Ahh San Francisco, I can see why so many people fall in love with you. I sure took to your funky spirit and hidden gems tucked away in the most unsuspecting places.
The last time I visited San Francisco I hit the main attractions like visiting Fisherman’s Warf, Lombard Street, eating chowder from a bread bowl, and experiencing a terribly stressful, yet rewarding meal at a Chinese dim sum restaurant. But this time around, I was lucky enough to have an old friend take me around the city on a tour perfectly suited to my taste of adventure (literally) – which means a little bit of sight seeing, and a whole lot of eating.
My ultimate goal, to experience something “uniquely San Franciscan.”
So like any true foodie with a sweet tooth, straight from the airport we stopped at Tartine Bakery, where the baked goods can speak for themselves. Honestly, I would have walked right past the shop if it weren’t for the lonely little menu in the window as the bakery’s only identifying feature. The shop is low key, but the pastries are anything but that. Of the many tasty selections displayed behind the glass pane on the counter we decided to try the lemon cream tart and a morning bun. I could have picked one of everything I laid eyes on if my stomach and wallet could afford it.
Once my glucose levels were sufficient, we wandered down Clarion Alley. In my eyes this alley is the epitome of San Francisco. The Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) has a mission “to support and produce socially engaged and aesthetically diverse public art as a grassroots community-based, artist-run organization. CAMP uses “public art as a force for those who are marginalized and a place where culture and dignity speak louder than the rules of private property or a lifestyle that puts profit before compassion, respect, and social justice.” Walking though the alley with this message in mind, the art tells a much more compelling story.
From CAMP we moved onto the Painted Ladies for a quick photo op. The fame of the Painted ladies begs the question of who resides within. Also, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in a home that’s an attraction, or what kind of people live in these homes, or how does one comes to own a home like this? There’s definitely a history lesson there (but that’s for a different non-foodie blog).
Continuing on our art adventure we moved on from the beautiful ladies to the Palace of Fine Arts and the Wave Organ in the Marina District.
Here’s a fun stop for all you fitness junkies – the Lyon Street Steps in Laurel Heights. People run up and down these steps lined with picturesque homes and a grand view of the Marina District. Obviously I’m no fitness junkie, but wait! At the bottom of the steps is the house that was used as a school in the film Princess Diaries! Having a total fan girl moment made climbing 332 steps totally worth it.
With a healthy appetite worked up, it was off to Petit Crenn, my first cozy restaurant in San Francisco. Petit Crenn is owned by Michelin Star restaurant owner and chef, Dominique Crenn. I first heard of Dominique Crenn through the Netflix Original Series, Chef’s Table (a highly recommended series for food lovers and romantics). When I learned where her inspiration for Petit Crenn came from, I knew I had to check it out. You’ll find that this modest shop is worthy of a solo post of its own, among a few other spots.
Refueled by French comfort food, the next stop was the Sutro Baths and a gusty view at Lands End Labrynth. What amazes me is that many of the sights we saw on my first day are actually installments by local artists, (with the exception of the Sutro Baths).
Uniquely San Franciscan indeed, the places we visited endure as a reminder of San Francisco’s spirit of self-expression.
At this point we’ve just begun to hit evening time, so we drove through Golden Gate Park to check out a handful of food trucks at Off the Grid and the California Academy of Science’s Nightlife. Of course I wanted to try the Flilipino fusion food truck, where the Senor Sisig Burrito stuffed with adobo fried rice highlights traditional Filipino flavor in a whole new way. (Also stuffed with sisig pork, pinto beans, lettuce, pico de gallo and a secret cilantro cream sauce.)
My favorite exhibit at the Nightlife event was the Beer Meets Wine exhibit, featuring Calicraft Brewing Company. The beers we tasted were a unique experiment where the fermentation processes of wine and beer were mixed and matched.
But wait, the evening isn’t over yet! The last food stop was probably the best and least expected stop of the day. If I learned anything on this trip, it’s that one cannot judge a restaurant based on its storefront or lack of website…San Tung wings are to die for. Fifteen crispy, sticky, hot chicken wings piled in a to-go box sat on my lap while in the passenger’s seat of the car.
Yes, these wings are so tasty you can eat them in a car parked OUTSIDE the restaurant and still enjoy every second of it.
These wings are so delicious that you will risk burning your mouth to consume them when they are at peak crispiness. A tangy, spicy, chili sauce tingled my nose and made my taste buds go wild. What I really wanted to do was save the leftover sauce to take home and pour over all my other food I had sitting in the fridge…
Last but not least, ending the night on a spectacular view of the City Lights on the Bay Bridge (yes, another art installation).
Good night San Francisco!