After our four day holiday in Los Angeles, we completed our trip to California by flying to San Francisco. I think a more appropriate heading for this post would be “Hello Again, San Francisco.” This is an annual vacation we take every year over the 4th of July holiday, to visit my brother and his family in the Bay Area.
We spend most of our time in the Pacific Heights neighborhood. Walking up and down the hills and taking in the the beautiful views over the bay and enjoying the fantastic shopping and dining on Fillmore St.
San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the US to live. The reason for this is that everyone wants to live there. What is not to love? Great weather, great food, great shopping, great everything really. This is our fourth year visiting the city and I feel less like a tourist now and more like a semi-resident. For the last couple of years we have rented an apartment and just settled into the city. I have found that over the years certain rituals have set in, such as eating frozen yogurt at Fraiche every day, with loganberry topping and chocolate shavings,visiting the Ferry Building for a coffee and a waffle at Blue Bottle Coffee company, having a Dim Sum brunch at least once, and eating at a food truck.
So without further ado lets get to the highlights.
Japanese Tea Garden
Situated in the Golden Gate Park, I have been wanting to visit the Japanese Tea Garden for a long time but in the past there was never time in the schedule. This year we made it happen. It turned out to be a live and learn experience – while the Tea Garden is beautiful with pagodas, lovely ponds with bridges and an imposing Buddha statue nestled amongst the greenery, visiting on a weekend over the 4th of July holiday is not the best idea if you want the quiet, peaceful, and serene environment to enjoy the park. I had envisioned sitting in the garden cafe being part of a Japenese Tea Ceremony and sipping green tea while eating miniature cookies. No chance of this happening: the cafe was absolutely packed. While the garden is worth a trip, visiting during the week is the best idea to truly enjoy the tranquility of the garden.
The Ferry Building
Situated on the picturesque Embarcadero neighborhood. The location of the Ferry Building is beautiful. You can see the brightly colored trains stopping outside the building, and the view of the water from the back is spectacular. Inside, there are restaurants as well as a lively farmers market with great artisanal food vendors like Acme Bread, Cowgirl Creamery, Dandelion Chocolate, and Blue Bottle Coffee.
Fillmore Jazz Festival
I spent a lot of time on Fillmore St. and I love the neighborhood feel of the place. It is less crowded than the downtown Union Square and the shopping and dining are great. Over the 4th of July weekend, every year, is the Fillmore Jazz Festival.There are food stalls, arts and crafts booths, and the jazz is free to listen too. I will admit I don’t camp out all day listening to the jazz but walking up and down once from Broadway St. to Sacramento St. is enough for me to feel the festival atmosphere.
Off The Grid
The food truck culture is almost non existent in Chicago; that is why when I go to the west coast I love to try food at different food trucks. The portions are not huge so you can sample different cuisines and make it a meal. The prices are reasonable and the atmosphere around the trucks tends to be light and fun as people are sitting wherever they can, or standing up, eating, and just enjoying good food. Off The Grid is a collection of some of San Francisco’s best food trucks that gather in the Fort Mason Center in the Marina district. It is an organized event that takes place every Friday and is amazing fun. Firstly, the atmosphere is like a party. Alcohol is available to buy, music is blasting from the DJ, and there is always a crowd. There is food from all over the world and the fun part is to get something from as many food trucks as possible.
For me San Francisco is probably the best food city in America. There are so many places to eat and so much variety and almost everything is good. The farm to table concept, use of seasonal fresh ingredients, slow cooked food movement, it is all in San Francisco. As stated above I have the places I go to every year: Fraiche yogurt, Jane’s coffee shop, and Blue Bottle Coffee.
Every year I hope to discover something new and what I discovered this year that I am excited to write about is Coqueta www.coquetasf.com. A fantastic Spanish tapas bar that is as good as anything I have eaten in Spain. Beautiful wood beamed interior, friendly knowledgable staff, and picturesque location on Pier 5 in Embarcadero. Coqueta has now become part of my ritual; a must visit in the future.
Primarily our trips to San Francisco are about family fun, being together, reconnecting, and catching up. The fact we get to bond and spend time together in such a beautiful surrounding is a bonus that I am very happy about.