When Shane told me last month that he’d been given the opportunity to spend a few days in San Francisco for a work-related conference, I jumped at the chance to tag along, to spend some quality time with my husband, but also snag a little time to myself in one of my most favorite cities. We flew in on Saturday morning, got settled at our hotel room, and then met up with a couple of old friends who had come into the city for the day to hang out and catch up with us. Marco is known for making every little outing an ‘adventure’, and indeed, our 8-hour whirlwind tour of 5 different San Francisco bars and restaurants turned out to be an afternoon/evening/night to remember. We started with drinks at the Gold Dust Lounge – a little saloon-type bar right near Union Square. It happened to be unusually hot in San Francisco that day, and the bar was pretty toasty inside, so as the beads of sweat began to drip down our foreheads, we decided to call it a day at that place and head out in search of someplace with outdoor seating. We ended up at Delfina pizzeria in the Mission District and snagged a nice little sidewalk table. We ordered a couple of pizzas and some wine, and settled into our chairs to enjoy a perfect city evening with perfect food and great friends. The crostini with fresh mozzarella and arugula was a-mazing, and the pizzas were perfectly light, crispy, and fresh tasting. I could have sat on that sidewalk terrace all night, but we had a 6 pm reservation at Bourbon and Branch, so we polished off our dinner and hopped in a cab back toward downtown. I’m still not sure how Marco found out about this place, but Bourbon and Branch has recreated the true ‘speak-easy’ experience. When you call to make a reservation, they give you the address and a password, and the bar’s entrance is just an old wooden door in an otherwise totally non-descript gray stucco building front.
When you knock on the door, a man in a Dick Tracy-like hat opens the door just a couple of inches, peers outside, and whispers ‘What’s the password?’. Quite the production, but totally amusing. Luckily, we had that magic word and were led into a dimly lit bar, replete with dark wood paneling and furniture, deep red velvet-embossed wallpaper, and a drink menu that would impress any cocktail connoisseur. Since cocktail connoisseur I am not, and since the first page of their menu clearly states, “Do not even think of ordering a Cosmopolitan!”, I nervously flipped through the menu in search of something that looked like it would fit my tastes. My first choice was a White Lady, which is a mixture of Cointreau, gin, lemon, and egg whites. The egg whites give the drink an interesting foamy texture, and the lemon cut through some of the really ‘alcoholic’ flavors. Shane ordered an Old Fashioned (an homage to Donald Draper, for you Mad Men fans), and claims it was the best cocktail he’s ever tasted. We stayed for one more round, and then headed back out into 21st-century San Francisco in search another venue to continue our adventure. We ended up at Lori’s diner and munched on French fries to soak up some of the alcohol that was resting in our stomachs from those uber-strong cocktails. One more stop after that for a night cap, and we were ready to call it a night. We said good-bye to Marco and Lisa as they hopped on the Bart, returned to our hotel, and slept like a couple of babies that night, thankful that we’d had the foresight to fill up on food and water before we went to bed.
Yesterday we woke to a fog-blanketed city, but didn’t mind the gray weather, as we had time to get a slow start to the day.
Really, we had only one item on the agenda: meet up with a couple of other friends to watch the Giants WIN against the Rockies. It turned out to be a good afternoon for a baseball game, sunny and clear, and as we put on our Giants gear, we silently said a little prayer that our team would come through with a victory (we’ve watched them lose twice this year already, in San Francisco and Seattle, and I was worried that Shane just couldn’t bear a third defeat). The Rockies started off strong, and we were nervous when they went into the bottom of the 7th inning with a 5-2 lead. But then the Giants’ Renteria stepped up to the plate and knocked a pitch right out of the park, bringing in four runs and giving the Giants the lead. It was one of those all-consuming, totally joyous, game-going moments when everyone jumps up and down and grins stupidly and hugs and high-fives each other. Very cool. The Rockies just weren’t the same after that Grand Slam and so our team came through with a 9-5 win. YESSS! Games like that make me rethink my only lukewarm feelings about baseball.
We turned in early last night after a relaxing swim in the hotel pool, and I am now beginning my first day to myself at Café Centro, trying to decided what kinds of adventures today will hold. I’m suddenly feeling like the opportunities are endless…