I am taking a break from recipes and my random ramblings today, to bring you a travel post! Whenever James and I have the chance to sneak away for a day or two, our favorite place to go is San Francisco. Heck, it’s where we got married! Lucky for us San Francisco is only a one-hour drive to BART and then a one-hour BART ride to San Francisco, from where we live in the valley. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is like the subway, except it’s above ground (besides a small portion that is in a tunnel when you cross the Bay). We like taking BART because it’s nice to just relax for the hour and then we don’t have to deal with parking. Parking in San Francisco is either non-exisistent or VERY expensive. Plus James and I enjoy actually just walking everywhere we go! So I am writing a little post (or maybe long) on where we stayed and where we ate…just in case you find yourself in SF and are looking for a few recommendations!
I have doctors appointments every two weeks in the Bay Area, so back in September it just worked out that James and I could make a quick trip to San Francisco after my appointment, since we were already right by BART. Just a quick, much needed, overnight trip. We have stayed at several different hotels and have eaten at some AMAZING restaurants in San Francisco over the years. The most prolific restaurant was Fleur de Lys. James and I ate there the night of our wedding and it was worth every bit of the $300+ it cost. Plus I got to meet Hubert Keller!! Famous chefs are celebrity status to me, so I was pumped that Chef Keller was actually at the restaurant and agreed to take a picture with us (not the best quality picture but I still love it).
We were so sad to hear the Chef Keller decided this last year to close the restaurant permanently, but at least we got the once-in-a-lifetime experience before it closed!
Okay…back to the recent trip to San Francisco…I found a good deal online for the Hotel Abri in Union Square (San Francisco is defined by its different neighborhoods). Such a cute boutique hotel! Hotel Abri is newly transformed and updated, with modern design and amenities. I don’t think I have ever been so impressed with a hotel, as I was with Hotel Abri. The front desk customer service was amazing. When we checked it they gave us a “welcome bag” that contained a bottle of wine, two bottles of water, a granola bar and coupons and drink tickets for the restaurant attached to the hotel. I love free stuff and I just thought that was such a nice welcoming touch! Here’s a couple pictures of the hotel:
Photos via Hotel Abri Website
This is what our room looked like. The bedroom and bathroom is separate from the living area, which included a television, couch, mini fridge and desk area. There was also a flat screen television in the bedroom. The bed was comfy and I actually slept pretty good! The location of the hotel was perfect for us, because it was within walking distance to all my favorite places to shop (hello Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel and Neiman Marcus…and the bad ass Nike store too). Another reason why I loved this hotel so much was because ALL the staff was so friendly. Just walking down the hall, the cleaning staff will smile and say hi and ask you how you are. James and I agreed that Hotel Abri is now our go-to hotel for our San Francisco trips!
Hotel Abri – 127 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, Toll free: (866) 778-6169 www.hotelbrisf.com
I told James this trip to San Francisco was going to be centered around food. All I watch is Food Network and Cooking Channel, so it may be surprising that I have major food anxieties when it comes to eating out, and I prefer to make my own food (probably the eating disorder causing the bulk of this anxiety). So this trip was meant to challenge me. After a little shopping, we made it up to the third floor of the Macy’s store to check out Tout Sweet Patisserie. Probably one of my favorite television shows is Top Chef. And then there was Top Chef – Just Desserts! I think there was only one or two seasons of the Just Desserts, but it was my favorite! I am not sure why they don’t have that version of Top Chef anymore…but Yigit Pura was a contestant on the show, and once I found out Yigit had a patisserie in San Francisco specializing in macarons called Tout Sweet Patisserie, I knew I had to go. James and I both had never had a macaron before, so I figured we should start with the best! And they did not disappoint… Quality, adorable packaging and the best macarons EVER!! If you are in San Francisco and need a sweet treat, I definitely suggest stopping in to grab a few macarons. We of course left with a whole box of assorted flavors. James’ favorite was the Exotic Banana and I liked the Coffee and Hazelnut Praline.
Isn’t the box pretty?! Good things always come in pretty boxes!
Yum yum yum yum yum!
Burnt Caramel macaron! With gold specks!
Tout Sweet Patisserie – Macy’s Union Square, 170 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA 94201, Phone: (415) 385-1679 www.toutsweetsf.com
Next was dinner at the amazing Boulevard. We took Uber to the restaurant because yeah I was in my Jimmy Choos and wine + Jimmy Choos = disaster for me. And I was definitely having wine. When choosing a place to eat dinner I think I must have looked at at least one hundred different restaurants and menus before finally choosing Boulevard. When I go out for a nice dinner I usually want a filet mignon and the one on Boulevard’s menu sounded amazing, so Boulevard it was! The restaurant is first class. I think I was expecting a more intimate dining experience, so at first I was a little taken aback by the open kitchen that we were seated directly in front of. But then I quickly realized it was like dinner and a show for me! I love chefs working their craft, so I was pretty much in awe. I ended up loving the atmosphere and watching the chefs prepare the food and their interactions with each other. And our food? Oh yeah….amazing. James and I both got the filet mignon, with corn succotash and mushrooms wrapped in bacon. It was probably, hands down, the best filet mignon I have ever had. We both ate everything. The wine was great and Boulevard has an extensive wine list with something to fit everyones budget. We got a 1/2 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and it was so good I don’t even remember what it was! Ha! The service there is also outstanding. Everyone that works there is on top of it. We always had bread, full glasses of water and empty dishes were immediately removed. It’s not a cheap restaurant but that’s because the food is amazing and they use quality ingredients. Definitely worth the money and we will definitely go back. I definitely recommend this as a great place for dinner!
Photo via Boulevard’s FaceBook page
Boulevard – 1 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105, Phone: (415) 247-7770 www.boulevardrestaurant.com
It was such a nice day out and we got done with dinner while it was still pretty early, so James and I walked across the street to the Ferry Building. Unfortunately it had just closed for the day, but I have been there a few times, so I wasn’t super disappointed. So James and I decided to go walk out on the pier next to the Ferry Building. A nice lady offered to take our picture with the Bay Bridge in the background.
After our little walk, we caught Uber back to the Hotel Abri and watched some television (yeah we are party animals!!!), and then called it a night! I had big plans for breakfast….
I heard about Mama’s on Washington Square after the restaurant was highlighted on the Food Network and Check Please! Bay Area. I checked out several other breakfast options, but all my research into the best breakfast spot in San Francisco lead me to this place! From the reviews on Mama’s, I knew there was always a line of people waiting to get in, so we had to be prepared to wait. But it was sooooooo worth the wait. I am not one who likes to wait for breakfast…it is the first thing I do when I wake up, so this is me being flexible. Because I knew there would be a line, I wanted to get to Mama’s right as they opened, hoping we wouldn’t have to wait too long! It was 8am on a Wednesday and there was a line already around the front of the restaurant.
James took this picture as we got close to the front of the line. The way Mama’s works is they only let people in as a table becomes available. The restaurant is fairly small, but runs like a well-oiled machine. When the waitress lets you in, you go up to the counter, place your order and pay. The waitress shows you to your table, and then you wait to be served! I was having a good time watching what everyone else was getting. Service was great too….I think I had 6 cups of coffee and 10 cups of water (I was thirsty…).
I ordered an egg white omelet with mushrooms and ham inside. It was HUGE and so yummy. Even though I got full fairly fast, I couldn’t stop eating my omelet. It was sooooo good. I had a side of dry wheat toast and fruit. The fruit was fresh and juicy. The bread I didn’t eat because I just didn’t have any room for it! Seriously the best omelet I have ever had.
James went all out decadent and got the California omelet, which had swiss cheese, bacon and avocado inside, served with a side of potatoes and buttered, sourdough baguette with homemade marion berry jam (James loved the jam). James loved his food as much as I loved mine too! But I have a “go big or go home” attitude, so we also ordered a side to share:
Banana pancakes! I had a couple bites, but was too full from my omelet to really eat that much of the pancakes. James is a trooper and was able to eat a good majority of the pancakes and really liked them. If you are in San Francisco and looking for a delicious, homestyle breakfast with hearty portions, I definitely recommend Mama’s on Washington Square! It was only about a 10-minute Uber drive from our hotel in Union Square to the North Beach neighborhood where Mama’s is located. Also, make sure you bring cash!!! No credit cards accepted here (our bill for 3 breakfast dishes, my fruit and coffee for us both came to about $50).
Mama’s – 1701 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: (415) 362-6421 www.mamas-sf.com
After James and I finished breakfast, I told James I wanted to walk back to the hotel. James is so sweet to indulge me in walking everywhere and insisting on taking the stairs no-matter-what. It was a very interesting walk through Chinatown on our way back to Union Square. Every other shop on the street was a Chinese market, some selling exotic fruits and vegetables and then others selling cuts of meet typical to Chinatown (chicken feet, hanging peking duck). I was in awe and a little sad I couldn’t buy some of the interesting veggies to take back home with us! I think I could spend a whole day exploring Chinatown. We didn’t really have time to go inside any of the markets this trip.
Breakfast wrapped up this quick trip to San Francisco! We walked back to our hotel, checked out and caught BART back to Dublin! And then the drive back home to Modesto. James and I placed our bets on our little inside joke about how soon we will see a certain thing when rolling back into Modesto (if you live here, you probably know what I am talking about)…I can’t remember who won this time.
So I was thinking about doing a few posts reviewing the places we stay and places we eat. Did you like this post and want to see more? Let me know!! I was thinking I could do a monthly post like this (maybe next time trying all the best donut places in San Francisco and reviewing them all)…leave me your thoughts or what you would like to see!! Also, what are your favorite places to eat in San Francisco?? I need some recommendations for our next trip there!!
Thanks for reading and I love hearing your comments!
On a side note…all opinions and reviews are my own honest opinion. I was not compensated or provided with anything free from any of the places I reviewed. This trip was taken while my website was still in the middle of getting up and running!