Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Food Diary from San Francisco, Part One

Our trip to San Francisco (in May!) was really a food odyssey, with some sights in between meals for good measure. It's a good thing it is such a walkable city, because we consumed SO many calories. We even skipped our last meal - we just couldn't have fit in another bite!

I LOVE that SF'ers love Yelp. We came to town with dozens of recommendations, but we still relied heavily on Yelp for advice on what to sample from menus, or what options were available when our first choice fell through.

E and I have a little travel journal that we take with us on trips and vacations to record where and what we ate and what we saw (you know, so 2 months later when we're looking at photos, we can remind ourselves of what the heck that picture is of!)

(Also, I'm pregnant, so eating ice cream three days in a row is totally acceptable, in case you've forgotten.)

Ratings are starred on a scale of 1-5.

May 22

Paprika: afternoon snack and drink
Mission District
This place gets 5 stars for being quaint, authentic and neighborly. We stopped in for a beer and a snack since we were having a late dinner, and ordered a sample platter with sweet sausage, pickles, sauerkraut and bread and a cheese platter. We sat at a cozy table in the front corner where we could people watch. The service was friendly, the taste was yummy, but be warned! CASH ONLY.

Blue Plate: dinner
Bernal Heights
We picked this place because we wanted a little nicer meal to meet friends, and it was my birthday dinner! While the food was decent and the ambiance was nice, it didn't wow me like many of our other food choices. (And the menu was a little pretentious for us simple people).

What I would recommend is the macaroni and drunken spanish goat cheese - that was the highlight! The chocolate cake for dessert was great too. But my lamb ravioli in fennel broth was really strong and too salty and the smoked trout deviled eggs weren't my thing.

May 23

Blue Bottle Coffee Co: breakfast
Hayes Valley
The pour over coffee was great, but the real star was the New Orleans Style Iced Coffee (loaded with cream and brewed with chicory). It was tasty and unique. This location is fantastic - a warehouse kiosk in a manicured alley. We happened here just because we were taking a bike tour located in the same alley. The only downside? No bathroom!

SeƱor Sisig Food Truck: lunch
Off the Grid: Civic Center

Our bike tour stopped at a food truck event for lunch right across the street from City Hall. We opted for our tour guide's recommendation of this filipino/mexican fusion truck and it did not disappoint. Between a California burrito and carne asade filipino fries, were in a heart attack heaven! Nom.

Smitten Ice Cream: snack
Hayes Valley
It's ice cream made while you watch with liquid nitrogen. It was a bit of tourist trap. The ice cream was good (I've never tasted such an herby mint!) and the experience was novel, but it wasn't our favorite SF ice cream experience.

San Tung: dinner
Inner Sunset (read: way the heck out of the way)
DUDE. Chinese food was at the top of my priority list when coming to SF, but I was terrified about wandering into Chinatown and making a random choice. So we asked our local friend to take us, and I was very skeptical when the restaurant was nowhere near Chinatown. But it was SO WORTH IT. Our friend warned us about a long wait and terrible service, and had we not had that warning, this would probably be a very different review. The food was so amazing and the service was so aloof it was comical. I would recommend going with friends because it really made the time go by quickly and pleasantly while waiting forever to be seated, get food and get drink refills. The star of this are the dry fried chicken wings. I would have eaten my weight in them and nothing else. But we also loved the black bean noodles, mu shu pork, and mongolian beef.
Make sure you put your name on the dry erase board when you walk in (no hostess). And do not make the rookie mistake of visiting San Tung #2 next door, it's not the same restaurant!

May 24

Sightglass Coffee:breakfast
SoMa (South of Market)
The cappuccinos were fabulous and I loved my chocolate croissant. The vibe is very industrial urban hipster with lots of burlap, exposed pipes and concrete, but it seemed like a really neighborly place where locals gathered and it was a nice stop on our long walk to farm:table.
We took home their "Owl's Howl" espresso roast. YUM.


Farm:Table: brunch
Tenderloin District
A hidden gem on an unassuming street in a weird area of town (crack central!), but the food is locally sourced and delicious. They have a small menu for each meal and one communal table inside, with limited seating in a parklet right outside the door. You're forced to at least acknowledge your fellow patrons. A culinary highlight here was the house juice. I would pay a lot of $ to have that stuff shipped up to my door. It was some concoction of fresh-squeezed orange, grapefruit, apple and who knows what else but it was SO DELICIOUS.


Farmer's Market: lunch
Ferry Landing
We like farmer's markets and we like snacking. This was a really fun thing to do and place to eat. We ended up just stopped by 5-10 vendors and picking up little snacks like beef jerky, cheese, fruit, bread and pastries. Also a great place for designer stroller scoping.

Pizzeria Delfina: dinner
Mission District
The thin, crispy brick oven pizza gets a 4.5 stars (you have to love arugula!), but mediocre service, and a teeny tiny restaurant where people were knocking wine glasses into their neighbors laps (yes this really happened) brought this down to a three stars. The wine menu was pretty pricey for it being a casual pizzeria. We shared two pizzas with leftovers, (you definitely need more than one pizza for two people). Next time I would pick up the pizza to go!

Bi-Rite Creamery: dessert
Mission District
 This legendary ice cream shop came highly recommended and we were well-warned of the long lines. The line was a couple of blocks long, but it was less than 30 minute wait and it was well worth it. Their famous salted caramel I could take or leave, but here are my top three flavors (yes, we came back two more times)
  • Ricanelas (cinnamon ice cream with snicker doodle chunks)
  • Malted Vanilla
  • Coffee Toffee
Honorable mentions to Roasted Banana and Hazelnut.

I still have two and a half more days of eating to report on, so stay tuned!


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