The first time I was supposed to travel to San Francisco was in 2009. I had just begun dating my husband; he was in Panama and I was finishing Grad School in New York… It was November and my thesis was due in December. I panicked and I canceled almost last minute on him. He went anyway and –thankfully– was really understanding about my nervousness around the thesis. He sometimes still jokingly throws it in my face, which is fine, honestly… I wouldn’t expect anything less from anyone; but I always regretted not going back then. So when my parents-in-law invited us with them to the West Coast, I was beyond thrilled to get a another chance at visiting San Francisco with Jose!
I have to say, if I had to choose, I’d still choose New York over San Francisco, and L.A., and London, and Berlin, and Copenhagen… Etc. Maybe not over Paris, though! Hehe… I still have many other cities to visit, but I think NYC will always be my number 1. That being said, I can see why Jose loved San Francisco so much. He’s already very hyperactive, so a city as busy as New York just makes him anxious. He needs a city that counteracts his jitters, and San Francisco is chill enough, without falling into the category of boring. There’s a lingering feeling that reminds of The South. I feel there’s a slowness –a calmness– to the way people live in San Francisco. An appreciation of life that sometimes New Yorkers lack because they are too work-driven, no offense. I admire such determination but I also see that it doesn’t come without sacrifice.
I think all together, we might’ve spent about 72 hours in San Francisco, in between Big Sur, Napa and Tahoe. During those days we tried to cover as much as we could. Including the touristy spots, and of course cafés, bars, restaurants and stores.
Here’s a rundown of our trip:
Golden Gate Bridge: We crossed it and saw it from the North on Vista Point. I think the view from the South –either on Fort Point or its vicinity– is better but we didn’t get to go back. I also saw great photos later from Battery Spencer, which is also on the North side of the bridge. If you cross it and are looking for a place to eat in Sausalito, we opted for Osteria Divino which was really, really good. We just randomly picked it out from Google Maps and it turned out to be amazing.
Alamo Square & The Painted Ladies: I kept calling them The Pink Ladies, hahaha! Blame it on Grease Live! Anyway, we had brunch one day at Nopa and then just walked to Alamo Square from there. It’s like a five minute walk. Let me tell you; Nopa was AH-MAY-ZING. You need –I repeat– need to go. We got there before opening time and there was already a two hour wait so, be advised; make a reservation. We got lucky and scored three consecutive seats at the bar, but only after lingering around it like vultures for about 15 minutes. The most memorable thing was a custard french toast. I know, there’s gluten in there. But it sounded too amazing, and I haven’t had a proper, thick french toast in so long I just said “fuck it!”. I popped two of these and ordered them. It was so very worth it; it helped that the pills actually worked and much better than Activated Charcoal. Another great thing about Nopa is the cocktail menu. Order any of them. If you go for brunch, you will get the brunch cocktail menu. Ask for the lunch and dinner menu so you can view their full list of house cocktails. Also around the vicinity of Nopa is The Mill, a bakery and café which serves Four Barrel Coffee. A trip to San Francisco would not be complete without visiting the array of coffee shops in town. Another recommended one is Sightglass.
About a 20 minute walk Southwest of Nopa and Alamo Square is the Haight-Ashbury intersection and all the surrounding vestiges of 1960s era San Francisco. We just walked by and took in the nostalgia. If you walk straight down Haight street towards the West you will reach Golden Gate Park, which brings us to another highlight of our trip: the Conservatory of Flowers. It’s a small greenhouse style building filled with plants that makes for a great way to spend an afternoon relaxing and taking photos. Also in the Golden Gate Park is the de Young Museum, which we didn’t go to but is a nice building as well, and the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
We did a little shopping around Fillmore Street, specifically at Le Labo for a refill and also Aesop to get some allergen free shampoo for me, because apparently now I need gluten-free, soy-free and I-don’t-know-what-else-free shampoo, or else my scalp itches!
Lombard street was really incredible and fun. Great views from the top. I don’t know why anyone would want to live there though. Same goes for the Painted Ladies. Must be so weird to have tourists always outside your door!
A few other places:
20th Century Café
Bon Marché Brasserie & Bar
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse –Cruffins! It was closed due to an electrical issue when we got there, but they were already sold out of everything anyway! Apparently that happens a lot so try to get there early. Yes, I would’ve had a Cruffin, and no I am not ashamed of it.
Yank Sing –such good Dim Sum. Yes, I had some gluten enzymes for that too.
Gracias Madre: be advised it’s nothing like its L.A. counterpart. It was amazing in L.A., terrible in San Francisco. They don’t even have a liquor license, so no tequila Margaritas.
Plow: we tried, and failed. There was a two hour wait. So either make a reservation or don’t go hungry.
Slanted Door –THOSE RIBS!!! I still dream about them. You can tell by my Pinterest Food & Recipes board.
Fraenkel Gallery: really, really amazing roster of artists!
Hopefully I can go back soon and get to know more of S.F., but this is it for now 🙂
Thanks for reading!
Photos of me by Jose Castrellon. All other photos by me.