The Green Guy’s Perfect Day: San Francisco
San Francisco has seduced me. I just visited for Valentine’s Day Weekend as a guest of the San Francisco Travel Association for their “49 Hours of SF” program and I departed without my heart. As you can imagine, I left it on a cable car. I’m now convinced that San Francisco is the most cultured of the West Coast cities, with major attractions like the deYoung Museum for famous artwork, the newly opened SFJAZZ Center for your beboppin’, and a thriving theatre and dance scene all ready to enthrall you with their charms. While I love some culture, I spent most of the weekend eating. I can’t help it – I love food and San Francisco is one of the best food cities in the country. That’s why this edition of the Green Guy’s Perfect Day leads you on a caloric tour of the City by the Bay.
Wake up on a Saturday morning at the Four Seasons in Union Square and hop a cable car (or Muni bus or train) to the Ferry Building. There you’ll find a farmers’ market that can best be described as a produce fantasia. Vegetables and fruits line table after table in booths set up around the perimeter of the building. Inside you’ll find great artisanal vendors like Boccalone meats and the Hog Island Oyster Company, but outside is where the action is. San Franciscans gobble up this kind of thing and you’ll fit in just fine if you throw on some yoga pants and a puffy vest. My market breakfast pick is the maple bacon breakfast sausage sandwich from 4505 Meats. It’s an intensely flavorful sausage patty covered with aged gruyere, an egg oozing with runny yoke, and a sesame scallion bun. Scarf one down and head back to the train because it’s time to eat again.
Hop on the J Train and take it all the way down to the trendy/still kinda sketchy Mission District. Foreign Cinema is the best brunch spot around. With a back courtyard filled with sunlight and hipsters, you’ll find a menu that spans the globe but trends toward French-Spanish. The lacinato kale caesar can’t be missed and you’ll find it hard not to smile when the over-flowing fresh seafood platter hits the table. The space seems to be imbued with some sort of magic – I spent three hours out on that patio without once looking at the time.
All that eating has left you both tense and full, so it’s time for the spa. I chose the one at the Four Seasons, which happens to be operated by Sports Club/LA. At first, I didn’t like the idea of a massage inside a gym, but after my 50-minute treatment that incorporated deep-tissue, Swedish, and lomi lomi techniques, I was fully converted. The Spa is dark and tranquil and I left feeling completely refreshed, relaxed, and ready to eat more.
With so many great restaurants from which to choose, it’s impossible to pick just one. Instead, make dinner into a food crawl and hit all the spots on your list. I went with La Mar and SPQR. La Mar is a Peruvian restaurant right on the waterfront that specializes in ceviche (or cebiche, as they spell it). The fresh seafood creations are light and flavorful – the perfect appetizer to any meal. Once you’ve filled up on raw fish and housemade potato chips, get thee to Pacific Heights for Chef Matthew Accarrino’s SPQR, a Michelin-starred joint that serves innovative, modern Italian food in a Manhattan setting. While most chefs nowadays care deeply about the produce they serve, Accarrino goes beyond the farmers’ market and has direct relationships with farmers to grow exactly the produce he wants. Now that’s what I call farm-to-table.
After a long, leisurely Italian meal, you have to head to the basement of the historic Fairmont Hotel to experience a tiki bar like none other. The Tonga Room features exceptional service, umbrella drinks, and a live band performing on a floating raft in the middle of a lagoon. It’s campy and fun and a must-visit for anyone looking to sip a piña colada and get caught in the rain (seriously – fake rain is part of the show).
After a long day’s journey into full, rest your head in a room at the Fairmont and marvel at just how seductive San Francisco can be.
Ferry Building Farmers Market
One Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
2534 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Four Seasons/The Spa at Sports Club/LA
757 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Pier 1.5 Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94111
1911 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
Tonga Room at The Fairmont
950 Mason St.
San Francisco, CA 94108