I am very late with this review but life has gotten in the way and I am a procrastinator. We had a short trip to San Francisco in May to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary and followed it up by continuing on to Cancun. We had wonderful food and some great drinks but it was seeing old friends that made the trip.
We stayed with a good friend who lives on the Noe Valley and Mission border. Do you folks in San Francisco know how good you have it? I’m sure you do. Within a 10 block radius, there are some of the best restaurants and bars I have ever had the chance to visit. Food paradise. If I could sum the trip up in one word, it would be overindulgence, but in a wonderful way! We hit up some of our favorite spots and discovered a few new ones. If you are a food lover, and I assume you are if you are on this site, you can’t go wrong with this itinerary.
Went to Tacolicious for lunch. I know this place doesn’t get a ton of love but we thought it was fantastic. There is nothing remotely close to Mexican where I live (Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada) so that adds a few bonus points to any Mexican restaurant. Really though, who can resist tacos and margaritas, especially as your first meal in San Francisco. We shared the shot-and-a-beer braised chicken, cochinita pibil, traditional carnitas and chicken en mole Colorado tacos and a couple of pitchers of house margaritas. Really loved the habanero salsa with the chips. Great first start!
Had a drink at Monk’s Kettle before supper. I am a big beer fan so I was looking forward to this place. IPAs with huge hops are my favorites. I had a Hop flight that was decent but not outstanding. This was a great neighborhood bar and I’m sure we would be regulars.
Supper was at Incanto, which was as good as always. I love this place but my wife was a bit nervous with the innards and all. I’m not a huge innards fan myself but the food at Incanto is very approachable and always great, at least in the visits I have gone. Nice to see Chris Cosentino in the kitchen. We had the asparagus with blood sausage, Fava beans, radish & pecorino Lucano, a small salumi platter, Handkerchief pasta & rustic pork ragù, Rotelli, dandelion pesto, pinenuts & pecorino, Pork shoulder, turnips, oranges & mizuna and Spring lamb, cardoons, radish, olives & mint. Not innards heavy to appease my wife. We also had way too many drinks, which was also a trend on this trip. After way too many margaritas at lunch, drinks before supper, drinks with supper, and a long flight to start the day, we were very tired after this one. Great first day in the Bay Area!
Went to Tartine Bakery for breakfast. The morning bun was great but was very disappointed in the coffee and severely overcooked frangipane croissant. Still this place is a given if you are in the area.
Grabbed the bus to the Academy of Science. What a great spot. The kids would have loved it. Toured around for the morning then went to lunch at The Moss Room inside the Academy of Science. I had a little gem salad with various beans, bacon and tarragon vinaigrette. Wife had a beet and arugula salad. The salads were good but the star was the vegetarian spring rolls we shared. Crispy spring rolls you wrapped in lettuce leaves with mint, glass noodles and a fantastic dipping sauce. One of the best museum meals we have ever had.
Spent the afternoon shopping at Union Square. Had an unremarkable coffee at Mocca down Maiden Lane.
Joined our friends and went to a neighborhood bar, Moby Dick for a drink before supper. They serve mini Jif peanut butter containers to go with the pretzels at the bar. That was a first for me. So many great bars in San Francisco.
Had a wonderful supper at Frances. Our friends are regulars here so we had some special treatment, which was nice. We had the best seats in the house in the front window table. Tried almost the entire menu. Started with the Panisse Frites, Charred Spring Onion Dip, and the Applewood Smoked Bacon Beignets. The Panisse Frites were out of this world good. No idea how Chef Melissa Perello could make them so creamy on the inside with the lightest yet crispy coated. Could eat them all day long. For the next course we had another little gem salad with avocado, beets and kumquats, the warm spinach salad with bacon vinaigrette, the Dungeness crab risotto and a great asparagus soup. The soup and the kumquats in the salad stood out. Main courses we had the bavette steak, quail with wilted baby kale salad and halibut with smoked fingerling potatoes. We also had a side order of spring onion and faro gratin. This was amazing. Think French onion soup minus the soup. So good. For dessert we shared the chocolate almond clafoutis. That salted caramel ice cream was to die for. Overall a fantastic meal and I think a must if you can get reservations.
Went to Knead Patisserie for breakfast. Had the pomme d’amore, cinnamon roll, Lemon Ricotta Poptart and honey biscuit. All were great with the pomme d’amore being the standout.
Lunch was at Pizzeria Delfina. We shared the Amatriciana pizza consisting of Guanciale, chili, pecorino, tomato, and black pepper. It was very tasty with a great crust but it was the second course of 3 huge meatballs that stole the show. I wish I could make a meatball that was that flavorful.
We then stopped at Bi-Rite Market to shop then continued down the street to get some ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery. Had the salted caramel and balsamic strawberry. Walked over to Dolores Park to enjoy our ice cream. The flavors were so intense.
Had a beer at the Irish Bank before wandering through Chinatown. Back to the Mission to get ready for supper.
Stopped for a beer at Doc’s Clock, another neighborhood bar. Happened to be their anniversary so beer was dirt cheap. Loved it.
Supper was at Mission Chinese. Put our names on the list then crossed over to Beauty Bar for a drink while we waited. After a short wait, we were seated at Mission Chinese. This place was so good. They do not dumb down the flavors. My tongue was on fire, but in a good way. It was good to go with people who knew what to order. There was no way I would have ordered all the things we tried but I am so glad we did. We ate the Ma Po Tofu, Kung Pao Pastrami, Mongolian Long Beans, Shanghainese Chow Mein, Sizzling Cumin Lamb, a veal dish that was not on the menu and they comped us a clam dish, which while good, was my least favorite. Those long beans had so much Szechuan peppercorns that tongue was numb. Can’t believe how inexpensive this place is for the quality of the food. I would be here all the time if I was a local.
Went to Fiore Caffe for a quick coffee and pastry. The almond croissant and chocolate croissant were very tasty and the coffee nice and strong, better than our experience at Tartine. I’m told that they make many items in house and get others from a place called Filipe’s(?).
Next stop was the much anticipated Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market. This was our regular Saturday routine when we lived in the Bay Area. We got there at a good time before the crowd starting growing. We hit Blue Bottle for some drip coffee first. It was good but very mild, while I prefer my coffee to be stronger. We then got in line for a porchetta sandwich from RoliRoti. It was quite good. But maybe not as earth shattering as the love it gets on this board. I would have liked to try the chicken as they looked great. We then wandered the market taking in all the beautiful produce and wishing we could take it home with us. We grabbed some Secret Breakfast ice cream (bourbon and corn flakes) from Humphry Slocombe. I’m not sure if my taste buds were shot from the night before at Mission Chinese or if the ice cream was very frozen but my tongue tingled the whole time. Loved the market but my only regret was that we were a few weeks short of getting peaches from Frog Hollow. I have dreams about these peaches. Taking a bite and having the juice run down your arm. To me, Frog Hollow peaches sum up California.
We then wandered along the waterfront for a while and the made our way to the Tenderloin for lunch at Shalimar. Unfortunately it wasn’t as great as I remembered. Had the chicken tikka masala, palak paneer, rogan josh, rice and three types of bread (regular naan, garlic naan and aloo paratha). The regaular was the best with the garlic being the worst, as the garlic was basically raw. Not our best stop but not terrible either.
We headed out to Millbrae to check into a hotel for an early morning flight to Cancun to continue the rest of our anniversary trip. A wonderful visit and made me miss California even more. Without a doubt, we will be back.