Images (not) from New York, one day in San Francisco edition.

The view of the Painted Ladies from Alamo Square

Following our brief detour to Seattle, we flew back to Oakland to spend a few days in the Bay Area. Originally we had hoped that we could stay for a few extra days to see our friends who live out there, but other engagements coming up in the following week would only give us one day after Michael’s big meeting.

Most of our time was spent in the Oakland suburbs, and there’s not much to say about that other than some of the views are pretty and we had some good food, but to be honest, I spent a good amount of time at the hotel finalizing my San Francisco research and doing some laps in the somewhat-heated pool. I really wanted to make sure that we had a robust list of options for us so we could maximize our one day in the city.

The Ferry Building Marketplace

Once we moved to a hotel closer to the Oakland airport, we got a ride to San Francisco and started our day at the Ferry Building Marketplace. Part ferry station/terminal and part food hall, it was a good spot to get our bearings, get a bite to eat, and discuss what we wanted to do that day. The one place I really, really wanted to visit was Swan Oyster Depot because it was an eternal favorite of Anthony Bourdain’s. It’s a tiny space with only a handful of stools in front of the bar, so I knew we’d probably have to wait to get in, so we figured it would make sense to head over sooner rather than later.

Grace Cathedral

Sweet summer children we were, we didn’t realize that “just” walking up California Street to Polk would entail a steep hike because we didn’t comprehend how high the hills of San Francisco were, but we committed to the walk regardless. At least we weren’t operating on an empty stomach thanks to a really tasty empanada at El Porteño before we left the Ferry Building, and our walk took us past Chinatown and the Grace Cathedral noted in The Decemberists track “Grace Cathedral Hill” along with affording us some absolutely stunning views at the top of the hill. We made it to Swan eventually, and while we had a bit of a wait, our patience was rewarded by an excellent dining experience.

The open-face smoked salmon sandwich on sourdough from Swan Oyster Depot

We had no idea what to expect, but what we got was excellent food and beer brought to us by a super-friendly staff. The oysters were cold and refreshing, the house seafood salad light and crisp, but perhaps the best dish we had was the open-face smoked salmon sandwich on sourdough with capers and red onions. A couple to the right of me ordered it, and it looked too good to not have, so we dove into that too.

Swan Oyster Depot’s seafood salad.

Sated and slightly buzzed, we did a little exploring around the immediate area including checking out a cool-looking consignment shop before deciding to get a ride over to Alamo Square, the park where you can get a great view of the famed Painted Ladies. (The walk to Swan was enough for Michael as his shoes were not ideal for traversing steep road grades.) While we were able to indulge in some prime 90s nostalgia while we were there, it was nice to walk around the park itself and again, take in the breathtaking views that the park afforded.

I had a few options for places to get a bite and a drink near the park, and so we took a short stroll to Horsefeather. I’m going to write more about this place in detail because I want to try my hand at making a few of the drinks we had there, but I’m still working on them. The vibe was relaxed, the drinks were potent, and I’d love to go back there again on another visit if the opportunity ever arises.

One of the few streetcars we saw, well after we could have used a ride on one!

As the afternoon waned, though, we wanted to head back closer to where we started the day and did a little local shopping downtown before walking over to Waterbar right on the bay itself and basically next to the Bay Bridge. They have an all-day happy hour special of dollar oysters until 5:30, and we wanted to take advantage before we made our way back to Oakland. You can only order up to two dozen oysters at a time, but you can order as many as you want during the special, so we got three dozen. The toast appetizer with La Quercia prosciutto, pimento cheese, and cornichons were also a highlight.

View of the Bay Bridge from Waterbar

When we were ready to make our way back to the hotel, we decided to give BART a try, and once we figured out how the fare system worked, it was a relatively seamless way of crossing the bay while avoiding all of that rush hour traffic. 

San Francisco was fantastic–I would have loved to have a longer stay there, but being able to visit at all was such a treat after a whirlwind month of travel all across the country. There’s more travel to come, both to some favorites as well as new-to-us destinations, and I’m stoked for all of it.

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