(credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Each year in May, the Mission goes Brazilian with a vengeance as Carnaval turns our town topsy-turvy with masks and music, pomp and percussion and flesh and fantasy. If you can’t visit Brazil this year, San Francisco’s Carnaval celebration is the next best thing. For the best time, don’t just limit yourself to watching the parade (although it is one of the city’s most fun annual events!) Here are some suggestions for making the most of Carnaval.
Don’t miss CBS San Francisco’s Events Listings for Carnaval Events all over the Bay.
Check the weather before you head out.
Carnaval Festival and Parade
Saturday & Sunday, May 23-24: 10am-6pm
Harrison Street (between 16th and 24th Streets)
San Francisco, CA
Carnaval San Francisco is a beloved two-day event featuring a Grand Parade and two-day Festival, celebrating music and cultural elements from Latin American and Caribbean traditions. Now in its third decade of celebration, Carnaval San Francisco has been an event for many cultures to come together in one spirit to share their creative expression. Come celebrate at the 35th annual Carnaval San Francisco, a FREE 2-day family festival in San Francisco’s Mission District over Memorial Day weekend, May 23 and 24, 10am-6pm, where we will showcase the very best Latin American and Caribbean cultural arts and traditions. Carnaval San Francisco is the largest multi-cultural celebration on the West Coast. This year, Carnaval San Francisco is happening due to the 500 volunteers coming together to preserve this San Francisco tradition.
On Sunday, May 24, the Grand Parade starts at 9:30am at the corner of 24th and Bryant Streets, where it will proceed West to Mission Street. From there, the parade heads North on Mission down to 17th Street, where it will turn East and flow into the Festival area. Parking can be touch, so public transit is strongly recommended.
41 Franklin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
The new Minas Brazilian Restaurant and Cachaçaria, right near City Hall downtown, bills itself as “a brilliant, authentic slice of Brazil is right here in San Francisco.” On Tuesday nights, it offers live Brazilian music. On Wednesdays, local musician Leo Brasil performs to the dinner crowd. Minas Brazillian is a family affair. Owners Marcia Santana Orlando along with her sister Iza, bring the bold, rich flavors of Brazilian cuisine to San Francisco Bay Area diners in a warm, open and energized environment. Bem-Vindo, para Minas!
(formerly known as Cafe Cocomo)
San Francisco, CA 94133
This is the place to party Latin style in San Francisco. Whether you love tango, salsa or rhumba, you’ll find your groove at PlayaSF. This is a restaurant, a nightclub and a dancing school all rolled into one incredibly saucy Latin stew. It has a full schedule of events featured seven nights a week. Check out the website to see what’s happening during Carnaval.
Peña Pachamama Center
1630 Powell St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
On the Peña Pachamama Center’s website, it quotes from the late Robin Williams saying this spot is “…the kind of place even the Amish would dance.” At Pachamama, it is always Carnaval. Its strictly organic dinner menu features Bolivian specialities and — unusual for a Latin restaurant — a number of vegan friendly selections. Fans of world music will be thrilled by its house band which focuses on music of the Andes. This is one of San Francisco’s most celebrated night spots, and for good reason. Check out the website to see what’s happening during Carnaval.
1805 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
When the party’s over and you’ve slept in a bit the day after, head to Parada 22 in the Haight for a Puerto Rican feast. Panada 22 is owned by Philip Belber, the same talented restauranteur behind the Haight’s popular Cuban destination, Cha Cha Cha, so he knows a thing or two about Latin cuisine. Puerto Rican natives report that the food is “incredibly authentic.” Try the fried green plantains, and if you’re up for it, sangria is available by the pitcher at happy hour.
Charles Kruger is well known in the Bay area as “The Storming Bohemian” ever since he entered the Bay Area cultural scene in the summer of 2009, attending 90 cultural events in 90 days and blogging about it. This project was successful enough to warrant a mention in The New York Times. His coverage of Bay area theatre can be found at Examiner.com.