Recently, we drove to meet Denver friends in San Francisco for a few days of eating, wine-drinking and a bit of San Francisco sight-seeing, and then met up with our San Jose buddies to finish out the week. Today’s blog post will take you along for a Virtual Bay Vacay!
While in San Franciso, we relied on recommendations from locals and Yelp for restaurant selection–a great combo. I failed to take pictures of the food I ate– horrible food blogger foul–but I have found websites for each of the restaurants to share with you, should you ever be in the Bay Area looking for a great place to eat. I’m hoping you’ll enjoy some pictures of the sights instead of food pics. Here we go!
The first place we ate in San Francisco was Sotto Mare, famous for it’s crab cioppino. Reservations are highly recommended. We called from a bar around 5–a time when walk-ins get seated–had a drink and showed up about an hour later and ended up with a one and a half hour wait. Which was ok–we had fun making friends with other wait-ers. The place is small, the decor a collection of old photos and seafaring stuff. We ordered the cioppino (enough for two, comes with bibs) and sand dabs (small flounder-like fish only found in the San Francisco area). So. Worth. The. Wait. We were tempted to come back for every meal, but San Francisco has SO many restaurants!
The next day, we took a hybrid (solar/wind/diesel-powered) ferry to Alcatraz. Very, very cool!
The ferry leaves from Pier 33, so when we returned, it was just a short walk to Pier 23–a restaurant Michael and I heard about on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. (Beware–racy cafe logo!) Pier 23’s food certainly lives up to the D,D&D hype. We had fish tacos and a swordfish skewer. It was a cloudy-misty day, so the waterside outdoor seating area was enclosed. Still a fun, relaxed and casual atmosphere with great food!
Later that day, we rode a cable car to the cable car museum–the most amazing museum EVER! Definately a must-see if you’re in San Fransisco.
Later, we ventured to a bar recommended by our companions’ daughter–The Tonga Room in the Fairmont Hotel. Formerly the hotel’s pool, a place where famous people swam, The Tonga Room is tiki-decor on steroids, complete with thunderstorms that rain into the pool and an area that is part of a real ship. Srong drinks (pina coladas and mai tais) and people watching rounded out our enjoyment of The Tonga Room.
That night we ended up at Bouche, a cozy French restaurant specializing in seasonally-inspired offerings referred to as “small plates.” We found the portion sizes to be perfect–just the right amount with no need for a doggie bag. We started with a cheese plate and then had herb-crusted halibut and stuffed chicken with tarragon potatoes. The halibut was wonderful, but the table fav ended up being the chicken. It was the tarragon sauce–really butteryherbalwine-ish. Mmmmmm….gotta try to recreate that one! We shared the tart of the day (chocolate-almond) for dessert.
Our final day in San Francisco, we took the ferry to Sausalito. We walked around admiring the amazing art and beautiful houses clinging to the hillsides and then caught the ferry back in time to visit the SFMOMA.
They currently have an amazing installment made of a 3-D block of suspended LED lights that look like twinkling stars when you walk under, and a movie when viewed straight across from a balcony. Anchor and Hope was within walking distance. They start you off with house-made chips and a crazy-good aioli. The lobster roll was killer-yummy!
We spent the next day in Berkeley, visiting our San Jose friends’ son and his girlfriend. They recommended one of their favs, the Saturn Cafe, a seriously fun and funky vegetarian restaurant. The California Burger was HUGE, super-satisfying (didn’t miss the meat), and can be ordered with sweet potato fries! Awesome!
After an invigorating hike the following day, we found ourselves in New Orleans….well, not actually, but with the authentic food and live Zydeco band, the Poor House Bistro in San Jose sure seems like it! I had a shrimp po’boy and Michael had a half muffaletta, which was really enough for two to share! We had chicory coffee (smooth!) and shared beignets for dessert.
We don’t eat out much when we’re home, so experiencing all of these great restaurants made the vacation even more vacation-y, and eating out with friends makes the food even yummier!