This year, I was ecstatic to see that my birthday fell on a Friday. Seeing as how I am entering a quarter century of life and hadn't done much for my birthday in (far) too long, I decided it was time to take a weekend trip. Long story short, I had been watching too much Vanderpump Rules and was convinced that the "squad" would want to come through - news flash, they didn't. I had been set on seeing San Francisco for the second time. I enjoy visiting cities centralized around food because, clearly, I enjoy eating. Not only that, but I work behind the scenes in the F&B industry so I have an appreciation for the design that goes into a logo, menu, dish and design. I love visiting local, underrated spots and I felt that I hadn't ventured into this side of San Francisco the first time around. Enough rambling, I was excited.
After months of asking around doing SF "research", we had it all planned out. Somewhat expectedly, things didn't always go according to plan but that's ok. Steele and I ran with it. I should inform early on that this trip was the two of us, so you will find less bars and wild antics. In replacement will be more intimate restaurants. Plans that fit into the preferences of both men and women, which may be a difficult task at times. Especially when your boyfriend isn't a big drinker. Anyway, here it goes.
T H U R S D A Y
My most recent traveling obsession: boutique hotels. The ACE Hotel started this personal trend and this time we had the pleasure of booking Hotel G very last minute at a very fair rate.
We arrived around 10:00 p.m. and began searching Thai restaurants for two reasons: Open late in every city and never disappoints.
This is how we came across the hole in the wall that is Chabaa Thai. What a wonderful late night bite. I ordered my usual Green Curry and added a twist with King Krab Fried Rice and Pad Prik King. Luckily, Steele has the memory of an elephant, otherwise I would have never remembered that last dish.
F R I D A Y
SF is the home of the oldest Chinatown. We were on the hunt for birthday dim sum, which is traditionally a hearty meal enjoyed some time before 3:00 p.m. Why not? On the way to the restaurant, we stopped in and admired a cornucopia of Chinese trinkets and affordable SF souvenirs. I am guilty of purchasing a T-shirt that reads "Alkatraz Swim Team" if you don't understand, you will by the end of Saturday.
...also known as the San Francisco Supper Club. I was pleasantly surprised when Steele decided to choose the restaurant on the big night. Me, the self-titled food connoisseur, had underestimated him. Live jazz and Dry Aged New York Steak Strip with truffle butter. Fine dining without the stuffy, uncomfortable atmosphere. Best of all the restaurant is located in the midst of an alley, beautifully isolated.
S A T U R D A Y
Book the Night Tour and book it early. Unfortunately, we procrastinated and only the Day Tour was available, but it was exceptional nonetheless. It's an informative, interesting tour that places you in the shoes of the prisoners. They feature stories of failed and successful escapes along with murder (!!!). A quick 12 minute ferry ride and you're on the beautiful, miniature, historic island. Following the tour, stop in Boudin and try the infamous bread bowls with clam chowder.
After the obligatory afternoon nap, we made our way to the main must-try on my list, Benjamin Cooper. An oyster and cocktail focused bar with a speakeasy feel. I think the concept says enough in itself. Cheaper Than Therapy was a last minute decision and definitely not a mistake. Steele and I both enjoy comedy shows, not sure who doesn't but that is besides the point. The local performers ran the bar and the show which gave the venue a more personal feel.
S U N D A Y
If you find yourself thinking, "EEEEee!" It is probably because you've heard of Mrs. Sara Pardee, wife of William Wirt Winchester, the family who founded Winchester Rifles in the 1800's. Following the sudden death of her daughter and husband to follow, Sarah sought out a psychic in Boston. During this time it was common for wealthy individuals to visit seers as a form of therapy. The psychic quickly warned Sarah that she was being haunted by the many victims of the Winchester Rifles, that she would be next if she did not begin building onto a mansion without stopping.
Sarah moved to San Jose, purchased an 8 bedroom barn house, hired a staff of carpenters who would work 24 hours on the home until her natural death 38 years later. The home is stunning and terrifying in sequence. I found myself dizzy multiple times in these halls. Imagine taking 7 winding sets of stairs, only to end up on the second floor 9 feet above. It is something you will need to see in order to truly believe. It is also a mere 1 hour drive from the city. The intricate mansion was turned into a museum five months after Sarah's death. If you'd like more recent ghost stories during your tour, ask about Clyde the Carpenter.
Near the museum is a restaurant called The Table that serves amazing (looking) biscuit breakfast sandwiches. Eat here. Do not eat at Ole! no matter how badly you want a Gyro.
The last thing I will say about San Francisco is, yes, it is at times difficult to fill your time. There are pockets to each place and point, in addition they are all a good distance from each other. In example, Haight and Ashbury is lightyears away from nearly everything. It is as if San Francisco was created in order to let yourself get lost with the right people.