Since my time in San Francisco was quickly coming to a close, my friends and I tried to squeeze in as much as we could on our very last two days in the city. I was excited to check out some new eateries, but also bummed that it was almost time to say goodbye to a place that had really grown on me.
House of Prime Rib
I can’t say I’m much of a red meat connoisseur, but if multiple people point me to a restaurant called House of Prime Rib and claim that it’s one of the best eateries in the San Francisco area, then my interest will be piqued.
This is where my travel buddy Tannia invited some of her college friends — who live in the Bay Area — to have dinner with us at on Sunday night.
Without even knowing when this steakhouse was built, I could easily guess that it was established in the 1940s from the vintage decor and dim lighting of its interior. In fact, I found that it opened in 1949. According to its website, it intends to maintain a traditional, English-style atmosphere, serving up “well-marbled” prime rib.
With a name like House of Prime Rib, I wasn’t surprised at how minimal the restaurant’s menu was, offering four cuts of prime rib, the catch of the day fish and dessert. I ordered the smaller “City Cut” — cooked medium-rare — which included a side of green salad, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes and a creamy green spinach.
The experience started with the waiter delivering a giant stainless steel bowl of green salad, pouring in the restaurant’s house-made dressing and seamlessly spinning the bowl as if putting on a show for us. The salad was utterly delicious, with a nice blend of chopped lettuce, tomatoes, beats and dressing.
After devouring the salad, the waiter then brought a plate that held a perfectly cut piece of meat, spinach and mashed potatoes, drenched in au jus.
The meat itself was incredibly tender, juicy and savory. And although the meal was a bit pricey for my taste — about $40 — it was worth every bite.
I would recommend any foodie to make a stop here when visiting San Francisco.
Since Tannia went back to Hawaii on Monday to resume work, Lauren and I ventured around on our own.
A friend recommended checking out La Boulange, a Bay Area cafe chain owned by Starbucks. To our surprise, there was a location really close to our hotel in Union Square, so we made this our first stop.
The European-inspired interior had a trendy and modern atmosphere, but also evoked the stop-and-go feel of a Starbucks store.
I picked up a fresh fruit danish — which included strawberries, blueberries and a custard cream center — and a small soy mocha. Frankly, just based on what I had, the quality of these items far exceeded those of Starbucks. I wish we had of these back home.
As a coffee aficionado, one thing I really appreciated about this city was how prevalent sit-down coffee shops are; you could stop off at one cafe and literally find another one less than a block away. I also wish we had these back home.
California Academy of Sciences
Since Lauren and I bought the 7-day CityPASS booklet — which included unlimited bus and cable car rides as well as admission to various museums — we decided to take advantage and catch the Muni bus about 5 miles to the California Academy of Sciences.
I honestly don’t remember the last time I set foot inside a museum of this sort, but I was blown away by every single exhibit.
The first one we entered, an earthquake exhibit, showed attendants how earthquakes work using interactive displays and colorful maps. Since California is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the San Andreas Fault, this was very appropriate.
I really enjoyed the “San Francisco Shakes” part of the exhibit in which we entered a room — modeled after a classic Victorian-style home — that really shook so we could get a sense of what it would’ve felt like to experience the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes of San Francisco.
We also got a chance to peruse a living four-story rainforest dome home to frogs, birds, butterflies, fish and a variety of other animals. As soon as we entered the dome, my face instantly oiled up and palms started sweating from the humidity of this exhibit. That’s how realistic it was.
Our final stop in the museum was “The Living Roof,” an open-air observation terrace covered with greenery and plants.
I felt like a curious kid all over again. This innovative and contemporary science museum would make any kid or adult excited to learn more about the world around us.
Lauren suggested going to the Financial District to grab a quick lunch from a place she found from a friend’s Facebook page.
Called Sushirrito, this tiny eatery serves exactly what might be expected of its name: made-to-order sushi burritos filled with Asian and Latin-inspired ingredients.
I ordered the sushirrito that Lauren said was a popular item. The “Geisha’s Kiss” included tuna, egg, peppers, lotus chips, cucumber, lettuce, avocados, Japanese tobiko and green onions.
In my opinion, the flavors were more Japanese than Latin, but that didn’t bother me one bit. This was delicious!
We took the Muni to Fisherman’s Wharf to get to our 3 p.m. appointment to ride a ferry under the Golden Gate Bridge. We got there about an hour early so we decided to browse the shops along the pier.
Along the way we even stumbled upon some sea lions sunbathing before boarding the ferry at Pier 39.
While on board, the rapid wind — that picked up as the ferry inched toward the Golden Gate Bridge — suddenly made the air feel 20 degrees colder. It almost made it hard to concentrate on the views of the city on one side of the ferry and Alcatraz Island on the other.
Unfortunately, a thick layer of fog covered most of the bridge, but as we got closer to it, the Sausalito side peeked out as if playing a game of hide and seek with us.
It was certainly a nice and relaxing boat ride on the bay, but I just wished it was less foggy.
Lauren and I were supposed to catch the Muni to the Walt Disney Family Museum, but it was too late. By the time we got off the ferry, it was nearly 5:30 p.m. and the museum closed at 6. So we decided to treat ourselves to one last good meal in the city.
After what seemed like 30 minutes of researching Yelp-worthy restaurants on our smartphones, we finally pulled up La Fusion, a Financial District establishment that earned a whopping 4.5 stars on Yelp.
While on the bus, we passed through Little Italy — a collection of Italian food establishments. If we weren’t already set on going to La Fusion, I would’ve suggested stopping off here since I love Italian food. I think I’ll put this area on my list for my next visit to the Bay Area.
After getting off the bus in Chinatown, we braved the cold and walked about two blocks toward the Financial District.
As we entered the dimly lit restaurant, the fact that there were only two other customers was a bit concerning. What if this place wasn’t all it was cracked up to be?
We got seated and analyzed the menu which lived up to the restaurant’s name: It offered a fusion of Latin and American flavors. I was in the mood for something warm so I got the seafood pot pie (since it was my last day in San Francisco, seafood seemed like the obvious choice) while Lauren ordered the rotisserie chicken with the truffle mac and cheese.
The potpie — which contained fish, prawns, mushrooms in a creamy chipotle guajillo sauce under an airy and crispy crust — had an excellent blend of flavors and textures that made for a satisfying solution to my seafood craving. I also got a chance to try some of Lauren’s truffle mac and cheese which was rich but flavorful. In my opinion, it added a whole new definition to the traditional mac and cheese.
If there’s anything I learned from my time here, it’s that San Francisco is anything but a diet-friendly city. In all honesty, I ate some of the best food here: I can’t say that I had even one bad meal — every single meal (including the 24-hour diner on our first night) was beyond delicious.
But food aside, San Francisco gave me some of my fondest memories. It’s a city that’s captured my heart and I know that I’ll be back here again in no time. I can finally understand why Tony Bennett named a song after it.