We're not foodies, so none of the places we went would classify as fashionable or fancy, but the fact that we each gained 5 pounds in five days, even after hillwalking day and night, says much about our happiness as diners in San Francisco.
First off, we never had a single cup of coffee that wasn't amazing. Even the hotel coffee was incredible, so hats off to the REAL coffee experts of America. [Having just realized I have a serious allergy to Starbucks coffee, I am now all about quality espresso and independent, organic roasteries. And no, I'm not neurotic: as soon as I stopped imbibing Starbucks daily, a respiratory and skin ailment cleared...But that's another story.]North Beach, I love you.
We had breakfast twice at Dottie's Blue Ribbon and the long lines outside both times indicated that this place is no "secret." I loved the black bean cakes and homemade salsa and the French toast was killer---and I loved our waiter, a foxy little southern boy who kept the coffee and smiles coming. My partner had a divine thing called Alabama Summer which was French toast COVERED in fresh fruits.
After an intrepid, possibly misguided strut through the worst part of the Mission nabe, we stumbled into a great shop where Martin the proprietor sold us great jewellery and gave us directions to El Toro Taqueria. Definitely delicious, so thanks, Martin. Apparently the old gaydar was flashing brightly this trip: our patron saints were all lovely men and boys and awesome cabbies.
We ate once in Cafe Andree at the Hotel Rex and it was pretty good. We had a terrible meal at US Restaurant in North Beach [Columbus] because Osteria del Forno was packed and didn't offer many pastas that we could see. We'll simpy have to return to SF for a kick-ass pasta meal which I know can be had with the right planning.
Stella pastry shop on Columbus offered up incredible machiatto and custard cream horns when we needed a break.
Steps of Rome wasn't bad: nice bright room, good lunch service, perky minestrone and kick-ass taramisu.
Anchor Steam and stiff G&Ts at Vesuvio alleviated our weary walk-fests, too.
Lastly, wine lovers, especially those of you lucky enough to live in CA: you have to try Kathryn Kennedy's Syrah or Cabernet. She has a vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains. You can't visit it a la Sideways [thank god!] but you can sample and sip this awesome wine around SF in select restos. Hotel Rex featured it and let me tell you, it was heaven in a bottle. We took the remainder of our dinner bottle back to the room and savoured it for two days, sad to leave it behind. [Hope the room attendant enjoyed it!!!] We are currently trying to score a bottle or 12 here in Toronto: no easy feat.