SF Food Tour 2011


Julie standing outside of Mama’s, waiting for a famous San Francisco brunch in the Italian district

It’s time to recap, regret and rejoice over the content of our diet for the last week spent in San Francisco. In case we haven’t said it enough, we are forever grateful to our friend Jed, who let us stay in his home for the last 9 days. It allowed us to have an incredibly restful time away from the bikes, figure out logistical work for the next 12 months’ plans and of course, indulge in good food. We like to call it the San Francisco Food Tour 2011, to be exact.

Before arriving in town, we knew we had a few favorite places to hit, but otherwise, just wanted to bask in the glory of a town full of different ethnic foods, nearly all of which have an overwhelming amount of vegetarian options. We covered lots of ethnicities and even repeated a few favorites because they were that good, were close to Jed’s home, or were nice on the budget. That being said, we were surprised how cheap most of the food was, considering the sticker shock we received in New York, so it was nice to not go way overboard on eating out.

The only regret we have in all the wonderful food we ate is that we left town feeling a few pounds heavier. We were grateful to get back on the bikes to start burning some calories again. I guess walking around the city all day might be exhausting, but might not burn off that daily bowl of ice cream!

Here’s a list of all the places we ate and the people we were happy to spend time with over a fabulous meal:

Sunday 9/18

Lunch – Cheesecake Factory in Union Square: Veggie pizzas and a slice of Key Lime Pie Cheesecake and Peanut Butter Chocolate Ripple Cheesecake. Best part was watching the 49ers game at Jed’s place while we ate.

Dinner – Barney’s in the Marina: Falafel sandwich and Beet salad. WevVisited with our friend Jim and his three sons at one of Jim’s favorite burger and fries places. True to SF form, there were lots of vegetarian options and our meals were no short of fabulous.

Monday 9/19

Lunch – Iron Cactus in SOMA: Veggie burritos with a good friend, Sean. Reminisced, got up to speed, and learned about a crazy competition that Sean did the prior weekend called “Tuff Mudder”. We were reminded that the taquerias just keep getting better as we head South.

Dinner – Dosa in the Mission: One of the “must visit” places on our list for Indian food, combined with great conversations with Jed and Jamie, our SF hosts, in a way. We remembered it being good the last time we had it, and somehow it was even better this time.

Dessert – Bi-Rite in the Mission: The first of way too many ice cream indulgences. Little did we know Jed was an ice cream fanatic, and since our worlds collided this week, we too shared that ability to consume mass quantities of this dessert.

Tuesday 9/20

Lunch – Mama’s in North Beach: This famous breakfast/brunch place wasn’t on our “must” list, but it is now. We heard about it from our good friend Vince, and after waiting an hour (I can’t believe it, but it was worth every minute), we were nearly crying for joy over the mouth-watering taste of crumb cake, fluffy buttermilk pancakes topped with homemade raspberry jam, and Cinnamon-Raisin-Almond Brioche bread French Toast. We nearly rolled ourselves out of there, but loved every bite.

Dinner – Stinking Rose in North Beach: Based on a great time we had eating at this Italian restaurant a few years back with another good friend, we went for this often touristy, famously garlic-laden restaurant with another good friend, Patrick. We caught up on work, running and life over gnocchi, pizza and a salad. Patrick also did the “Tuff Mudder”, so it was fun hearing another perspective of the race.

Wednesday 9 /21

Lunch – Cha ya in Berkeley: Only in Berkeley, a vegetarian Japanese restaurant with at least 30 vegetarian items, including Sushi. We explored Berkeley with our new-found cycling friends from Canada, Jen and Dave. San Francisco was our last common ground, as they have headed East towards Yosemite and beyond, so we will miss them and wish them well going forward.

Dinner – Uncle Vito’s near Jed’s: Garlic and broccoli pizza at home. We spent the evening watching Jed and Jamie run a 3.5 mile corporate race of over 8700 people by the Giant’s stadium, and later picked up the pizza on our way home.

Thursday 9/22

Lunch – Iron Cactus in SOMA: A taqueria worth repeating because it was about a mile walk, good food, perfectly filling, and cheap.

Dinner – Asmara in Oakland: We decided to cross the Bay Bridge with Jed and Jamie for this highly recommended Ethiopian restaurant in Oakland. The food in fact turned out to be one of the best Ethiopian restaurants that we’ve ever been to, and we yet again had a great time talking with Jed and Jamie over one of the few foods that we never eat with silverware.

Dessert – Three Twins Ice Cream from Jamie’s freezer. Though it’s Jamie’s freezer, Jed has his own personal stash of ice cream, and between the two of them, they had 16 pints of ice cream! Our favorite flavor after we tested nearly all of them: Lemon Cookie. Soooo good that it beat out Jed’s favorite, Mocha Difference.

Friday 9/23

Lunch – Baladi in the Financial District: A complete surprise of quick, fabulous Mediterranean food just two blocks from Jed’s place, and cheap! I had a falafel/veggie wrap in lavosh bread and Matt had the meza plate, which is a big mix of all the good vegetarian selections like hummus, falafel, tabouli, stuffed grape leaves…

Dinner – Ploy ii in the Haight: A little family time with our cousin, Tim. He recommended the place and we were not let down, with all of us sharing spring roll and corn cake appetizers, pad thai, a veggie curry and a cashew veggie dish. It was the most one-on-one time we’ve ever spent with Tim, who’s just a year younger than me, and was just a delightful evening of good conversation once again.

Saturday 9/24

Lunch – Home: We were starting to feel the tightening of the pants and the emptiness of the wallet, so leftover thai food was just perfect.

Dinner – Home: Again, tight pants and a too loose wallet sent us to Safeway to pick up the basics for a dinner of salad, spaghetti, veggies and bread.

Sunday 9/25

Lunch – Home: Homemade brunch during the 49ers game of pancakes, hashbrowns and yogurt. By this time, our SF food tour was coming to a close, and the desire to cook was finally kicking in.

Dinner – Home: Leftovers from the prior evening’s dinner.

Monday 9/26

Lunch – Baladi in the Financial District: Like the Iron Cactus, the food quality was so good, the portions so filling, and the price so cheap, that it was hard to pass up this repeat of just a 5 minute walk away.

Dinner – Pakistan/Indian in the Mission: The Mission just might be our favorite district for food, as we tried a “new to us” Indian place with Jed and Jamie. I don’t know how, but we lucked out once again on great tasting, cheap food of one of our favorite ethnicities. It was a fabulous send-off meal to have with Jed and Jamie.

Dessert – Pie and ice cream in the Mission: A twist on our ice cream binge, but still gluttonous. It was only forgivable in our minds because it was our last night in the city…however we can justify it, we will!

Tuesday 9/27

Lunch – Mama’s in North Beach: We arrived as their doors opened, and still stood in line for 20 minutes, but each ordered the exact same things as last time to fuel us for our 40 mile ride today.

The food tour is officially complete, and we are back to camp food of Ramen, canned veggies and canned beans. It has nothing on any of the meals from the last week, but we’re oddly excited to eat it. I’m hoping the miles we ride over the next week will burn off all those indulgences over the last week. While every moment of San Francisco was awesome, with the people we visited, the food we ate, the sites we saw and the rest we took, it’s good to be back on the bike, heading towards Mexico.

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