I was in San Francisco for four days this past week. Well, more like 2 days, since an east-coast–west coast jaunt is a day-long affair and so the first and the last day were really just travel days. I was there for work and in case any work folks are reading, I worked my butt off! (I swear! Read my report!) But I’m also totally dedicated to not wasting a meal when I’m in a city like San Francisco. An hour for lunch each day turned into a jog (literally, in heels) across town, a speedy lunch, and jog (again, in heels, my poor feet) back to work. Dinner on Monday deserved a 2.5-hour wait (and was oh so worth it), while dinner on Tuesday cleared up a legend in my mind. Since I didn’t feel like lugging my camera with me everywhere I went, my phone was all I had. Here’s my trip in instagram.
The Slanted Door. You know it, it’s famous. A high-end, modern vietnamese restaurant that sits right on the Embarcadero. I booked it over here for lunch on Monday. I sat at the bar, next to a Chopped Judge (Sanchez). I had a little moment of deer-in-headlights when I recognized him. That…freeze…celebrity…keep walking… don’t stare thing that I always do. I almost walked right past the seat, but he had smiled and I had a moment of clarity and decided that yes, I could sit next to the famous person and not be a total spaz. So I did. The first thing I want to say about the Slanted Door is that it’s a perfect place for a person to eat solo. The first thing the bartender said to me was that many of the dishes could be cut in half for single diners, so that we can have more. I’ve never heard of that before honestly, and I do a lot of solo dining. I appreciate that. Way to be awesome, Slanted Door. The second thing I want to say is…yum. With some direction from the bartender (I wanted to eat the whole menu; I was lost), I ended up with pork belly lettuce wraps (you’re shocked I ate pork belly, I can tell) and the shaking beef. Both were spectacular. Although I loved my meal, this is the one instance of diner’s regret that I had for the whole trip. I’m going to need to go back for the crab cellophane noodles. The people next to me had them and I desperately wanted to steal them.
When you’re in San Francisco, you don’t drink Starbucks (well, lies, I did drink Starbucks once, the shame), you drink Blue Bottle Coffee. If you’ve just had a fairly heavy lunch at the Slanted Door, and need to go sit through 2 hours of talks without passing out, then you cross the hall of the pier and slug one of these delicious babies. Or rather, you drink it while you jog back to work. I was happy as a clam.
State Bird Provisions. Oh yes. According to last month’s Bon Appetit, this little place is the number one new restaurant in the country. That may have explained the 2.5 hour wait on a Monday night. Luckily, I had the company of my good friend and kegged wine around the corner at Fat Angel to keep me occupied. This meal you guys! This meal. This. meal. This was one of the most exciting and delicious meals that I’ve had in a long time. For starters, the place is tiny, the walls covered with peg board and semi-rustic, semi-abstract art made of string and wooden blocks. The food is mostly brought around dim sum-style, on carts. They describe what they have that day, you decide what you want. There’s also a short menu of items to order from. The cuisine is…California fusion? It’s everything. It’s asian, it’s farm-to-table, it’s latin. The corn and garlic chive pancakes with stinky cheese and sweet corn sauce are TO DIE FOR. No, really, these are all I want to eat forever and ever, amen. The eggplant and tofu kimchi in a crock was spicy and vinegary and addictive. The quinoa with tuna crudo…I still havent figured out how they made quinoa taste like that. We almost bit the waiter when he tried to take it away before every seed was gone. Curried watermelon? Yes. DESSERT. PEANUT MILK. Passion fruit and deep chocolate pudding. Ugh. So good. So worth the wait. SO deserving of their Bon Appetit title.
Kokkari. Lunch number two. Ok, I live in a Greek neighborhood in NYC, so it may seem strange that I hit up a Greek restaurant in SF. But it came highly recommended by someone I trust (Hi, Dad!) and, well, I have a soft spot for Greek food. Specifically, grilled octopus, which I devoured along with some zucchini cakes and a brilliant glass of rosé that the bartender informed me was the last bottle in existence (Don’t know if that’s true. Don’t care.). Along with doing delicious Greek food, this restaurant is GORGEOUS. All rustic wood, and high ceilings, and huge, open windows. Just too pretty, too warm. Just the kind of place I feel at home.
Zuni Cafe. I had to go here, guys. I had to have the chicken. I had to compare the chicken I had made after years of hearing about it, to the real deal. Turns out, there is NO comparison. The chicken, served hacked into pieces over pan-juice soaked bread salad, is maybe the best roasted chicken I’ve ever had. The skin is crispy, and the chicken is moist and flavorful through and through. The ideal homey meal to share with a good friend. It’s perfect, it’s simple, just like all the food at Zuni. In fact, I would say that when I picture a Californian restaurant in my mind, I picture the kind of food they serve at Zuni. A plate of perfect tomatoes, a bowl of perfect polenta, with local mascarpone. Nothing too fussy. Everything fresh. Honestly, I wasn’t blown away by the rest of the meal, I mean, it was delicious, it was fresh, but it wasn’t mind blowing. But the chicken, it was mind blowing, and I’ll go back in a heart beat for it. And the caramel pot de creme. I’ll go back for that too.
1 Ferry Building #3
San Francisco, CA 94111
1529 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
200 Jackson Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
1658 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94102