so you finally did it. you bought tickets to go to san francisco, foodie mecca of the west coast. & as soon as you booked your flight, you were overcome with the sense of dread that comes along with the realization that you have no clue how you’re ever going to whittle down your sf foodie bucket list into a realistic itinerary. & let me tell you…i hear ya, i do. read on for the biggest tips i have for a successful foodcation in the bay area.
1. check the weather & pack layers
okay, so i know what you’re thinking: “duh jess, who travels without checking the weather??”
*insert blushing emoji here*
well friends, i suppose i do.
san francisco, as i came to learn, has quite an interesting microclimate that is very similar to seattle. the summer months there are actually quite cool while september & october feel much warmer. also, there’s huge disparity between how cool it will feel in the morning versus how warm it is in the afternoon. throughout our trip, mornings in san francisco tended to be foggy, moody & broody, while afternoons were sunny & warm.
if you’re planning to be out & about for the entire day, dress in layers & bring a bag or backpack that will hold your outer layers when you get too warm for them. nothing ruins a day of sight-seeing faster than being too hot or too cold!
2. plan ahead for the fact that literally everyone in san francisco will be wayyy cooler than you
totally not joking. your trip to san francisco will be a humbling experience. literally everyone will look like super cool & hip urban dwellers that you see on billboards. you will feel like a frumpy grandma. it’s gonna happen. cope now & move on with enjoying your trip!
3. call your super-cool & super-hip sf friends & have them take you to whitechapel
ok, so once you get over the fact that you’re a frumpty dump, go through your list of long-lost friends, figure which of them have moved to san francisco (& consequently have become super cool & hip), & reach out to catch up over a cocktail.
& in the event that you don’t have long-lost super cool & hip sf-dwelling friends, check out whitechapel. it’s the speak-easy style bar that our long-lost super cool & hip sf-dwellers took us to for a killer cocktail.
when you step into whitechapel, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another day & age. the interior has been refinished to look like the most bad-ass train car from the ’20s & it is seriously jaw-dropping gorge.
aside from it’s unique interior, whitechapel touts the largest gin selection in all of north america. their extensive specialty cocktail list celebrates this selection with gin libations fit for gin-lovers & non-gin-drinkers alike. particularly delicious was the lamplighter’s story (gin + hibiscus + grapefruit marmalade + serrano + bitter orange soda).
their food menu has great pub-style dishes to share or indulge in on your own. we were there a little before dinner time so chris & i opted to share a couple of small things. the farmer’s cheese & naan with roasted carrots was the perfect munchie to tide us over before our late dinner reservation.
4. check out tartine (every day)
my one regret of our trip was not heading to tartine sooner. they’ve perfected pastries & have won the hearts of locals & tourists alike. read more about our tartine adventure here, but the long & short of it is: plan to wait in line for awhile (it will be worth it, pinky swear), order the croque monsieur (it features the country bread that put tartine on the map), & take a chocolate croissant to go (because, duh).
5. take the time to tourist a little
ah yes. take it or leave it, my travel philosophy includes a steadfast belief that you should always allow yourself to indulge in the expected. you’re in san francisco for gosh sakes. eat some sourdough. take a photo of the golden gate bridge, darnit. check out fisherman’s wharf. yes, there is SO much more to this beautiful city than these high-traffic tourist destinations, but appreciate them for what they are & move on with your off-the-beaten-path plans.
6. two words: wayfare tavern
checking out wayfare tavern was at the top of my list for foodie adventures in san francisco. i’ve been following tyler florence ever since he taught me how to cook via tyler’s ultimate on the food network. having the opportunity to try his food at his elegant take on a tavern in the heart of the financial district was incredible.
chris & i shared a late lunch as an early celebration for our one-year anniversary. from cocktails to our dessert of donuts, wayfare tavern swept us off our feet.
the real show-stopper, though, was absolutely the organic fried chicken. named the best fried chicken in america c/o food & wine magazine, i distinctly remember watching an episode of tyler’s ultimate in which he walked through this tried & true fried chicken recipe. so naturally i fangirled for, like, a solid 20 seconds before i dove in face first.
oh. my. word.
the crispy golden chicken is perfectly moist & full of herbaceous flavor, due to a buttermilk brine & a deep fry in oil that has been perfumed with sage, rosemary, & thyme. served with a simple wedge of lemon that gives the rich chicken a perfect kiss of acidity, you will savor every single bite of this meal (& immediately book another trip to sf to enjoy this meal again asap).
psst…stay tuned. i’m cracking the code on how to recreate this beauty at home.
7. don’t be afraid to leave san francisco: plan a day-trip to napa
even if you have planned just a short trip to san francisco, making it out to wine country isn’t out of the question. chris & i did our research & learned that there are TONS of companies that provide full wine country tours, including round-trip shuttles from san francisco to napa &/or sonoma. we went with napa valley wine country tours, who provided excellent service, a convenient round-trip shuttle, & 2 meals all for $99. read more about our napa adventure here!
have you traveled to san francisco? what were the highlights of your trip? any tips or advice you have for fellow foodie travelers? comment below – let’s chat!