Bay To Bay

21 Aug

From Bay Ridge to the Bay Area and back again.

Sunny San Fran

That’s kind of how I feel. Dazzled and sun-burnt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much sunshine in my life. And yes, we were in San Francisco!

Telegraph Hill

Before the trip I had picked up Patricia Unterman‘s food guide which turned out to be a good move. We hit the ground starving. We sat one row away from business class and were therefore tortured for the entire flight by the aromas of real food and warm cookies and the tantalizing trays of champers. Stupid airlines. Couldn’t even spare me a cookie? Bah.

The Bay Bridge

This little book is really quite indispensable to any food lover heading to San Fran. By no means comprehensive it is however a good guide to what sorts of food you can find in and around the city by the bay. We headed straight for Chinatown to ABC Bakery & Restaurant. I was promised soup dumplings. What I got were amazing dumplings and wontons with soup. I’m cool with that.

Annie Street!

From there we puttered around Telegraph Hill and the Embarcadero, saw City Lights bookshop and the Ferry Terminal Market and had tapas at B44. I was promised fish cheeks, but had to settle on dungeness crab stuffed piquillo peppers. I was cool with that too.

The Mission

The next day we did what we do best. We walked. 11 miles in total if our memories and gmaps pedometer are to be believed! We turned right out of our hotel (such a deal if you don’t mind sharing a bathroom and shower) and headed up Mission, breakfasting on some truly excellent street tacos.

Painted Lady

I know it is cliche, but seriously, those Victorian painted ladies are stunning! I’d be so intimidated if I owned one. You have to have such a good eye to pick out all those complimentary colors.

Palacio Latino

Real estate porn can work up a mighty hunger so the Boy and I popped into Palacio Latino. We’ve settled on a new rule for eating. If a restaurant is packed with locals and showing a football (soccer) match in the native tongue, the food is probably solid. This rule has never led us wrong and boy did it serve us well with this joint.

Tostada with Beets, Red Cabbage, Meat Sauce and Hard Boiled Egg

The menu at Palacio Latino is crazy and the food so good I broke my cardinal rule of restaurant eating and took a picture. It’s South American, to be sure, but there’s an odd Eastern European twist to it. I mean, they’ve got borscht! Even though I know I should have, I didn’t try it. I wasn’t that hungry unfortunately. But we did try the tamales (eh), the Pupusas and the Enchiladas Chapiunas, the Technicolor dish you see above.

Noe Hill Door

The pupusas, little masa pancakes stuffed with cheese and beans, came with a cabbage salad that would have been perfectly at home served beside a plate of pierogis at Polonica. (By the way, the world needs more pupusa places, you hear that world!) And the enchiladas? Amazing. Sublime even. Dilled beets and red cabbage dressed with vinegar and chiles on top of a meat sauce that would have been at home with my grandmother’s galumpkies topped with cheese, raw onion and hard boiled egg? What could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing! It was awesome.

San Fran

We left the Mission and headed to the Noe Valley, and then the Hayes Valley, and finally up to the top of Russian Hill.

Coit Tower

Why? I have no idea! Our feet felt light and it was a beautiful day. By the time we hit Fisherman’s Wharf I was a little cranky, but, at mile 9 or so, I’d say that’s to be expected.

Fisherman's Wharf

And so we turned home-wards. The only problem is, there was this giant hill in between us and our hotel. We originally started to go over it, but damn, no way. Those are some serious hills to tackle after a serious walk, so we went around it.

Big Hill, Big Boat

After much walking a big dinner is called for. Unfortunately we didn’t know where to go. If I had just listened to the good book we would have ended up at Original Joe’s without tacking on an extra couple of miles, but no, I had to grumble and grouse and come to the place by my own path.

San Fran Garden

There are no pictures of dinner or the restaurant. Why? Because while Original Joe’s may be awesome and the steaks delicious and perfectly cooked, it happens to sit on a rather sad, downtrodden and sketchy block in the Tenderloin and, well, I just didn’t feel right whipping out my camera to take a picture while trying to fend off beggars and junkies, especially with a belly full of incredibly perfect T-bone. So, you’ll just have to imagine a scene from Mad Men where they’re all in an at-that-time classy steak and cocktails joint and then re-imagine it in 2007. Nothing’s changed except there’s no crinoline.

Downtown San Fran

The next day, with sore feet and owie knees we decided to go easy on ourselves and take the ferry to Alameda and the Hangar One distillery and tasting room. The ferry conveniently leaves from the Ferry Terminal Market, so we breakfasted on Acme Bread and Cowgirl Creamery sandwiches, checked in with the wine merchants to be sure we knew where we were heading and set out to taste us some vodka in the afternoon. But alas, to no avail.

Bay Bridge

I’d like to air my frustration with Hangar One at this point in time. Anyone who doesn’t want to listen to me rant should move on. *ahem* Dear Hangar One; My boyfriend and I decided to spend our last day in San Francisco with you. We did our due diligence, we checked websites and schedules, we paid $22 for ferry tickets, we walked 20 minutes in the beating sun to arrive at your tasting room where there were 20 people sitting outside laughing and drinking. We tried the door, it was locked. We noticed the sign, it said, “Open Wednesday-Sunday.” It was Monday, and yet, there was a door open and people carousing, so I stuck my head in and said to the guy behind the counter, “Are you open?” to which he replied, “No.” I stuck my head back out of the door to make sure I hadn’t hallucinated the 20 or so people and said to him, “Really?” to which he said, “YES.” I replied, “But your website said you were open 7 days…” to which he replied, “Then you looked at the wrong one,” and turned back to the guy to whom he was giving samples of the wares. The conversation was obviously over.

Hangar One

Rather pissed, I stomped back to the ferry terminal, 20 minutes in blazing sun, to find that we had just missed a ferry and another would not arrive for over an hour. So thank you Hangar One, thank you for your hospitality and understanding. I know if I owned a business and a sweaty, dusty person popped her head in, that I would treat her in just the same way. Really, honest. I wouldn’t offer her a taste of something, just to make her feel special, after spending a nice chunk of money and 3 hours simply to come visit my establishment. Nope, I sure wouldn’t do that.

This is what I stared at for an hour and a half while waiting for the ferry in Alameda.

And just so I don’t sound incredibly crazy, yes I do know they were closed and that they had every right to treat me that way. But, this one experience has transformed me from someone who enjoyed drinking, purchasing and recommending Hagar One to friends and strangers alike into someone who will now steer people away from delicious mandarin blossom and kaffir lime vodkas. This makes me rather sad. I really loved their stuff.


Incredibly frustrated and frankly pissed, I boarded the ferry back to San Fran (the Boy was less pissed and frustrated than I was and was a really good sport to listen to my rantings and ravings). I was dejected, and sad. Even arriving back in the market and purchasing some chocolates and cookies couldn’t help, so the Boy took pity on me, bought some bread and cheese and we headed back to the hotel and had an impromptu nosh in Yerba Buena on truly great bread and exceptional cheese.

Baker Beach

After that, I was ready to leave San Fran and head for the hills, but there was one thing left I needed to do. I had to dip my toes in the Pacific. Baker Beach was on the way to the Golden Gate Bridge so we stopped there. The Boy loved the old embattlements, I loved the fog.


I did not love the naked guy doing yoga on the beach. I later learned that Baker Beach is the naked beach. Oh well, I suppose this prudish East Coaster should learn to loosen up from time to time!

Golden Gate Bridge

So San Francisco, thank you. You were a lovely host and I can’t wait to come back and visit again as soon as I can.

Golden Gate Bridge

More to come: Crab sandwiches and Napa and Sonoma and wine and barbecue and tacos oh my! Stay tuned.


10 Responses to “Bay To Bay”

  1. Luisa August 22, 2007 at 9:03 am #

    Gorgeous! Beautiful! So envious of your Nocal trip and happy that you had such a good time (well, mean Hangar One dudes aside). Welcome back!

  2. Christina August 22, 2007 at 1:55 pm #

    I am so, so sorry about Hangar One. I had a completely different experience there than the type you write about. What a shame.

    All those pickle-ish items in a Mexican joint–you must have been in heaven! It sounds wonderful!

    My favorite shot is the picture with the cloud bank at the ocean’s edge, abutting the valley. It really captures the feel of the city.

  3. ann August 22, 2007 at 6:32 pm #

    Thanks Luisa! — I don’t actually feel that they were mean… well, kinda… sigh, it could have gone either way, I’m just sad it didn’t go mine ;-)

    Christina — I LOOOOVE that picture too! I love the way the clouds mimic the shape of the hills and how it’s all just spread out in it’s glory. San Fran’s a gorgeous place. I was super bummed about HO, I’ve read about Sam’s (becksnposh) experiences so many times, it was already on my list before you even mentioned it. I’m so glad you had fun in Colorado, your pictures are delightful!

  4. Julie August 23, 2007 at 10:22 am #

    I loved taking this little vicarious vacation with you! Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous pictures (that could be the most insanely beautifully blue sky I’ve ever seen), great buildings, and how cool that you did all that walking. I don’t think there’s any question that walking really is the best way to get to see a place.

    Also, I had no idea that gmaps pedometer existed but I’ve already used it. Thanks!

  5. Toni August 23, 2007 at 8:55 pm #

    What a great travelogue! I feel like I just got back from San Francisco – thanks! And I ADORE your restaurant rule regarding the place being packed with locals and playing a soccer match in the native tongue! You are SO right about this one!

    The Hanger One experience is just a reminder that sometimes people get carried away by their own sense of “cool”. A silly thing, that, but what can you do?

  6. ann August 23, 2007 at 9:02 pm #

    Julie — gmaps pedometer rules! now you know how the Boy and I can quantify our long walks! I agree there is no better way to get to know a city, but for San Fran I think for a lot of people, the cable cars may be a better option ;-)

    Toni — Thanks!! I wish I could claim credit for the rule, but, it was 100% the Boy’s. And yeah, the “cool” factor is a good point. Then again, maybe I’m just too much of a prima dona ;-)

  7. wildschwein August 24, 2007 at 2:12 am #

    Your restaurant rule is identical to my partner’s one – so funny! It has worked out pretty well so far – we tried it out a little while back at a Lebanese restaurant in Perth city. Aesthetically it looked really horrible and run down, but we were intrigued because it always draws lots of the local Lebanese community in for meals. We were craving kebabs one night and decided to give it a shot, tho in part fearing food poisoning. lol. It turned out delicious and some of the best kebabs we’ve had!!

    One of the pics you’ve put up of the Ferry Building Marketplace… is that the same place that houses this?:

    I *really* want to go there!! The menu sounds sooo good.

  8. ann August 24, 2007 at 6:33 am #

    Hi Wildschwein! — Yeah, that is Cafe Zoetrope! I actually didn’t put up a picture of the Ferry Terminal, sorry, it’s down by the water. We didn’t eat there, but you’re right, it did look awesome. Did you know that that’s Francis Ford Coppola’s building? Apparently he keeps his office under the, uh, coppola. Go figure.
    I love that the soccer rule is universal. It served us very well during the World Cup!

  9. wildschwein August 24, 2007 at 7:47 am #

    Yeah I knew that it was Coppolas restaurant – that’s in part why I want to go! (Our other blog on film stuff is, of course, called ‘space zoetrope’ !!) :P

    I didn’t realise he owned the building though. I’d love to go to San Fran.

  10. Lou Bustamante December 6, 2007 at 12:57 pm #

    Dear Ann,

    We were recently made aware of your posting and, first of all, we’d like to offer our sincere apologies. We know what it’s like to take the time and trouble to get somewhere only to find it closed; that’s a huge disappointment.

    Second, to prevent future disappointments for other people, we’d like to ask you to forward the link for the website that said that we’re open seven days a week so that we can get that changed.

    We are a small company, all of 7 full time people, and we work very hard to make sure that all of the info on our website is up to date and factual. We can’t stay on top of the websites of others unless we know that there’s something wrong.

    On the particular day you visited, and yes we do remember, we were hosting a distillation class to paying bartenders and chefs. 2 of us for 30 people! The curt responses were unfortunately made out of efficiency, but it was rude and we feel very badly about that.

    Lastly, and possibly most importantly, we’d like to find a way to make this up to you. If we can offer you a tour and tasting on a future visit, we’d love a chance to show you what our hospitality is really like. Please let us know.

    All the best,

    Lou & the St. George Spirits/Hangar One team

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