san francisco travel guide, 2009

June 12th, 2009

Today’s happy hour is extra special. It’s not the usual cocktail, but more a recipe for how to eat yourself silly in San Fracisco. On our recent trip out west I fell in love with San Francisco. The food, the coffee, the people… I just loved everything about it. I’ve compiled a little recap of some of the highlights of this awesome city.

Chez Panisse
As soon as we booked our flight to San Francisco I knew we had to make reservations at Chez Panisse. I dutifully called the restaurant exactly one month before the day we wanted to dine and secured a reservation. We arrived in Berkeley early and wandered the quaint streets, even happening upon a little farmer’s market.

The restaurant is small and comfortable, intimate without being intimidating. Everyone was extremely nice and helpful. The menu changes daily and there aren’t any choices, you simply get what the kitchen is making that evening. Each course that came out was simple, yet full of flavor and each topped the next. From the most amazing, fava bean, fennel and spinach soups to a pork entreé topped peas and turnips to a mouth-watering meyer lemon and passionfruit ice cream dessert, I was in a happy, happy place.

To top things off, if you ask your waiter, you can tour the kitchen and meet the people who make your food. It was definitely a dreamy place and most certainly worth a trip to Berkeley.

Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, California 94709
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The Ferry Building
I would have moved into this place if I could have. Screw the hotel, I’d rather camp out on the back porch and wake up to the potent aroma of Blue Bottle coffee being brewed each morning, stinky cheese from Cowgirl Creamery tempting my tastebuds and the smell of fresh baked bread from Acme Bakery each morning. The Ferry Building is an old converted warehouse right on the bay and filled with an assortment of artisinal makers of delicious food, beverages and condiments and is definitely a must-see.

As if that weren’t enough, every Tuesday and Saturday a farmers market wraps around the outside of the building. Here you can find a wide variety of fresh goods like fruit, vegetables, meat and flowers but also handmade olive oils, simple syrups, jams and baked goods.

Ferry Building Marketplace
One Ferry Building
San Francisco, California 94111


Cowgirl Creamery


Farmers Market at the Ferry Building


Blue Bottle Coffee Co

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Bi-Rite Creamery

Oh. My. Goodness. The ice cream at Bi-Rite will knock your socks off. All their ice cream is made with Strauss Family dairy and flavors are artisinal and seasonal. With flavors like salted caramel, balsamic strawberry, honey lavender and toasted coconut you’re sure to try something you’ll fall in love with.

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th St
San Francisco, CA

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Pancho Villa

Oh sweet Pancho Villa. Ask anyone what to eat when they come to San Francisco and they’ll tell you a burrito. Everyone has their own burrito place and when you get there you’ll realize that the streets are lined with them. We ended up at Pancho Villa thanks to my friend Dennis.

This is where I tried my first burrito. Now there’s a chance I may have eaten a burrito in the past but I can guarantee it was without beans. And that’s not really a burrito. So anyways, I tried one with pork, beans and their famous salsa and I’m a convert. This burrito changed my life. It was so dang delicious. Moist, flavorful, and a little messy, but all good.

Pancho Villa
3071 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

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A-16

I first read about this read on Orangette, but almost immediately I started seeing it pop up in Bon Appetit and other food related articles. This place was packed when we arrived but luckily we’d made reservations. Unluckily, we’d spent the whole day stuffing our faces and had very little room to enjoy the food here.

Of course we still ordered way more than we should have. We tried out some calamari, fresh pasta and the famous wood-fired pizza. All were really delicious and pure, if that makes sense. It’s almost like you could taste each ingredient that went into each item.

A-16
2355 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA

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Citizen Cake

Any place called Citizen Cake will get my attention. We just popped in and picked up a lemon cupcake to go. We saved until the we’d walked up an appetite and the first bite into that lovely little cupcake was heavenly. It was so incredibly lemony without being too tart or too sweet. Think of it as lemonade in cake form.

Citizen Cake
399 Grove Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

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Miette

Is this the cutest little shop ever or what? They have three locations and I made it to all of them. Is that sad? Eh, whatever. They’re filled with homemade candy and baked goods along with jars and boxes of old fashioned candy.

Miette
449 Octavia Street
San Francisco

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In-N-Out Burger

I couldn’t leave out the famous In-N-Out burger. I’d never eaten at one but had heard raves about it’s goodness. They use all fresh ingredients and make everything from scratch. And let me tell you, it is good. Real good. We pulled off the side of the highway and picked up a tasty burger and fries.

In-N-Out Burger

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Tartine Bakery & Cafe

I wish I could capture smell because if you could smell this place you might just fall in love. Tartine wins the award for best smelling eating establishment, as it’s filled with the sweet scent of fresh baked goods that you can just tell will blow you away. We decided to try the tres leche cake and oh, my, sweet, goodness. It was moist and creamy and caramely… I kind of miss it. It’s probably a good thing that I couldn’t spend any more time there because everything in their case looked as good as this.

Tartine Bakery & Cafe
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

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Thank you to Lisa, Caroline, Erik, Dennis and everyone who offered suggestions.

Comments: 12 Total

  1. Dana

    June 12, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Oh man. We were just in SF and seeing all of these lovely photos made me want to go back asap. How did I miss going to Tartine??!! Their cookbook is one of my favorites and I didn’t go?!

  2. Whitney

    June 12, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Sounds like an amazing trip! I can’t wait to eat my way through San Fran. The Bay Area folks really have it lucky.

  3. life according to celia

    June 12, 2009 at 10:26 am

    ha! i’m IN LOVE with san francisco!! we’re moving there next year and i can’t wait. we went to chez panisse for my 28th birthday and i was just saying the other day that it was the most pleasant restaurant experience i’ve ever had! food, service, wine, everything was perfect!
    oh, and thank for featuring in n’ out. i ALWAYS forget it’s a west coast thing and i don’t know how i could live without it! if you’re planning on coming back, make sure to order your burger “animal style”… you will not regret it!

  4. Kasey

    June 12, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    As a San Franciscan, I think you made some great choices on your trip! Next time you come out, you should definitely check out Taqueria Cancun in the Mission–best tacos and burritos in SF, hands down.

  5. lisa

    June 14, 2009 at 10:54 am

    oh MAN are you making me homesick for SF! you really hit some amazing spots. can you believe, in the 6 years i lived in the bay area i never made it to chez panisse?? what was i thinking?? i’m putting it first on my list for my next trip back. i’m so glad you had a good time!

  6. Nancy

    June 15, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Thanks for the great list of places to check out in San Francisco! I really enjoy reading your blog and appreciate all the reviews of films, editorials, books, and foods!

  7. dawn

    June 17, 2009 at 5:57 am

    Great post! All these pics made me nostalgic for home. Glad you had a good time in SF.

  8. Erin

    June 17, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Wow – good job! You hit several of my favorite spots! Ferry Building, A 16, Chez Panisse, Citizen Cake… glad you had such a great trip here. :)

  9. Vanessa

    June 29, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks for this post! My girlfriend and I just got back from San Francisco, and we managed to visit the Ferry Building and Miette. Fresh fruit at the first and delicious chocolate/lavender macaroons at the second! I think our favourite meal of all, though, were the gigantic burritos at Pancho Villa Taqueria on Valencia/16th.

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