Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Left My Heart . . .

Once upon a time there was an adventurous Texan who had never been to San Francisco, but who was so convinced that she would love it, she packed her Pontiac LeMans with all her possessions and drove out West to call it home. The adventurous Texan's intuition was correct. She indeed loved San Francisco, loved her city apartment on the corner of Clay and Levenworth atop Nob Hill (she was told by those taller that her third-floor apartment's bay window showcased a view of the Golden Gate Bridge) and loved city life. However, after a year of idyllic life in the "City by the Bay," she was whisked back to Texas by her future husband (he was transferred by his job).

Though she followed her heart, she left a part of it in San Francisco (that's not quite how the lyrics read, but you get the idea). Since her departure, she's returned many, many times but never with a ho-hum attitude. Thus, last week's visit to The City included a few of the Texan/now San Diegan's favorite things.

Here are my/aka adventurous Texan's stops:

Buena Vista - Stationed at the Fairmont, I stood on the corner of California and Powell for a cablecar (preferably the Hyde Street car) to head to the end of the line and the Buena Vista, a restaurant/bar known as much for it surly bartenders as it is Irish Coffee. With the cablecars full, I headed by foot like a mountain goat over one hill and then another to my every-time-I'm-in-San Francisco destination. My order: Gaelic Irish Coffee (translation: Irish Coffee, light on the whiskey) and sourdough toast, $10, (tip: the food's not great but the atmosphere is not to be missed).

Street vendors - Across from the Buena Vista is an assortment of street vendors. My purchase: a script initial "E" for my daughter Erin to display on a gold chain ($5).

Ghirardelli - A new obsession of mine is chocolate and sea salt, so I couldn't resist a bar of Ghirardelli chocolate with sea salt ($5).

Union Street - I continued my walk from the Buena Vista west and then south to Union Street where I headed west, walking in and out of jewelry boutiques, clothing boutiques, coffee shops, cupcake shops and just people watched (free).

Polk Street - Time for lunch so I head to Polk Street, found a cute spot with outdoor tables geared to enjoy the sunshine and dined on a cup of corn chowder and a fish taco ($10).

Coit Tower - Next day: An cityscape icon, I headed through North Beach to locate the street to take me to the top of the hill and its tower which overlooks the bay and the city. It opens at 10am and tourists, as well as locals, were on site at 10am (free).

North Beach - Ready for a snack, I made my way to Columbus to stop in at Stella's Bakery for a couple of the Italian-style cookies and a cup of cappuccino (complete with a heart of foam on top), $4.

Chinatown - What better place for a colorful assortment of $5 pashminas than Chinatown and when ready for lunch, I was told by a journalist who writes for the Chinese market (aka reliable Chinese foodie source) that the best restaurant is R&G Lounge (corner of Kearney and Commercial). Tip: Order the R&G Special Meat dish ("recipe is a secret" says the menu) $7.

Union Square - No visit is complete without a visit to Union Square, wandering in and out of its surrounding stores and hopping aboard a cablecar for the steep return to the Fairmont on Nob Hill ($5 cablecar ride, window-shopping free).

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