Living like a local - San Francisco style

Oct 2nd, 2011, 07:33 PM
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Living like a local - San Francisco style

We are fortunate enough to be spending 2 weeks in San Francisco. I thought I would pass along some of our adventures for those interested. As you may know, I am kind of into food, so there will be more emphasis on this than other areas

We have come to San Francisco during the winter months for the past 3 trips and while having a wonderful time, the weather always left a lot to be desired. So this trip, we thought we would try for a time frame that would provide a chance for better weather [ no rain, sun and milder temps]. We also picked this time as we will be celebrating DH's birthday while here.

DH rode his new motorcyle [Triumph Tiger 800XC] from our home in NM while I flew out. He left 5 days before me, and took a scenic route through Utah, Nevada, Yosemite and then spent a night in Half Moon Bay before heading into SF to meet me. He was able to call me before I left home to assure me that the condo was every bit as nice as the pictures and also the report we got from a local Fodorite , who was kind enough to check the place out for us.

We are staying in a lovely condo in Duboce Triangle that we found through airbnb. It is a perfect location that will enable us to really feel like locals as we frequent neighborhood haunts.

I arrived via Southwest at OAK and took BART into the city. DH met me at the station at 16th and Mission. I had made dinner reservations at a little french place, just up the block from the condo - L'ardoise. We had a great meal [I had a wonderfully crisped char and DH had coq au vin. We split an order of Boeuf Bourguignon ravioli for an appetizer]. We shopped for some breakfast basics and we were set for the night.

Saturday was a busy one - started with a trip [via motorcycle] to the Ferry Building so that we could stock up on produce. We were eating a Roli Roti Porchetta Sandwich [no lines!] by 8:30. Picked up romaine, basil, Mt Tam triple creme cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, some peaches and pears and baguette and rye bread from Acme and some wonderful little flavor packed tomatoes.

Quickly put the groceries away and onto our next event - a special City Guides tour. We love these tours, such a great way to see the city from the viewpoint of the guides who take such pride in their city. Each May and October, they offer special tours, so we are trying to get to see some of them this trip. We always try to do lots of these tours as the price is right and there is such a wide variety of tours.

This tour was Sutro Forest Hike:
"Explore the legacy of Adolph Sutro's Arbor Day celebrations (and discover the remains of Ishi's 'cave'), stroll a city reservoir, and more. A steep, long, strenuous walk, but taken at an easy pace and rewarded with spectacular views!".

We had never heard of Ishi, but it was a fascination piece of history that we will be delving into to learn more. This was a pretty arduous tour, more than any other we've done. We were told it was 2 hours, but as we were approaching the 2.5 hour mark, with what seemed to be at least another half hour to go, we had to duck out so we could make our lunch reservation.

We had a great HUGE brunch at Brunch Drunk Love on Mission. This is a pretty interesting set up. They only do brunch and they do it at what is normally a night club called Brunos. This is an venture of Ryan Scott, a rising star from "Top Chef" show.

I had bought a Groupon that was a real deal. We ordered deviled eggs [6 deviled egg halves ]and the frisée salad, with pancetta, poached egg, and whole grain mustard dressing. Too many eggs so we took most home. Salad was nice with the richness of the egg cut by that tangy dressing and bite of the frisee.

Mains- maple + bacon pancakes with bourbon-glazed bananas. 3 nice sized pancakes and the bananas were reminiscent of bananas foster. Pancakes could have been hotter. DH had duck hash cakes, poached eggs, summer succotash, salsa verde which was tasty.

Dessert was breakfast cereal panna cotta, frosted flakes + berries served in a small mason jar. The panna cotta was soft more like pudding and was a pretty nice, simple finish.

We headed to Trader Joes for some wine and coffee and called it a day. We did stroll out and about The Castro after dinner at home.
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2011, 07:41 PM
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Today, Sunday, was also pretty jam packed.

We had another special City Guides tour planned - The Tenderloin. This is also a limited time tour, so we wanted to take advantage of it and see a somewhat different side of SF.

Unfortunately, the tour guide never showed up! This was about the 12th tour we've taken [give or take a few] and it is the first time that a guide didn't show. There were over 20 people waiting and after about 30 minutes, we all gave up. Pretty disappointed, but we just moved on to our next activitity - Asian Art Museum. As it was the first Sunday, admission was free. We spend a couple of hours going through the wonderful exhibit.

We headed back to the condo for a bite of lunch and a bit of a rest. We then headed out to The Castro Street Fair that is an annual event. Lot of music, street fair food, lots to see and simply wander about while enjoying our third sunny, mild day.

For dinner, another Groupon deal led us to Samovar for tea service. It was a very unique meal, very tasty and we enjoyed it. I had the Russian Tea Service and DH had the English Tea Service.

We are planning another city guide tour tomorrow, but there is a very good chance [70%] of rain, so that may not happen.
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2011, 07:56 PM
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so are you not getting together w any fodorites this trip?
mztery is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2011, 07:58 PM
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PS for others - IMHO Samovar Tea lounge is NOT worth it unless you have a groupon or a similar coupon.
mztery is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2011, 08:24 PM
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I agree; I would do an a la carte at Samovar without Groupon, but not Tea Service. [I actually got the groupon using and paid half groupon price to get deal.]

No, no GTG planned this trip.
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2011, 08:30 PM
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Sounds like you are off to a great start. Since you like exploring the SF food scene, you might be interested in the the Off the Grid food truck gatherings. The big crowded one is at Fort Mason on Fridays from 5-10 with 30 food trucks and tents. There is a smaller on in the Upper Haight on Thursdays from 5 -9 with about 10 -13 food trucks.
SAB is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2011, 08:37 PM
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Has anyone done Food Truck Alley?

I am watching this one too:
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2011, 09:02 PM
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You might want to seek out the Pizza Hacker - I hear it's fabulous.
sf7307 is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2011, 09:48 PM
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I read Ishi several times when I was growing up in CA. Sounds like a really interesting walk!

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2011, 06:07 AM
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Isn't it funny how we picture fodor's contributors in a certain way. I would have never thought of you as a motor cycle person. So glad you both arrived safely.

I am enjoying your very detailed report. Looking forward to more.

Take care.

SandyBrit is online now  
Oct 3rd, 2011, 07:19 AM
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LOL, Sandy. I am not really a motorcycle person, DH is for sure. I will do short rides only and I prefer to be on open [non-interstate roads and non-city]roads where the views are worthwhile. It was a bit harrowing on Saturday a.m. here, with unfamiliar roads. We can pretty much get around on foot and via public transit here, but haven't paid attention to the drive able roads and boy they are tricky here!
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2011, 09:36 AM
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Deb--I have never done food truck alley, it appears to be geared to lunch time for SOMA workers, which I am not. I'm most familiar with the Off the Grid in the Upper Haight since that is an evening event and is near where I live, usually a very nice assortment of food trucks and a good mix of people.
SAB is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2011, 10:04 AM
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I am a pretty serious foodie but never took a shine to the food trucks. I found the food is good at some, very good at others, mediocre at some, and for the prices charged and the usually ethnic mix of food, I can get a sit down lunch or dinner. I live right near off the grid in the upper haight, have been a couple of times, but it's crowded, kamikaze strollers abound and we spent $20 /person for not enough food for dinner.

That said, as you are in the castro district, on Wed nights there is a farmers market outside the Cafe Flore. The farmers mkt is Ok but the draw for us is the snacks/small plates etc at La Mediterranee abutting the market.
mztery is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2011, 10:12 AM
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Debi: Kudos to you for finding L'Ardoise! Wonderful little restaurant!

Enjoy San Francisco!
easytraveler is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2011, 12:28 PM
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Oh, so the cave has a name? Never knew The kids loved it. I wonder if there are still squarrels in the area - it's been a while for me.

La Mediterranee has excellent food, although I've only been to the Fillmore location. For once I can agree with Mztery
Dayenu is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2011, 02:27 PM
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Debi: it looks like the rain has followed you again Darn!
Perhaps the end of the week will be better.
MichelleY is online now  
Oct 3rd, 2011, 02:38 PM
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Deb, I'm really enjoying this! Hope the rain stays away!
yk is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2011, 02:58 PM
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Nope - Deb brought the rain with her - just like always.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2011, 04:26 PM
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Well, it's wine time here in SF. The rain held off the better part of the day and allowed us to get in 2 SF City Guide tours: Chinatown and Embarcadero Skyway. We love these tours, we always learn so much about the city we love. Had great dim sum at City Views on Commercial in between the tours and brought home Peking duck, and fixings for dinner tonight. Life is good.

And to those of you who know our sage of SF and rain: The rain wasn't bad [it was way worse when we did the Victorian House tour with Mrs Stu - now that was rain! it was torrential] and we even took the motorcycle downtown!
DebitNM is offline  

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