Last weekend, I visited the Bay Area. This post summarizes my food and other worthwhile experiences.
My flight from Orange County to San Francisco was delayed. I missed out on dinner at Limon Rotisserie. In a daze of disorientation caused by the plane flight, BART ride, and my emergence into the Mission, I remember my friend Jake ordering two pork pupusas from a street vendor on the way to his apartment. Without thinking, I quickly scarfed down one pupusa. Before I ate the second one, I remembered that Jake asked for some cabbage to go along with the pupusas. In my delirious state, I could discern that adding the cabbage to the pupusa balanced out the greasiness. Light-up bocce ball, rum, and large rats in Dolores Park occupied the rest of the night. As our bocce ball game progressed, I found myself thinking that I could eat two or three more pupusas. Finally, sleep overcame my infatuation for more pupusas and I woke up the next morning ready to explore the city.
Our first stop of Saturday morning was Tartine Bakery in the Mission district. Famous for long lines and croissants, Tartine delivered with a fantastic almond croissant, an acceptable pan au chocolate, questionable pan au jambon, and pleasant 10-minute line. After breakfast, we took advantage of the sunny day by walking through Clarion Alley and admiring the murals that blanket both sides of the street.
I soon realized that two pastries for breakfast, no matter the quality, would not keep my stomach occupied until lunch. A friend mentioned that he wanted to meet up for lunch, and he decided on 4505 Meats, a butcher shop that serves local animals. 4505 Meats has more than one location; geography caused our lunch meetup failure. Slightly discouraged, we (Jake, Rachel [Jake's girlfriend], and I) ate mediocre locally-sourced hot dogs from 4505 Meats since we were already there. I also bought a duck stick. More on this later.
4505 Meats publicly displays the tags from the lots they receive.
Now is later. It was time to see some landmarks. Jake and Rachel tourguided me to Land’s End, where the land ends at the Pacific Ocean. After some time hiking, I was hungry and discovered the duck stick that I purchased earlier from 4505. I ate the spicy concoction of pork, duck livers, and duck hearts and was fueled for the remainder of Land’s End exploration.
I am a ship captain.
On the hike, I reminisced about pupusas from the night before. Jake told me the restaurant is called Panchita’s, and the late-night pupusa lady is famous. Looking back, I imagine that many a successful night concluded with pupusas on 16th Street.
We had Saturday dinner with one of Jake’s college friends at Monk’s Kettle. Twas chilly while we ate our dinner on the patio. I ordered us tasty corned beef and hash mushy croquettes and odd cornmeal-fried oysters. My main course was not-the-best burger of my life, but I left satisfied.
Sunday’s breakfast was at yet another bakery, Thorough Bread and Pastry. I ordered an almond croissant from the cleverly-named pastry shop. We ate breakfast early because one of Jake’s friends planned a hiking trip to Hood Mountain, located near Santa Rosa. For those of you unfamiliar with geography, Santa Rosa is north of San Francisco, about an hour’s drive north over the Golden Gate Bridge. We ate lunch on top of a rock near the peak.
Following our hike, we drove to the final destination on our mini-trip: Old Redwood Brewing Company in Windsor, CA. Jake’s friends were part of the brewery’s beer club where they score a case of beer to split every month. Possibly caused by exhaustion from the 7.5-mile hike, the first beer I tasted went down easily for a guy that doesn’t like beer. I think I like wheaty beers best.
I shared Sunday dinner with a college friend at Namu Gaji, down the street from Mission San Francisco. Pickled beef tongue, wagyu tartare, mushroom dumplings, and okonomiyaki made for a quality dinner. Next door to Namu Gaji, I found a Bi-Rite ice cream shop, where I ordered fantastic basil ice cream.
On Monday morning, I said goodbye to San Francisco by eating breakfast at Craftsman & Wolves, a super-hip bakery recommended to me by my former coworker, Gordon. I tried the Rebel Within, a mindblowing savory muffin with a soft-boiled egg inside, and a morning bun, while listening to Spanish music.
The Rebel Within
The remaining morning on Monday was spent taking BART to Berkeley. I had a date at 11:30, but since I had time to kill, I perused a used bookstore on Telegraph and picked up some books in which I’d been interested: The China Study, The 4-Hour Body, and Foundation.
My date at 11:30 was with myself at Chez Panisse, Alice Waters’s famous restaurant. Jake used to work as a wine runner at Chez during college, and he recommended that I eat at Chez Panisse Cafe for lunch. I luckily scored a reservation for 1. I had a pleasant experience at the original restaurant of California cuisine while surrounded by well-dressed older folks and a professional wait staff.
This is for real.
First course: butter lettuce with smoked salmon and dill.
Entrée: Bucatini alla matriciana, one of the best matriciana dishes I’ve had.
Dessert: overpriced lemon curd with cream and fruit sauce.
Monday afternoon, I took BART to CalTrain from Berkeley to Palo Alto to meet up with my sister Michelle, a PhD student at Stanford University. After eating my first non-restaurant meal since Friday lunch, we decided to watch The Hundred-Foot Journey in the theater across campus. The movie left me with an inspired feeling. Charlotte Le Bon is beautiful.
Me gusta public transportation.
A trip summary: I ate at bakeries for breakfasts, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a much better movie than Hot Tub Time Machine, and my sister is smart.