After less than 12 hours in San Francisco in January (only only viewing the Golden Gate Bridge from the air), I knew that I had to return and find out what this place was all about. So, in May, we boarded a plane and flew back to the West Coast, armed with a list of restaurants to kick off, what became known as “The Greedy Food Tour”.
Firstly- the hotel. We stayed at Stanford Court, booked via Expedia. Easy to remember the location: it’s on Nob Hill. From here, you’re able to walk to pretty much anywhere you want to see. Whilst our trip to the West Coast was very much about food, it was accompanied by walking. In San Francisco, this means a lot of hills. So watch out. I had horrific leg cramps by the end of my visit to this city!
Once again, I came armed with a list of restaurants from the Foodie Friend. Many were fish based- which makes total sense in San Francisco- but as one of us has a fish allergy, they had to be dropped off the list! However, what you do get in San Francisco is some fantastic Asian food, great Mexican food and just a different standard of quality for food. There feels more of a focus on healthy living and food tastes fresher!
Things to see in San Francisco: I am not going to give you any kind of “undercover” guide to the city, because I don’t feel like we did all the “staple” tourist spots. However, there are a few things that you are supposed to see, which you can easily grab from any guidebook. We walked along from the Ferry Terminal, all the way round to Ghirardelli Square, where you can get a great view of the bridge. The walk is flat, which is a welcome relief after all the hills, and there is a spot that sort of juts out into the sea, so you can get a great view. You can also take in the obligatory Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39- along with the sea lions. Then you can walk uphill to see the Mission District. Honestly- and maybe this says more about me- but my memories of our time in San Francisco is more about the food, than the tourist attractions!
So, our first stop for lunch was Tacolicious. From the hotel, it’s about a mile and you can walk through Chinatown, which is fantastic. We ordered drinks: a Silas (lemon, lime, fizzy water and mint) and a Corona (the woman warned: “This isn’t a standard Corona”-take a look at the size of the bottle!)
Chips and dip came- so fresh, not salty and greasy like chips from a packet are- and we ordered, of course, tacos. I think I had traditional carnitas, guajillo braised beef short rib, baja-style cod and chorizo and potatoes. It was so relaxing: we sat outside, in the sun, eating great Mexican food! The ethos of the food quality was definitely present here, with the menu claiming: “we use hormone free meats that have been humanely raised, sustainable fish, and whenever possible, local vegetables.” The taste echoed their commitment to the quality of their ingredients!
Before I even get to how good Slanted Door is, I have to mention the place we went to first for a drink, just because I loved the decor, the service and the ambience of the place. Unfortunately, with the fish allergy, we couldn’t eat here (it’s an oyster bar!) It’s the Hog Island Oyster Bar, and it’s just a lovely place to have a pre-dinner glass of Californian wine!
So, Slanted Door. Firstly, if you want to go, make a reservation. You can either do this on their website or via OpenTable. It’s popular, and rightly so! It’s located in the Ferry Terminal and the view is great: you can see the Oakland Oak Bridge and the light show they do each night. The decor is chic, and minimalist and the presentation of the food is stunning. It is expensive, but as an experience to have in San Francisco, it’s up there.
Starters: we had the Slanted Door spring rolls, which have shrimp, pork, mint and peanut sauce. They were beautiful, almost translucent in their appearance. We also had the ribs, which were succulent and simply fell away from the bone. (I think Brits- at least I- view ribs as dry and chewy, like the kind you get from the Chinese takeaway! But ribs can be amazing!)
Mains: we had the organic chicken claypot, with caramel sauce, Thai chilli and fresh ginger and the grass-fed Estancia shaking beef, with watercress, red onion and lime sauce. It was all delicious.
We didn’t have dessert, but watched the table next to us eating candy floss at the table!
Great Views (the food…not so much)
Ok. I know that “The Cheesecake Factory” is not haute cuisine. However, the location of this one is great. It’s the top floor of Macy’s in Union Square. So, yes- we compromised on our food for the view, and the sunshine, of Union Square. I will recommend it, but with the caveat that I am not promising you the best food you have ever eaten. It is simply about the location. Sitting outside gets you the view, but clearly that is popular, so turn up early to get a great seat!
Located in the Mission District, this place serves some good, organic ice cream to help you cool off if you’re walking in the Californian heat! I had the “staff pick”, call the “Trifecta”- salted caramel, brown sugar with ginger caramel swirl, and malted vanilla with peanut brittle and chocolate. Delicious- take a look at their list of flavours on their site.
Oh- and no trip to the West Coast would be complete without a Philz Coffee! We popped in to the one on El Camino Real. Read more about Philz Coffee here.