I recently went to San Francisco for a small vacation (which was my first solo trip ever!) and of course, before I flew out, I made a shortlist of restaurants I want to eat at. I didn’t get a chance to go to ALL of them, which is really just because of the limited physical capacity of eating, but I got to go to most of them and want to share some of the highlights of my foodie adventures.
First order of business after landing was of course, Mexican food, which is allegedly one of the highlights of San Francisco. I’m not a picky eater by any means, but I can’t say that Mexican food is one of my favorite cuisines. I think that the mixture of heavy carbs like beans, corn, tortilla, rice, and chips, mixed with the heavy dairy content (sooo much cheese, soo much sour cream) is a little to harsh on my stomach. No disrespect at all, because I think that if I could handle it, I’d have it all the time. I was just raised on Vietnamese cuisine which is very fresh and not, for a lack of a better term, so heavy? I’ve never had Mexican food and felt better after finishing my meal.
With that being said, El Farolito was very often recommended to me by my friends who have lived or currently live in San Francisco for internships, and after spending my entire 5 hour flight from North Carolina starving because none of the airplane food seemed appealing, I was ready for about anything. And boy, it did not disappoint. For $23, I had the “Quesadilla para dos” with steak which are these MASSIVE quesadillas stuffed with steak (which was perfectly seasoned and surprisingly not overcooked), fresh avocado, sour cream, and queso. In addition to that, I wanted to try their supreme nachos where were topped with chicken and every enjoyable taco topping you can imagine. The side of nachos and unlimited helpings of 3 different salsas was 65 cents.
This will be the one time that I have Mexican and feel like a new and better person afterwards.
My next meal was at Espetus Brazilian Steakhouse. This was my first time having food like this and going to an all you can eat steakhouse. I definitely overdid it because I napped for legitimately 4 hours after the meal, but it was so so worth it. The salad bar consists of fresh salads, dips, along with sides like rice, mashed potatoes, souffle, and a dangerous amount of cured meats. I definitely considered grabbing the whole tray of prosciutto for myself, but had to restrain myself to save room for the 7 different cuts of meat that Espetus offers for lunch.
When I was growing up, my family and I would watch “Paris by Night”, which was essentially a Vietnamese talent show that was filmed in Long Beach, California. These were seriously some of the best moments in my family’s history, with my older sister Linda choosing her English name based on one of the celebrities who would often performed on this show. In addition to this, we were constantly bombarded with commercials for restaurants and services all over California dedicated to Vietnamese people and fantasize about the how good the food seemed.
So imagine my disappointment when I go to the very hyped-up Golden Star Vietnamese in San Francisco for a hot bowl of pho and in turn, get definitely re-heated via microwave broth and noodles, SO UNENJOYABLE THAT I DIDN’T EVEN TAKE A PHOTO OF MY BOWL. I did however, love the beef carpaccio appetizer. This is traditionally a South Vietnamese dish, so I never had it much growing up, and therefore can’t trust my standards for this. I came back from my trip and told my mom about my subpar Vietnamese food experience in California and she refused to believe me. I guess you win some and lose some.
To be honest I don’t remember what this restaurant is named LOL. That’s because literally every restaurant in San Francisco does a happy hour special with $1 oysters, and the restaurant I originally wanted to go to ran out, so we just went to the closest one that still had oysters. If it was up to me I’d eat variations of oysters and shellfish for my entire life and nothing else. But, it’s not up to me, and variety is the spice of life, which is where the paté and muscles come in. I tried to order a margarita but was greeted with a glass of straight tequila instead. It was a terrible misfire on my part.
My day trip to Sausalito and Muir Woods was absolutely perfect. Sausalito is the cutest little town and had the most picturesque streets and tourist trap restaurants. I’m glad that I found one unintentionally that was so charming. Under the unassuming name of “Sausalito Fish and Chips”, this diner has a great view of the marina and surrounding islands, crazy ice cream flavors, and some of the best fried shrimp I’ve ever had! Also, peep the huge serving of tartar sauce… oh jeeze. I’m in heaven. I could eat tartar sauce straight.
On top of that, I was greeted with way more Snapple flavors than I’m used to (because ‘Murica), and I was more excited than I should have been that pink lemonade Snapple is a thing.
All in all, the food in San Francisco was pretty awesome, but to be honest, I think that even the very ethnic restaurants feel… gentrified. The prices and the food quality kind of reflects that. I’ve been in restaurants in Toronto where the host/hostess doesn’t even bother to greet me in English until I look beyond confused, and their food displays that authenticity. Here are more quick shots of my food adventures!