One of my most popular travel posts on Shared Appetite is the The Top 10 Foods You Have To Eat in Paris. So I figured, hey, if that kind of post is helping people plan their trips to Paris, why not do the same for San Francisco. I know when I plan a trip, the first thing I do is look for “where to eat in…” and “the best foods in…”. I mean, really, who cares about doing the touristy stuff anyway. I’m there to eat
So if you’re planning a trip to the Bay Area, I hope this list can give you a pretty healthy starting point of where to eat in San Francisco. And the links throughout will take you to a more detailed write-up of each restaurant. Just do me a favor and wrap me up and send on over the leftovers, okay?
English Muffins and I go way back. The were repeatedly offered to me and unenthusiastically accepted as a form of breakfast nourishment as an adolescent. They even made random appearance at dinner, under the guise of English Muffin Pizzas.
Personally, I’m not really a fan of them. Smothering it in sauce and cheese and calling it a pizza did help a bit, but still. Who are they trying to kid. You’re not a muffin. Muffins are delicious, especially my mom’s famous Chocolate Chip Muffins. You, English Muffins, are not muffins.
As an adult, I am proud to say that I’ve literally never had another English Muffin. But then The Model Bakery happened, and I had another encounter with the wanna-be muffin.
When I announced to the world (the couple friends I have on Facebook) that Asheley and I were going to San Francisco and Napa Valley this past summer, there were two restaurants that people were adamantly passionate about. The first was Mama’s, the amazing breakfast joint in San Fran that serves up some ridiculous French Toast.
Our friends Tom and Julianna were really excited to tell us about Mustards Grill. It was here Tom said he had the best pork chop of his entire life. Now that’s a bold statement… or maybe he just hasn’t had a lot of pork chops in his life. But I trust Tom, and it peaked my interest enough to make a lunch reservation and get over there between our daily morning and afternoon wine tours. It’s a tough life in Napa Valley…
Do you know what would be really cool? Imagine this. Opening up a 3 Michelin starred restaurant that is basically known as one of the top restaurants in the world, a casual dinner spot with an always-changing menu, a bistro serving up classic French fare, and a kick-butt bakery that immediately transports you back to the familiar smells of Paris’ many patisseries and boulangeries.
Oh, and it all has to be in the same small town, on the same little block, in some of the most prime-time real estate in all of Napa Valley. Wouldn’t that just be lovely? Yea, that’s a reality for Chef Thomas Keller. The dude has the market cornered in Yountville. He basically owns it.
Bouchon Bakery is a great little spot for a casual breakfast or lunch, or for those looking for a little midday snack in order to soak up the massive amounts of wine pumping through their veins.
And fellow New Yorkers, we can get our hands on Bouchon Bakery as well. He’s got one hiding in the Time Warner building overlooking Columbus Circle, and somewhere in the maze of Rockefeller Plaza.
I have good news and bad news. Let’s get the bad out of the way. We really wanted to go to Chef Thomas Keller’s world-renowned The French Laundry while we were in Napa Valley this past July. It’s a once in a lifetime meal. Once in a lifetime experience, really (although we have dined at a couple other 3-Star Michelin restaurants as well, but still, it’s THE French Laundry). I called up two months prior like I was supposed to, at the required time posted on their website (actually 10 minutes earlier than that), and the phone lines were already busy! They started taking reservations early! The nerve. The horror. Well, fast forward 45 minutes when I finally got through, and yea, of course they were solidly booked for that day. No problem, I’ll just call back tomorrow and try for another day. Then the hammer fell. Nope, they would be closed for vacation during all the remaining days we planned to be in Napa!
I tried pulling the card you don’t understand, I have a food blog. No, not really. Because that never works. Anyway, I dried my tears, picked up the phone, and did the next best thing a guy could do. Reservations at Chef Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc, it is.
There are basically two things to do in Napa Valley. Eat food and drink wine. Wake up. Eat breakfast. Wine tasting. Eat lunch. Wine tasting. Eat dinner. Well, and relax a whole bunch. So I guess that’s three things. I digress.
One of the first restaurants that came to mind once Asheley and I decided to take the Napa Valley plunge this past summer was Bottega. I’ve heard great things about the place, and the fact that it’s celebrity Chef Michael Chiarello’s restaurant surely doesn’t hurt.
Happy Labor Day! I’m not quite sure how I feel about the whole Labor Day thing. On the one hand, I’m super happy for all of you who have the day off. Three day weekends are pretty spectacular. And the shopping sales are pretty fantastic. I just got two new pairs of pants yesterday. Exciting stuff. But on the other hand, this is my LAST day off before the school year officially starts tomorrow. Chris you had two months off so I totally don’t feel bad for you!. At least that’s what my friends tell me. And I know that, but it’s still the end of a glorious summer vacation.
Okay sorry for getting sidetracked. So I know technically I said we went to San Francisco and Napa Valley, but we did make a quick stop in the picturesque and charming little town of Sonoma on our way between the two. Why? Food. Duh. Specifically, brunch at The Girl & The Fig.
Finally. It’s about time. In-N-Out Burger, we meet at last. It’s sad, really, that there are none of these franchised burger havens anywhere near the East Coast.
For years I’ve heard the stories of friends much more well-traveled than myself tell me about their love for In-N-Out Burger. And with my recent inaugural visit to California, I knew that In-N-Out Burger needed to be a definite lunch stop during our San Francisco food marathon.
There are apparently several fantastic ice cream options throughout San Francisco. With limited time, limited stomach room, and a wife that noticed my rapidly e-x-p-a-n-d-i-n-g waistline during vacation, we were only able to visit two ice creameries.
You would be hard pressed to give me an ice cream I don’t enjoy, or at least can’t find at least somewhat pleasant. I mean, come on, it’s ice cream. But these two places have some pretty interesting stuff going on. Stuff that you need to know about.
Asheley doesn’t watch a ton of cooking shows, but even with her limited contact time with celebrity chef television time, she has developed quite a few healthy affinities (it sounds to juvenile to write “crushes” and too forward to write “eye candy”) to a few certain someones. Geoffrey Zakarian is her silver fox. Michael Symon and Marc Forgione are favorites as well. And recently, she has had quite the infatuation with Chef Chris Cosentino.
When I told Asheley that Chef Cosentino’s restaurant was in San Francisco, she almost fell off her chair and choked on the apple she was attempting to eat. Since I’m a husband that doesn’t like to disappoint, a reservation was immediately made.