This past weekend, I enjoyed a lovely, whirlwind couple of days in one of my very favorite cities in the world - San Francisco. Not only was it a treat to enjoy the already-stunning, immaculately maintained Victorian townhouses dressed up in fabulous Halloween spirit, but, in true MonsterStewart form, I indulged in all of my very favorite culinary treats that I find myself craving from the Bay:
Millionaire's Bacon from Sweet Maple - The most decadent, thick cut, free range bacon imaginable, baked with brown sugar, cayenne pepper, red pepper, and black pepper to form a sweet, spicy, gooey masterpiece of bacon. If you discover your monthly (daily?) bacon quota has not yet been met, then be sure to try their Dixie Bacon as well, which is deep fried and drizzled with a Tabasco honey sauce. In addition to being a bacon mecca, this Japantown brunch hot spot also cooks up incredible scrambles, like their marinated ribeye Bulgogi with carrots, spinach, onions, and gochujang chili sauce.
Morning Buns at Tartine Bakery & Cafe - Husband and wife duo pastry chef Elisabeth Pruitt and master baker Chad Robertson's creations are worth lining up for - and that's precisely what you'll have to do, in order to snag yourself freshly baked Morning Buns at Tartine Bakery. Prior to opening, bun-afficionados in the know make their way to this hallowed bakery/cafe in order to revel in the warm, luxurious richness of Pruitt and Robertson's wares. Breads, croissants, quiches, sandwiches, lemon bars, tarts, cakes - it's impossible to make a bad choice at this Mission District celebration of all things carbohydrate.
Margaritas and Empanadas at Nopalito - Now with two locations serving spectacular, traditional Mexican cuisine, Nopalito (named after a slice of "nopal," or cactus leaf, used in Mexican cooking) is my go-to SF spot for a perfect pitcher of margaritas and the best Mexican food I've had outside of Los Angeles. Totopos (tortilla chips baked in salsa), carnitas, ceviche, panucho de pollo - Nopalito prepares a myriad of authentic dishes...and they do them really very well.
Sampling the various shops at The Ferry Building - Located along the Embarcadero, at the base of Market Street, the Ferry Building Marketplace is a breathtakingly beautiful hall lined with shops and restaurants highlighting local, seasonal, sustainable San Francisco food. The range of specialty foods and cuisines offered is enough to make your mouth water - if you don't feel like sitting down for a proper restaurant meal at the Slanted Door or Hog Island Oyster Company (two of my favorites housed within the building), it's fun to wander as an insatiable gourmande from shop to shop. My must-haves always include Boccalone (who else but the genius salumi minds of Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore would bring you a snow cone-style bouquet of salumi, or a Mess Piggy sandwich with pulled pork and spicy pickled peppers?), Cowgirl Creamery (artisanal cheese galore), incredible ice cream from Humphry Slocombe (two scoops in a waffle cone, of course), and a perfect cup of coffee from Blue Bottle.
Burritos at Taqueria Cancún - If you're looking for a proper belly-busting burrito, look no further than the Mission's Taqueria Cancún. Their Burrito Mojado ("a big one") is epically packed full of your selection of meat (the grilled steak al pastor is my favorite), and covered in cheese, salsa, and enchilada sauce. Open until midnight, I find I have to roll myself out of this taqueria...but it is worth it.
TBD Restaurant - I always love to try out a new restaurant whenever I visit the city, and my brother, an SF resident for nearly 10 years, is an invaluable source when it comes to recommending delicious, innovative, exciting San Francisco restaurants. We shared a wonderful meal this past trip in SoMa (South of Market) at TBD, a New American restaurant helmed by Chef Mark Liberman featuring impeccably beautifully plated, seasonal dishes. Start to finish, the warm wood banquette, open kitchen, and amazing food made for an incredible dining experience - their Venison Tartare with plantains stands out to me as a simply unforgettable dish.
Now, I could go on and on (and on!) about San Francisco, but these are only a small handful of restaurants and locations I wish were in Los Angeles out of purely selfish convenience. At the same time, their semi-distant locale makes them that much more special, and has me already looking forward to my next trip back up north!