Though it’s only an hour away, I always feel that I don’t get to San Francisco enough. It’s such a fun city to wander around. It also happens to be superb for people watching and meeting. Plus all of the amazing food and cocktail options? Yeah, it’s a pretty sweet place that I’d love to get to know a lot better.
Early last month, I headed to San Francisco for a work conference and was forced to stay overnight in the city for two nights. Right off Union Square. At a Kimpton Hotel. With a free rooftop happy hour that was killer. How horrible, I know.
I had an absolutely amazing time during my stay meeting up with a San Francisco-based blogger you may know, catching some sweet views and, as to be expected, eating and drinking my way through San Francisco. Now, I will pass along my knowledge, for your next trip to SF!
My hotel was only a 10-15 minute walk to the conference. I felt so city-chic stopping by the Starbucks right outside my hotel to pick up breakfast and coffee before walking to my “work” for the day. (Coming from Napa, we have very few opportunities to feel city-chic. And no one walks anywhere.) I loved taking in the view of the huge buildings surrounding me on every side, the people hurrying past me and the tourists (like me) snapping photos of the gorgeousness of it all.
Like most of my trips, I love to get better acquainted with a location through food. What can I say? It says so much about the culture of a city (or neighborhood). And it’s yummy. Here’s where I ate during my two days in San Francisco:
Ebisu – 1283 9th Avenue
Located in the gorgeous hills of the Sunset, Ebisu is my new favorite sushi joint. Like, ever. My friend Ramin and I felt lucky to snag a table in the midst of the bustling restaurant since they don’t take reservations. The menu is extensive (and a bit overwhelming) but everything sounded so delicious and our wonderful server helped us make some choices. We each ended up getting miso soups, then sharing the trio of edamame (the lemon garlic was by far the best!) and a few rolls. The fish tasted so fresh! Fresh fish is one of the many reasons I love living on the West Coast (Best Coast). Dinner at Ebisu was definitely a warm welcome to the city.
Bocadillos – 710 Montgomery Street
My first day at the conference, Christina, the mastermind behind Currently Exploring, and I grabbed a bite between my conference sessions at this fabulous Spanish-style tapas restaurant located in the Financial District. I loved the family-style vibe and decor inside. There was a huge community table in the center of the room, but we sat at the bar. Many of the menu items caught our eyes, so Christina and I ordered a few and split everything. It was the perfect choice! My favorite was the Catalan sausage bocadillo–so much flavor! We got a ton of food for a very reasonable price. I was a happy girl!
Apparently they have a great happy hour, too!
Scala’s Bistro – 432 Powell Street
On my last night staying in San Francisco, I dropped off my work things in my room and then practically ran to catch the last thirty minutes of the free happy hour in the hotel lounge (pictured at the top). After a long day and wine:30, I was too beat to venture very far from my hotel. Lucky for me, I had Scala’s Bistro right next door. I walked in, sat at the bar and ordered a glass of bubbles. After perusing the menu, I ordered the roasted beet and ricotta salad and the pesto-filled ravioli, opting for the lemon cream sauce. Let me just pause here and tell you how I was in absolute heaven while eating these! Everything was fresh and flavorful. I cleaned both of my plates and was beyond full afterward. The bartender, however, was feeling quite generous and surprised me with pear sorbet. It was fabulous so I ate most of it and then rolled myself back to my hotel room. I cannot wait to come back!
House of Nanking – 919 Kearny Street
On my final day of the conference, a group of us decided to grab lunch at a place that had received rave reviews from a couple of conference attendees the day before. Located in Chinatown, a short jaunt from where the conference was held, House of Nanking is clearly a local favorite as the house was packed (just don’t judge it based on its website..)! With both a lunch menu and a “regular” menu (whatever that means?), House of Nanking has no shortage of options– nor frills– for very cheap. I ordered the not-very-photogenic Famous Nanking Sesame Chicken and a side of rice. I should have known that the portions would be ginormous, like at most Chinese restaurants where everything is family style. But it was so tasty! The sweet potato gave the light saltiness of the sesame chicken a nice balance. Everyone was quite pleased with their dishes, too.
Before I knew it the conference was over and I needed to drive back to Napa. I was sad to leave San Francisco after two days of exploring and the ridiculous Friday evening traffic leaving the city only made me want to stay longer. I left with even more SF restaurant favorites and a hunger to delve deeper into the city’s food scene. Or perhaps it was just actual hunger because I stopped in Emeryville to grab a bite at a favorite Thai restaurant of mine. Either way, I’m excited to get back to exploring San Francisco’s food, happy hours and culture. What are some of your SF favorites? I’d love to check them out!