Creative Commons photo by Shea Homes NoCal is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The West is a big, big place, and every week our staff is all over it, digging up the shops and restaurants, beaches and trails, performances and, well, phenomena that make the region so vibrant. Here’s the Best of the West this Labor Day weekend

Sunset Staff  – August 30, 2019

Labor Day Drinking

While I love to hit the road for an adventure when a long weekend rolls around, sometimes staying close to home is just as fun. Use that extra day to explore your own city, town, or neighborhood. For me that often means taking the family to a new brewery or tasting room where dogs and kids are welcomed (and even encouraged). This Labor Day we’ll probably hit up some favorite urban Bay Area wineries like Broc CellarsDonkey & Goat, and Cote West, or stop for a beer at Fieldwork Brewing Company. Keep the vacation vibes going and take home a crowler (a cross between a can and a growler) of Fieldwork’s freshest, hoppiest brews. —Ellen Fort, food editor

Throw Out the Rulebook

Remember the time when it was a faux pas to wear white after Labor Day? Me neither, really. I’m a big fan of comfort over conformity, and I’ve never believed that following flashy trends or adhering to arbitrary rules would help me define my own personal style. I gravitate toward what’s easy, functional, and long-lasting, even if it means a bigger investment up front. The unisex jumpsuit from Al’s Big Deal (that’s Alison Carroll of Wonder Valley Olive Oil and the redesign of Santa Fe’s El Rey Court) is made from sturdy cotton twill, with metal zippers and snaps, and can handle anything you throw at it (or at something else while in it). I dig the white (technically Spilled Milk), but it also comes in Beedi Brown and Rajneeshee Red if you’re a post-Labor Day fashion rule-follower. —Kate Wertheimer, travel editor

Big Deal Jumpsuit
   

A Next-Level Gas Grill

I’m finding myself drawn to cooking dinner on my backyard grill more often as the days shorten and the weather slightly cools. My trusty old Weber gas grill (my go-to weeknight grill; yes, I cook on charcoal too!) is twenty years old and still going strong, but I’ve got my eyes on the fancy gas grill from Santa Barbara-based Ferno. Unlike other gas grills, you can crank a burly handle on the front to raise and lower the burner array and dial in just the right amount of direct or indirect heat. For budding bread makers and pizzaiolos, the lid is insulated with ceramic wool to create steady oven-like heat. The 50-pound grates are made of cast iron. Plus the handsome beast is flanked by two wide prep surfaces, which any backyard grillmaster knows is crucial when it’s go time and you’ve got steaks and scallions and ears of corn coming and going. Summer, I’m going to miss you. —Hugh Garvey, executive editor

Ferno Freestanding Grill
   

Drool-Worthy Dahlias  

For flower-power folks, this weekend is the Portland Dahlia Festival, held at Swan Island Dahlias in Canby, Oregon. Fortyish acres of dahlia farm will be open to the public, there will be hundreds of varieties of dahlia on display, as well as floral arranging and bulb division demos. With a display of over 15,000 blooms, it’s the largest put on by any one grower in the entire country! There’ll be food and live music, so if you didn’t make any plans for the weekend, you can swing by and check it out. —Heather Arndt Anderson, garden contributor 

No Lie—Emeryville’s Honor Kitchen & Cocktails Has the Best Burgers

Confessional time: I’ve worked for Sunset for 7 years and I still don’t really know how to grill. I don’t have to—I live in a part of the country that takes grilling very seriously and it’s not hard to find a place that can prepare a beautiful slab of smoky meat for me—and do it 10 times better than I ever could. That’s why I plan on partaking of my traditional Labor Day burger at Emeryville, California’s Honor Kitchen & Cocktails. It’s home to possibly the best burger I’ve ever eaten. Enormous, juicy, and topped with garlicy sauce, chewy bacon, and caramelized onions, Honor’s burgers please all the senses and are a whole-body experience. (Don’t wear a nice shirt; you’re going to be up to your elbows in aioli and melted cheese.) I doubt I’ll ever learn to make a burger half as good, so this Labor Day I’ll save myself the work of even trying and let Honor Kitchen & Cocktails grill one up for me. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

Burning Man/Chilling Woman

As any longtime resident of San Francisco knows, Labor Day Weekend is the city at its quietest and best. No, it’s not because families are out of town on one last summer hurrah (local schools have been in session for up to two weeks already). And it’s not because there’s a major tech convention happening elsewhere, having led engineers and the colleagues who love ‘em out of our fair city. It’s because this weekend comprises the culminating days of Burning Man, the festival that invokes a mass exodus of San Franciscans to the dusty Nevada desert year after year, leaving the city nice and empty for those of us who’ve stayed. This means: easier restaurant reservations (Al’s Place, you’ve been playing hard to get but now I’m coming for you)! More plentiful parking (I’m not gonna open Lyft even once)! Paltry wait times at artisanal ice cream shops (I haven’t dared brave the 30-minute line at Bi-Rite Creamery with my kids in ages, but this weekend we’ll only have to wait for a fraction of the time)! A more chill scene at my local Dolores Park (the weekend warrior activity will be more playground-friendly and less tallboys-and-vapes ‘til sundown!). And a host of other semi-spontaneous urban activities that I’ll now feel freer to take on, just for a few days. I’ll enjoy every uncrowded moment, until the playa-covered vehicles roll back into town on Monday and the car wash wait times begin to tick up. —Jessica Mordo, associate digital director

I’m Holding On to the Last of Summer with This Mango Sticky Rice Ice Cream

I refuse to acknowledge the fact that Labor Day marks the end of summer, despite the incoming early sunsets and start of pumpkin spice latte season telling me so. I’m holding onto the last of beach days, picnics, and outdoor hikes with this Mango Sticky Rice ice cream from San Diego-based shop Stella Jean’s. The shop’s “ice cream magician” Gan Suebsarakham makes plant-based flavors like this fruity sticky rice one, but also makes more decadent flavors like Earl Grey Tea Citrus Fruit Cake and S’mores. I’ve never been more jealous of San Diegans in my life. —Maya Wong, assistant editor