Eat Your Heart Out
There is a reason this culinary capital consistently takes the gastronomic cake. If fine food is what you crave, San Francisco will satisfy your need to feed. From lush California valleys, which supply an endless variety of top-quality fruits and vegetables, and local organic ranches with select meats and poultry, to the internationally acclaimed and locally produced wine and top chefs which win awards time and time again, the Bay area is at the apex of fine food innovation - and nowhere is that more apparent than at the Ferry Building Marketplace.
Make sure you head out of your hotel in the morning for your food fest with your backpack in tow, there will be leftovers. Hop on the historic F Line, which will take you to this foodie mecca in vintage electric streetcar style. Exit at the foot of Market Street, facing the grand clock tower of the Ferry Building as the morning commuters spill onto the streets of downtown.
The Ferry Building
The Ferry Building reopened in 2003 to international applause with local gourmet selections of chocolates, breads, cookware, coffee, meats and poultry, fish, artisan cheeses and a handful of hand-picked restaurants with a distinctly San Francisco flair. Whether you are a caviar connoisseur, an oyster fanatic, a wine aficionado or just plain love a good burger (organic, of course) the Ferry Building is the place to be - especially if it happens to be a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday morning when the Farmer's Market is peddling produce perfection under the open air arcades.
Wander the Marketplace and the Farmer's Market for a make-your-own buffet to enjoy on the waterfront promenade. But first, get a cup of the Bay Area's favorite morning grind from Peet's Coffee & Tea to keep up your stamina for the breakfast hunt. Then hit the stands. Pack your satchel with the freshest fruits of the season, a pastry (or two or three), an assortment of cheeses and a fresh baguette and when you've had your fill, viola!, breakfast is served, al fresco and Bay front.
Following your edible education, walk along the Embarcadero and head up Washington street to Chinatown. The main shopping areas are along Grant Avenue and Stockton Street, where you can explore one of the largest Chinatowns in the U.S. Don't be shy to adventure off the main drag and into the alleys lined with restaurants, colorful vegetable and fruit markets and shops. Make sure to keep your eye out for cut-rate kitchen supplies; some local chefs scour these spots for great deals on solid cooking utensils. When your appetite is worked up from the walk, take lunch in Chinatown - you can't go wrong with choices like these. But if you are looking for the culinary grand tour, take a walk with the “Wok Wiz” Shirley Fong-Torres or learn All About Chinatown with Linda Lee.
Once you've had your fill in Chinatown, venture into North Beach for an after lunch cappuccino and gelato at one of the many sidewalk cafés in this old Italian neighborhood. But if you need to put a little more space between lunch and your next nibble, just keep walking through North Beach to Fisherman's Wharf and warm up with some clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Don't forget to pick up some chocolate from Ghirardelli Square (pronounced Gear-ah-dell-e) for the family back home and, if your stomach can take it, maybe a little hot fudge sundae for a late afternoon snack? Choose Your Restaurant One of the City's classic cable cars will rumble you back downtown to your hotel for a short rest before dinner. You are going to need it. Tonight will serve up some serious eating when you choose from some of the finest restaurants in the City: A great selection of restaurants:
- Epic Roasthouse is an upscale modern American steakhouse. The restaurant is sophisticated without being pretentious and offers splendid views of San Francisco Bay.
- Medjool Gatherings here tend to be on the celebratory side; tables that can be easily moved to accommodate larger groups, tempting tapas and the sky terrace make this a Mission District magnet.
- Orson diners may spot chef Elizabeth Falkner, a popular contender on “Top Chef Masters.” California cuisine reigns in a setting that features soaring ceilings and a touch of “industrial brawn.” And save room for Falkner’s “naughty and nice” desserts.
- Terzo, which means “third” in Italian derives its name from the concept of community spaces where people gather away from home. What a better way to meet some residents and get insider tips for making your visit to San Francisco even better?
- Universal Café’s chef/owner Leslie Carr Avalos likes to change her menu often and uses the seasonal changes to give her inspiration.
- Zuppa offers fresh, organically raised produce as well as naturally and humanely raised meats and poultry.
Now that you've worked your way through the top-tiered menu, it's time for a rest. Head back to your hotel and get some shuteye. Whatever you do, don't sneak that chocolate…it's a gift, remember? Ah, well, never mind, you can always pick up some tomorrow….