A Best Friend Weekend Getaway Guide to San Francisco, California: Eating Up and Down the Hills

Time of Travel: November
Type of Travel: Best Friend Travel / Quick Weekend Getaway (for me, a quick weekend getaway to a new city means focusing on the best food and the classic tourist sites)

Scroll down for the itinerary

SET THE SCENE

San Francisco is the city of rolling green hills. From the top of the city, you can see cars going up and then disappearing from view as they descend the hill. In the center of the lanes are the famous trolley cars moving along leisurely taking tourists and residents alike around. The houses are painted in gorgeous pastel colors and an array of flowers in every color imaginable are growing in all of the corners. Don’t forget the famous Painted Ladies; the sight of them brings you back to your childhood of sitting on the couch with your family and watching Full House and the Olson twin sisters run around. On every street there are restaurants upon restaurants serving up every cuisine possible. The windy streets lead down to the salty air where land meets the sea. The pier area buzzes with activity as merchants put out their fresh produce for incoming customers and street artists set up their guitars and drums. Then there is the magnificent, iconic Golden Gate Bridge where its framework is not so golden but rather the magnificent site is why this attraction stands out as golden and glorious.

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THE BASICS

  • I definitely said San Fran somewhere (I know, I know) and a local laughed (in a nice way – hopefully) and told me that saying San Fran is the easiest way to identify yourself as a tourist. I didn’t mind because I am a tourist but it was fun getting to know that little fact.
  • WEAR COMFY SHOES! San Francisco is a super hilly city and even if plan on taking an Uber to every single place, you’ll be surprised to find what hills you have to climb to get to places!
  • BRING A LIGHT JACKET – Especially around the time that I visited. Temperatures can drop really fast throughout the day, especially if you’re near the pier! I got caught near the pier with a good jacket but in shorts and my legs were freezing. I wish I had brought a pair of leggings in my bag.

WHERE TO STAY

  • AirBNB – we stayed at in a private room in the heart of The Mission. Mainly because we wanted to be walking distance from The Mission restaurants and bars. We highly recommend this stay! The bedroom and bathroom were clean and we had a lot of privacy. No AC unit though just FYI!

TRANSPORTATION

  • Uber!

SUGGESTED ITINERARY

Day 1

  • Our day one was not really a day one since my friend and I arrived in SF late. We were both coming from our residency interviews and decided to meet at our AirBNB in The Missions area before heading to dinner! Tonight we were both exhausted from our interviews and it was going to be dedicated to dinner and chill drinks.
  • Dinner: Limon Rotisserie. This is a Peruvian place tucked into The Missions and it is truly a gem. My friend and I traveled to Peru a few years ago and fell in love with Peruvian cuisine but since being back in America, we have found it hard to find a restaurant that has replicated the food’s flavors well. Until now. Oh my gee. I cannot recommend this place enough! For those of you who have not tried Peruvian food before, this is a great place to have a first taste!
    • What to Order: Ceviche Mixto (red snapper, calamari, and octopus marinated in citrus-based Leche de Tigre) and Lomo Saltado (stir fried beef with onions, tomatoes, and ginger-infused soy sauce with crispy French fries and rice). These two are classic Peruvian dishes. The flavors are intense and you will definitely like Lomo Saltado if you are a fan of Asian flavors.

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  • The Missions area is a great place to go out at night since the street is lined with several bars and restaurants. We literally picked one and then popped into another one before trekking back to our AirBNB for a good night sleep.

Day 2

  • Brunch: Brenda’s French Soul Food. This was on our places to eat and we were thrilled when we arrived to find no line! And little thing right here: beating the line at a place. Literally ten minutes after we sat, this giant queue started to form outside the restaurant.
    • We ordered the Crawfish Beignets and Shrimp & Grits. There was probably more dough than crawfish in the beignets but nonetheless, a genius idea and the dishes were delicious! A great start to our foodie weekend.

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  • Golden Gate Bridge – there are many ways to see this bridge (Crissy Field, Fort Point, Battery Spencer). We opted for the Battery Spencer viewpoint. Now this was a confusing Uber ride across the bridge. After driving across, we got dropped off at a very random hill. Not really knowing what to do, we decided to follow a few people and ended up taking some off-beaten path over the hills but it was all worth it in the end when we got to the top and saw the stunning view point! Get your camera ready! We definitely played around for a while with my selfie stick trying to capture the sunlight appropriately. (Little Thing: when you have beautiful lighting for your photography). On our way down, we decided to walk the span of the Golden Gate Bridge back. The views from the bridge of the water and of the rest of the city were beautiful.
    • Take note that the bridge is 2 miles long. So if you walk it back and forth, it will be 4 miles!
    • It’s free to walk or bike across but if you drive across, there will be a toll fee (added on top of your Uber ride too).

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  • Lunch/Snack: Sushiritto. When we went the concept of sushi burrito was taking America by a storm in the past year and we wanted to try the right place. Sushiritto, which started in SF, is the world’s first sushiritto restaurant. We heard some great reviews on this place, and let me tell you, it definitely lives up to them!
    • We ordered the Geisha’s Kiss which contains yellowfin tuna, tamago (Japanese omelette), piquillo peppers, lotus chips, pickled cucumbers, green leaf lettuce, and ginger gauc. The place is small so we just ordered one and sat on a bench sharing it as we people watched. Perfect.

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  • Chinatown – we strolled through Chinatown for a bit but ended up feeling so hungry (I know, even after that sushiritto) that we left early to get to our next destination!

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  • Dinner: House of Prime Rib. Our SF trip was made due to this one experience. We heard and read that you need to make a reservation months ahead to get a table here. Since we had planned this trip last minute since our residency interviews overlapped, there was no way we could have done that. We also read that sometimes you can get in by placing your name on the list and waiting at the bar. So we told ourselves we couldn’t leave SF without trying.
    • We arrived around the evening time and then placed our name on the list. It didn’t seem super promising at first but we snagged a small table in the waiting area and ordered ourselves a martini. By the way, their shaken martinis come with a glass and a shaker which means that when you order it for $10, you pretty much will get two drinks out of it. SCORE. Anyways I would say after 1 to 1.5 hours of waiting, our name was called! We were so ecstatic!
    • We ordered The King Henry VIII cut and split it between us since our waiter assured it was going to be enough for two people. We ordered it with Yolkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, and cream of spinach. And oh my gosh, it was one of THE BEST meals we’ve ever had in our life. The prime rib was so juicy and each of the sides was so delicious. The service was incredible.
    • I highly recommend trying to get a table here, even if you have to wait a little bit. Maybe not a 4-5 hour wait but a two hour wait seems reasonable for this place.

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  • Nightlife: The View Lounge: After the food coma of a dinner we had, we wanted to finish the night with a view and drinks and we found both at The View. It’s an elevator ride up and it was Saturday night which meant the place was packed, and it was hard to get a table with a view but we did the best we could. If you can’t get a table, just peek out the large half circle window at the night time views of SF. Or you could come here and watch the gorgeous sunset over the city!

Day 3

  • Ferry Building and the Embarcadero – My friend and I slept in a little bit since we were out late and when we woke up, we were super hungry so we headed to the Ferry Building. Our goal was to sample a couple things there as well as pick up some food for our picnic at The Painted Ladies. The Ferry Building is this large complex near the pier that contains so many different restaurants! It’s my kind of place.
    • Unfortunately, however, none of the places my friend and I ate at were anything astounding. I kind of regretted spending my lunch time there since there are so many excellent restaurants in SF. BUT this is still a cool place to wander through! Here are our eats:
      • Blue Bottle Coffee – I will recommend this place for coffee. Smooth and strong!
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      • Cowgirl Creamery Café & Milk Bar – I tried the San Francisco Egg Cream which is flavored milk and soda. It basically tasted like an Italian soda! I would recommend it but man the cup was small.
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      • El Porteno – Empanadas which were decent but not the best I’ve had. Worth a try though!
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      • Disclaimer: there are some great, applauded places we did not get to try though!

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  • The Painted Ladies – These are the famous houses you’ll recognize from Full House in Alamo Square. You always see people on the beautiful green, grassy area having picnics and lounging in front of the most picturesque view of the six Victorian pastel colored homes. AND this is exactly what you should do here. As said above, my friend and I bought a few things from the Ferry Building and made a lunch picnic out of it. It was honestly such a charming moment. We didn’t really have a blanket so we sat on our jackets, talked about which house we would live in, munched on cheese, fruits, and crackers. There was construction going on behind us but nothing to take away from the scene in front of us.
    • Oh and you might have heard this before, but none of the homes of The Painted Ladies is the actual Full House. The real one is around 15 minutes away. We did not go see it but if you are interested, there are many other blogs that give you instructions to get there.
    • MAJOR TIP: We got this already prepared cheese board from one shop at the Ferry Building and was not in love with the quality of what we got. We really should have just taken the time to pick out fresh ingredients and make our own cheese board even if it might have been more money. So here are my tips to making a charcuterie spread for a picnic from the Ferry Building:
      • ACME – get the bread here
      • Cowgirl Creamery – get the cheese here
      • Boccalone Salumeria – get the meat here

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  • Fisherman’s Wharf – Wandering around here means walking amongst a giant tourist crowd! There are restaurants and little shops as well as live performers on the street corners. We loved making our way around and just popping our heads in and out of shops. And we had a destination in mind anyways –> Boudin

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  • Dinner: Boudin at Fisherman’s Wharf. We ordered the Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl and Oysters! We had an amazing experience here. First of all, this place is huge! We kind of got lost navigating the area but we ended up on some level where we sat at the bar and split the chowder. The chowder was so good especially since the weather dropped several degrees as the day progressed to the point where us Texan girls were freezing, We ordered a dozen order of the oysters but since we were sitting at the bar, we started talking with the workers and they ended up shucking many more for us on the house! They just kept laying it on our plates!

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  • Lombard Street – One of the most crooked streets in the world! I kind of explored this area wrong. My friend and I ventured around here during nightfall (why I don’t have a photo haha), but I think the best time is to explore it during daytime to really appreciate the colors of the plants, the stunning homes and to see the cars come down slowly in a zig-zag fashion. I remember driving past it earlier in the day and thinking this thought when we went to see it near nightfall. There is a separate staircase on the side where you can walk up and down.
    • FYI – This crooked portion is a small part of the actual street.

Other Things to Do:

  • The Cable Cars – This is probably one of the more touristy things to do in SF and my friend and I unfortunately missed out. When we went on our day three, the cars had broken down. 🙁
  • Twin Peaks – One of the best views of SF
  • Alcatraz Island
  • 16th Avenue Tiled Steps – A gorgeous photo op
  • Dolores Park in The Mission area
  • Coit Tower – 360 degree view of SF

 

So what did I miss and what should I do next when I go back to SF? Comment below!

Happy traveling,

Monica

 

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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous
    March 11, 2018 / 23:01

    A lot!!! Lol

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