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Isabel Allende's Favorite Street

Norma Cordova

Photo by Norma Cordova

The Transamerica Pyramid (shown here) is San Fran's tallest skyscraper.

Chilean novelist Isabel Allende’s backstory could fill volumes. Her father left the family when Allende was 3 years old. She then bounced around with her mother—first to Santiago, Chile, then Bolivia then Beirut. Upon graduating from college, Allende married, had two kids, wrote for a feminist magazine, divorced and, in 1982 at age 40, released her first book, The House of the Spirits. The beautifully written, multigenerational story was an immediate bestseller and established Allende as one of South America’s premier literary talents. Her new book, Ripper (out this month), is a thriller set in San Francisco’s North Beach area. Here, Allende, who lives just outside of San Francisco, shares her favorite North Beach spots.

“Columbus Avenue in North Beach has history, is very entertaining, runs by Chinatown and you can walk to Fisherman’s Wharf,” says Allende. “And it has the color and flavor of old Italy.”

“I would recommend getting to North Beach by cable car. Start walking at the end of Columbus, at The Cannery [shopping area]. You can see the famous Transamerica Pyramid the entire way.”

"Stop at Washington Square, where Asian grandparents do tai chi, the dog walkers gather and assorted vagrants hang out; then go for lunch at L’Osteria del Forno, a small place to eat well.”

Molinari Delicatessen is the greatest deli in town. Also, visit City Lights Books, which was the center of beatnik life and is still a great bookstore where writers, poets and readers gather."

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