Opinion, Places

The Love List: Where to Eat in San Francisco

A few weeks ago, I shared my five top picks for places to drink in San Francisco. And because a woman cannot survive on drink alone, I figured it was high time to list my favorite San Fran eateries. Ranging from special occasion places down to hole-in-the-wall nooks, these are five of the many fantastic places I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing during my time here.

Full disclosure: speaking as a vegetarian for nearly 20 years, you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want to learn about where to get the best steak in town. But if you’re looking for veggie-friendly places or just somewhere with a great view, I hope you enjoy my list below!

green sf, greens san francisco, greens restaurant

Greens

With an unparalleled view of the bay under the Golden Gate Bridge and vegetarian fare sourced from farms in Marin, Greens is the quintessential San Francisco experience. Where else can you watch seals play beneath you while you munch on beans and tomatoes that were growing across the bay only the day before? ¬†Special enough for an occasion dinner yet relaxed enough to casually stop by, Greens never fails to deliver a fantastic meal that’s gourmet yet refreshingly unpretentious.

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Off the Grid

Why settle for one restaurant when you can sample food from dozens? Off the Grid is one of several food truck parties that happens in several locations throughout the city. I love the Fort Mason edition for its spectacular backdrop (it’s next door to Greens) and how well the sea air compliments the varied fare. Popular trucks Chairman Bao and Curry Up Now always draw crowds, but you’ll also find some little-known gems serving everything from Peruvian cuisine to cupcakes with flavors like green tea tiramisu.

House of Nanking, House of Nanking sf, House of Nanking San Francisco, best Chinese food SF, best Chinese food in San Francisco

House of Nanking

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t do lines. No, it’s not that I think I’m too special for lines; I just have the patience of a sleepy two-year-old and would rather try somewhere new instead of waiting around on the sidewalk. But despite its intimidating line, House of Nanking is worth the wait. Perched on the three-way border of Chinatown, North Beach, and the Financial District, it’s the perfect place to go before a night out on the town. I love the Green Lettuce Wraps with sauteed zucchini, tofu, and peas flavored with the most decadent peppery sauce known to humankind.

sunflower restaurant sf, sunflower restaurant san francisco, best vietnamese san francisco, cheap vietnamese food san francisco

Sunflower Restaurant

Sunflower is the type of restaurant that’s easy to miss. Perched on the corner of Valencia and 16th in the Mission District, it’s surrounded by dozens of trendy restaurants and bars with flashier signs and fancier menus. But for those in the know, Sunflower delivers fantastic Vietnamese food in a no-fuss atmosphere at prices that leave room for an after-dinner martini at Blondie’s next door. It’s one of the only places in the city that boasts a flavorful vegetarian noodle soup that’s truly vegetarian, and I swear that their garlic noodles are not of this earth. You also can’t beat a giant glass of house wine for $4.

Jackson Fillmore sf, Jackson Fillmore Trattoria

Jackson Fillmore Trattoria

I’ll say it- I generally don’t like Italian food. I was turned off it by the red-sauce-and-heavy-mozzarella dishes that dominate midwestern Italian menus, but my view completely shifted after visiting the Jackson Fillmore. It’s been open in the same location since before I was born, and the cozy interior boasts no more than a dozen tables that are always packed full. The food is simple but nuanced and authentic, and the chefs are always happy to whip up something special. It feels like you’ve been transported somewhere quieter and slightly more glamorous, where the wine flows freely and you’re never in a rush. It’s one of the pricier picks on my list, but it’s my go-to for a special occasion or guests in town.

I hope you enjoyed my picks! Did I name any of your favorites? Which should I have included? Let me know in the comments below@!

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Opinion

Back to School – Then & Now

FreshmanYear

Freshman Year of College

Nine years ago this week (edit: I originally said ten years, because I totally fail at math! Thanks Joe!), I started my freshman year of college. Yep, niiiiiine years ago. But instead of feeling all old and depressed, I’ve been feeling amazed at how much I’ve grown and changed in those years. Sure, I finally figured out what to do with my hair and realized that fashion was more than just for people in magazines, but the internal changes are the most staggering. Nine years ago I’d never been on a date, never obsessively followed coverage of New York Fashion Week, and certainly never walked up to a total stranger to say hello. I was shy, I was awkward, and I was terrified when I thought about the future.

SeniorYear

Senior Year of College (yep, that sure is a boxed hair dye job)

I go back for my five-year college reunion this October, and I’m simultaneously apprehensive and exhilarated thinking about it. It’s hard not to go a little Romy & Michelle thinking about seeing my classmates. I’m certainly not where I thought I’d be at this point in my life, and I honestly don’t know what the future will hold. But that’s why I wanted to look back and to remind myself how things have a way of moving forward, even if you’re not sure how they will.

When I look back at my 17-year-old self and then fast-forward to almost 27, I feel pretty good about the path I’ve taken. The most surprising part is how much my life plan and intentions for my future changed, and how fantastically ok that is. I remember feeling positive at 17 that I’d have my whole life figured out at 27 and that I’d already be several years into a career that I’d pursue forever. But clearly, life hasn’t turned out the way that I thought. I left a career I’d spent half a decade pursuing, and now I’m going down another path that’s as uncertain as it is exciting. But honestly… I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So when I’m walking to my bus in the morning and walk past the handful of high schools that dot my neighborhood, I can’t help but smile. Everything seems so black-and-white when you’re seventeen, but as you grow and the shades of grey start to come in, that’s when life really gets started.

PresentDay

Today!

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Today

Sanfranista in India, Sarah in India

As I flew back from Minnesota on Monday, I powered up my iPod for the first time in a year. Looking through my library brought me back to college, when so much of my life focused on making mix CDs and moshing at punk concerts. I know that scent memory powerfully links past and present, but there’s nothing like hearing a long-forgotten song to bring me screeching back half a decade.

I’m writing this post on my iPhone while flying back to San Francisco on Monday night, and when it goes up on my blog Tuesday morning, I start my first day of work. I will have opened the door to a life in fashion as I close the door, at least for now, on being a therapist. I know I have a penchant for the dramatic and can get misty at the drop of a hat, but it feels like the start of something new and so different from how I’ve ever lived.

Before I started writing, I cued up the ambiguously-titled “On The Go 6” playlist on my old iPod. Clearly, I was in a major pop-punk phase, since it’s dominated by New Found Glory, Roses Are Red, and Fall Out Boy. As faulty as my memory can be, I remember exactly where I was when I made this playlist. It was the end of 2006 when I was traveling in India, and I was dreaming about this guy Jim who I’d met six months before.

I was sure I’d never see him again, but I couldn’t stop thinking about him.

I’d gone through a lot of changes while traveling, from chopping off a foot of blonde curls to witnessing gender violence and realizing that I had to do something about it. The day I made that playlist, I had no idea that soon I’d be dating that daydreamed-about boy and that one day he’d become my husband. I had no idea that learning from women in India would shift my future career from actress to therapist.

I didn’t know these things, but I had the same feeling then that I have right now- that everything was about to change in the most amazing way.

So, with the punchy chords of Good Charlotte ringing in my ears, I’m suddenly 19 again and excited and scared and strangely ready to take the next step forward in my life. I hope you don’t mind coming with me- I have a feeling I’m going to have a lot to say.

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