I travelled with 3 friends (Michael H, Michael Y & Courtney) to San Francisco for 5 days and also met up with a few friends (Michael T, Cassie (who now resides in SF), Victor, Crystal, Michelle & Joanna). There was no real itinerary made for this trip however we did purchase the CityPass which is a great solution for first timers who want to see what attractions the city has to offer on a short period of time including unlimited access to buses and streetcars.
NOTE: If you want to goto Alcatraz – BOOK IN ADVANCED!
We flew from Las Vegas to San Francisco after a volleyball tournament. We grabbed a SUV taxi and headed for Japantown. The trio booked a really cool little hotel on Sutter St called Hotel Tomo (1800 Sutter St). Originally when Courtney booked this incredible flight and hotel deal for her and Michael H, it was for a single bed so I had messaged Cassie who had just recently moved there for work and coincidently she lives not even a full block away which made my decision to goto SF finalized because she said I could stay with her.
After settling in and me leaving my stuff in their hotel room, we decided to walk from our location through to Chinatown and find some dinner. We first stopped by a place that sold $1 bubbletea. I had asked Cassie for a recommendation and she mentioned Great Eastern Restaurant (649 Jackson St). The food was good but I think we ordered items off the menu that the restaurant wasn’t known for looking at surrounding tables. We walked back from Chinatown to Japantown which was a decent 30-40 minute walk each way. Good thing the Bay area is a 4×4 grid where everything is relatively close. When we returned to the hotel, I grabbed my things and walked over to Cassie’s. The trio (Cassie, Victor & Michael T) had spent the day doing touristy things when I finally met up with them. We all jumped in and headed out for late night bubble tea at Little Sweet Café (3836 Geary Blvd) and I must say bubble tea aka boba is so cheap in SF! I got the Tie Kuan Yin milk tea which was a little too sweet but it was under $5USD.
Michael T and myself woke up early so we went for a stroll while the couple slept. I was also giving my group ample time to get ready. Cassie recommended Sweet Maple (2101 Sutter St) for breakfast. They have millionaire bacon which is a cured bacon that is featured on “United States of Bacon” of Discovery Network. Thick, free range bacon, baked with brown sugar, cayenne, red and black pepper. I got the Eggs Benedict with maple bacon. We grabbed a taxi right outside the door and off we went to Pier 38. At the pier we also grabbed our Citypass which gave us unlimited bus, free entrance into museums and attractions etc. The Alcatraz audio walking tour was really good as it leads you all the way around with informative stories of the history behind this prison and the life of inmates. Remember to book early if you want to do this tour as it fills up quickly. Alcatraz at night tours fill up months in advance.
We came back to shore and took the old school streetcar to Fisherman’s Wharf and grabbed In-N-Out for lunch. A double double with animal style fries yes please! The aquarium was our next calling. It actually wasn’t the warmest day in San Fran and very windy especially near the pier. We also went the tourist route and went to Pier 39 to see the sea lions. We walked around killing time at the pier as we were meeting Courtney’s uncle and his friend for dinner. We settled on Scoma’s for fresh seafood. Too bad we ate a late lunch at In-N-Out that we weren’t hungry enough to order full meals.
After dinner we parted ways from Courtney’s uncle and friends and followed the light; the lights of the Ghiradelli sign that is. It is pronounced gear-ar-delly. We got ice cream and hot chocolate with sea salt in it at the main store and it was delicious plus chocolate to go!
Cafe Habana is very tiny establishment with so much character. 3 people in total – We sat by the front window and ordered ourselves 2 orders of the Mexican Corn, a Cuban and a Chicken Diablo sandwich. The corn comes with 2 per order so I took one for the team and ate 2. All the food was fresh and flavourful and we ate every single morsel off the plates. The corn alone is enough to make you want to come back for more.
This restaurant is located within Bryant Park and hidden gem behind the New York Public Library. It is a great place to people watching. Bryant Park Grill is a American, European steakhouse. It is a little pricey but the food is delicious. I chose the clam chowder to start and for my main I chose the Kumquat Grand Marnier Duck breast with confit leg. it was absolutely mouth watering and ended off the meal with a sweet and savory crepe filled with apple and ricotta cheese.
Chinese cuisine made using fresh ingredients before your eyes where you can get a plate of BBQ Pork or a noodle in soup that is the most satisfying anytime of day. The wonton noodle soup hits the spot.
North Dumpling is literally a hole in the wall but they sure pump out some delicious and cheap dumplings. Whether you are craving fried or steamed – the filling options include pork & chives to vegetable. What’s even better is that you can get 10 dumplings for under $2USD! You heard right. You can see they are being freshly made over the counter as a team of ladies are making magic with their hands. The sesame and scallion pancakes are also delicious items to add to your meal and for all the food, you won’t break your wallet.
A staple ramen spot in the East Village that also offers a roster of dishes such as fried chicken meal. The Noodle Bar also serves slushies and soft serve. They have been quite successful that they have expanded into multiple locations such as Ssäm Bar, Ko, Ma Peche, Fuku and Nishi to name a few. They have even expanded up north to Toronto.
Brasserie Les Halles serves up classics using French techinques. They are known for their escargots and their steak frites for only $22USD. This restaurant is the origin of where Anthony Bourdain once started. Reservations are highly recommended.
East coast version of In-N-Out. Fast food chain that serves up burgers & frozen custard. Multiple locations around and yes there are lines. When it gets busy, they give you a buzzer to let you know when your order is ready. The Peanut butter shake is my GOTO and I have it every chance I get.
I found this treasure when I lived in Los Angeles. This is the best grocery store for anyone who wants good quality items for reasonable prices including organic and all natural ingredients. It is a College kids dream or anyone on a budget type of grocery store similar to Whole Foods.
Yaki Taisho is an Izakaya located in the heart of St Marks Place – Between 3 people, we ordered Takoyaki (this was just right), grilled squid, a set of skewers, Unagi roll and the Duck sashimi paired with a delicious plum sake.