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5 San Francisco Dining Lessons

November 13 2015 - 9:00 AM

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I took a trip out to California a few weeks ago to visit friends…and mostly to eat good food. Much like Chicago, San Franciscans are serious about their food. But what I witnessed was a whole other level of serious. I had some really incredible snacks, meals, deserts – you name it. Here’s what I learned along the way.

1. Get Your Game Face On For Brunch
We’re all used to the typical lines outside of Summer House, Lula Cafe and Bongo Room on weekends. Walk down any street in SF and you’ll see a steady stream of hungry diners. This isn’t just the case for a few key spots; it’s like this everywhere. A lot of the lines do indicate awesome spots, while some are just habitual for neighborhoods a bit sparse on the morning dining options. Get out early, and arm yourself with a thorough guide in case your first option is too packed.

birite creamery2. The Lactose Intolerant Are Missing Out
I’m a pretty big ice cream fan. Okay, I’m obsessed with ice cream. Every corner I turned in SF felt like another opportunity to experience my true love. In a short time span of a few days I enjoyed ice cream multiple times. It was all delicious, yet nothing compared to Bi-Rite Creamery in the Mission. Again, there was a line down the block. It was well worth it. The variety of flavors had me a little stressed out because each was more delicious than the last. Malted vanilla with toffee, brown sugar with ginger caramel swirl, banana fudge ripple… I’m drooling a little right now.

3. Afternoon Snacks Are Serious
Tartine Bakery is not a new thing. It’s a James Beard Award winner for good reason. What surprised me at first, though, was the intense line of gluten-lovers that spend their afternoons waiting for Tartine to release its selection of freshly baked breads for the day. Once I turned into one of these crazy people myself, I ¬†actually did it again the following day. Curiosity was killing me and I had to try the walnut bread, ok?! The country bread just has that perfect balance of tangy sourdough flavor, plus a crusty exterior. Tearing of large chunks of steaming hot Tartine bread was a highlight of my trip for good reason.

4. Chinatown Isn’t Just a Chicago Thing
Walking the streets of SF’s Chinatown is an amazing thing. Markets are full of absurdly cheap produce. Bubble teas are in abundance. And the fragrant smells will lure you in like nowhere else. There’s much beyond the fortune cookie factory. I thought Chicago had a diverse array of food options until I stepped into San Francisco, where Chinatown takes over the city and you can find pretty much any type of food you’re in the mood for just down the street.

5. Some of the Best Things Can Be Found in One Place
Scouring the streets of SF is a necessary and fulfilling task. If you’re looking for some of the best the city has to offer, step into the Ferry Building for the farmers’ market. You’ll ¬†find fresh produce, incredible lunch options, abounding baked goods, Cowgirl Creamery Cheese (get the Mt. Tam), artisanal coffee and, of course, delectable ice cream (see, I do have a problem). It’s a great way to get a taste of the city with a beautiful bay view as your back drop.

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