— JG

Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar. A mid-20th century icon of tiki style, the Tonga Room is in the historic Fairmont Hotel atop Nob Hill. Its lagoon — the hotel's former basement swimming pool — sports a floating stage where bands perform amid faux rainstorms. Patrons nosh on Pacific Rim fare such as Mongolian beef, Singapore noodles and orange chicken. Tiki drinks are elaborate, brightly colored and deadly strong. Happy hour (5-7 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays) is a great time to visit. $19-$36. 950 Mason St.; (415) 772-5278, http://www.tongaroom.com.

— JG


North Beach

Beat Museum. Eight bucks gets you into this small museum stashed in a used book and record store. It pays homage to Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and other Beat Generation luminaries with homemade displays and cracked glass cases packed with books, manuscripts, photos and other ephemera, as well as the odd license plate and brown and tan plaid jacket worn by Kerouac. A new addition is the 1949 Hudson, still dusty and dirty, used in the recent "On the Road" movie. 540 Broadway; (800) 537-6822, http://www.kerouac.com 10 a.m.-7 p.m daily, except Christmas and New Year's. Adults $8, students $5.

— AH

Freddie's Sandwiches. Little neighborhood sandwich shop in North Beach has been drawing locals since 1926. Choice of breads, but the most popular is the soft sourdough. At $5.95, the Italian combo might be the best deal in town. Even the 6-inch can serve two. No ambience and limited seating, so grab lunch and head to the water. Sandwiches $6 and up. If heaven had a deli.... 300 Francisco St.; (415) 433-2882.

— CE

Café Divine. This spot has a tremendous location facing Washington Square Park and a great, airy feel. (It's also a good fallback if the breakfast/lunch line is too long at Mama's, a block away.) Sidewalk tables. Frequent live music, including accordion Mondays. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, with dinner entrees about $13-$20. 1600 Stockton St.; (415) 986-3414, http://www.cafedivinesf.com.

— CR

The Bike Rental District. Want to cover the waterfront or the Golden Gate on two wheels? You'll find the Bike Rental District (that's our nickname, not theirs) near the foot of Lombard Street. On this short stretch of Columbus Avenue, near the Joe DiMaggio Playground and North Beach Pool, three bike rental places compete: Bike & Roll San Francisco (899 Columbus Ave.; [415] 229-2000, http://www.bikethegoldengate.com); Columbus Cyclery (801 Columbus Ave.; [415] 561-9999, http://www.gobikeit.com) and Dylan's Tours (782 Columbus Ave.; [415] 932-6993, http://www.dylanstours.com).

— CR


Chinatown

Chinese Historical Society of America Museum. Designed by architect Julia Morgan, this sturdy brick building opened in 1932 as the Chinese Young Women's Christian Assn. Exhibits in the main gallery, the YWCA's gymnasium, recount the role of the Chinese in the history of San Francisco and the nation. Among the poignant displays is a small suitcase containing an immigrant's meager possessions: a hat, parasol, pipe, comb and chopsticks. 965 Clay St.; (415) 391-1188, http://www.chsa.org. Open noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. Free first Thursday of the month. Adults $5, students/seniors $3, children ages 2-17 $2.

— AH

Chef Jia's. Let others wait in line at the more renowned, more expensive House of Nanking next door. Locals on a budget, or tourists with an eye for value, go to Chinatown for Chef Jia's, where dishes are offered sautéed or deep fried. This nondescript joint has only a dozen tables, and much of the business is neighborhood carry-out. But among the scores of storefront spots lining competitive Kearny Street, this is a standout, mostly for the food's freshness. Chicken dinners feature only breast meat. Try the honey chili chicken. And the five spices duck. From $6.95. 925 Kearny St.; (415) 398-1626.