Weekend in San Francisco

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buffetbuster
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2009/07/14 18:34:02 (permalink)

Weekend in San Francisco

Flying all the way to San Francisco for just a weekend may not be the brightest idea ever.  But I found a real cheap direct flight and I hadn't been here since 1996, so.....
 
I spent quite a bit of time in the Mission District, which is a mostly Hispanic neighborhood. 
 
Lots of interesting architecture, like Mission High School.

Cool art, too.  This is just a small part of a mural found on a church.

I also took a self guided tour of Mission Dolores, founded five days before the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.  If it looks familiar, (especially the cemetary)

Jimmy Stewart followed Kim Novak here in the Hitchcock classic film, Vertigo.
The Mission Dolores Basilica.

It is equally impressive inside the basilica, but my photos came out too dark. 
 
I sat down in the small chapel and listened to a service in Spanish for a few minutes.  All of a sudden, I heard all this music behind me.  They had a choir, with guitars and other instruments, playing in the loft. 

Not being in a hurry, I sat there and listened for a while, since the music was so beautiful!  Another nice mural on the mission grounds.

Very close to the mission was a large park,

with lots of palm trees and hundreds of people enjoying the summer day.
 
Obviously, I had to do some eating while in the area.  Bi-Rite Creamery is reviewed here on Roadfood.  The place is easy to spot, since there were many, many people sitting outside,

licking their cones.  Here is a partial list of the available flavors. 

I also like the fact that they write the names of the flavors right on the glass, which makes things so much easier.

Certainly some interesting flavors, but I went with the banana split. 

The vanilla ice cream was soft, light on the tongue and extremely delicious and the carmelized bananas were a nice touch.  But that thick hot fudge sauce is what I will remember most.  Not sure how to describe it, but they obviously use very high quality chocolate for it.  Whatever you do when you visit, make sure you get something with hot fudge on it!  In fact it was so good, I spotted that they have jars of sauce for sale. 

Being a huge mint lover, I grabbed a jar of the mint chocolate sauce to take home.  If I had room in my suitcase, I may have tried to get them all home!   Once I try it, I will report back how it was.
 
You'd think that sundae would be enough, but I soon found myself back in line again.  This time I snagged a cone, with one scoop of salted caramel and one of mint chip. 

The contrast of the sweet and the salty was excellent.  This is really, really good ice cream!  I noticed they had a sign that said no dogs allowed, other than service dogs.  Then a guy walks in, with a small dog in his backpack.  I had to take a photo of it, without giving away the dog was in there and I ended up with this:

Yeah, I think the girl behind the counter was onto him.  This is one of my favorite Roadfood pics I have taken in a while.  To me, it looks like the dog is saying, "Shhhhh, don't tell her I'm here!"
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Reviews/6285/bi-rite-creamery
 
Another stop was at Taqueria San Jose

It is conveniently located a half block away from the 24th & Mission Bart (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station.  They got off to a great start with me by having cool art


on the walls and refreshing fruit drinks, like this strawberry.

 
I ordered the carnitas platter. 

Unfortunately, the rice, the beans, the guacamole were all inferior quality.  They tasted like they came from a fast food place.  That is the bad news.  The good news is that I loved the carnitas (roast pork).  Extremely soft, tender and juicy, with especially flavorful crispy parts. 

I was shocked by how good the meat was and how poor the sides were.  I did try and eat the pork with the provided small tortillas,

but since all I was going to eat was the pork, I just ate it by itself.
 
Sitting in the corner, next to the open windows, I had a great seat for all the passersby on busy 24th Street.  This place gets high marks for atmosphere.  But the food gets a mixed review.
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/3293-3357/taqueria-san-jose
 
A woman sleeping on top of a van?

Why not!
 
Walking around for a few hours builds up an appetite, so I also stopped to eat at St. Francis Fountain

This restaurant looks and feels

like it has been here forever.  Anyplace that makes this many kinds of milkshakes,

is well on their way to earning my love!  Here is my raspberry shake.

This thing was so thick, that even with the double-barrelled straw action, it was almost impossible to suck it up.  This was a spoon drinking shake, which is just fine with me!  Plenty of raspberry flavor, too.
 
The Sterns recommend a sandwich called the Forty-Niner, which they describe as a cross between a club sandwich and an egg salad sandwich.  Uhhhhhh, okay.  Willing to try something new, here is what I ended up with.

Not something I would want to eat all the time, but this was quite interesting and good.  Despite how black the bacon was, it wasn't too overdone and crispy.  The lettuce and tomatoes went extremely well with the fresh egg salad.  Lightly toasted sour dough bread, too.

This definitely gets a thumbs up.
 
The staff was made up of what we used to call in the 80's punks.  All the waitresses had multi-colored hair, with piercings and tattoes.  Kind of interesting for an old fashioned soda fountain.  My service was excellent and I could not have been treated any nicer.
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/6257-6398/st-francis-fountain
 
Much more to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/07/14 18:43:16
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56 Replies Related Threads

    wanderingjew
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/14 18:51:11 (permalink)
    Buffetbuster

    You should have gone to Taqueria Pancho Villa!




    Now here is the most important question of all

    Did you walk up and down Nob Hill, Russian Hill and Telegraph Hill ? BOTH WAYS!
    #2
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/14 20:10:20 (permalink)
    Cliff, don't you think San Francisco is the most beautiful city in the US?  I mean, I know there are a lot of pretty ones but there's something about SF.  I get egg salad-and-bacon sandwiches all the time and that one looks great.  I also would not have been able to turn down salted caramel ice cream--sounds awesome!
    #3
    1bbqboy
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/14 20:18:36 (permalink)
    I'll always be a La Cumbre fan.
    #4
    quijote
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/14 20:42:30 (permalink)

    I'm impressed you went back for seconds at the ice cream place!  Salted caramel sounds delicious, but I'd also like to try that honey lavender.... with some hot fudge, of course.
    #5
    billyboy
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/14 22:50:02 (permalink)
    I loved all of the sights, food and narrative, but that chihuahua in the backpack had me at hello!  I'd have brought him home in a heartbeat!
    #6
    mr chips
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 01:28:43 (permalink)
    Love the Mission District and the Hitchcockian echoes at the the Mission Dolores. Envy you your trip.
    #7
    mar52
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 10:04:13 (permalink)
    Lovely report.  SF is so close and so far away at the same time.

    I would definitely have to taste that salted caramel!
    #8
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 10:10:31 (permalink)
    mar52-
    I recently had salty caramel for the first time at Jeni's Fresh Ice Cream in Columbus, Oh.  I loved it and have been keeping an eye out for it ever since.

    mr chips-
    I was thinking about Vertigo the entire time I was at Mission Dolores.

     
    Nancy-
    No arguement from me about San Francisco's beauty.  There is no other city in the US like it.
     
    WJ-
    Dude, you would powerwalk to Sausalito just for a cup of coffee.  That isn't me! 

    post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/07/16 08:21:29
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    wanderingjew
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 11:18:37 (permalink)
    buffetbuster

    mar52-
    I recently had salty caramle for the first time at Jeni's Fresh Ice Cream in Columbus, Oh.  I loved it and have been keeping an eye out for it ever since.

    mr chips-
    I was thinking about Vertigo the entire time I was at Mission Dolores.

     
    Nancy-
    No arguement from me about San Francisco's beauty.  There is no other city in the US like it.
     
    WJ-
    Dude, you would powerwalk to Sausalito just for a cup of coffee.  That isn't me! 




    Sausalito?
     
    Thats a cake walk!
     
    Actually if the road to Sausalito was lined with cake (or pie), I bet you would join me!
    #10
    joerogo
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 11:54:36 (permalink)
    buffetbuster, Thanks for the great report on San Fran.  I have never been there, but it is on my short list.
    #11
    ann peeples
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 12:12:11 (permalink)
    Boy, that 49er sandwich really appeals to me.I will have to make one...and salted caramel ice cream? My favorite combo-sweet and salty!!!
    #12
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 12:41:21 (permalink)
    On Saturday morning, I had breakfast at Sears Fine Foods,

    long a staple in the Roadfood books.  Since it was directly across the street from The Sir Francis Drake, (obligatory shot of bellman in Beefeater's uniform)

    where I was staying, I basically rolled out of bed and walked in their door.  I had read that they can get monstrous lines, but since it was 6:30AM, I was first in.  Always happy to see a counter,

    my preferred seat.  The walls were lined with old signs for FDR and Truman and World War II posters.  The restaurant has been at this location since 1938 according to a historical marker outside.
     
    The orange juice tasted fresh squeezed, which is always a big plus.  I went for the famous 18 small pancakes and paid the extra for the lingonberry sauce. 

    These pancakes really were small and extra-thin.  A little dab of butter, some of the tart lingonberry sauce and this was a fine meal.  The side of ham

    was average at best.
     
    When they brought me the bill, they also gave me a coin,

    to be used on the slot machine

    near the register.  Unfortunately, no free meal for me.  After showering and getting dressed, I came back out of my hotel to see a line of people now waiting for a precious seat. 

    See wanderingjew, it pays to get up early when you are on vacation!
     
    http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/366-366/sears-fine-foods
     
    After all the walking I did on Saturday, I needed to sleep in and relax on Sunday morning.  I didn't check out of the hotel until 11:50AM.  First stop was Dottie's True Blue Cafe for breakfast.  But as popular as this place is, combined with how few people it holds, I was in for a wait.  Had I known it would ultimately be one hour, 26 minutes to get a seat, I may not have waited.  But, I'm no quitter.  Especially when it comes to breakfast! 
     
    I finally got seated at the counter, where there was a great view of the cooks in action. 

    These two guys worked extremely well together and it was so much fun to watch.  This place does have a large menu, but also have quite a few specials.

    Considering Dottie's is best known for their breads (I took this photo of some of their loaves for sale on the way in)

    and bakery items,

    I started off with a peach honey muffin. 

    Huge (when it was delivered, I told them I only wanted one and they said this was only one) and served hot, this was the highlight of the meal.  In fact, as big as it was, it could have been the meal.
     
    My entree was two of the pancakes,

    which were extremely light and fluffy.  I also got a side of the chicken apple sausage,

    but didn't care for it at all.
     
    Because there was still a long line waiting to get in

    (I took this on the way out, which meant it was now after 2:00PM!), I ordered as soon as I sat down, ate quick and paid right away.  The waitress seemed appreciative and thanked me.  My time inside the restaurant was maybe 15 minutes. 
     
    http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/5322-5416/dotties-true-blue-cafe
    More to come.....
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/07/15 12:44:24
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    mar52
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 12:51:59 (permalink)
    Breakfast out is one of my favorite things when travelling. (traveling?)

    Waking up early is not.

    That muffin looks awesome.  Did it have crunchies around the top?  That's my favorite part.
    #14
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 13:28:33 (permalink)
    A little upscale on the hotel selection for you, no?  I remember my dad taking a business trip to SFO years ago and bringing back a photo of him with the doorman.  They seem pretty agreeable to being photographed.  The last time I was in SF, though, rooms there were a little pricey  - so, we stayed on points in the Disney-esque Wharf district. 
    #15
    stricken_detective
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 14:07:08 (permalink)
    buffetbusterI noticed they had a sign that said no dogs allowed, other than service dogs.  Then a guy walks in, with a small dog in his backpack.  I had to take a photo of it, without giving away the dog was in there and I ended up with this:

     
    This is too freakin cute! I hate places like this because they have the sign, but then they won't usually have a place outside for me to tie him up. I love the idea of the backpack, if only my dog would go for that!


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    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 14:33:31 (permalink)
    I have really fond memories of Sears because my mother and I struck up a conversation with the couple in front of us and ended up splitting a booth so we could both get seated right away.  Having breakfast with strangers is pretty awesome too.  ;)
    #17
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 15:03:25 (permalink)
    stricken_detective

    buffetbusterI noticed they had a sign that said no dogs allowed, other than service dogs.  Then a guy walks in, with a small dog in his backpack.  I had to take a photo of it, without giving away the dog was in there and I ended up with this:

     
    This is too freakin cute! I hate places like this because they have the sign, but then they won't usually have a place outside for me to tie him up. I love the idea of the backpack, if only my dog would go for that!
    I'm really hoping you don't have a Great Dane!


    #18
    Greymo
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 15:20:12 (permalink)
    Sounds like you had a great weekend!   I would love to find that ice cream someplace.    Nice report.   
    post edited by Greymo - 2009/07/15 15:22:33
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    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/15 19:45:48 (permalink)
    buffetbuster -

    We always stay at the Hyatt at the other side of Sears and it is our regular stop...good food, cool atmosphere, a little pricey.
    #20
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/16 08:20:58 (permalink)
    CTD-
    Always great to hear from you, my friend. Yeah, Sears is a little pricey, but it is San Francisco, so what can you do.  In my next segment, I ate something that I knew you would particularly enjoy.

     
    Nancy-
    Glad that Sears gives you such a pleasant memory.  And I did have to sit with strangers at one of my meals, which I will post about soon.

    TTM-
    I originally had a free room at the Comfort Inn by the Bay, but when I saw how far away it was from most of the things I wanted to do, I switched at the last minute.  There was enough walking already! 

    #21
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/16 15:16:16 (permalink)
    Saturday night, I had a ticket to see the Giants play the Padres.  Just around the corner from the stadium, I was more than happy to find a location of Happy Donuts

    This place is mentioned in the new Jane & Michael Stern 500 Things To Eat Before It's Too Late book.  I had tried to visit the downtown location that is listed in the book but I got Travelin Manned
     
    Considering he visited me in Pittsburgh the previous weekend, it was inevitable some of that luck would rub off.   But seriously, why is a donut place closed on a Saturday morning?  Anyway, finding this place made the hurt go away and I was soon munching on a couple of yummy, hot glazed twists.
     
     
    This was my first visit to AT&T Park.
     

    No surprise to find a statue of Willie Mays here,

    but one for Orlando Cepeda

    was a surprise.  There are also statues for Juan Marichal and Willie McCovey, but I did not see them.
    When people think of this park, the first two things they think of are the giant coke bottle and glove

    in left field and McCovey Cove, the water behind right field.  Not too many kayakers

    out on this night.  One of the highlights was running into this disgruntled Padre fan. 

    As a Pirate fan, I understand completely!
     
    In the game itself, "Kung Fu Panda" Pablo Sandoval hit a two run homer early and the Giants held on to win 2-1.  Good game, beautiful stadium, an all-around good night.  Here is the view of the field from my seat in the right field bleachers.

     
    Though I was tempted by the Gordon Biersch garlic fries, I did not eat anything at the game.  So on the walk back, I was hungry.  On 2nd Street, I passed Eddie Rickenbacker's,


    which is reviewed here on Roadfood.  Standing outside, looking at a menu, I was unsure whether this was where I wanted to have my dinner.  The fact that there was hardly anyone eating here on a Saturday night was not a good sign.  Just then, a young guy stepped outside to have a smoke, so I asked him about the food.  He said the hamburgers and fries were decent, but nothing special.  Then he added, all the waitresses were really good looking.  Considering I had to use a bathroom and my feet were sore from the day's walking, this was enough to get me inside.
     
    The first thing you notice is that they have old motorcycles hanging from the ceiling and the walls in both the bar

    and the dining room.

    To drink, I got an Arnold Palmer, which is half lemonade and half iced tea. 

    Having read about these here on Roadfood but having never had one, I was very happy to see it on the menu.  It was ultra-sweet and frothy!
     
    I was sorely tempted by the fish & chips, but when I asked the pretty waitress for a recommendation, she was adament that the burger was the thing to get.  Since that is what the Roadfood review mentions also, that is what I ordered.


    I asked for my burger medium and it was slightly cooked more than I prefer.  And the bacon was undercooked, I prefer mine crispy.  But this was still a fine burger and I had no trouble eating the whole thing.  That is an unusual bun it comes on, which I think was called a Boston bun, according to the menu.  My fries are supposed to be garlic parmesan fries.  There were some patches of the flavors on the fries, but too little to make much of a difference.  
     
    I also didn't have to dine alone, since the house cat (Mr. Higgins)

    spent a good portion of the meal underneath my feet.  From looking at the size of this cat, it isn't missing too many meals!  Most likely, the cat was looking at me and thinking the same thing. 
      
     http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/5972-6069/eddie-rickenbackers
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/07/16 17:10:02
    #22
    Foodosaurus
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/16 15:27:08 (permalink)

    What a cute.... fat.... but still cute cat!  I think that would have made my night.
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    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/16 15:34:38 (permalink)
    Looks like a lovely night at the ballpark!  I don't know why an Arnold Palmer was frothy, but then I usually make my own.
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/16 18:07:13 (permalink)
    The best meal of the trip was at Tadich Grill.  I had walked by earlier in the morning to check the hours and saw they open for lunch at 11:30AM on Saturdays.  Did not realize before that they were the oldest restaurant in California,

    which is pretty cool.  Upon rearrival at 11:20, there was now a short line. 

    I took the photo and got in line.
     
    Just to kill time, I asked the woman behind me if she had been here before.  She just shook her head no and didn't say anything.  Okay.... so I turned back around.  About two minutes later, she said, "I've heard great things about it and it is the oldest restaurant in San Francisco".  She then proceeded to tell me about a bunch of other restaurants I should try (mostly fancy, upscale places) and how old they were.  Her husband showed up and she told him, pointing at me, "This guy is trying to hit all the old restaurants in San Francisco".  I am?  When did that happen?  She was having a conversation with herself.  She then asked her husband what the name of a specific restaurant was and he reminded her that she had eaten there, but he hasn't.  But this didn't stop her from admonishing him for forgetting the name of it.  At this point, I couldn't wait for the doors to open!
     
    When I told the host I was a party of one, they pointed me to the counter, which was fine with me.  The counter was a long wooden beauty.  The one waiter, with a distinct accent greeted me and told me to choose whichever seat I want.  He seemed to be very friendly, so I sat right in front of him.  I ordered an iced tea and started gnawing on the sour dough bread. 
     

    Notice the cable car swizzle stick.  The bottom of it says Tadich Grill.
     
    The menu here is incredibly frustrating.  There are so many things that looks good, I could have had all my meals in town here and still felt like I maybe missed out on something.  From the appetizer section (the menu here changes everyday, although some things do seem to be constants)

    I went with the Dungeness crab cake.

    The sauce on top is a light curry aoli, but I swear it tasted slightly mustardy to me.  Maybe that was my eyes thinking the yellow tint must be mustard.  Anyway, the crabcake had very little filling and was superb.
     
    Lots of things to choose from for the entree.


    It came down to Cioppino or the petrale soul and I went with the pan fried version of the latter.


    This tasted extremely fresh and clean and had wonderful fish flavor.  And as you can see from the side view, there were two full lengths of it.  I could not have been happier with what I ate, although my waiter told me the cioppino is also superb and possibly their most popular dish.
     
    Despite how huge my portion was, there was no way I was leaving without trying one of their desserts, too.  While waiting for my meal, I saw one waiter mixing up a sauce and the couple next to me from Michigan asked what it was.  He said it was the bourbon sauce for the bread pudding.  Hmmm, I thought, I now know what dessert is going to be.  But at the last minute, I changed my mind and went with the Mixed Berries with Zabaglione sauce.  

    What a great way to end my meal!
     
    No doubt, this was an expensive lunch.  My bill came to $50.00.  But I feel I got more than my money's worth.  The service was outstanding as I rarely got two sips into my iced tea before it got refilled.  The bantar of all the waiters behind the counter was pure entertainment.  While I was waiting for my food, several different waiters stopped by to ask me what I had ordered and to just chat.  One noticed that I was taking photos and asked if I would like to have a menu to take home.  How cool is that?  From the people I talked to in line and at the counter, almost everyone was from out of town.  So, I don't know if Tadich Grill is considered a tourist trap or not.  But, I would come back here in a heartbeat!
     
    http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/5455-5551/tadich-grill
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/07/16 18:15:57
    #25
    ann peeples
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    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/16 18:42:48 (permalink)
    All I can say is yum!!!While all of your meals look good, my friend, this one DID look outstanding.
    #26
    wanderingjew
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 7911
    • Joined: 2001/01/18 18:49:00
    • Location: East Greenwich/ Warwick, RI
    • Status: offline
    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/16 18:48:13 (permalink)
    Buffetbuster

    Wow,

    I still say ya should have gone with the Cioppino at Tadich Grill. My # 1 meal of 2007!

    I couldnt help but think that "Mr Higgins" kinda looks like you!
    #27
    stricken_detective
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 2330
    • Joined: 2004/03/10 23:51:00
    • Location: the 262
    • Status: offline
    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/16 19:22:40 (permalink)
    buffetbusterI'm really hoping you don't have a Great Dane!
    hahaha, I have a dachshund.
     


     
    #28
    Nancypalooza
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3778
    • Joined: 2004/06/17 14:39:00
    • Location: Columbia, SC
    • Status: offline
    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/16 19:59:39 (permalink)
    ohhhh, I know what just went at the top of my SF must-visit list.  ;)
    #29
    susanll
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 1077
    • Joined: 2006/10/27 14:41:00
    • Location: bartlett, TN
    • Status: offline
    Re:Weekend in San Francisco 2009/07/16 21:46:46 (permalink)
    Excellent posts.  You have set the bar high for trip reports.  At least the woman you mentioned didn't try to sell you candy bars.
    #30
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