Designer Suzanne Tucker Shares Her Favorite Places In The City

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Suzanne Tucker at the San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show opening night preview gala on October 25, 2017
Suzanne Tucker at the San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show opening night preview gala on October 25, 2017

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Suzanne Tucker is the grand dame of San Francisco’s design world. She started her firm over 30 years ago and is recognized nationally as one of the city’s most talented and sought-after interior designers. Tucker also has her a line of luxe fabrics, a collection of dinnerware, and is the author of two books. For the fourth year in a row, Tucker will chair the SF Fall Art & Antiques Show. The annual event takes place October 11-14, 2018 and the theme is “The Sun, The Moon, & The Stars: Celestial Imagery in Art, Antiques, & Design.” Although Tucker is working hard to plan the exhibition, she does make time for fun. Here, in her own words is Tucker’s guide to the good life in the beautiful Bay Area.

A California bedroom designed by Suzanne Tucker
A California bedroom designed by Suzanne Tucker

Photo Credit: Suzanne Tucker

Where were you born: I was born in Washington DC, but my family moved to Santa Barbara, California when I was three. It was an enchanted childhood growing up in Montecito amongst great houses and gardens, and it formed my love of beautiful architecture, landscape, and all things house and home.

How long in San Francisco: I moved to San Francisco in 1980 after a three-year stint in London which was a great experience, but all my friends were in SF. I had a fantastic built-in infrastructure when I landed.

Neighborhood: Initially it was Russian Hill which was great fun, then Pacific Heights which was de rigueur in the ‘80s, and for the past 20+ it’s been Marin County where I feel I have the best of all worlds. I get to spend my days in the city I love, and at home, in Marin, I’ve got 270-degree views around the Bay. My daily drive across the Golden Gate Bridge never fails to take my breath away.

Fantasie fabric by Suzanne depicts an enchanted forest populated with swirling vines, mesmerizing blossoms, and charming, quirky creatures.
Fantasie fabric by Suzanne depicts an enchanted forest populated with swirling vines, mesmerizing blossoms, and charming, quirky creatures.

Occupation: Hat juggler! On any given day, I am a designer/mother/wife/daughter/therapist/marriage counselor/clairvoyant/fireman/medic, and my staff calls me the “client whisperer” because I’m a good listener!

Favorite restaurant: In a food city like San Francisco with extraordinary chefs, that is a complicated question! Gary Danko’s is still the ultimate. Sit at the bar for a delicious quickie. Florio for its neighborhood vibe, Quince because it’s soooo good, the burger at Campton Place Bar and the Farmshop in Larkspur–scrumptious!

Best sushi: Sushi Ran in Sausalito, hands down. We mostly sit at the bar and let the chefs feed us with whatever is fresh from the Tokyo markets but for the novice, order the crunch roll and the miso glazed cod. Plus, they have a great wine list and a stellar selection of sake.

Best steakhouse: They’ve been around forever, but Harris’ is the best of the best.

Best pizza: I’m not really a pizza girl, but Vicolo Pizza is always in my freezer! They used to have a small hole in the wall café down by the opera house but now are only available in markets. Handmade cornmeal crust, fresh, simple ingredients–yum!

The chef's counter at Cotogna
The chef’s counter at Cotogna

Photo Credit: Bonjwing Lee

Best Italian: Cotogna for as fresh as it can get and Acquerello for classic elegance.

Best dessert: Tiramisu at Caffe Greco. Espresso, brandy, chocolate, and cream–what’s not to love? And if you want to drink your calories, a house cappuccino invented in 1919 at Tosca Café will set you up just fine!

Best place for a romantic date: La Folie for charming French and neighborhood ambiance, Californios if you can get a reservation into the city’s newest, chic Mexican cuisine, and again, Acquerello for Italian and the night to propose!

Best Sunday brunch: besides my terrace reading my Sunday papers, Poggio’s in Sausalito is fabulous. Ignore the tourists and linger over a delicious and creative menu. If you want the most delicious croissants you have ever had, head over to Arsicault Bakery and hope there’s no line.

Best lunch: I don’t really “do lunch”! It seems like such a luxury for me to take that time so I’m usually on the go and grabbing a salad from The Fresh Market at Neiman Marcus. And a batch of their killer cookies for my husband!

Best gym/athletic facility: the one that would inspire me to go there and use it!!

MKT restaurant and bar at the Four Seasons
MKT restaurant and bar at the Four Seasons

Photo Credit: Four Seasons

Best place for a power business meeting: Generally, it’s a job site for me with a set of plans and hard hat–no nonsense, no fuss–but when it can be more civilized, the Four Seasons is easy when downtown or Spruce on Sacramento street is ideal–spacious tables, delicious food, and an atmosphere conducive to lingering.

Best limousine/driving service: I always use Strawberry Limo based in Marin–easy, good drivers, on time … and willing to wait for me when I’m not!

If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend? If you don’t need to be in the hubbub of downtown, the Hotel Drisco is excellent. It’s not an action-packed scene if that’s what someone wants, but rather it’s off the beaten path with discrete service, newly redone rooms, and a quiet ambiance. In Napa Valley, a stay at the Auberge du Soleil is a must. And for romance heading south, the Post Ranch Inn is heavenly.

The Wilkes Bashford boutique
The Wilkes Bashford boutique

Photo Credit: Wilkes Bashford

Favorite shopping venue/boutique: Wilkes Bashford is my favorite–clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry–always a great selection and they’ll bring in anything from their sister store in Connecticut or order it for you if they don’t have your size. It’s five floors of chic for both men and women!

Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches: I love Meriwether out on Sacramento Street for both estate and vintage pieces—beautiful finds and great prices. She also designs a few pieces which are very stylish. Susie Hoimes’ MDVII is terrific for those sought-after vintage costume pieces.

Best spa: Spa Radiance in the city is superb with extremely knowledgeable technicians. And in Marin, head out to the Spa at Cavallo Point for health and wellness. It’s serene and tranquil—the perfect a mini-vacay.

Best Massage: The masseuse who comes to my house! And refer back to the best spas above both have excellent therapists.

Last year's Fall Art & Antique Show opening party
Last year’s Fall Art & Antique Show opening party

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Favorite charity event: I am admittedly biased because I chair the annual San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show, benefiting Enterprise for Youth. The Opening Night Preview Gala is THE event of the San Francisco social season mainly because it’s a night you’ll see everyone you haven’t seen all year amidst the most beautiful treasures from the world’s best dealers, from contemporary to antiquity. It’s a fabulous party so come and see for yourself!

Favorite cultural event: San Francisco’s FOG Design + Art. It’s an exuberant celebration of design and the visual arts in support of SFMOMA’s exhibitions and education programs. It’s a fabulous opening night party and four days of inspiration.

Favorite cultural institution: Locally, we are so fortunate to have great art between the fabulous SFMOMA and the timeless Fine Arts Museums. Nationally, I am a trustee of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art based in NY (www.classicist.org) and a founding director of its Northern California Chapter. For me, it’s all about the education that is rarely taught in architecture and design schools now and keeping the focus on the timeless.

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