In-N-Out Burger, animal style, was our first meal when we arrived in San Francisco a few weeks ago.
Animal style means mustard-grilled patties, thousand island spread, grilled onions, and extra pickles. We got two double-doubles, two fries, two sodas (we were living it up), plenty of napkins, and dove right in. In-N-Out takes its burgers seriously. My boyfriend Matt called it Mecca, I was too busy licking my fingers but I agree.
Matt and I traveled to the west coast for one of my dearest friend’s wedding in Napa Valley, and we padded the trip with a few extra days to stay in San Francisco.
“Padded” is the most appropriate word because I also came back to Boston with some extra on my hips from all the eating.
In San Francisco, we stayed at the beautiful Pier 2620 Hotel, which was just a few short minutes away from Fisherman’s Wharf. I remember going to Fisherman’s Wharf a decade ago with my family, standing by the dock, eating the freshest seafood. Matt and I did the same thing, venturing out one morning, and enjoying the views before the area became crowded with other tourists.
We had Dungeness crab cocktail, clam chowder, and fried fish and chips, and it was one of my favorite memories of the trip. Eating at one of the many stalls, under the hot sun, with the saline scent of the ocean surrounding us.
On another day, we went to brunch at Plow, small, hip, farm to table, and serving the best breakfast potatoes I’ve ever had. The potatoes were soft on the inside and ridiculously crisp on the outside, potato skins curling and crunching with each bite. Served with eggs and greens, coffee, bacon, and a bonus scone (we were on vacation after all), it was the perfect fuel for miles and miles of walking.
We walked and we walked, up and down hills, through the winding streets, strolled by the water, ambled across buildings. Then we ended up back in Fisherman’s Wharf, at another waterfront restaurant, Scoma’s. We shared Dungeness crab cakes (I can’t get enough of Dungeness crab), Matt ate cioppino, and I ate gulf shrimp pastina (made with “the smallest pasta on the planet”). It was amazing – light and buttery and garlicky, with fresh lemon zest and herbs, and the crunchiest gremolata.
I had a great time at Sabs’ bachelorette party, partying the night away with friends I’ve known since high school! We went to Local Kitchen and Wine Merchant for dinner, played some traditional bachelorette party games, and ended up at karaoke. I may or may not have hogged the mic during the eighties songs playlist (sorry, friends).
We met up with some of my dearest friends, GP and JD, and spent the afternoon visiting tourist spots, like the “postcard row” at Alamo square with the painted ladies, Victorian houses painted in different pastel colors. We lounged at Dolores Park at the Mission district, and we ate at Bi-Rite Creamery. I had the most luscious blueberry cheesecake ice cream. I eat a lot of ice cream (a lot) and this on the top of my list as one of the most mouth-wateringly delicious.
Also in the Mission district, we tried some sweets from the famous Tartine Bakery. Look at the very symmetric layers on those layer cakes! I also got several cookies to go, to eat in our car ride to Napa. The car ride was just one a half hours away but any car ride necessitates snacks, right? I loved the coconut macaroon and the toasted almond rocher.
When we got to Napa, it was a whirlwind of activity! I was a bridesmaid for the wedding of one of my best friends, Sabs, and we only had a couple of hours before the welcome reception. And then it was wedding day and I had my hair and make-up done and I was scared I’ll sweat everything off but it all went well and it was just one of those picture-perfect days. I swear I’m not biased but it was the best wedding I’ve ever attended! The church ceremony was short and sweet, and we all proceeded to Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch for the reception. The food was exceptional, the table and place setting and every little detail were just stunning. Plus they had a campfire for a smores bar. It was so nice celebrating my friends and feeling so much love and happiness in the air.
The day after the wedding and on our last day in Napa, we went to brunch at Ninebark. As you can imagine most of us were a little hungover from the night before, but that did not stop us from enjoying some brunch classics and some brunch cocktails. I particularly liked the gravy fries with crispy pork bits.
And of course we couldn’t leave Napa without visiting a winery. My friends and I did a wine tasting at Frog’s Leap Winery, ate some cheese, drank more wine. It was blissful. We absolutely loved our trip to California and can’t wait to come back. From animal style burgers to seemingly endless pours of Merlot, we enjoyed every minute of our vacation.
Tell me about your favorite San Francisco and Napa spots – I’ll keep it on my list for our next visit!
(Photo credits: Tartine pic taken by my friend GP, and clam chowder, hotel, Lombard street, and Bay bridge pics by Matt)