San Francisco is one of my favorite cities to visit. It has so much to offer, especially when it comes to the endless selection of delicious food options. It also has that whole California wine thing going for it. I spent a recent weekend trip in San Francisco exploring the food and drink scene, and it was spectacular. The 75-degree February weather didn’t exactly hurt either. Here’s where my food adventures led me:
If you’ve read some of my other posts, then you already know that I’m a bit of a cookie connoisseur. Specialty’s is without a doubt my favorite cookie shop in the world. That’s a pretty bold statement, but if you’ve ever had one, you’ll understand exactly what I mean. No trip to San Francisco is complete without a Specialty’s cookie (or two).
After Specialty’s, my second favorite place in San Francisco is the Ferry Building. I could spend hours there on a Saturday morning perusing the farmer’s market and enjoying the sunshine on the water.
With a latte from Blue Bottle Coffee Co in hand, of course.
Back to that California wine thing. I made a pit stop for an afternoon snack at The Hidden Vine, and washed it down with a crisp glass of California chard. The Philosopher cheese and a handful of marcona almonds were the perfect little snack.
A cheese plate cannot truly be enjoyed without a glass of wine to accompany it.
As the name suggests, the wine bar itself was slightly hidden and unassuming on the outside, but really cozy and romantic inside. There’s also a bocce court inside the bar, which looked pretty enticing. The people watching was spectacular.
The best meal I had though, was the one I shared with friends at St. Vincent. St. Vincent is located in SF’s ultra-hipster Mission District and specializes in two things: wine and modern American cuisine. As it happens, those are two of my favorite things, so I think you know where this is going.
We did our best to order nearly everything on the menu, and came pretty close.
Our first dish was the tuna crudo, with a tangy and tasty twist. The tuna was served with merlin beets, and lots of citrusy yuzu and pomelo fruits. Both fruits have similar flavor profiles to a grapefruit, but are not quite as bitter. They worked really well with the tuna to create a light and flavorful dish.
Crunchy kohlrabi and radish salad
The kohlrabi and radish salad was another light and fresh way to ease into our meal. The kohlrabi was super crispy, and mildly peppery. In case you’re wondering (I was), kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family and looks a bit like a turnip. It balanced really nicely with the slightly bitter radishes and sweet Asian pear slices in the salad. The crunchy salad was served over a hearty and savory country miso.
When beef tartare is prepared well, it’s always my favorite part of a meal. St. Vincent’s was no exception. Presentation-wise, the tartare was somewhat deconstructed. The beef was served over a mouthwatering garlic aioli and topped with capers, scallions, and raw radishes. The garlic aioli was so rich and creamy that I didn’t even miss the lack of a raw egg yolk in this dish. The tartare was served with a delicious and perfectly charred olive-oil bread that I couldn’t get enough of.
I was a little bit on the fence when it came to St. Vincent’s pork belly. The flavors in the dish were spot on. The pork was served in a sherry vinaigrette with wilted spinach, roasted maitake mushrooms, and caramelized onions. The onions were caramelized to perfection and really took savory to a whole new level in this dish. My only complaint, though, was in the pork belly itself. It didn’t quite melt in my mouth the way some other pork belly does. Texturally, it reminded me more of a pork chop or loin, but like I said, the flavors made the dish.
Spiced chicken wings
Unlike everything else we tried at St. Vincent, the flavor combination in the chicken wings was not spot on. The wings were heavily coated with sansho pepper and dried lemon, which completed overpowered any hint of chicken flavor in the dish. I believe this was the only plate of the night that we didn’t scrape clean.
Just when we thought we didn’t need any more food, we ordered the duck sausage. The peppery and flavorful sausage was served over a tasty spaetzle with kale, persimmon, sauerkraut, and a dusting of pork cracklings. Although the sausage was clearly supposed to be the centerpiece of the dish, for me, the highlight was everything that accompanied it. The crispy pork skin was a really nice textural contrast to the doughy spaetzle – I couldn’t get enough of it.
Much to our dismay, St. Vincent’s dessert menu was lacking in the chocolate department. We still ended the meal on a sweet note with a bite of the sherry semifreddo. Literally, just a bite, because it was more of a mini dessert than anything. The semifreddo sat atop a buttery hazelnut shortbread crumble and was topped with a sweet blood orange marmalade. It satisfied my sweet tooth, but was no competition for chocolate anything.
If I ever decide to leave Atlanta, San Francisco is at the top of my list. Although, Weekend Eats SF doesn’t have quite the ring to it that Weekend Eats ATL does, so for now, it will remain at the top of my travel eats list. Until next time, San Fran!