The Hottest Ladies Weekend I Ever Spent Was a Spring in San Francisco

“IF YOU DON’T RIDE BART, YOU’RE MISSING OUT ON AN AUTHENTIC SAN FRANCISCO EXPERIENCE,” I yelled toward my friend as we rode along on the earsplitting rail system toward San Francisco. We both had business the following Monday in the Bay Area and made plans to come in early and spend the weekend together.

Our tour began in China Town to find dim sum. I had been craving it for quite some time, so we made a beeline to the oldest restaurant of its kind in America, Hang Ah Dim Sum Tea House, tucked away at 1 Pagoda Place.

 The window at Dragon Papa in China Town

The window at Dragon Papa in China Town

As we entered the small restaurant, the temperature felt like it rose ten degrees on an already hot spring day, and the moisture in the air hit my face like hot steam rolling off a pot of tea. The restaurant was like a banquet hall with round archways, colored walls and red-cushioned chairs. The menu was written primarily in Chinese and the kitchen wafted smells of boiled chicken with a gentle hint of Chinese five spice. We ordered tall glasses of ice water and the pork buns, and shrimp and soup dumplings—yes, even on a hot day soup dumplings tasted great.

After leaving, we crossed through the lantern lined streets passing numerous restaurants, grocery stores, bubble tea shops and other merchants. Even though we were feeling heavy after our meal, we made our way to the Eastern Bakery and filled a brown lunch bag full of traditional Chinese baked goods.

At a nearby storefront window, we watched a woman gently pull Dragon’s beard candy by hand. The shop owner hollered at us to come inside and explained the legend of chefs feeding the candy to Chinese emperors. Even though we had a bag full of goodies, we purchased the candy.

Afterward, we walked a few blocks to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory where we were met with a line of other tourists. So, we skipped it and instead made our way to the Cable Car Museum.

 La Taqueria - This guy had serious knife skills 

La Taqueria - This guy had serious knife skills 

This free little museum is worth a visit. We received a history lesson on cable cars and watched the manually operated gears pull the cables running below the city streets. We then went to the coffee shop next door and grabbed a drink and change to ride the street car back to our hotel from a stop located directly outside of the museum.

After a quick refresh at the hotel, we went to dinner La Taqueria for mission-style burritos. It was packed with people and a line out the door, but it moved quickly. My friend went for the off-the-menu crispy version and I ordered the regular with a healthy dose of hot sauce and a side of nachos. We waited impatiently, and by “impatiently” I mean with excitement while we distracted the kitchen staff from the outside bar window.

 My friend on the cable car

My friend on the cable car

Afterward we went to the Great American Music Hall (GAMH) to see Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors. We weren’t familiar with the band, but wanted to see and listen to live music at the GAMH. We found seats to the left of the band near the front of the stage, and later jumped into the crowd screaming, laughing and swaying to the base and lyrics. I was in awe of the beautiful interior which amplified both the sound quality and ambiance. The music was great.

The next day, we started our morning at Blue Bottle Coffee with breakfast sandwiches from The Market Café in the Twitter Building. Another hot day was in the forecast. We rented bikes at New Holiday Adventure and rode through Crissy Field, across the Golden Gate Bridge and back to Fort Point for beautiful views of the bridge, city and surrounding area. Afterward, we had lunch at In and Out Burger (my friend’s favorite fast-food joint) and made our way back to return our bikes.

We had early dinner reservations on the patio at Al’s Place on Valencia Street in the Mission District. Innovative food, beautiful plating and excellent service provided by the Hedley & Bennett-aproned staff made this meal one of my top five. We had the green pea curry with black lime cod and pickled strawberries; brine-picked French fries with smoked apple sauce; baby lettuce salad with herbed avocado and pistachio crumble; asparagus with green peach mayo, black trumpets, yuzu cucumber and burnt miso; grits with goat’s milk curd, chimichurri, pureed fig, fennel-chi and basil bud mushrooms; and a strawberry tart with lemon ice cream—not in this exact order. Simply put, it was delicious. As my friend confirmed, “Now I understand the difference between a Michelin and non-Michelin star restaurant.” (View the food pictures in the gallery.)

Afterward, full, happy, sunburnt and tired, we went back to our hotel and put on our PJs rather than watch a movie at the Castro as planned. An early night ended in laughter, chatting and the movie Hidden Figures rented from the hotel entertainment system. It was the perfect end to a hot ladies weekend in San Francisco.

 

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