Thursday, January 9, 2014

worlDCrave: San Francisco

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In case you missed my live blogging, this holiday season I met my dad in San Francisco for a week of eating and drinking our way through San Francisco. Over the week we explored numerous neighborhoods throughout the city, had amazing and adventurous meals, and even took a day trip out to Napa.  

Since most of my trip was based on the recommendations of friends and family, I thought it my civic duty to share my San Francisco recommendations with you!  Since I already wrote the reviews, you can click the links to read more about each restaurant or experience! We mostly avoided the tourist spots, so if this is your first trip to SF, you should probably pair this with a more traditional "to do" list. 

I arrived on Christmas eve a few hours before my Dad and beelined immediately for an amazing cafe for lunch on Maiden Lane, right off Union Square.

Mocca Cafe had tons of fresh salads, pastas, sandwiches, and entrees.  It was the perfect place to relax, enjoy the fresh produce that San Francisco is known for, and kick off my live blogging foodie adventure.

Once my Dad arrived, we wandered around the shopping opportunities offered in and around Union Square.  

At happy hour time, we relied on Yelp to find us a place with delicious cocktails. Those reliable Yelpers led us to The Burritt Room - just a few blocks off Union Square on the second floor of the Mystic Hotel.  We never would have found this place on our own, but the drinks were creative and delicious, the bartenders friendly, and the atmosphere inviting - with live music for Christmas Eve.  

For dinner the first night we had a fancy shmancy Italian meal at Perbacco in the Financial District. 

This was high end dining at its best -- high-quality delicious food without the stuffy atmosphere.  Although we were both a little jet lagged, the food was outstanding.  If you're in SF for work or play, this is a perfect place for a splurge. 

On Christmas Day, we hopped on a bus up to the Haight Ashbury district and walked down hippie-lined Haight Street. Even though the stores were all closed, we definitely got a sense of the neighborhood.  

From Haight Street we walked over to Golden Gate Park where we spent the next few hours exploring the trails, Botanical Gardens and Redwood Forrest. 

Our goal was to make it through the park to the Pacific Ocean, but the park was surprisingly huge!  Turns out that map was really not drawn to scale! 

After hours of wandering in the park, we ended up taking the MUNI out to the beach.  There really is nothing like putting your toes in the sand - especially in December! 

As a side note, the MUNI (municipal bus and rail system) is incredible. For $2 a day, we were able to ride all around town and get anywhere we wanted. 

For dinner on Christmas day, we decided to check out San Francisco's famous Chinatown. Apparently, so did everyone else.  It was insane, but totally worth the crowds and the wait.  E&Y was some of the best Szechuan cuisine I've ever sampled.

The next day we spent time wandering around the Mission neighborhood. We loved wandering down Valencia Street and checking out the restaurants, coffee shops, and little boutiques.  We first stopped for a coffee at the packed Four Barrel Coffee.  Even though it was the day after Christmas, the huge crowds made me wonder whether anyone in this town works in an office.  

After a little more window shopping we stopped for a burrito lunch at El Toro Taqueria

It was absolutely delicious and pretty inexpensive.  

We then wandered over to Delores Park where we watched (from afar) as a lot of hipsters enjoy their day off with picnics and a lot of MJ. 

After the Mission, we took the MUNI over to a neighborhood called Hayes Valley.  The neighborhood is just one small street of shops, but we had fun wandering and each bought some new shades. 

That night we returned to one of my all time favorite restaurants in the world - Frances

I ate at Frances once before, in 2010, and it was just as good as I remembered. It's a tiny little place with minimalist decor, but the food speaks for itself. It's California-style American cuisine with a focus on local organic ingredients.  The food is a little pricey, but the wine is cheap.  They offer a carafe of wine for $1 per ounce.  You pay for what you drink- brilliant concept.  

The next day we took a day trip out to Napa for some wine tasting! Read all about our awesome driver and adventure in the wine country here!      

On our last day in San Francisco, we started off by checking out the farmer's market at the Ferry Building on the wharf

To say this market had everything is an understatement.  Stalls ranged from fresh produce and flowers, to prepared dips and cheese, to full on prepared meals.  You could take your food over to a picnic bench or dine inside at some of the nicer restaurants.  

After a lot of wandering and a lot of free samples, I settled on dumplings and shrimp wonton soup from a Chinese stall called Chino!

If you are in SF on a Saturday, you absolutely must check out the farmer's market.  

After the Farmers Market, we left the wharf area and made our way over to the Marina and the Pacific Heights ("Pac Heights") neighborhoods. These were both adorable neighborhood filled with cafes, high end boutiques, restaurants, and vintage shops.  We reached both neighborhoods on the MUNI and had a ton of fun just shopping around.

For our last meal we went to TBD in the SOMA (South of Market) neighborhood.  If nothing else, I can say that this was a unique experience.  

I am a little bummed to admit that our last meal in San Francisco was actually really disappointing, but it's just a testament to how intense and competitive the food scene is in SF.  

TBD aside, this was an amazing week filled with surprisingly warm weather, beautiful vistas, quality time with Pops, and lots and lots of delicious food!

If you're planning a trip out to SF, I seriously hope you check out some of these spots!

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