its been so cold and rainy the past few months, I've barely gotten out and about to enjoy this amazing place. I went on my favorite walk today along Aquatic Park, and the fresh air and ocean breeze felt so revitalizing, I extended my walk despite the cold. It was a much needed reminder that we live in one of the best cities in the world.
Visited on: too many times to count
The Buena Vista is one of my favorite guilty pleasures in San Francisco. It is a total tourist trap, located at Hyde and Beach St. in Fisherman's Wharf, and yet locals also feel very comfortable here. I have personally been coming here since I was a little girl - the only reason we ever came to the city was to eat at the House of Prime Rib and then go to the Buena Vista for an after dinner Irish Coffee.
The Buena Vista is home to America's first, and arguably best, Irish Coffee. It has a very specific formula that has not changed since 1952 - and for good reason. The tastes are pure, identifiable, and never mixed - rich coffee, bold Irish Whiskey, and a dollop of the most flavorful whipped cream you've ever had. They serve 2,000 of these per day. Come for a drink, stay for a meal at one of the communal tables, where you're guaranteed to meet other interesting folks.
The verdict: Go, and please order an Irish Coffee. You may even see me there.
Visited on June 25, 2015
Ok, so this one is just silly. I've lived in San Francisco for 10 years. I see the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge nearly every day. I've driven across it countless times. It is the symbol of this place I love so much and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. People who have visited San Francisco only briefly have crossed this item off their bucket lists. And yet: until this adventure, I had NEVER walked across the Golden Gate Bridge.
But I did it! Finally! After talking about it and thinking about it for years, I finally walked across the bridge and back. Although San Francisco is known for its cold and foggy summers, the day I chose to take a solo walk across the bridge actually turned out to be a fairly warm, summery June day. (Side note: the quote "the coldest winer I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" is not actually attributable to Mark Twain, despite popular opinion. Even more surprising,, the original quote wasn't even about San Francisco.)
While we're on the subject, here are some interesting facts about the Golden Gate Bridge you may not know:
Despite it being warm and sunny at our place in North Beach, the bridge was actually covered in fog when I arrived at Crissy Field. Wearing just shorts and a light jacket, I momentarily considered canceling the outing altogether. But I could tell the fog was trying to wear off, and I took it on faith that the day would turn out right for me. I wanted to get a good hike in, so I started at the East Beach part of Crissy Field, guaranteeing a 7+ mile journey. The bridge itself is 1.7 miles long, so you could shorten it to a 3.5 mile walk if you start right at the beginning of the bridge.
Lo and behold, as I approached the end of Crissy Field, the fog began to lift. By the time I made it to the bridge itself, the fog was only coming in thin wisps (Thanks Karl!). Despite the sunshine and disappearing fog, it was still very windy, and therefore quite cold. I am thankfully blessed with an above average internal temperature, or I would have probably been freezing in just shorts.
The only downside of this activity is that even on a weekday it is overridden by tourists who don't seem to have any concept of narrow-walkway etiquette. I had to remind myself that I was in their territory every time someone stopped short in front of me to take photos, or a group walked 4 people wide in an already cramped walkway filled with people and cyclists going both directions.
Despite these obstacles, I made it across the bridge, where I took just a moment or two to think about this bucket goal I had finally accomplished after all these years. Hungry and just a bit tired, I headed back the other direction, stopping to take a few final awe-inspiring photos as I went. Ok, so I may have been playing the part of annoying tourist myself, but it was worth it.
The verdict: Guys, this one is a must-do. Please don't be like me and put this one off. It really is a lifetime bucket list item that everyone - whether you live here or are just visiting - should do at least once in their lives. Tips: wear something just slightly warmer than you think you need - if its warm out, bring a jacket and long pants, if it's cold out, bring a parka and gloves. And please practice good walking etiquette! The people behind you will thank you for it. And finally, don't forget to take it all in - the beauty of this area is like nothing else.
Visited on June 5, 2015
Those who know me know I am not a very religious or even very spiritual person in the ordinary sense. However, religion permeates our daily lives whether we choose it for ourselves or not, and as such, there are a few church-related items that appear on the bucket list. No list of things to see in San Francisco would be complete without Grace Cathedral, a massive Episcopal church located at the top of Nob Hill, known for its dramatic façade, gorgeous stained glass windows, and meditative labyrinths.
Our east coast friends Jack and Rachel were in town this past weekend, and we showed them an epic time in San Francisco, complete with walking tour of North Beach and Chinatown, driving tour of the rest of the city, picnic in Dolores Park, a showing of Book of Mormon at the Orpheum, and a hike on the Dipsea Trail in Muir Woods, among many other things. While Dave was at work, the three of us managed to sneak in a trip to Grace Cathedral on our walking tour their first day, and I am very glad we did.
I am lucky enough to travel quite a bit, and I have seen some beautiful churches in my travels. I had not been to Grace Cathedral since a field trip in middle school, so I forgot that we have a church right here in San Francisco that rivals those old, grand churches in Europe. Grace Cathedral is beautiful. It is huge and awe-worthy, and if I were religious, this is where I would go. There are signs around the church welcoming everyone - emphasis on everyone - in San Francisco, that means a very wide range of personalities. I could never respect a church that felt any other way.
Jack, Rachel, and I did walk one of the labyrinths (there are two - one inside and out outside), which at a medium-quick pace took us around 10 minutes. I can imagine if you came early in the morning when no one else was around, it would be a very spiritual experience. If all churches were like this one, I may be less afraid to enter them on a regular basis!
I also learned something very interesting while visiting Grace Cathedral - the United Nations was formed during a meeting of 50 countries here in San Francisco. A plaque and piece of art inside Grace Cathedral commemorate this historical event. I thought that was incredibly cool.
The verdict: Grace Cathedral is definitely worth a visit, even during a short trip to San Francisco. Whether you are religious or not, it is a notable building with some beautiful art work, and even this grumpy Agnostic would return. There are also yoga classes that take place here every Tuesday evening - can you think of a more typically San Franciscan thing to do? Who would like to join me?
Visited on May 6, 2015
Last night, Dave and I had the extreme pleasure of dining at Lazy Bear. We have won the friend and connections lottery, and were invited out by a friend/business associate of Dave's. This was particularly exciting because tickets (yes, dinners here are sold in tickets, like a sporting event or concert) are incredibly hard to come by, and are released only one month at a time. Even better, it was our friend's treat! Although Dave and I have been doing a little too much over-eating lately, we couldn't say no to an amazing offer like that.
We arrived right at 8, our seating time (the other seating is at 6 PM), and the rest of our party, 2 other couples, had already arrived and were sitting in the upstairs lounge. The first part of the evening takes place upstairs in a casual environment overlooking the main dining room. We were offered gin punches upon arrival, which were delicious, but we quickly switched to the wine pairing option, which started off with a festive glass of champagne. After 15 minutes or so, they started passing out the "snacks" (basically appetizers), which are described at length in one of the photos below. I found all of the snacks to be creative and deliciously on point.
Let me pause to tell you a bit about the history and owner of the restaurant. We spoke to the chef-owner David Barzelay at the end of the meal, and he told us that he used to be a patent attorney, but it turned out that he preferred and was better at cooking that he was at lawyering (a sentiment with which I personally can relate very well). After hosting countless underground dinner parties at his own house, he decided to open a restaurant and continue the dinner party theme there. He has no formal training, but you wouldn't know it from his food. He's also a gregarious redhead - let's just say he and I have more than a few things in common. Ok, fine: yes, I have a chef-crush on him. Sorry Dave.
I had not even considered capturing photos of this night until the subject of my blog came up during snacks, and I remembered that Lazy Bear was in fact a newly added item on my bucket list. So, apologies for not taking any photos of the snacks or upstairs portion of the evening, and for most of the photos I did take being a little lacking - by the time I got downstairs I had already had a glass of champagne and a gin punch. But if I said I wish I'd drank less and taken better photos, I'd be lying.
The dining room consists of 2 long tables that each seat 20 people. This is where the idea of communal dining starts to take form - you're not just sitting with your own party, but also the rest of the diners for the evening. Chef David then welcomed us and introduced himself and gave us a brief explanation of the format of the meal we were about to eat. Before each course, one of the chefs would interrupt the group and explain the meal. It is basically exactly what you imagine would happen at an intimate dinner party, and that's exactly how it felt.
As you can see from the photo above, the menu comes in the format of a "Field Guide," which includes pages that describe each course, with several lines to write your own notes about each dish. A pencil is also included with each menu. If you're a blogger or a foodie or just someone who'd like to remember what you ate after too many glasses of wine, this is such a useful tool. I'm hoping more restaurants will take heed and start to include these at multi-course meals.
In most fancy restaurants, bread is just something you eat when you wait for the real courses to arrive. At Lazy Bear, the bread WAS the first real course, and it deserved to stand on its own. Grilled seaweed foccacia bread - what does that even mean?? It means delicious, perfectly salty (and not at all briny) toasty bread that I could eat every day for the rest of my life. The note I took on this page says "best bread I've ever had??" You can tell I was pleased.
The next course was a sweet pea custard, and it was incredible. It's like spring was bottled and presented in beautiful fashion on our plates and palates. This and the other vegetable dish of the night were my 2 favorite courses. I told Chef David later that he may have inadvertently turned me into a vegetarian with those dishes.
The next course, a broth, turned out to be my least favorite course of the night - I felt it was fine but forgettable. However, one of my dining companions said it was his favorite of the night, which just goes to show that this place caters to a broad range of tastes.
The next course was halibut with brown butter Hollandaise sauce with market vegetables. This dish was also a winner, but it preceded my favorite dish of the night, the "Bintje potato fondue" with crispy kale, broccoli, and morels. The chef asked us what we thought, because it was only the second night they've served this, and I told him it was 100% a keeper. I really hope they keep it on the menu so more people can try it, it was seriously so amazing. Honestly, I would become a vegetarian if all vegetables tasted this good.
One of my favorite parts of this restaurant is the fact that they take the idea of "communal dining" to a whole new level, and all the plating is actually done in a corner of the dining room. Diners are encouraged to come up to the plating stations and take photos and ask the chefs questions. This was basically my dream come true, and I went up with a coupe of my fellow diners while they were plating the (gorgeous and delicious) lamb course. Chef David chatted with us while he and the other chefs put the plates together, which is an experience you can't get anywhere else. For someone who is well on his way to becoming a celebrity chef, David was incredibly friendly and accessible.
No fine dining experience would be complete without several unique desserts, and the pastry chef here did not disappoint. Strawberries over brown rice pudding, cinnamon merengue with blueberries and chocolate, and a "treats" platter consisting of an English pea macaron, s'mores semifreddo, and other bite-sized delights closed out this decadent evening.
I somehow haven't even discussed the wine pairings, which were phenomenal. In some cases, the wine either outshone the course itself, or helped the course reach its full potential. I particularly swooned over the Brachetto Rosé that paired with the strawberry dessert course. They have clearly put together an incredibly talented team of chefs, pastry chefs, and sommeliers to make this a complete and winning culinary experience.
The verdict: ummm, I guess you could say I liked it. Just a little. Dave and I have been lucky enough to dine at some of the best restaurants in the country, and this was a standout to me. The food and wine on their own were wonderful, but it was the communal element that made the meal feel new and special. My only complaint was that I felt as though the "snacks" portion dragged on a bit, while the actual seated portion felt just a bit rushed. I realized later that this was because they had a 6 PM seating that was still eating when we arrived at 8, and we had to wait for them to finish before heading downstairs. With that in mind, I can't say I have any real complaints about this place. To get a ticket, put yourself on their mailing list and wait for the monthly emails announcing their dates and times. It's not cheap, but its worth the splurge. Just do it! You won't regret it.
Bravo, Lazy Bear and Chef David Barzelay!
In 2010, I became a huge San Francisco Giants fan. Gee, can you think of any reason why that might have happened?
When I was very young, my mom was an Oakland A's fan, and my dad was a San Francisco Giants fan, and being a daddy's girl, I too became a Giants fan. Then the Giants were terrible and my dad decided he didn't really like watching baseball all that much, and for about 20 years I didn't watch any baseball at all. Then came 2010, and after living in San Francisco for 5 years and having never gone to a Giants game, the quirky and scrappy Giants baseball team made the playoffs and didn't stop winning until they had clinched the title for the first time in 64 years, and I became obsessed. I knew every player and their wacky back story, lamented every injury that threatened our chances at greatness, and watched every single inning of their playoff run with fearful excitement. I continued to follow these story lines through the disappointing 2011 and 2013 seasons, and cheered my heart out in those magical even years when the Giants were unstoppable in the post season, culminating in three World Series wins in 5 years. I watched history be made and a dynasty be born in my own backyard, in a city full of ardent fans that I already loved so much.
By the time I made this bucket list in 2013, I had already been to a few games at AT&T Park, but I couldn't in good conscience leave this experience off the list. The San Francisco Giants had become an integral part of this city and of my life here. I have gone to many Giants games since I made this list, and every time I go I take pictures, intending to blog about my experience. But if you've ever been to a Giants game, you know how hard it is to focus. The park is gorgeous, there's tons of good beer and good food, and you go with friends and your attention is already torn between these friends and the game; it is all too much fun, and trying to take all the appropriate photos and notes is next to impossible.
So instead I present to you photos from several games I have attended in the past couple years. Since I made this bucket list directive 2 years ago, I have taken my fandom to new levels, living out lifetime bucket list items such as going to a World Series game here at home in 2014 (of course the only home game they lost) and then to a Spring Training game in Scottsdale earlier this year, and I've eaten countless orders of garlic fries. (Word to the wise: Scottsdale garlic fries are nothing like the legendary Gilroy garlic fries from AT&T Park.) I have gone in big groups and small groups and sometimes only with my husband, who after witnessing three World Series Championships has still not fallen in love with baseball like I have. I have become a Fan with a capital F. I may have once a bandwaggoner, but I am no longer - I now consider myself a lifer.
The verdict: what do you think?! I love this experience so, so much. Now is the perfect time to catch a Giants game, even if you aren't a fan. The beauty of the park, the energy of the fans, the sense that history is still being made as we speak - these are enough to win over any sports nut, or just anyone who likes to feel a part of something bigger. The players, the coaches, the fans - you won't find a collection of people that represent a city so well at any other stadium in the country. Don't think about it, just go. And don't forget the garlic fries.
Visited on February 28, 2014
Confession: Until last month, I had never before flown a kite. My inspiration for this bucket list item came not from my deep-seated love of kiting, but was poached from 7X7 like many of the items on the bucket list. I do frequent Crissy Field, although not as much as I wish I did. It is beautiful, and provides the opportunity for various physical activities, such as walking, jogging, and many others.
The funny thing about this bucket item is that 2 of my closest friends, Trish and Janice, have independently gifted me kites to accomplish this task. Even more coincidentally, both kites were shaped like bulldogs, a nod to my obsession with my own English bulldog Lucy. Even with both kites in my possession, it has taken me forever to actually complete this goal. The perfect occasion to finally put my kites to use arose at the end of February, when we threw a surprise picnic engagement party for our good friends Tim and Adriane at Crissy Field.
The picnic itself was beautiful. We found an area on the grass that had several picnic tables lined up next to each another, and we had a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge and the beach. Despite rain in the rest of the Bay Area, the weather was perfect in San Francisco - most of us had shed our sweaters and were walking around in tank tops and t-shirts. This was particularly strange at Crissy Field - it's location next to the bay usually makes it much colder than the rest of the city, and usually way windier.
The prevalence of wind is exactly what makes Crissy Field such an ideal place to fly a kite, hence the bucket list directive. Of course, this perfect February day was the first time any of us had seen Crissy Field without wind - making our task just that much harder. But we did not let ourselves be dissuaded!*
*Rather, my husband Dave and our friend Kia did not let themselves be dissuaded. After one or two failed kiting attempts I was ready to throw in the towel. But the boys pushed on for nearly an hour, until we finally realized one of our kites had been put together wrong, and also figured out the correct kiting technique. Then, even despite the low wind, we were finally successful!
The verdict: Crissy Field is a San Francisco must-do, and a picnic there on a beautiful, still day cannot be beat. The day was not ideal for kite flying because of the low wind, but that's the nice thing about this bucket list item - even on a typical cold, windy day at Crissy Field, you can have a fun time by bringing a kite (preferably bulldog-shaped). I highly recommend checking out Crissy Field for a picnic, a long jog or walk, or if you're feeling adventurous, for a kite-flying session (provided you bring motivated friends with you).
Oy, 6 months since my last post. I am THE WORST. My sincerest apologies to my readers! It isn't that I've stopped doing things from the bucket list, it's that I just stopped blogging about them. I have a whole cache of photos just waiting to be written about and posted. Please, please, please shame me publicly if I don't start posting updates soon.
In other news, I have decided to revise "the list" a bit to add some new items that I've been wanting to do, or just plain love, and remove some of the items I'm less excited about now or have already done before. I've put the removed items beneath the list in the "honorable mentions" section, along with a few other of my favorite things to do in San Francisco that didn't make the cut. Check out the updated list!
To make up for my 6 months of silence, I thought this would be a good time to share some regular, #nofilter photos I took of the sunsets from our roof using my regular old iPhone. So far 2015 has given San Francisco some insanely beautiful sunsets. My camera skills are basically nonexistent, which just goes to show how gorgeous these sunsets really were.
Again, I apologize for being gone so long. But please enjoy my sunset peace offering!
Visited on August 9, 2014
2 weekends ago was the Outside Lands Music Festival here in SF, which for me is pretty hit or miss. Unless one of the days has 3 or more bands I really want to see, I usually avoid the traffic, crowds, and inevitable cold, which is what I did again this year. (Like my friend Trish says, why go to Outside Lands when you can do Inside Lands from your very own apartment?) Instead, I asked my good pal Melissa if she wanted to accompany me on my own version of Outside Lands - hike outside at Lands End (see what I did there?)
Whenever I tell people that I have never been to Lands End or the Sutro Baths, people gape at me like I'm some sort of traitor to the city or something. The truth is I almost never make it to the westernmost side of San Francisco - it's almost easier to drive to the East Bay than get from where I live in North Beach over to the Richmond or Outer Sunset. Thankfully, Melissa had never been to Lands End or Sutro Baths either, so she was the perfect hiking partner for these bucket list items.
When we pulled into the parking lot at the start of the Lands End trail, it was immediately apparent to us that this would not be a warm hike. In typical San Francisco summer fashion, it was freezing outside - foggy, windy, and even a little bit misty. We laughed and realized that it was almost better this way - if this blog is meant to show you the real San Francisco, then doing this hike on a sunny day would almost be misleading. No, a cold and foggy hike on an early August day was just perfect for this bucket list item.
The parking lot for this trail is located right above Sutro Baths, so we started there. The Sutro Baths were opened to the public in 1896 as the world's largest indoor swimming pool establishment, but it was financially unprofitable and closed down in the mid-20th century. In it's heyday, the swimming complex could accommodate 10,000 people at one time, and included pools with 7 different water temperatures, supplied primarily from the Pacific Ocean, as well as diving boards, water slides, trapezes, and a high dive. (Is anyone else wishing we had one of these now?) But people stopped going during the Great Depression and the Baths never regained popularity, so eventually the doors closed for good, and the city began to dismantle the facility. However, in1966, during the demolition process, a fire ravished what was left of the Baths, leaving the ruins we now see today.
So, Melissa and I braved the wind and the mist and walked down the steep path to the ruins of the baths. We walked through the ruins all the way down to what actually would have been a pretty nice beach if it were sunny out. There were a lot of people doing the same on this cold Saturday morning, mostly out of town tourists from what I could tell. The interesting thing about the ruins to me was that in many ways they seemed pretty dangerous - unstable foundations that served as pathways perched perilously above murky stagnant water, obscuring who knows what - I myself felt close to pitching over the side a few times. But there didn't seem to be any clear warning about the dangers, so there we all were, climbing over this old foundation like kids on a jungle gym.
One of my favorite parts about Sutro Baths was the cave just to the north of the ruins. You can walk through the cave to the end, which reveals a grand view of the Pacific Ocean and the waves crashing against the rocks. There are a few little keyholes in the cave itself where you can watch the water come crashing through the cave against the rocks below, sending a bit of a spray up on the onlookers. It was clearly something that people constantly are coming to see, but it felt a little bit dangerous, which is what I think what was so appealing about it.
After exploring the ruins for about 20 minutes, we turned our task to the rest of the agenda: hiking the Lands End trail, or more specifically, the Coastal Trail. I was surprised to find a trail like this in San Francisco, where most of the hikes I go on are considered more urban than wilderness. But in addition to grand views of the ocean, there is quite a bit of forest overhang and foliage that I do not typically associate with the city. The only real reminder that you're still in a dense metropolitan area is the steady influx of other hikers, joggers, and dog-walkers joining you on the trail. Despite the cold, it was refreshing to discover such a lovely little oasis in our own backyard.
If you stick just to the coastal trail, this hike is only about 3.5 miles round trip, but Melissa and I took several deviations from the main path that added to the hike. Probably the most rigorous but also most rewarding offshoot was the long stair pathway that leads to Mile Rock Beach. For this detour, you are rewarded not only with sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge (covered a bit with fog on this particular day) but also the famous stone labyrinth that is meant for relaxation and mediation. The stairs leading back to the main trail were pretty strenuous and was a nice addition to the otherwise quite easy hike.
After huffing and puffing our way back to the main trail, we continued on until we reached the end of the trail at Eagle's Point. Rather than just turn around, we walked down Lincoln Highway until we got to the Legion of Honor, although we got lost several times and kept ending up on the fairway of the golf course before getting warned by golfers about the dangers of being hit by wayward balls. We walked around the entrance of the Legion of Honor but did not go in, then headed down the street until we met back up with the Coastal Trail. We also looked at the USS San Francisco memorial, and were disappointed that we could not see the shipwrecks that you can apparently view from the trail when the tide is low.
I had been tracking the mileage of our hike and by the end, we had actually hiked nearly 6 miles, and we were feeling it in our legs and in the hunger in our stomachs. Not too bad for a foggy Saturday! After our hike we rewarded ourselves with an amazing brunch at Sweet Maple in Pacific Heights.
The verdict: Definitely a must see if you live in San Francisco or find yourself here for more than just a casual visit. Sutro Baths isn't terribly impressive, but it is unique and worth it just to climb over what's left of a part of San Francisco's vibrant history. The Lands End trail is really nice and as much of a workout as you want it to be (if you're feeling especially motivated you could lengthen it to visit China Beach, or even Baker Beach, one of my favorite places in all of San Francisco). I would love to return sometime soon and do the trail on a sunny day, when the views of the ocean and bridge are even more beautiful and impressive, but it was quite nice this time despite the cold and fog, especially when accompanied by a good friend.
Visited on March 15, 2014
Ah, House of Prime Rib. How I truly and deeply love thee. Putting the House of Prime Rib on my San Francisco bucket list was definitely my biggest cheat as far as having done it before. Not only have I been there before, but as a child the HOPR was pretty much the only reason I ever came to the San Francisco from the east bay where I grew up. Not only did I go to the House of Prime Rib for special occasions growing up, but both of my parents, East Bay natives themselves, grew up going there with their own families. You could say that the HOPR has been part of my family for generations. It is this reason that I had to add it to my bucket list - the House of Prime Rib represents San Francisco in so many ways to me that I didn't have the heart to leave it off of a list that others may follow and try to replicate. Every meat-eating resident or visitor to San Francisco must try the House of Prime Rib sometime in their lives - they just must.
Growing up, people always snickered when I told them I was going to the "House of Prime Rib." Sure, the name is a little kitsch, and it belies the old fashioned grandeur of the restaurant itself, but it is also apt. Steakhouses may serve any number of items besides steak, but the House of Prime Rib does one thing and one thing only - prime rib. (There is actually the option to order fish, if you must, but I wouldn't recommend it. Live a little - eat prime rib at the HOPR or don't go at all.)
HOPR has continued to be a major part of my life even as an adult. Dinner here was one of the first times my husband Dave met my family when we first started dating. When Dave and I introduced our parents for the first time, we came here. When I have kids, I will take them here, and hopefully they will take their kids here. Are you getting the point? I love this place and it is part of my life story.
For the bucket list, there were many occasions and people I could select to join me on such an adventure, but I was pretty sure who I wanted to invite - my food-loving, meat-eating, one-of-whom-is-incredibly-tall-and-can-eat-more-than-anyone-I-know friends, Jessica and Wally, who had surprisingly never been before. The occasion? House of Prime Rib was the occasion. The prodigal daughter returning after a 4-5 year hiatus was a good enough reason to celebrate.
As shown in the picture of the menu above, you choose the size of cut you want (I, for example, chose the city cut, where Wally chose the King Henry VIII cut), and it comes with salad, mashed potatoes or baked potato, creamed spinach or creamed corn (hint: do not miss the creamed spinach - it is not a health food and it is amazing), and my favorite, the Yorkshire pudding. That's it. Your decisions consists of 3 choices total: cut of beef, type of potato, and veggie. Then you just sit back and let this magical place do the rest for you.
The first course is their signature salad, which is already an epic start to the meal. They make the salad right in front of you, spinning the bowl while drizzling the dressing from high above your head. I have never had a salad like this anywhere else, it is unique and delicious. My mom loves their salad dressing so much that she sometimes asks me to pick some up for her for family meals since I live here in the city.
This is a good time to tell you that these days, I am not a big meat eater. Mostly motivated by my love for animals, but also for health reasons, I have scaled back my meat consumption considerably this year. But this is the House of Prime Rib. Their beef is worth putting your morals temporarily on hold, and so I did unapologetically.
For those who are not big red meat fans, or are disturbed by the sight of large quantities of meat, this place may not be for you. But if you love meat, you will relish the enormous silver cart of beef that is rolled from table to table, where the main attraction is sliced tableside, onto warmed plates, specifically for you according to your choice of cut and doneness. (My recommendation: medium rare; with quality beef like this, always medium rare). It is a sight to behold.
Wally was jealous of Chef Christian's giant chef hat, a staple at the House of Prime Rib, so we asked our waiter where Wally could get a hat like that. Yet another reason to love the HOPR: they delivered, in spades.
But enough fooling around. It was finally time to get down to business, the raison d'être for coming tonight: the prime rib. Behold: those most beautiful plate you'll ever see in your life.
As I mentioned, I grew up coming here. I've had this meal before at least a dozen times. But for some reason, on this particular occasion, I was simply taken with this meal. Each bite was like a precious little gift, and I relished every single one. The plate pictured above was mine, and I am not ashamed to say that I ate every. single. bite. I would have been embarrassed if I hadn't been so thoroughly satisfied. I'm serious: this was one of the single best meals of my whole life.
But I haven't yet told you about one of the best parts about the House of Prime Rib, the part that will keep even the tallest, hungriest person I know satisfied: seconds. That's right, they will give you seconds on anything you want (though sadly not thirds, we asked). I have long heard that this is the case, but I have always been so full that it has not been possible to eat any more, and this occasion was no exception for me - I stopped (reluctantly) when I reached the end of my plate. But I knew at least one member of my dining party would be able to order more prime rib, and Wally did not disappoint. The second cut of beef wasn't as big as the first, but it wasn't insignificant, either. No matter your size or appetite, they clearly do not want you leaving hungry.
There's a few important details I have forgotten to mention so far. First of all, this restaurant is legitimately fine dining. You book reservations weeks and often months in advance - it is incredibly popular, even 65 years after its opening (it was established in 1949). The interior is classically grand, the service is impeccable, and you feel compelled to dress up to come here. But the surprising part, especially in a city filled with fancy restaurants, is the price. All that I have described so far - the salad, the prime rib (including seconds), the spinach, the mashed potatoes and gravy, all fit for a king, is only around $40, depending on the cut you order. $40 isn't exactly chump change, but I dare you to find another meal of this size and quality anywhere else in the city for that price. Oh, and if you do find such a place? Please be sure to share that information with your old pal Brooke.
The verdict: Omg. This was even better than I remembered, and I remembered it being pretty amazing. I can say with certainty that this will end up being one of my favorite items once this list is completed. Seriously, just go. I'll wait while you find the next available reservation, but please, will you reserve an extra spot for me?
I grew up 30 miles from San Francisco, and I've now lived in the city for 10 years. I recently realized that although I am completely in love with this place, I still have so much left to see and explore! I have made a list of 100 places I would like to visit, and I invite you to join me on each trip through my blog!