A few of my friends have headed to San Francisco lately so I’ve been copy/pasting an email lots. I figured I’d just put it on the blog and point folks there. So here goes – some of my favorite places in San Francisco.
- Toronado. One of my top 5 beer bars in the world.
- Rosamunde. Awesome sausage stand next to Toronado.
- Hama Ko. Tiny sushi place that’s celebrated for its food and atmosphere.
- House of Nanking. Chinese place in Chinatown that will make you feel like a local.
- Stinking Rose. Garlic themed restaurant, if you’re into that.
- Bourbon and Branch. It’s a speak easy. The password is “books”.
- Go see a SF Giants, Oakland A’s or SF 49ers game. I wouldn’t recommend going to see the Raiders, though, unless you’re a big fan.
I was in San Francisco – one of my favorite cities – this week and went to a Filipino restaurant out there. I had no idea what to expect from the food – I was guessing pork-based or heavy on the seafood with Spanish influences. But beyond that I wasn’t sure.
If you can read the menu you can see that it is pork and fish based with Spanish influences. But they’ve also got some stuff that I’ve never seen on a menu before. Like paella with squid ink rice and squid flakes. And grilled cuttlefish stuffed with a fresh salsa-like concoction.
Everything was excellent. My favorite was the cuttlefish. It was less chewy than squid typically is with a little more flavor. You could taste the grilledness in it and the salsa fresca was excellent. The squid ink gave the paella a slight sea taste, though not quite fishy.The squid flakes were dried tentacles and were slightly crunchy.
…and boy are my legs tired! Ah yes, San Francisco, that wonderful peninsula and surrounding area which has more than 50 hills within the city limits. From which the dot-com revolution had its equivalent of the cosmological inflationary period. The legendary Haight-Ashbury area, formerly home to beat poets and radical hippies, has been transformed in the same manner as the Die Hard series of movies: A once great institution now mostly only good for outrageous incongruence and mocking. The Castro district, a place Fidel would almost certainly avoid…not that there’s anything wrong with it.
Mark Twain said about the city “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Unfortunately, that’s not true this week as temperatures are hitting the mid 80s and low 90s. But then I’m in the middle of the city, not on the north side where the pacific breeze tends to keep the climate more moderate. Microclimates are plentiful in the city by the bay, and there can be a 10 degree (F) temperature swing just on the peninsula. Going inland can be more than twice that.
If you’ve never been out here, you could come for a month and not see it all. Becoming friends with a local will really help out with that. Alcatraz is cool and the Golden Gate bridge is pretty, but ditch the tourist trail as soon as you can and head out on your own to explore. Budget accommodations tend to be abundant in certain areas of the city, but be forewarned that you get what you pay for. Don’t expect to be pampered for under a couple of hundred bucks. On the mainland your luck is better for finding affordable places that are decent, and you can take BART back into the city.
I don’t have time to run down all of the great stuff that I’ve done here, but I want to highlight some cool things I’ve done here.
- In the Haight, track down a sausage shop called Rosamunde’s and get one of their gourmet sausages cooked up and grab a beer at the Toronado next door while you’re waiting for your secret knock on the wall to tell you your sausage is ready.
- Head out to Muir Woods (no relation) and hike through the redwoods. They are magnificent. Legend has it that there is a private biergarten somewhere that occasionally allows non-members in.
- Wine tours in the local areas are a fantastic way to ruin your palate for the $10 special at the grocery store. No more Thunderbird after that. Make sure you have a designated driver, too. I recommend Coppola and Miner wineries.
- Bay to Breakers annual run is awesome. What do you get when you take thousands of weirdos, dress them in costume, pump them full of alcohol, and tell them to run up and down hills for 7+ miles? QED, the answer is in the question. It is pure hilarity. Mix in some people in salmon costumes who start at the end of the course and swim upstream for added chaos.
- Alcatraz night tour. It’s way better than the day tour – kind of spooky. Still touristy, but it’s got a fascinating history.
So anyway, that’s my quick list. Here are some additional notes about accommodations, places to eat, etc.
- DeLessio cafe is a great place to grab breakfast or lunch.
- The Metro Hotel has friendly and knowledgeable staff, a great location, and is cheap. I won’t promise anything more about it than that.
- The Travelodge is a really cheap place to stay and they have parking onsite for an extra $10. Definitely better than getting ticketed or towed on the side streets.
- The Independent is a decent place to see a show. I went and watched Johnny Lloyd Rollins, Ki Theory, Silver State, and South. Good bands, all.
- Nick and I walked the Bay to Breakers course and back. A great time was had by all.