on the road: San Francisco

21 Sep

Both halves of She said, She said hit the road the second weekend in September for a mini-trip to San Francisco. While in San Francisco, we spent money on a total of two things:

1. public transportation
2. food

Seriously. We didn’t shop. We didn’t do anything touristy/sight-seey (that cost us money). We didn’t go to any concerts or shows or enter any museums or anything. We walked. We rode. We ate. More on the eating in a moment…but first, a little travelogue history.

The last time Jen and I traveled together was a 3 week post-college graduation trip to Spain in 1999. Prior to that, we had spent an entire semester together in Spain in 1998. We travel well together, even though the combination of the two of us seems to always ignite some “this is happening BECAUSE IT’S US” travel snafus. So here we are, TEN years after the last time we traveled together, and we’re off to San Fran with our spouses. {{Why did it take us 10 years to take another trip together?? I really do not know. But since we have the every-ten-years pattern going on, we’ve already decided on Espana 2019.}}

So, what DID we do in San Fran? We strolled around. We walked up lots of hills. We saw the requisite Fisherman’s Wharf and the Pier 39 sea lions. We took a ferry to Sausalito for an afternoon. We dealt with a nut-job lying across the Muni tracks, stalling our trip back to our flat and causing us to get stuck inside a subterranean public transportation tunnel. You know, the usual. Our main goal of the trip was basically just to eat food and try out some new restaurants, and I can proudly say we accomplished that task. Here’s a little review of our culinary tourism, San Francisco style.

COLE VALLEY…

Zazie. French and YUM. Anne says: This place got a double, triple, quadruple thumbs up from our traveling party. (And I’m quite certain I can speak for them when I say this.) Located right in our Cole Valley neighborhood, we just had to go twice for breakfast. I was blown away by the gastronomical heaven that was their menu. It was very difficult deciding what to order…it all was so good. Jen Says: Can I go here every day? I can’t stop thinking about the gingerbread pancakes covered in lemon curd. If you go to one place in San Fran, this should be it.

Jen’s cup-o-fruit
IMG_0109

French Toast Tahiti (Brette)
IMG_0112

Mexican Egg Scramble (Pat)
IMG_0111

Gingerbread Pancakes with Lemon Curd (Jen)
IMG_0113

La Boulange. Again French, and again YUM. Anne says: This is a little bakery/coffee shop also serving breakfast and lunch meals.  Pastries: EXCELLENT. Breakfast: EXCELLENT. Lunch: EXCELLENT. Why can’t a place like this be around the corner from my house? Jen says: How about equidistant between your house and mine? Any place that serves their homemade granola with thick plain greek yogurt gets high marks in my book.  Plus, the coffee was absolutely delightful.

Say Cheese. Cheese shop directly across from where we stayed. They also sell meats, chocolates, bottled drinks, fancy crackers, etc. We got sandwiches to go on the day we flew out of SF. Anne says: Although I was called out as a midwesterner from the way I said “bag”, the service was friendly and upbeat, and sandwich portions were generous and the flavors delicious. Jen says: the proximity of this place was very convenient. If I lived there, I would be buying meats and cheeses there A LOT. My salami/provolone/roasted red pepper sandwich was sizable and worth every bite.

FISHERMAN’S WHARF…

Boudin Bakery. We stopped here for a refreshment the afternoon we strolled Fisherman’s Wharf. Anne says: someone requested a small taste of the sourdough so I purchased a 1 lb. loaf. Everyone moaned and groaned about its size, but we managed to pack away a substantial portion, and nibbled on the remains for the rest of the trip. Jen says: Hi, I’m Jen and I ate a substantial portion of the loaf after moaning and groaning over the size.

IMG_0033IMG_0034

FERRY BUILDING…

Ciao Bella Gelato. They sell gelato. Anne says: I’m always leery of gelato after experiencing the real deal in Italy. But I was having an ice cream craving this late-morning, so I decided to go for a double-scoop of coconut and chocolate. And it was GOOD, really good. Jen says: I actually passed on this only because I had no room at the time. I have had their gelato before and stole a bite of Anne’s. She’s right – it was really good.

Market Bar. American fare. Fabulous location on the Embarcadero in the Ferry Building, but on a Saturday night was surprisingly not-busy. Anne says: The dining area was nice, but our waiter was odd and something about the atmosphere didn’t quite work for me. The company that night was fabulous, however!! Food was decent to good from what I could tell, although I ordered the hamburger which the waiter did NOT recommend. I also ordered a Coke and received a $5 Mexican coke in a bottle that was then poured into a glass with ice. Shameful. Jen says: I wanted the burger that Anne ordered, but opted against it after the waiter turned up his nose. My halibut was good, but nothing memorable. Brette was very happy with his cioppino, however. The location is really stellar and with the right menu and atmosphere, I think it could be great. Could be.

LITTLE ITALY…

Bocce. Italian. Neat ambiance as you walk in through a garden-like pathway. As we were sitting at our table someone commented that the restaurant felt hauntingly similar to an Old Spaghetti Factory*. Anne says: I ordered the chicken parmesan. And the rating I give to my dish is “meh” to “poor.” The chicken was tough and felt like it had been nuked a few minutes too long. The pasta was unremarkable. And the sauce seemed to have been poured out of a can. I was not impressed. *Two days later- while dining at Zazie- Pat picks up a San Fran tourism book and reads that Bocce used to be the site of the Old Spaghetti Factory. Jen says: Two thumbs down on this place for me. I think it was the cheesy musical entertainers (think Will Farrel and Ana Gastyer on SNL as the musical duo Marty and Bobbi Culp) coupled with the meh food. My cioppino was not what I was expecting and coming with a side of pasta seemed a bit off to me.

Mara’s Italian Pastries. The sub-par meal described above was followed by cannolis and gelato at this tiny cafe. Anne says: I’m bummed I thought I was too full that night to get something. It all looked really yummy. Jen says: This place was a repeat for Brette and I and for good reason – they make awesome pastries and they were packed at 11 p.m. Think classic Italian pastries (cannolis, tiramisu, palmiers), coffee, gelato, and all out yumminess.  My dark chocolate gelato made up for meh meal. It was heaven. Brette says: Mmmmm….tasty. He’s a big fan of the cannolis.

CHINATOWN/FINANCIAL DISTRICT…

City View Restaurant. Chinese Dim Sum. Nice, clean, spacious. Anne says: I was admittedly a tiny bit afraid of eating dim sum. IMG_0067Plates full of Chinese mystery food being offered at the table? Definite possibility for sketchiness and gastrointestinal distress. And then when we were walking through China Town and all those horrible odors were emanating from the Chinese markets…gah. I was a little afraid. But City View is actually in the Financial District as opposed to the heart of Chinatown. They had nice clean white table linens, an open restaurant space, and a definite fresh and non-sketchy vibe that I immediately approved of. The waitresses were immediately at our table offering us plates of food, and most everything I tasted was very yummy. No scary mystery meat; no gastrointestinal distress afterwards. I thought my first dim sum experience was quite fun…and entertaining. Half the fun was watching the other patrons in the restaurant enjoy their meals. Jen says: This was my second time having dim sum in Chinatown and although I enjoyed the food at both places, City View was a million times cleaner and more comfortable than the other place (whose name or location neither Brette or I can remember).  I’m a big fan of the steamed pork buns.

JBdimsum Patdimsum

MARINA/COW HOLLOW…

Betelnut. Asian cuisine, served family-style. Fun atmosphere, hard to get a reservation. Anne says: I thought everything we ordered here was delicious. I enjoyed being served one dish at a time so you could savor each separately. The green tea served in a cute teapot was also quite lovely. Jen says: Besides being fun to say, Betelnut serves up flavorful Asian dishes. My faves were the glazed pork short ribs and the Sri Lankan “claypot” curried fish with eggplant & green beans. I would recommend it to anyone headed out to Cali.

Final thoughts:

Jen says: I think I’m still in detox mode trying to get used to normal caloric levels after the trip. San Francisco is most definitely a foodie-destination that I could easily visit on a regular basis.

I have no regrets on 3+ days of eating, wandering, public transporting and hanging out with my best buds.  I can’t wait for 2019.

(we always look super hot when we travel together, too)

JASF

9 Responses to “on the road: San Francisco”

  1. Carin September 22, 2009 at 7:57 am #

    You have to have a cannoli….I think I got grief for wanting a cannoli in Little Italy..but they were so good. I loved reading your post on San Fran, makes me want to pack BK up and head there this weekend!

  2. Brette September 22, 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    The bread pudding pancakes at Zazie are also worth noting. Not sure how you make a pancake taste like bread pudding, but they did it.

  3. Sarah September 22, 2009 at 2:30 pm #

    Enjoyed reading about your San Francisco adventures! Now I’m hungry! :) And cute pic of the two of you too, by the way!

  4. BK September 22, 2009 at 8:26 pm #

    I am with Carin, wish our plane was going to San Fran tomorrow instead of Philly. I do need to put a vote in for the old school Dim Sum we did last year. There were valid questions, but I am a traditionalist! You should have to rough it for Dim Sum!

  5. natalie September 25, 2009 at 11:38 pm #

    my friend used to work at Zazie.. many a fabulous brunch there. So glad you made it to Betelnut!

  6. Cat September 26, 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    Loved the scoop on your San Fran trip. I love that city, although I do not recall going to any of the restaurants that you did. I will have to remember those the next time I go!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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