the city by the bay

2 Sep

i told you i’d circle back to my west coast travels, didn’t i? so, without further ado, let’s talk about san francisco, shall we? basically, it’s awesome. i flew out and spent the first couple nights with my gal pal in san mateo, a quaint town – with a bustling restaurant scene, mind you – about 30 minutes outside the city.

we went on long walks, ate delicious food, attempted to make it to some farmers’ markets, and basically reveled in the thrill of not having any kind of agenda whatsoever.

lunch in palo alto.

yacht club in san mateo.

the city from afar.

succulents growing everywhere!

dinner in half moon bay. such an amazing little beach town.

and then it was off to the city to meet my mom. we went out on a limb and rented a local’s apartment in lieu of the traditional hotel route. it was awesome – it felt cleaner, more exclusive and more real. have you ever done this? i highly recommend it (we used airbnb).

we stayed in the mission and spent our first afternoon wandering up and down valencia soaking up all hipsterific sites there were to see. this neighborhood in particular reminds me a lot of austin, with its foodie/cool-kid/hippie/enviro-phile vibe.

there was this awesome public resting area right outside four barrel coffee, where people could linger over their coffee, lunch, etc while enjoying the warm cali sunshine. 

the city is full of indie “galleries,” if you will, of artists’ murals, painting, musings, thoughts on life, etc. plastered across public spaces and outdoor walls.

i think this is now my favorite place in the whole world. please meet, mission cheese. my mom and i stopped in for an aperitif and  snack and instantly fell in love with the dark yet cozy ambiance and warm friendliness of the staff. we munched on the california flight, which was a delightful – ok, who are we kidding? it was ah-mazing – blend of cow, sheep and blue cheeses. can everyone please make me a promise and visit this place some day?

then it was off to our first dinner of the trip. the choice? locanda on valencia. i had a dance party inside my head when the hostess retracted her original it’ll-be-one-hour-wait schpeel and seated us almost instantly at a prime table for two by the window – with optimal viewing of each and every patron who walked through the door.

fruit de mar ravioli.

i spotted this sleek coffee shop, and quickly decided it would be the perfect place to start our first full day of exploring. and since san francisco has such awesome weather – read: it’s not 95 degrees by 9am like in texas – it was totally appropriate, and almost necessary, to enjoy a warm cup of coffee before setting out on our adventures.

the name of said coffee shop? craftsman and wolves. more on them later.

first up on the list of exploring: the telegraph hill and north beach neighborhoods. my mom found this awesome self-guided walking tour of telegraph hill that takes you up filbert street. if you’re not familiar with filbert street, prepare to be amazed. the street – as we finally figured out after about 10 minutes of looking around like lost ducklings – is so steep, it turns into stairs and takes you up the side of a hill. and get this: the hill is a neighborhood. chic houses and posh condos are nestled throughout the hillside in a pristine, quiet, absolutely gorgeous atmosphere. what i wouldn’t give to live here. 

then it was back down the other side of the hill and on to exploring north beach. this was probably one of the most exciting neighborhoods, with its gritty, 50s-era appeal and bustling streets full of residents and students. it touts a rich history of beatnik culture – we couldn’t resist stopping into café triste – and italian familiarity.

we skirted the neighboring chinatown and made our way to a highly recommended dim sum spot for lunch in the financial district. the name: city view dim sum. the verdict: pure food ecstasy. i think that says enough.

back to the mission that night for more amazing food. this time, it was thai at krua on 16th.

have you ever tasted something so wonderful, so delicious, so simple yet so insanely good that you think of it for days – ok, weeks – after? well, that’s how i feel about blue bottle coffee. i’d of course heard of this legendary brewery from pages of foodie mags and blog posts, and thought, “yeah, yeah sounds good. i guess i’ll give it a whirl.” i was really just trying it for the fact that it was blue bottle – i mean, how can you go to sf and not have their most famous cup of jo? but that 30-min wait in line at the ferry building farmers’ market saturday morning was all worth it. little did i know i would be enjoying the best cup of coffee i’d ever had. (ok, maybe i’m being dramatic, but it was delectable.) anyway, if you like coffee and find yourself in san fran anytime soon, you have to try this coffee. you won’t be disappointed.

after our farmers’ market adventures, it was off to exploring the soma neighborhood. awesome neighborhood with that undeniable industrial feel – right up my alley.

we stopped into the cartoon art museum and enjoyed exhibits full of classic – and not so classic – animated works of art. we even got the treat of seeing several artists working on pieces for the upcoming hotel transylvania.

more on the rest of the trip to come. have you been to san fran? what were your favorite parts? restaurants? sites? would love to hear!


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