On the road, Travel

The Fun-Lover’s Guide to San Francisco

December 31, 2015

A few weeks ago, I paid my sister Caitlyn a visit in San Francisco. The littlest P has lived there for just over a year and has the city pretty dialed if you’re into things like coffee, craft beer, good food, and adventures (which I am 100% into). I arrived on a Thursday and left on a Sunday morning. After the trip, I. was. exhausted. Little sis is 23 and has an unlimited energy source. Even though it took me a few days to recover, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Here are the highlights: 

1) COFFEE | St. Franks 

St. Franks, located in Russian Hill, is one of those coffee shops that offer a little something for everyone. Amazing assortment of beans to purchase (all of which can be made into a pour-over coffee), lattes and latte art galore, milk from local dairies, and a variety of nut milks all made in house. Perfection. 

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2) MORE COFFEE | Sightglass SF 

Sightglass SF, located in the Mission, is another great SF coffee spot. I opted for a single espresso shot and the crema was perfection in a glass. Another highlight: the floor! So cool. I also like that they sell really delicious dark chocolate to feed my chocolate addiction. 

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3) GET BENDY | The Pad Studios 

One of my favorite San Diego yoga instructors once said that the magic in Yoga is as much about the community as it is the practice. My sister has embraced the community aspect of Yoga at the Pad Studio in SF. For the last year, she’s regularly attended the same class with the same instructor on the same day of the week. The results = she’s homies with the instructor and has made some sweet yoga buddies. It was really neat experiencing this sense of community with her! o-2

 

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Caitlyn and her yoga instructor/pal, Becca.

3) EXPLORE | Point Reyes 

After Yoga on Friday, we packed the car with snacks and loaded our shared Spotify playlist with all of the hottest jams and headed north to Point Reyes. Known as the windiest and foggiest spots on the Pacific Coast, Point Reyes is frequently blanketed by week-long periods of fog and few years pass that do not see violent gales of 75 to 100 miles per hour (121 to 161 km/h) strike the area. So we were super excited when we left the city because there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We thought we might experience one of those epic clear Point Reyes days! 

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We were wrong. 

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Following our chilly lighthouse adventure, we enjoyed a delicious cider with friends we met in the parking lot. More on WILDCIDE hard cider later. 

↠For dinner, we stopped by an oyster resturant called Saltwater Oyster Depot in Inverness. This was my first time having proper oysters and after I struggled a bit with the first one, I am happy to say I really enjoyed them! We sat at the bar and chatted up our server and eventually met the owner – such nice, down to earth people. Will return!

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4) SWEAT | TRX training center 

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On Saturday morning, we headed to the TRX training center (which also doubles as the TRX headquarters!) for a workout. Such a cool experience and well-run class! I liked it so much that I bought a TRX system to bring home with me to use in the backyard, on lifeguard towers, trees, anywhere. 

5) FESTY LIFE | SF Craft Beer Festival 

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On Saturday, Caitlyn had a work obligation. Sounds boring, but it’s not, since Caitlyn works in the beer industry! We got to try a variety of craft brews from California and beyond. WildCide, the cider brand that her and her team recently launched, was also being poured at the festival. YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS CIDER! The only ingredient in this “champagne of apple cider”: fermented apples. No sugar or apple juice is added in making the overall sweetness and sugar content lower than most ciders. 

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6) DINE | BBQ & Pizza  

Of course no trip to SF would be complete without a few unique dining experiences.

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image via insidescoopsf.sfgate.com

↠The first night we visited a place called Smokestack in the DogPatch, which is almost too hipster for me but I can’t lie, I liked it. Smokestack is a BBQ spot that has tons of beers, mostly brewed by Magnolia. The food is served on butcher paper on a large medal tray – classic BBQ style There are a variety of meat and side options ranging from brisket, ribs, slaw, to baked beans. The interior is very cool and rustic with large wooden tables and communal seating. The downside is that this place is verrrrry pricey. $50-$60 for two people.  I couldn’t help but laugh inwardly at the great irony of the situation. I talk about vegan this and gluten-free that for my job and here I was chowing down on a massive piece of meat and a delicious piece of homemade bread. It’s all about a healthy balance, right? 

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Image via Del Popolo

↠The second night we visited Del Popolo, a resturant made famous by it’s food truck roots. Apparently, when this food truck would show up at places like Off The Grid, people would wait in line for over an hour for pizza! Crazy? Maybe. When my sister told me this story, I wanted to try to to see what all the fuss is about. Lucky for me, Del Popolo recently opened a brick and motor location in Nob Hill. The pizza my sister and I shared was one of the best I’ve had in my life. According to our waiter, it’s the naturally-leavened dough that sets it apart. It’s cooked in a wood burning oven which gives it a unique flavor.

When it came time to order a glass of wine, I was surprised at the wine list. Only naturally fermented wines were available. Cool idea but the taste got some getting used to. According to an article in sfist.com…  “Darsky (Del Popolo founder) will use a natural fermentation process for all the pizza dough, and that attention to natural fermentation will extend to the beer and wine program as well. “Relying on factory-produced yeast leads to a degree of sameness throughout pizzerias and bakeries, which is something we want to avoid,” says Darsky. “The same is true for our wine programs… Our choices will be driven by selections that are naturally fermented in ways that produce character.” 

7) WALK | The Streets San Francisco 

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8) DRINK | Cocktails, Beer, & Wine 

Of course we had to hit up the best of the best when it came to wine, beer, and cocktail establishments! Here are my favorites:   

↠Cocktails: Trick Dog, Mission 

Photo Cred: https://www.thrillist.com/

Photo Cred: https://www.nightclub.com 

“Best ice program in the game!” was the first thing Caitlyn said to me when she told me about Trick Dog. When we arrived on Saturday afternoon, the place was packed but we were able to find a spot at the bar. Bartender Caitlin Laman (pictured above) greeted us and she asked us what we like to drink. We got on the topic of eggnog and she got very excited to whip up a fresh batch (in 8 minutes, flat, mind you!). After our round we departed but not before Caitlin invited us to play a pick up basketball game the following day. Huge fan of this place! 

↠Beer: Mikkeller, Union Square  

Backstory: Founded in 2006 in Copenhagen, Denmark , Mikkeller was originally a microbrewery. Mikkeller is based on the or  “gypsy” ethos; that is, the company does not operate an official brewery and, instead, collaborates with other brewers to produce their recipes or experimental one-offs. The brewery was founded by two home brewers: Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, a high school teacher, and journalist Kristian Klarup Keller. Both sought to introduce their home-brewed beer to the public and to “challenge beer friends with intense new tastes”, drawing inspiration from the American breweries that “aren’t afraid to play and break all the rules”.

In July 2013, the first international Mikkeller bar was opened in San Francisco. The SF bar uses the “on-the-fly” beer taps that allows the beer to be poured in a very sophisticated and controlled manner. Beer, water and carbon dioxide are blended in a precise manner and the product is served at the correct temperature, with variations applying to different styles of beer.

Bonus: if you like sour beers, they have a secret room downstairs that is entirely dedicated to sours. 

↠Wine: Bacchus, Russian Hill 

The most cozy little wine bar right down the street from my sister’s place. They say “wine & sake bar” on their website but I don’t recall seeing any Sake. Just delicious Rose Champage and big, bold reds. Lots of reds! Helpful that Caitlyn is friends with the entire staff. 

When I look back at this trip to SF, YES, it was busy and action-packed. Yes, I needed a few days to recover. But I wouldn’t have changed a single thing. I got to see and experience the (awesome) life Caitlyn has made in SF and the friends she’s made.  I am so glad I decided to make the trip, especially since Caitlyn recently accepted a new job in NYC and will be making the move at the end of January. Can’t wait to visit her there after she’s settled and write “The Fun-Lover’s Guide To NYC”. 

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