SF has its charms. I haven’t been there is over 30 years, so it was as good as visiting San Francisco for the first time. My visit here was a very short one, barely four days, so sight-seeing was very limited. But despite the little sightseeing I managed to squeeze into the days there, there was quite a few eating destinations I didn’t miss.
For foodies, it’s a must to go to the Ferry Terminal Building where artisanal food producers have their shops and restaurants. You’ll see long queues for artisanal breads, coffee, honeys and pop into Sur La Table, a kitchen shop for a smart array of kitchen tools. But it’s the seafood that you should come here for.
Hog Island Oyster Bar is the place to go for a wide array of super fresh, briny sweet oysters, including Hog Island Sweetwater & Atlantic from the company’s own sustainable farms in Tomales Bay in northern California. Order a cocktail or two, and sit down to a platter of 12 oysters for US$36, a steal by our standards. We followed that up with a halibut ceviche was generous chunks of white, fresh fish in a light cream dressing, and the clam chowder ($14) was a hearty large portion, with carrots and young potatoes in a flavourful broth. They have a good selection of cocktails and wine. Have The Flupsy, a fresh, slightly sweet concoction. Really nice. I had two of them.
The Ferry Building Marketplace
Tel: +1 415 391 7117
Luce, with its one Michelin star (for 6 years running), is a smart restaurant at the Intercontinental San Francisco where we stayed. It was a lovely meal for two tired travellers not in the mood to venture outdoors on our first night. The prices are very reasonable, the food very well done, with clever food and taste pairings on a plate, and pretty presentations. The Pacific amberjack marinated in yuzu with trout roe ($19) and the duck breast, cooked with red wine and honey and lentils ($36) was lovely. A 10-course tasting menu just goes for US$96, such great value if you ask me.
888 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: +1 415 616 656
Tartine Bakery is one of the most popular hang outs in SF, and even in the rain, locals are happy to queue from all the way outside the store, to get their hands on the cafe’s legendary massive, flaky croissant and other breakfast bakes. Located in the Mission district, it’s got that popular neighbourhood buzz but expect to do it self-service, and end up standing around with plates and coffee in hand and wait until a seat becomes available. The croissants are insanely layered and crisp, and worth the considerable effort. But if you just don’t want to be a slave to Tartine, buy and take away.
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco
Tel: +1 415-487-2600
Thanh Long may not be the place you’d think of going to for seafood in SF, but when our friends took us there, we realised it was special. The speciality at this unpretentious Vietnamese restaurant in the suburbs of SF is roasted Dungeness crab, cooked with their special garlic marinade. It was so aromatic and sweet with lots of butter and a light dose of black pepper. While it did remind me of our own black pepper crab, it is totally different, and the meatiness of the Dungeness crab made it easy to eat. We all had one crab each. So good I cleaned it up completely. Have it with garlic noodles, which I think is cooked with butter, garlic, reduced with white wine and just a hint of parmesan. A full bar is available, and their pear martini is nice.
4101 Judah Street
corner of 46th Avenue
Tel: +1 415 665 1146
Bistro Jeanty was where we lunched at Napa Valley, midway through a pretty disappointing wine tour of the region. The authentic French food served up at this classic French bistro was the high point of our day in the wine region. The day’s special of breaded pig’s foot was great, comprising tender cooked pulled pork reshaped into a pig’s foot, and friend in a crisp delicate layer of breadcrumbs. Their tomato soup in puff pastry ($12.50) is legendary: share, because this large bowl of soup is sinfully rich with cream and butter, but just irresistible. The recipe is found on their website, which I intend to try. The sole meuniere ($27.50) featured plump fillets in perhaps to much buttery sauce, and the daube de boeuf ($24.50) was a hearty pot of full rich beef chunks with potatoes, peas and carrots. Its wine list features a good range of local and French wines, plus a full bar for cocktails and digestifs. Prices are sweet, as you can see, and portions are large. Best to share main courses.
6510 Washington St.
Yountville, Ca 94599
Tel: +1 707-944-0103