnamese Fusion; chicken claypot), Kokkari (Greek; saganaki, octopus, lamb), Limon Rotisserie (Puruvian; rotisserie chicken), Dongbei Mama (Szechuan Chinese; pork belly w/ napa), Kirimachi (tonkotsu ramen), Schroeder's (German; jager schnitzel), Osha Thai (Thai fusion; pineapple fried rice and lychee iced tea)
- Shows: SF has no real improv or theater scene compared to Chicago and NYC.  The few that are there are very dry and forced.
- Sightseeing: Bernal Heights, Corona Heights, Land's End, Top of Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Top of the Mark, Top of the Hyatt, Top of My Apartment (especially new year's eve), Top of One Market, Parrots at Ferry Park, Grand View, Buena Vista Park, Dolores Park, Black Point, Fort Point near Golden Gate Bridge, Tomales Bay, Muir Beach
- Swing/Dance Venues: 9:20 Special (Thursdays), Cat's Corner (Wednesdays), Verdi Club (aka Tuesday Night Jump), Wednesday Night Hop, Just Dance Studio (standard/latin), more at Hep Jen's Calendar
- Tennis Courts: Alice Marble Courts (Russian Hills, no lights), Dolores Park (has lights), Corona Heights, Buena Vista Park
- Theater: AMC Metreon
- Things to Do: Ice Skating and Bowling at Yerba Buena, iFly (indoor skydiving), Mission Cliffs (indoor rock climbing)
- Work Cafes: Patriot House (WiFi, bar, diner)

Japan

Kyoto
- Best Area to Live: Gion (clean and upscale, central, next to river and all restaurants/shops), The Millennials Hotel if visiting (luxury upscale capsule hotel, dorm-like living for just $30/night)
- Ice Cream and Sweets: Kagizen (sweets), Tsujiri Tea House (green tea ice cream), St. Marc's Cafe (smoothies)
- Restaurants: Nishiki Warai (okonomiyaki), Hakada Ippudo (ramen)
- Sightseeing: Nazen-ji, Yasaka Shrine, Higashiyama Jisho-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, Nijo Castle

Sapporo, Hokkaido
- Sweets: Shiroi Koibito Park (Chocolates)
- Restaurants: Ramen Sakurajima (sakurajima ramen), らーめん信玄南6条店 (kukuni ramen)
- Sightseeing: Mt. Moiwa, Nishioka Park, Moerenuma Park, Onuma Quasi-National Park (3 hrs by Hokuto train), Lake Toya (Toya station stop via Hokuto train)

Tokyo
- Best Area to Live: Ginza
- Centers: Ginza (upscale but quiet, central), Shibuya (shopping and food), Shinjuku (nightlife, arcades, theater), Akihabara (anime but not as much gaming as Shinjuku actually).
- Ice Cream and Sweets: Honeys Kitchen (Shibuya smoothies), Bebible (Ginza smoothies)
- Restaurants: Ichiran Shibuya (ramen), Torigin (Ginza yakitori)
- Sightseeing: Shibuya, Shinjuku, TOHO Cinemas Shinjuku (Godzilla), Ginza Six Rooftop Gardens, Mt
Mitake,  Mt Nokogiri
- Work Cafes: Wrapple (Shibuya 2nd floor), Doutor Coffee Shop Shinjuku (4 floors with wifi and outlets)
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