I totally typed up a post for Thursday Things last week, then I got onto a plane and flew to California and woke up Thursday morning and instead of hitting “Publish” I got into a car and drove from San Francisco to Napa and forgot all about my Thursday Things post. So sorry, guys. Really.
But now I have all new things to tell you about because, in case you weren’t paying attention up there, I WENT TO SAN FRANCISCO! For the first time ever. With Mr. Eats and my bestie.
We did a lot of things, but mostly we ate. We ate so much that I was in pain about 99% of the time. We ate so much that I didn’t even have a chance to think about getting hungry in between meals. We ate SO MUCH that we actually had to give away leftovers from our $50 chicken to a (presumably) homeless guy on the street. Because we could not eat it and had too many more things to eat.
We ate a lot.
10 things I learned in San Francisco:
1. Sharing is caring. Just kidding, I already knew that, but it really lets you try more things. Three of us meant we could each order an item and all of us could try each other’s food. Of course, some applications were better than others, but all in all it worked out.
2. Eating early (even at super hyped up restaurants) will always get you a table. Just eat with the old people, it’s not so bad, really. You don’t really get the ambiance of dining with a crowd, but you don’t get the wait either. *Alternative crowd-avoidance tip* (Almost) everywhere delivers, and if they don’t deliver they offer take-out.
3. A rental car can be worth it – everything you read about SF will tell you not to rent a car. Honestly, I don’t know what we would have done without our rental, particularly because we spent a day up in Napa, and renting the car for 1 or 2 days costs almost the same as renting it for our entire trip so we just went for it and I don’t regret it. *Pro Tip* DO NOT get your rental from the airport – find a place NEAR the airport and save yourself a couple hundred on your rental.
4. If you do have a car, remember that whole part in driver’s ed about parking on hills? Remember how you are supposed to turn your wheels in case your brakes fail? Well, apparently they ticket for that in SF. So, now you’ve been warned.
5. If you travel to SF, go to Yountville. You’ve already traveled that far so for the love of God GO TO YOUNTVILLE AND EAT AT ONE (or all) OF THOMAS KELLER’S RESTAURANTS. Maybe you can’t afford to drop hundreds of dollars at The French Laundry, but you can dine prix fixe for less than $60 a person at Ad Hoc or get a $16 lunch from Addendum.
6. Now that you’ve rented a car and driven to Yountville, take a half day to take a trip to Muir Woods. I’d never heard of this place, but since Mr. Eats had never seen a redwood tree in his life he really wanted to check it out, so we did. As an added bonus, on the drive back I learned that “Otter Crossing” signs are a thing and that basically made my life complete.
7. Go to China Town. It’s enormous and chaotic and impossible to find parking (so take an uber) but make sure you GO TO CHINA TOWN. It’s ridiculous. They sell fresh rainier cherries for less than $2.00 a pound, there’s a dim sum shop and asian bakery on every corner (and in between every corner), the streets are filled with people, and even their Walgreens sells fish sauce.
8. Don’t go in the summer (well, not in this time of year at least). It’s cold and foggy and windy and, hey, did I mention the fog? Apparently it’s something about the ocean and the valley and high and low pressure, but just be prepared for coldness and fog. So much fog. Luckily we had a few minutes with sunshine that we were able to (sort of) catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate bridge. Unfortunately, we couldn’t actually get out of the car to take the picture because the ten parking spots were full and the street was jammed with everyone else who was waiting to snap the perfect pic of the bridge. Here is what it looked like most of the time we were there…
9. Check out the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building downtown. All of the produce I consumed while in San Francisco was beyond amazing, and the farmer’s market was no exception to this.
10. I want to live inside the Ferry Building. Just saying. It has Blue Bottle Coffee, Miette, Humphrey Slocomb, Dandelion Chocolate, and a bajillion more places.
Best things I ate in San Francisco:
1. Everything at Ad Hoc – The menu is different every day (hence the name – “Ad Hoc”) and ours included a chef’s salad, chicken wings, pork chops with polenta and wilted spinach, cheese course, and a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting.
2. The fried chicken at Addendum – For $16 you get an entree (chicken, pulled pork sandwich, or ribs) and two sides. Get the chicken. Drinks are extra (their strawberry lemonade is delicious).
3. The brisket and broccoli at Mission Chinese (excuse the photo – this place is not only poorly lit but it is poorly-lit with red lights). Also recommended: sour chili chicken and spicy beef chow mein.
*Pro Tip* The restaurant is identified by a tiny 8 by 10 piece of paper taped to the window that says “Mission Chinese” – The actual sign says “Lung Shan Restaurant”
4. Totopopos at Nopalito – Everything tortilla chips have ever dreamed of being. They are a bit spicy so grab a horchata or cocktail to cool down your mouth.
5. The Cruffin at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse – This is a very elusive pastry that requires waiting in line not at the bakery’s opening time but about 45 minutes before the cruffins are served. In our case, Sarah was super into the cruffin and took on this task all on her own. After suffering through the line all by herself she was such a kind and generous person that she actually shared some of her cruffin with me (God bless her).
*Pro Tip* There are two lines – the cruffin line and the bakery line. If you go for the cruffin and want another pastry, they will make you go back to the end of the regular bakery line for your non-cruffin baked goods. This is a dick move, but they recommend you “go with a friend” so they can wait in the regular line while you wait in the cruffin line. Cruffins only have 1 flavor daily so you get what you get.
Also recommended – any of their donuts
6. The Dandelion Chocolate Chef’s Tasting – we were so full that we even split this three ways and were satisfied.
Also recommend: S’more, Praline Mousse, Nibbun
7. Zuni Cafe’s roasted chicken “for 2” – Which can actually serve way more than 2… It’s like a whole freakin’ chicken guys.
*Pro Tip* The chicken takes an hour to make (after you order it) so grab a caesar salad and/or some fries to share while you wait.
8. Bi Rite Creamery – Creme Brulee – Also recommend: TCHO Chocolate, Blue Bottle Coffee, Cookies & Cream, Brown Sugar with Ginger Caramel Swirl (but really, all are good)
*Pro Tip* Just east (like a couple yards) of the Bi Rite shop on 18th Street is a Bi Rite window that serves soft serve. They have two ice cream flavors, toppings, cones, and a specialty “sundae of the day” – you will want to check this out also.
- Blue Bottle Coffee – several locations
- Humphry Slocomb – Salted Caramel, Secret Breakfast, Cinnamon Brittle, Eton Mess (again, all are great)
- Bouchon Bakery (Yountville) – Bouchon “Oh Oh”, Chocolate Eclair, TKO, any of their coffee drinks
- Saint Frank – Coffee Flight
- Jane Bakery – Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookie (also available at Saint Frank coffee)
- Plow – French Toast (If the wait is super long, go ahead and skip it)
- Boccalone Salumeria (Ferry Building) – cured meats and sandwiches – Prosciutto Cotto hot sandwich (*Note: We all regretted not trying the salami cold sandwich)