Spontaneous trips are the BEST, even the short ones. At the last minute, I decided to visit my twin sister in San Francisco because I essentially hadn’t seen her in 4 years [because according to my brother-in-law, one week is equivalent to one year in “twin-time”]. I also booked an impromtu trip to Cuba at the end of this month [more on that later…], and found out after that she would be home visiting while I was gone. Hence the unplanned visit to see her.
It’s truly incredible how much you can cram in to one quick weekend – especially when your hosts consider excess as a way of life! My fiance and I are still drained and completely sleep deprived from the trip, but my sister and brother-in-law made sure that not a minute was wasted. We must’ve roamed every neighborhood of San Francisco and eaten the best of every type of Cuisine [and now I have blisters on my feet and a food baby to show for it]. But I must say, the best part of the weekend [besides seeing my doppelgänger] was easily the food scene and beautiful scenery!
Here are the highlights [and my personal recommendations for visitors]:
1. Tony’s Pizza
Attention all pizza eaters – whether you favor New York style, Chicago style, Sicilian, Margherita, lots of cheese, no cheese, [which my brother-in-law loves and what I consider completely disgusting and unfathomable], there’s a good chance that Tony’s will have it. Who is Tony? Tony Gemignani is a 12-time world pizza champion! All of his ingredients are imported from Napoli, Italy and the pizzas are baked in 7 different regionally-specific ovens. They are located in the heart of Little Italy and truly an equal-opportunity pizzeria. Their menu has a variety of styles for all pizza-lovers, so everyone leaves happy! If you ever make it there, you MUST order the Spicy Grandma. Don’t ask, just order it. You’re welcome.
Just walk around. Take in the strange smells, the cultural souvenirs, and visit the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. Shop where the Asians shop. Eat what they eat. You can even buy a live chicken for only $15.00! And if you get a chance, grab some food at China Live. Best Xiao Long Bao EVER.
3. La Taqueria
If you’ve ever explored The Mission neighborhood, you will notice a sea of Mexican eateries. It’s hard to determine which one serves the best of the best, but let me make it easy for you. La Taqueria. And how do I know this? Because at night, my twin and brother-in-law become connoisseurs of Mexican food, particularly tacos and burritos. They also won the ‘Nation’s Best Burrito’ Award. NBD. Just order Carne Asada or Carnitas tacos. With guacamole, pico, and sour cream – The Works.
4. Muir Woods National Monument
If you need a quick escape from the city, head to Muir Woods. It’s only a 30-45 minute drive from San Francisco and perfect for a day trip! Muir Woods is an endless redwood forest, perfectly ideal for hiking or just a brisk nature walk. The forest is truly enchanting, with the tallest trees you’ve ever seen! And one of the best parts? NO BUGS! Except for banana-slugs…I didn’t see any, but my twin swears that they exist.
5. Sausalito, CA
We stopped in Sausalito after Muir Woods on our way back into the city. I wish we could have spent more time in this quaint little town. Located on the edge of the water, it has breathtaking views of San Francisco and beautiful sunsets. It would be the ultimate spot for riding bikes and exploring the rows of shops and restaurants [which we would have done, but it was too cold and we had a dinner reservation to get to].
6. Tosca Cafe
Oh my. Mi Amore. Tosca is easily one of the best Italian restaurants I have EVER experienced. Everything I tasted was purely housemade and exploding with flavor! I honestly don’t know how to describe it, so I’ll keep it short; make sure you eat some Foccacia bread, ask for some shaved Parmesan to nibble on, order the Black Bird cocktail, order seconds on the Bucatini, and save some to eat with the dry aged prime strip steak! You won’t regret it!
7. Pagan Idol
This has got to be one of the most hilarious and animated bars I have ever visited! You can’t tell by the name, but Pagan Idol is an island-inspired bar, complete with an erupting volcano and Tiki huts! [my fiance described it as a Spongebob episode] They serve beautifully creative cocktails with some of the most interesting garnishes I have ever seen; roasted marshmallows, Rock Candy, shaved nutmeg, etc. TONS of fun and visually stimulating!
8. Ferry Building Farmer’s Market
Located at the Ferry Building Marketplace, this is a MUST on the weekends. I’ve always loved Farmer’s Markets but San Francisco outdoes every one I have ever been to. There is an overwhelming variety of fresh food, local goods, gifts, souvenirs, etc. Come with an empty stomach though – you’ll want to eat everything in sight! I highly recommend the Porchetta sandwich and Nepalese food tent if you can find it!
I am living-proof that you can get your fill of San Francisco in just 2 1/2 days. Just be willing to give up your beauty sleep. And any diet you were consistently trying to maintain.