Retail Therapy: A Zen-full Tea Shop

Next Tuesday is officially the first day of Fall. Can you believe it?? I KNOW. We can’t either. Good thing we’ve found the coziest haven from the ever thickening San Francisco fog; the most incredible tea shop you ever did see. Samovar Tea Lounge recently opened its newest location in the popular San Francisco Mission District and hipster hearts, including our own, are exploding all over the city!

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Walls of custom made ceramic vessels and caldron-like copper pots steam brewing tea. Black-washed floors make the already subtly lit stone walls seem beautifully cave-like and a single bench stretching the entire room just begs you to stay a while. But {if you can believe it} there’s something more than this instagram-worthy space that has us convinced we’ll be making tea trips over coffee runs all season long! The answer is yes and it comes in the form of two words: chai tea.

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We haven’t spied a space that does ‘cozy and inviting’ better than this one. Bundled up in a leather jacket and scarf, briskly walking down Valencia St., it’s pretty much impossible NOT to duck out of the chilled air and stop into Samovar. It’s something out of a movie, really. Tea is being stirred and ladled out of huge hammered copper pots and employees clad in crafty leather and canvas aprons are offering you a flaky scone and butter with your piping hot drink.

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But the real treat is actually the tea itself. We’re here to tell you that their chai tea is the best chai you’ll ever put to your lips. Rich and milky, it’s the perfect drink to make you warm inside -we’d take it over a cup of jo on a brisk fall morning and that’s saying A LOT. It doesn’t hurt that it comes in a gorgeous ceramic mug of which we’ve already tried our luck at purchasing a set for ourselves only to find out they’re a custom cup just for Samovar. Nooooo.

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Next time you’re in San Francisco, or if you’re a local and have YET to visit Samovar on Valencia, you need to move it to the top of your list. Fall is right around the corner and we promise, Samovar is tea-licious! —Bianca

original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick

Retail Therapy: {Jessie Black, San Francisco}

It seems like everyday there’s a new restaurant or boutique to check out in San Francisco – it’s one of the things we really love about the city- it’s ever evolving. But it’s not everyday that a new spot opens up with THE sweetest shop owner of all time. Because, really, a space is only as amazing as the people inside. Jessie Black, Pacific Height’s latest luxury retail haven, is our fave new boutique, not just for the luxuriously soft lines of cashmere they carry, but for the lady behind the brand, Ms. Jessie Black, herself!

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This sweet boutique is truly one of the most unique shopping experiences in San Francisco. In the store fragrant coconut wax candles burn, french music plays, piles of purposefully “not-too-neatly” folded cashmere scream “feel me!” – every sense is brought to life.

We love the fact that Jessie designed her store around luxury textures and they are indeed everywhere! The space is beautifully accessorized with chunky knit blankets, plush woven rugs and the softest cashmere pullovers you’ve ever felt. And with a plate of macarons often put out for guests- the store is a treat, in more ways than one!

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Our favorite element has to be the fact that the shop is home to one of San Francisco’s most unique changing rooms: “the boudoir.” Jessie wanted to create a space where guests would feel right at home so her dressing room includes a bed, armoire, and gorgeous accessories- everything to make the room feel like a real bedroom. When you’re ready to try on a cozy sweater, you draw back the curtains and have the entire boudoir to change in! Jessie even encourages guests to throw the clothes on the bed {just like you would at home!}, rifle through the drawers where you’ll find fine silk lingerie and open the cupboard where the latest cashmere jacket and folded cotton t-shirts are hung- all for sale!

And if the boudoir isn’t enough, there is a beautiful patio where you can enjoy the sunshine and stay awhile- truly making Jessie Black your home away from home!!

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If you get a chance to chat as you comb through the shop’s sweet details you might get to hear Jessie’s infatuating story. A true world traveller {she’s lived everywhere from Paris to Monte Carlo, London to New York and happens to be Australian!}, her work embodies the places she’s been:

“I have been lucky enough to live in Paris, London, New York and Monte Carlo. Working in each of these great design capitals has been an incredible opportunity and really shaped my design aesthetic. Each city has its distinct style and energy. I took a slice of inspiration from each of these cities. I love the chic minimalism of Paris, the classic nature of London, the boldness of New York, the old-world sophistication of Monte Carlo and the freshness and diversity of San Francisco. Sydney for its natural beauty!”

We asked Jessie about her road to opening a luxury retail store. Early on with an MBA in the luxury goods sector, she learned opening a boutique is no easy feat. So Jessie hired on Parisian boutique manager, Carla, who has quite the resume herself, working at Christian Lacroix and Chanel and is especially grateful to her husband, whom would work her trade shows {Maison et Objet Paris, to be exact!}, ironing bed sheets and serving coffee to guests for days straight. Talk about a keeper!!

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Jessie’s love and passion for her craft, her sweet-as-pie personality and her gorgeous store are three things everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing. If you are shopping in San Francisco be sure to pop in to feel some of the softest cashmere you’ll ever touch {get thisshe uses the same atelier as Chanel!} and of course, bite into a scrumptious pistachio or passion fruit macaron! — Bianca

For even more of our San Francisco favorites, CLICK HERE!

original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick 

Tasty Tuesday: {Souvla, San Francisco}

This is a deep and honest confession- I have never been a fan of Greek food, ever. The yogurts were slightly foreign for my taste buds {I was never a Danables kid!}, spices just a tad too aromatic and robust for my palate and the desserts failed to live up to the much praised “baklava moment” – the after-tasting-it-you-never-look-at-desserts-the-same, moment. But before you put me through the fire, I’m also here to tell you the San Francisco neighborhood Hayes Valley’s new Greek hot spot, Souvla has me running to my fat Greek seat at the table!

Chef Charles Bililies souvlaki gem is the new go-to lunch, dinner or dessert spot any day of the week!

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What made me ever step into a Greek restaurant in the first place? I discovered the joint while shopping on Hayes and literally being stopped dead in my tracks. The clean white inside, shiny grey stools outside and olive trees flanking the doors sung a sweet song from the exterior. And when you walk in, you’re greeted by copper mugs, {just like in Greece as Erin’s trip to Mykonos proved!}, a gorgeous tiled bar and dried olive branches mixed with vintage kitchen utensils hanging from the walls.

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And the food is just as beautiful as the space it’s cooked in. Salads are served in big blue-rimmed enamel bowls. Sandwiches are wrapped in cute paper packaging and the wine is served in traditional copper mugs. You can even watch the chickens crisp up in the rotisserie. And for a non-greek goer, like myself, the menu is easy- you pick a meat and decide if you want it in a salad or sandwich. Furthermore, if you’re like me, you’ll order both! Because everything looks so yummy. Let’s not forget about dessert: Greek frozen yogurt with your choice of toppings like Greek olive oil and flaky sea salt {yes!}, baklava crumbles {double yes!} , sour cherry syrup or wildflower honey. Seriously- mind-blowing. It’s no surprise as Chef Bililies comes with a pedigree a mile long including working for culinary greats like Thomas Keller and Michael Mina!

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And while the food is sincerely the best part of the experience, I’ve since come back to both eat and stare at the Nikos Economopoulos photograph on the wall {and plot a plan of how to walk out of the restaurant, unseen, with an 8ft art piece under my arm!}. Obsessed.

Hayes Valley is a fast changing neighborhood and the addition of Souvla is just what the popular couple of blocks needed- a casual, affordable, fast and delicious dining experience leaving you dreaming of spit roasted pork and what? Harissa yogurt! Greek food lovers, I get it now. —Bianca

For more of our San Francisco favorites, food related and otherwise, CLICK HERE!

original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick