It all started a couple months ago when Megabus established its new direct bus service to Oakland and San Francisco from Los Angeles. As a part of its promotion, Megabus gave away $1 tickets. Well, I missed out on that promo, but subscribed to their email alerts just in case there were other promos that I might be interested in. A few weeks later, Megabus announced that they were giving away 200,000 free tickets. (Yes, free tickets!) I snagged a free round trip ticket to San Francisco and only had to pay $0.80 processing fee. I also found a reasonably priced hotel room through Comfort Inn by the Bay for just one night to add to my weekend rendezvous in San Francisco. Since the transportation and the hotel accommodations were complete as well as the Foodie itinerary, all I had left was to enlist an adventurous friend to tag along.
I met my friend late Friday night to board the Megabus at the Los Angeles Union Station – Patsaouras Transit Plaza. Departing at 11:30PM meant that we’d sleep through the 7-hour bus ride and arrive at the San Francisco CalTrain Center at 7:00AM. Looking at the crowd of passengers, their age range, and economic status, they appeared to be a lot like my friend and I; between the ages of 25 – 55. As soon as we found our seats, I knew it was an “Internet” crowd, because of all the smartphones, iPads, and laptops plugged into every electrical outlet at each seat. I, too, took advantage of the free wi-fi service on the Megabus logging onto Google Maps to track our location in real time during the bus ride. The wi-fi worked the majority of the time on the road especially through the rural farm areas along the California 5 Freeway where I couldn’t connect to cell providers network.
We had a short midway stop at around 3:30AM in the city of Kettlemen at one of the gas stations. The brief stop was a good opportunity to grab something to eat, use a real restroom, and stretch. I used the opportunity to run from the bus to the restroom to get my blood circulating from the 32 degree weather outside. The midway stop also meant that the drivers would be switching. I liked that the drivers switched, because a well rested driver guaranteed extra safety during our bus trip.
The Ferry Building Marketplace
Arrival time in San Francisco was 6:42AM after a brief 15 minute stop in Oakland to drop off some passengers. Yeah, it was super early when we arrived. Our drivers informed us that there were no bad weather conditions or sticky traffic areas during the trip, which is why we arrived earlier than expected. After gathering our belongings, my friend and I took the Muni T-Light rail from King & 4th Street Station (CalTrain Center) to the Embarcadero Station, where it’s a short distance walk to The Ferry Building Marketplace; one of California’s Foodie Destination. The Muni Bus service is limited on weekends and there were no taxis anywhere to be seen at around six-something in the morning, which meant that the light rail was the only option for transportation. I noticed that there aren’t any express kiosks at the Muni station to pay for single fare ($2) or a multi-day Muni Pass (between $14 to to ride both the buses and the light rails. However, you can pay cash for a single fare directly to the driver by standing next to the driver’s window in the first car of the light rail. If you need a transfer, ask for it too. It’s free.
Many of the Food Purveyors were not opened when we arrived The Ferry Building a little after 7:00AM. For instance, my favorite, The Cowgirl Creamery, was still setting up before they officially opened at 8:00AM. So, there was no way that I’d get my Mt. Tam & Ham Sandwich to cure my immediate hunger pains. After a quick walk through the inside of The Ferry Building and the outside of The Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, my friend and I decided that an immediate hearty breakfast was the only cure for our hunger pains. So we headed to Gott’s Roadside to seek for immediate sustenance since they opened early.
Gott’s Roadside is a Northern California staple where you can find a good selection of breakfast sandwiches and breakfast tacos. They’re more known for their hot dogs, burgers, and salads that usually attracts the long lines around The Ferry Building. We were lucky that there were no long lines when we arrived.
My breakfast sandwich, The Classic, satisfied my morning appetite ($4.99). The fresh sourdough bread was thick sliced and so was the bacon. The crispy Hash Browns ($1.99) were just as inviting to eat. I also enjoyed the friendly service on the bright and early Saturday morning.
Blue Bottle Coffee
I love Blue Bottle Coffee and it was no surprise to me to find a ridiculously large line forming at their cafe inside The Ferry Building and outside at their coffee carts. Don’t let the lines deter you from grabbing a cup of their infamous organic, single origin coffee beans that are roasted 48-hours before it’s served to the public. When you do grab a cup of their coffee, you’ll notice, like I have, that the coffee is rich and smooth with very little bitterness. For my coffee awakening, I had a large Mocha ($4.75).
I last time I was at Boccalone, I had asked for the Prosciutto Ice Cream and was told that it’s a seasonal item, served only on a rare occasion. As such, I didn’t expect that this exclusive item would be available during my visit. However, I did know that the Boccalone Meat Cone was served year round. Inside the the paper cone is a few sliced selections of various artisan salumi for a quick tasting ($3.75).
The Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market
We also arrived in time to watch the Farmer’s Market vendors set-up their booths along the perimeter of The Ferry Building. The Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market is known as another Foodie Destination to visit in San Francisco. Every Thursday and Saturday morning you’ll find fresh seasonal produce, fresh caught seafood, and plenty of Artisan food stuffs. As much as I wanted to shop for jams and herbs, I reminded myself that I would have to carry my purchases throughout the day. So, like a good girl, I refrained from buying stuff. It pained me knowing what I was doing. What didn’t hurt though was tasting and eating what was available at each stall. Like at any Farmer’s Market, there are lots of free samples to taste like fruit, cheeses, olive oils, etc.
A friend of mine recommended that I purchase a bag of Chiccarone from 4505 Meats, which is a local Artisanal Butcher shop in the Mission District that serves usually serves hot prepared foods at The Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market. I purchased a small bag Chiccarones for $3.75. Boy, were these treats yummy. Each fried pork skin chip was airy and seasoned with a burst of red chili spice and a hints of salty and sweet goodness. They are addicting!
The Good Food Awards Marketplace
When in San Francisco, you have to attend a food or wine event. My friend and I were fortunate to attend The Good Food Awards Marketplace at The Ferry Building. For $5 we were able to taste a variety of artisanal food stuff from the winners and other participants like chocolates, cheeses, pickles, charcuterie, and jams from food and drink purveyors from all over the United States. One of my favorites was the Goat Salami by Underground Meats. It was a surprise to find cinnamon as the primary spice in gamey salami. Loved it!
Imperial Tea Court
After a few hours of window shopping and taste testing, my friend and I decided on a tea tasting at Imperial Tea Court. We learned how to properly brew a single serving of loose tea (2 – 3 minutes) and how to hold the cup and lid as you sip the tea. Our tea of choice was the Herbal Ginger Ginseng Blend ($4.75).
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF MOMA)
What I love about San Francisco besides the food is its art. There are plenty of art museums and galleries in the SOMA District yet I always gravitate to seeing the art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The cost of admission is $18 per person with discounted rates available to senior citizens and students. If you have a museum membership card that has reciprocal service at other nationwide museums, your chances are in your favor for free admission for you and a guest. My friend and I were able to admire the new exhibits. I particularly enjoyed browsing through the museum store. It’s one of the best museum stores that I’ve ever been too.
We headed to Ghiradelli Square for an evening walk to burn off some of the calories after our feast at Mission Chinese Food. (Look for a separate blog post on Mission Chinese Food.) A symbol of San Francisco since the mid-1800s, Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory began making chocolates in mass quantities for its shops. The factory has since moved to San Leandro on the other side of the bay and the original factory is now permanent fixture called Ghiradelli Square. It has been decades since my last visit at Ghiradelli Square. It’s still a nice little sightseeing spot with various boutiques.
My sole purpose of visiting Ghiradelli Square this time around was to drink the Hot Chocolate at the Ghiradelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. You’re given a cup hot frothy milk and four squares of Ghiradelli Chocolate to drop into the milk. After a few quick swirls, you have a wonderfully decadent hot chocolate to savor ($4.75). My friend and I grabbed a seat at one of the outdoor tables, where we spent the evening chit chatting and listening to live music. A Hot Chocolate nightcap was nice way to end a Saturday evening in San Francisco.