As the temperatures soar to 105.3 degrees and even higher… I needed a brief escape from the Texas heat and watching Ranger games from the cool confines of my refrigerator were no longer acceptable.
A hiatus from the heat was in order, so on to San Francisco I flew! Walking on to the jet bridge at DFW felt like a sauna. A mere three and half hours later, sweet relief of a brisk 64 degree sunny day as I exited the aircraft to SFO!
Weather more suitable for a cooler climate loving mammal such as myself. A week of adventure was in store for me, of both globetrotting and gormandizing this wonderful peninsula.
First order of business was to sooth the beast that had been moaning within my belly since the flight left ground in Dallas. Off the plane and on to Toto’s pizza! A San Francisco family staple, Toto’s has been pumping out thin crust Neapolitan style pizza since 1932! The pie on which our party would enjoy was the No.4 (Salami, sausage, pepperoni). With a crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside crust; fresh sliced pepperoni and salami, and homemade sausage and sauce; this pie disappeared with a quickness!
After a good nights rest, we embarked on a journey to Marin County (north of San Francisco) where our first Bay area breakfast was enjoyed at Le Croissant Cafe in San Rafael, CA. With choices as bountiful as their servings, you are bound to find a meal you can sink your teeth into! We shared an Almond Croissant, which is one of their specialties. Yes, that’s right, I said shared. It was HUGE! It filled the standard sized foam clam shell to go container they put it in! and even divided into four equal chunks, I had a piece as big as my fist! This is one breakfast bread that you cannot pass by if ever in the area on vacation!
On north and west through beautiful San Anselmo and Fairmont, CA, a red wood grove, past a different bay, a series of “happy cow” dairy farms and we found ourselves at the very gusty Point Reyes Lighthouse facility. You can tour the Lighthouse and actual “Lens room” on days in which the wind does not regularly breach 40 mph. Our day sadly, did breach. In fact, it was an average of 54 mph winds while we were there. Beautiful drive and location nevertheless.
No trip would be complete with out libations, right? Well, no trip with me is complete without libations. We visited two great watering holes in the city. The first, Tee Off Bar and Grill in the Outer Richmond neighborhood. A dive that I learned of from no other than Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives! He has his mark on the walls, and I had to taste the double cut pork chop and pancetta mac n cheese he recommends on the show. The chop was flame grilled to juicy perfection after being marinated in some sort of magic spicy concoction party in my mouth. Yum-o. My wife ventured to the land of ten-pounds-of-cheese-in-a-one-pound-skillet land. “Oh, he’s really exaggerating now”, you say in your head while reading this. No I am not. Go there and see with your own taste buds! I’ve NEVER had creamier, bold tasting, pancettier, cheesier pasta in my life. How do they do it in a closet kitchen in the back of a dive bar? They employ Oompa Loompas! Yes that’s right, Richie Whitt’s cousins who fled Loompaland and couldn’t land jobs at the already crowded Wonka factory, work there and they make magic happen! To quote Guy Fieri, “It’s money dude!”.
The next watering hole we checked out has a special meaning to me. The Riptide in the sunset district is a mere 2 blocks from the beach, and host of several daily specials at this neighborhood hang-out. They have great drink prices and Dogs are always welcome in with you. They even have a community dog bowl which your canine ‘bestie’ can quench his or her thirst as well. Be sure to check out $2 Tuesday and karaoke night! I personally enjoyed this place to maximum capacity the evening before I was married two years ago. I ended up on the beach unable to effectively control my words or my legs! Let’s just say there may be incriminating photos of me burying vomit like a cat in a litter box, followed by my head in the sand like an Ostrich. Great times! It goes without saying, I truly love visiting this joint!
Another local hole-in-the-wall we stopped at was Matteucci’s in San Anselmo. They really make you feel like family there, and decoupaged to the bathroom wall are a 1978 Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys schedule posters!
Over the course of the next few days we did the average tourist type activities. We visited Pier 39 and the Sea lions which sun bath on the docks, took the “Duck Tour“, caught a Rangers @ Giants game, Drove across the Bridge to Sausalito, and visited Lucasfilm in the Presidio.
While doing our sightseeing, we had to go to Molinari Delicatessen in North Beach for a true Italian cold cut sandwich. We decided we’d tolerate eating this hand sliced cold cut on artisan bread gem under the bridge by Fort Point. Not a bad place for a picnic on a clear sunny day. And neither is adjacent Crissy Field Park.
Photos by DJ Pridemore:
And of course no trip is complete without a stop by Ghirardelli Square for some cold refreshments and chocolate! This was a treat for us after spending the day checking out the wildlife of San Francisco Bay at The Aquarium by the Bay, and on our plates at Alioto’s #8. The aquarium has a giant underwater tube that gives you a submersed point of view of the native aquatic wildlife. After you venture back topside, you have the rare opportunity to get hands on with some real stars, skate, and rays! Once seeing and interacting with this ocean fare works up your appetite, a short walk to the fisherman’s wharf will placate even the most stubborn seafood craving!
As our week was winding down we ventured near the Japantown neighborhood to see Collective Soul at the historic Fillmore! This place retains all of its 60′s rock charm, from its chandeliers to 50 years of framed concert posters. It also retains two very cool traditions. Everyone who walks in the door is offered a FREE fresh apple to enjoy during the show, as well as, receiving a free poster at the end of all sold out shows! How many places have that kind of hospitality any more? The concert was great, and the atmosphere and perks just took the experience to the next level!
As we came upon our final hours in the city by the bay, we decided to go explore a tiny sandwich shop in San Bruno called Little Lucca ( hey that’s just like RJ Choppy’s son). It was very odd to me how east coast this shop and it’s owners really were. They are known for their fresh sliced meats, garlic sauce and Dutch Crunch bread. When you visit, go early, order quick, and no matter which sandwich you choose get everything on it. If you choose not to, you will regret it!
Well that wraps up the written tour of my trip, because now I have rejoined all of you FanFans back in the DFW oven! Take a minute to browse the pictures of my trip, and let those whet your appetite for cool weather, stunning scenery and some really good eats!