I was in San Francisco last week representing Entrustet at Digital Death Day 2010 and then stayed for a few more days for some more meetings and to check out the city. I’ve been to San Fran a few times in the past, but hadn’t been able to spend much time exploring the city.
I really enjoyed exploring San Francisco and made it over to Oakland for an afternoon, too. One of my favorite parts of traveling is experiencing the food a city has to offer and San Francisco and Oakland did not disappoint. Since most of this post is about food, you might be tempted to think that all I did was eat, but I did get out and explore too.
I started out at Digital Death Day at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. The computer history museum was interesting, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to go there unless you’re a really big computer history buff. After the conference, we went to Amarin, a Thai restaurant right near the Caltrain station, which featured all sorts of interesting Thai food. A bunch of us shared 8 dishes, all of which were awesome. Speaking of Thai, I checked out Chabaa Thai for lunch the next day and hand the Panang Curry, which was a coconut milk curry that had a good mix of sweet and spice.
I walked around San Francisco, checking out the Embarcadero and wandered over toward Chinatown between meetings, climbing up some really steep hills. I stopped into Capital Restaurant in Chinatown and got the Chinese Broccoli and a clay pot seafood dish that were both really good. San Francisco’s Chinatown is mostly a tourist trap and not all that interesting, so make sure you check Yelp for ratings.
The next day, I had a mostly free day, so I went over to Oakland to check out the A’s and Giants in an interleague matchup. For as crappy as people claim the Oakland Colliseium is, I really enjoyed the game. It really reminded me of County Stadium (in a good way). After the game, I took BART over to Oakland’s Chinatown and walked around. If you’re interested in good food and a unique experience, skip San Francisco’s Chinatown and take BART a couple of stops over into Oakland. It’s much bigger, less touristy and less expensive.
My next day, I explored Ocean Beach, a park along the rocky Pacific coast, and walked all along the coast, past the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Marina and stopped at two restaurants along the way. In my winding route of about 10 miles, I saw some breathtaking scenery and learned about the shipping history of the Golden Gate. If you’re not into walking as much as I am, check out Land’s End Trail for a 3 mile walk along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and later the Golden Gate Bridge.
At the start of the walk, I stopped at a small Chinese restaurant for Dim Sum to try a bunch of different dishes. Later, I stopped into Pacific Catch for some awesome Ahi Tacos, which were seared to perfection and had the right balance of lime and spice.
The next afternoon before my flight, I walked up to Alta Mira, which is a park way up in the hills that has awesome views of the bay on one side and San Francisco on the others. I did some work, then went to Fresca, a Peruvian restaurant in Filmore and tried two seafood heavy cream-based stews, Chupe and Picante de Mariscos. Both had incredibly rich flavors and were full of calamari, fish, clams, shrimp, mussels and squid and featured Andean corn. The Picante de Mariscos was a great mix of spice and cream to go with all of the seafood.
Overall, I really enjoyed exploring San Francisco, especially the food. While Madison has a great food scene for a city it’s size, I love going to larger cities that have amazing diversity of food. I think that the best way to get to know a city is to walk around as much as possible and try small, locally owned restaurants. I had a great time and really enjoyed my stay. I’m looking forward to going back soon!