Haute Secrets: Brenda Zarate’s Luxe Guide to the Good Life in SF

The stunning Brenda Zarate in an Alexander McQueen dress
The stunning Brenda Zarate in an Alexander McQueen dress

Photo Credit: Mary Jean Murphy

Brenda Zarate is one of San Francisco’s most fabulous girls about town. The Mexico City native, who splits her time between SF, DF, and Paris, is a prominent figure on the social circuit and a brand ambassador for a storied French fashion house. She has impeccable style, beautiful skin, and an enviable closet. She regularly attends fashion week around the globe and along with her gal pal, Haute Living’s fashion editor at large, Sonya Molodetskaya, is featured in a new book about fine footwear, All About Shoes. In the tome, Zarate and Molodetskaya’s Dior-clad feet are pictured on the sidewalk at Paris fashion week. Since we’re huge fans of the chic Latina, we wanted to learn more about her daily life in the city by the Bay. Here, in her own words, Zarate shares details about her past, present, and future.

Where were you born: Mexico City,  Mexico

How long in SF: 19 years

Neighborhood: I’ve lived in Marin County and South Beach—I’ve lived in the famous landmark Clock Tower on Second Street. Currently, I’m in Pacific Heights.

Occupation: I hold a bachelors degree in business administration and a masters degree in international business. Initially, I followed my prominent family’s tradition of working in the intellectual academic arm of politics in my native Mexico City, but now I spend my time nurturing my love for fashion in San Francisco. Upon my arrival to San Francisco, I embarked on a fashion career at the house of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent managing for some years, and now currently work for one of fashion’s most monumental institutions.

Favorite restaurant: Aster in the Mission District—this is a recent discovery. The food is inventive, California farm to table cuisine. There is an extensive and exquisite wine list and the setting is nice and casual. This place is a great Sunday evening dinner destination in company of someone special to share tasting menus. Of course as many San Franciscans, I also love these hotspots. . . Kokkari a place you come at least once a week to enjoy the delicious Greek food, friends and family. This is the restaurant where birthdays and holidays are celebrated. Mourad is the best destination for Moroccan fine dinning and an excellent wine list. This is a swanky destination ideal to meet friends for dinner.  My favorite thing to do here is meet my best friends, sit at the bar, enjoy a great of white Burgundy and a bowl of their infamous butter couscous and a cordial visit from Mourad.

Sushi at Roka Akor
Sushi at Roka Akor

Best sushi: Roka Akor. They have the best happy hour downstairs in the bar area where you can enjoy great sushi, sake, and music.

Best Italian: Tosca, Delfina, and for a swanky relaxed experience, Cotogna.

Best dessert: The best chocolate soufflé in the world at Gary Danko.

Best place for a romantic date: Gary Danko, I love the superb menu and intimate ambiance. It’s elegant, but cozy. The service is impeccable.

Best Sunday brunch: Zuni Cafe. The chicken is a must!

Best place for a power business meeting: The Battery or Cafe Le Central

If you have out of town guests, which hotel will you recommend: The St.Regis for a downtown experience. The Scarlet Huntington on Nob Hill for a more intimate stay and to be closer to me.

Favorite shopping venue/boutique: I am a believer in supporting local business, I love Fillmore street in my neighborhood. Elizabeth Charles is one of my favorite boutiques. EC does a great job bringing contemporary designers to her boutique and she has a well curated selection. She travels to Paris and New York to bring the most current trends to San Francisco. Neiman Marcus is a traditional favorite, especially when I text my personal shopper, Debra Mims. She always makes things happen quickly and seamlessly. Plus, she knows what I love and she is sure to make things happen for me. Believe it or not I don’t have much time to shop!

Zarate at home in an Osmond gown
Zarate at home in an Osmond gown

Photo Credit: Mary Jean Murphy

Favorite place to buy jewelry and watches: Christian Dior and Rada Katz Jewlery.

Best spa: EpiCenter Medical Spa. They have the latest sharp technology for cosmetic treatments and complete skin care. They are ahead of the curve. This spa is the perfect destination in San Francisco to relax while you get pretty. The Nob Hill Spa is the best place to spend a day getting pampered and relaxed… I am a spa massage junkie.

Best charity event: Family Builders, for foster children. Even though I don’t have children, I love them and it is heart breaking knowing there are lots of children in San Francisco without a permanent home and a loving family. Children are our future and deserve love, a home, and an education.

Favorite cultural event: The Mid-Winter Gala. It is such chic and fun event. It supports the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.  The San Francisco Opera Guild Opening Gala is a night of fashion in San Francisco. This gala kicks off the fall season—my favorite season of the year.

Favorite cultural institution: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Best steak house: Ruth Chris Steak House. An elevator ride away!

Pizzeria Delfina
Pizzeria Delfina

Best pizza: Pizzeria Delfina and North Beach Pizza

Best lunch: The Rotunda in Neiman Marcus

Best gym/athletic facility: Soul Cycle in the Marina, Barry’s Bootcamp, and Equinox in the Four Seasons Hotel.

Best massage: Nob Hill Spa. The place is cozy. I love to lay out on the terrace and have lunch while I relax. I love to celebrate my birthday here in company of my closest friends. Also, this place can be a romantic destination.

Best limousine/driving service: Bauer’s Icars. I have been using them for over five years.

Best museum exhibit: The De Young Museum, especially when they bring fashion exhibits. One of the most memorable ones was Jean Paul Guiltier and Yves Saint Laurent.

Describe your city in three words: Eccentric, eclectic, and gorgeous.

Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore: Muir Woods and the Golden Gate Bridge, a spot that never gets old.

All around favorite spot in SF: Crissy Field Beach. A walk during sunset is the most intimate time you can have with San Francisco.

Best aspect of San Francisco: It is a magical city and once you fall in love, you can’t leave. The people in San Francisco are generous, kind, and humble.

Molodetskaya and Zarate at Paris fashion week
Molodetskaya and Zarate at Paris fashion week

Photo Credit: Adam Katz Sinding