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Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda: San Francisco

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda…

A Spring trip back to San Francisco was high on our list this year but the long flights out there and the thought of trekking up and down hills while 7 months pregnant didn’t seem as appealing when it came time to book the flights.  That being said, the food and drink research was done and reservations that were made had to be cancelled.  We will miss not having gone to San Fran (perhaps our favorite city to visit) but we’ve replaced it with a trip to Austin (details in an upcoming post) and are so excited to have a new member in our family very soon.

So, here’s what we coulda, shoulda, woulda done in San Francisco:

Coffee Shops:

Blue Bottle Cafe – we’ve gone here every time we’ve been to San Fran and will plan to go every time we are there. Though they serve their coffee in several areas around town we are partial to the cafe in Mint Plaza. We still find ourselves dreaming of their pristine coffee. Their toast+jam and steel cut oatmeal have ruined us for all other versions.

Contraband Coffee – newer coffee shop in Nob Hill that some are saying serves better coffee than Blue Bottle (we’d have to be the judge of that). A bonus is that they serve Dynamo Donuts – which we’ve also been dying to try.


The Sentinel – we’ve wanted to go here the last 2 times in San Fran but either they were closed that day or they weren’t open when we went by. We love artisan sandwiches and the small list of hot and cold sandwiches at this SOMA spot all sound amazing. They are known for their Reuben with Russian dressing, cabbage and Swiss cheese.

Pal’s Takeaway – takeout sandwich spot in the Mission District with creative and fun sandwiches.  A huge bonus – they use Acme buns and rolls!

Ike’s Place – huge list of sandwiches from this shop in Castro District – locals rave about them.

Spice Kit – Asian street food from French-trained chefs with their take on the Banh Mi and Ssam (Korean wrap).

Salumeria – opening some time this Spring – an Italian sandwich shop from the Flour + Water folks that seems highly anticipated. I’m sure it will have plenty of long lines.

Ice Cream/Baked Goods:

Bi-Rite Creamery – legendary ice cream shop in the Mission District that inspired a lot of the artisan ice cream makers now doing their thing in other cities. Famous for their Salted Caramel and Roasted Banana flavors.

Humphry Slocombe – artisan ice cream in the Mission District with a ton of creative flavors – the Secret Breakfast with bourbon and corn flakes and the Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee sound great.

Dynamo Donuts – ever since our trip last summer to Portland, OR we’ve been craving a perfect plain glazed donut and yet to find one that compares. We’re not sure that Dynamo would either but we’d be willing to try. We’d also like to try the Bacon Maple Apple flavor.

Tartine Bakery – we went there last time we were in San Fran but a trip back to this Mission District bakery would have been a must. (I’m sensing a trend with delicious Mission District food in this category) We’d want to try every single baked item on their menu but also know that we couldn’t avoid getting another one of their amazing Morning Buns.


Foreign Cinema – known for its outside patio which literally shows foreign movies on a wall outside during dining hours, this Mission restaurant also apparently has one of the best weekend brunches in town – would have loved to give their Foreign Cinema Fruit “Pop Tart” with strawberries a try. Everything on their menu sounds great.

NOPA – award winning dinner spot that we had planned to visit for its delicious sounding weekend brunch – serving Blue Bottle coffee. Deciding what to get would have been the hard part.

Ferry Building Farmers Market – Farmer’s market to beat all others – unbelievable list of fantastic vendors that have permanent housing in the Ferry Building as well as those that come in for the Tues-Thurs-Sat farmers market. The fresh and diverse quality of items makes us want to stay in a VRBO and cook our own dinners! – but then of course we’d miss out on all of the great restaurants in town. We’d especially want to check out Primavera Tamales while there.

Casual Lunch Spots:

Swan Oyster Depot – legendary oyster hole-in-the-wall only open til 5:30pm. We loved the oysters from Hog Island and would want to give these a try as well (however the pregnancy would have negated this option for now).

La Taqueria – Mexican dive in the Mission District with beloved carne asada and carnitas tacos.


Frances – small critically acclaimed restaurant in Castro district with a small daily-changing menu. The Applewood Smoked Bacon Beignets are a mainstay and a must from what we hear.

Flour + Water – one of the places we most wanted to try – the fresh handmade pastas, wood fired pizzas and whole animal cooking in this Mission favorite all sound delicious.

Canteen – retro hip diner from Chef Dennis Leary – also of The Sentinel – that serves creative 4 course prix-fixe on Tues-Sat w/ small a la carte menu on Wed-Thurs-Fri.

Mission Chinese Food – one of Best New Restaurants in America this past year according to GQ and Bon Appetit. Creative takes on traditional Chinese food – all with reasonable prices.

Wayfare Tavern – from Chef Tyler Florence, this Financial District spot serves up comfort foods, think fried chicken and mac-and-cheese.

Cotogna – rustic Italian cuisine from James Beard award winning chef – Michael Tusk. The $24 prix fixe menu seems to be one of the best deals in the city.

Drinks (not for the pregnant wife):

Heaven’s Dog – cocktail bar with pre-Prohibition era drinks and Chinese food from The Slanted Door team.

Bier Garten – outdoor beer garden in Hayes Valley. From the pics online it seems to consist of large beer glasses, long picnic tables and lots of happy people.

The Monk’s Kettle – tavern featuring plenty of beers on tap from Belgium and California.

City Beer Store – specialty beer bottle store and tasting bar with over 300 beers from all over the world to choose from .

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