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A Fat Kid’s Dining Guide to San Francisco

by Meg · 13 comments

Tasting all the treats at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market with Peyton

When Tony and I were on the plane traveling to San Francisco to begin our West Coast road trip, I kept saying that I was going to “pace” myself and eat healthy on the weeklong trip.

Well, that clearly did not happen.

The one thing that cities on the West Coast thrive at is their food scene… and we hit up three of the most notorious foodie cities in the U.S. – San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.

I couldn’t help myself!

In fact, the food on this trip was so darn good that I couldn’t fit it all into one post.

For today, I am just going to highlight all the great meals and treats we had in San Francisco.  Consider this a Fat Kid’s Dining Guide to the West Coast – The San Francisco Edition.

Let’s begin:

Hog Island Oyster

Grilled cheese and clam chowder done fancy!

Soup-a-loop and grilled cheese at Hog Island!

When Tony and I first arrived into San Fran, we headed to our favorite city spot – the Ferry Building Marketplace.  At high noon we were hoping to snag a table at The Slanted Door, but decided that a 45 minute wait was too much to hold out for.  Thus, we decided to try out Hog Island Oyster right next door – What a lovely surprise this place was.

For food, we decided to split their famous clam chowder, which was better than any chowdah we have gulped down in our hometown of Boston.  We then split their grilled cheese sandwich… OMG amazing.  This was no Kraft-style grilled cheese.  This grilled cheese was made with three gourmet cheeses (Gruyere, Fromage Blanc, Mezzo Secco) and fresh bread.  It was bomb.com.

Ciao Bella

Ferry Building in San Francisco

The Ferry Building is crowded for a reason

In my mind, there is no better way to finish off a soul-warming chowder and grilled cheese meal than with some delectable gelato.  After eating at Hog Island, we headed to Ciao Bella in the ferry building for a treat.  Sure, this is a chain restaurant, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t delish (much like In-N-Out below).

When we got in line for gelato, we were greeted by an over-enthusiastic server who was ALL about the free samples – Score!

He was whipping up concoctions for us to try left and right.  After many tastes and disastrous gelato spills on my infamous white coat (which got food stains on it every time I ate something on the trip), we settled on Bourbon Butter Pecan gelato (Tony) and a trio of Oreo, Mocha Chip & Valrhona Chocolate for me (What can I say? I have ice cream A.D.D.).


The House

Kickin it with the ghost of Jack Kerouac

Getting a drink at Vesuvio before chowing down at The House

During our time in San Fran, we were staying with our friend, Peyton, in Mission Hill.  For the first night in town, we wanted to find a restaurant close to her apartment to dine at.  We came across The House on Yelp, which got phenomenal reviews (4.5 stars out of 1,900+ reviews) and was less than a mile from her abode.  All in all, it sounded like a perfect place for the evening.

And indeed it was.

The House is a tiny restaurant in the Italian District specializing in Asian Fusion cuisine.  To start, we ordered the grilled octopus and the Deep-Fried Salmon Roll with Chinese Hot Mustard, which Tony was in love with.  When it came down to deciding what to order for our entrees, I knew exactly what I wanted.  Steak.

For the past month, I have been living with Tony’s vegetarian family, so when we sat down for dinner at The House, I was CRAVING red meat like a pregnant lady craves fried pickles.  So when I saw the Angus Ribeye Steak with Housemade Teriyaki and Toasted Garlic Butter on the menu, there was no question in my mind that this was the dish for me.

It could have been my separation from steak that made this dish so good, but I would like to think that The House just knows how to cook a steak.  This thing was phenomenal.  Perfectly cooked and marinated in deliciousness…Yum!

In-N-Out Burger

Animal Style Burgers at In-N-Out Burger

Gotta love doin' it Animal Style

Whenever Tony and I venture to the West Cost, we are always in search for an Animal Style In-N-Out burger… This is one thing that the East Coast SEVERLY lacks.

After a day touring around Alcatraz Island, we headed to Fisherman’s Wharf where we knew there was an In-N-Out to satisfy our animalistic cravings.

Unfortunately, we were slightly disappointed with this visit to our beloved burger joint.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a good burger but it didn’t live up to our typical expectations.  We blame it on the fact that we went to the most populated, tourist trap In-N-Out that exists where they probably put more emphasis on volume than quality of their food.  Oh well.  Lesson learned.

For anyone travelling to San Fran, be sure to check out the In-N-Out off Route 101 right after you cross the Golden Gate Bridge (heading out of the city).  We have eaten there several times and have never been anything less than over-the-moon satisfied.


Frascati's in San Francisco

A feast at Frascati

Once again, Peyton, Tony and I were slightly lazy during our second evening in the city and decided to look for a restaurant in Peyton’s neighborhood so we could quickly get back to her apartment and watch re-runs of Sex and the City (Tony’s favorite show).  Luckily, there was a fantastic restaurant (amongst many other great places) located three blocks from her place called Frascati.  This cute little restaurant with a cozy ambiance served up seasonal, farm-fresh New American dishes.

Just like Tony and I, Peyton is a foodie and fat-kid at heart, and probably one of the best dining partners we have come across amongst all of our friends.  She loves to try new things and values sharing multiple dishes with the table – the perfect recipe for an awesome dining PIC (partner in crime).

We ordered a feast consisting of the Artisanal Cheese Plate, Mushroom Bruschetta,  Russet Potato Gnocchi, Fresh Pappardelle, Frutti di Mare Risotto, and the Maple Leaf Duck Breast. All the dishes were phenomenal (I personally adored the bruschetta), but since Frascati has homemade pasta, the pasta entrees are the way to go.

Swensen’s Ice Cream

Amazing Ice Cream at Swensens in San Francisco

Sticky Peanut Butter Ice Cream? Yes please!

Ice cream is my biggest vice in the entire world.  When I do indulge in this treat, I consider myself to be somewhat of a snob, as I refuse to settle on mediocre ice cream. As you can imagine, I was highly skeptical when I read that Swenson’s (across the street from Frascati) got 4.5 stars on Yelp out of 533 reviews.  I had to see this (or taste this) for myself.

After dinner at Frascati, we were beyond full, but I ALWAYS have extra room for ice cream!

We made our way over to the standing-only ice cream parlor for a scoop.  They had an abundance of flavors that all looked delicious. The one negative about this place was that the server was not someone who allowed sampling of flavors… WTF? That is my favorite part of any ice cream outing.  Oh well.  No tip for him.

Anywho, my choice on what flavor to get was a fairly simple one as soon as I saw Sticky Peanut Butter on the board.  DONE.  Tony and I both ordered this flavor and almost died and went to Fat Kid Heaven.

We are huge fans of JP Licks in Boston, but this ice cream may have beaten out our favorite flavors from our hometown hot spot.

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

San Francisco Farmers Market at the Ferry Building

The Farmers Market

Open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays down at the Ferry Building.  This market is a MUST SEE that is equally loved by both tourists and locals.  Here at the market, you can sample veggies, fruits, jams, cheeses, breads, etc. to your heart’s desire. Tony is not much of a food sampler (for lame-ass “sanitary” reasons), but Peyton and I were in our element.

After walking around the market for close to 2 hours sampling all the goodness, the three of us decided to split a few things for lunch (yes, hard to believe, but we had more room in our stomachs).

Delicious Porchetta Sandwich from Roli Roti at San Francisco's Farmers Market

This little piggy shouldn't have gone to the market... Because Tony ate it.

For lunch we split a grilled cheese sandwich from Cowgirl Creamery’s Artisan Cheese Shop, a Porchetta Sandwich (sandwich full of slow roasted pork and pork skin) from Roli Roti (pictured above), and sweet potato fries topped with garlic aioli & pork chili from a booth that I don’t remember the name of (D’oh!).

Roli Roti Porchetta sandwich line

Roli Roti was worth the wait!

We had to divide and conquer to order our lunch, because all three places had ridiculously long lines because the food was just THAT good.  And trust me, this meal was worth every minute we individually spent waiting in line.  All three dishes were absolutely mouth-watering.

Boccalone at San Francisco's Ferry Building

Mmmm meat cones (at Boccalone)

To finish off the EPIC journey to the Farmers Market, we got some gelato from Ciao Bella (again) and went to Boccalone to get some yummy salami, pancetta, and prosciutto to accompany the bread and cheeses we bought at the market for our road trip up highway 101… Aren’t we just adorable?!

Up next: The Fat Kid’s continue up the West Coast for more foodie fun… Stay tuned!

About Meg
Exhausted from traveling every week as a Business Management Consultant early in my career, I took a year off in 2012 to travel at my own pace. I am a high-energy girl that loves being active, eating food, drinking wine, and exploring the world with my partner-in-crime (and husband), Tony! I now reside in Portland, Oregon and continue to write about travel, food, wine, and the awesome adventures we have in the Pacific NW!

Tony December 1, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Just for the record… Sex and the City is NOT my favorite show. “Look at me… i’m Samantha… I have sex with everyone!” AND I do like tastings… just not as much from buffet type places cause lets be honest, those sneeze guards only catch so much!

Meg December 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Web of lies!!!

Annette | Bucket List Journey December 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm

It sounds like you did some foodie damage in San Francisco! I didn’t even realize that they still had a Swensens. We used to have one in my town, just 45 minutes North of SF, but it closed. Now I know where to get my fix! But, no samples…BOO :(

Meg December 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Glad you enjoyed the post Annette. I was so sad when they wouldn’t let me sample their flavors – How dare they haha! I guess that just means I will have to go back someday and try more great flavors!

JR December 2, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Tony and Meg, loved this blog. I was happy you loved the farmers market. I have also been there and it is a great experience with great food choices. THE HOUSE, what a coincidence we have been here a couple of times during our visits to San Fran. We loved it and also highly recommend it. It sounds like you two have the next year figured out. Have a blast and keep those Blogs coming so we can follow you around the World.

Meg December 5, 2011 at 10:45 am

Thanks JR for the continued support!

Suzy December 4, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Now I’m hungry! I went to school out in the bay area for college and you forget how good the restaurants are in SF once you leave. If you guys like German food, I definitely recommend Suppenkuche next time you are in the city. It feels like a portal to Germany right in the city. I’m pretty jealous too of all of the ice cream and gelato. Yum!

Meg December 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

Glad you liked it Suzy! I actually have never had German food, but after watching Anthony Bourdain’s Berlin episode on No Reservations, I know that I am missing out on a great cuising! We will have to give Suppenkuche a try next time we make it out West (it gets great reviews on Yelp!). And if you couldn’t already tell, ice cream and gelato are my weakness! :-)

Hannah December 5, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Hi Meg, I just discovered your blog through Suzy Guese and I really enjoyed reading your post. I am so hungry now! That grilled cheese sandwich looks AMAZING! Will be bookmarking this page for future travel reference :)

Meg December 6, 2011 at 8:26 am

Thanks Hannah! The grilled cheese was FANTASTIC – Best I have ever had (and I have had plenty). I hope you get to travel to SF soon and try out all the great places! I checked out your blog and loved it… Best of luck with your RTW planning for September 2012 – We will stay tuned! We leave for our RTW in less than a month… So excited! Stay in touch so we can all share tips/tricks for planning!

Shirlene from Idelish December 6, 2011 at 2:54 am

Just discovered your blog through Suzy’s Stumbles site. I’m headed to SFO for the week and will definitely stop by these places you’ve recommended!

Meg December 6, 2011 at 8:28 am

I am glad you liked it Shirlene! Keep us posted on how your trip goes in SFO and let us know if you come across any additional dining spots that are must tries… We absolutely love that city!

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