Designer Ken Fulk Shares His Favorite San Francisco Spots

From left: Soraya Matos; Douglas Friedman/Courtesy Ken Fulk

The designer’s favorite places to go to revel in the city’s history and natural beauty.

“You can be the person you want to be here,” says Ken Fulk. “You get to have a big life.” For the local designer and international bon vivant, that means decorating houses, hotels, and restaurants for the fabulous and famous and then hosting them at his own St. Joseph’s Art Society, a members’ club “for people who subscribe, like the symphony or ballet or opera, to a space for artists,” Fulk says. The space has a Buly 1803 boutique and an Assouline bookshop, and carries Respoke espadrilles made from vintage designer scarves. It also has 3,000 square feet devoted to sexy, undulating “functional sculptures” from the Carpenters Workshop Gallery, which exhibits works by rising artists. “When I moved here 25 years ago,” he says, “I asked, ‘Why doesn’t everyone live here?’ ”

Below, his favorite stops.

Zuni Café

“I’ve been going to Zuni Café since I first arrived. It’s a rarity of a place. After 40 years, it still feels relevant, fresh, and inventive.”

Universal Café

A weekend brunch mainstay for Fulk and his husband (and their three yellow Labs), who like to sit outside and sip “really strong coffee alongside old-timers and hipsters.”

Neiman Marcus

“With its glass rotunda in Union Square, the store feels like when shopping was a grand endeavor.”

Coup D’Etat 

A Design District store that’s open to the public and offers a myriad of contemporary velvet seating options, antiques, art, and grand chandeliers.

Cavallo Point

“I’m not a spa junkie, so when I do it, I want it to feel like a vacation.”

Legion of Honor

Inside the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, “perched on a hilltop, high above the Pacific, the neoclassical museum is utterly San Francisco.” Fulk loves the fine art collection as much as the Hollywood pedigree: “It’s so cinematic. Vertigo was shot there.”