A Weekend in San Francisco
How to spend a weekend in the City by the Bay
The City by the Bay is known for many things, among them the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, cable cars, fog, and Rice-A-Roni. No matter if it’s a romantic weekend getaway, a trip with your friends, or an extended business trip, The Daily Meal’s wining and dining weekend guide to San Francisco ensures that if you leave your heart in San Francisco, there’s more than enough for you to explore on your second and third trip.
6:45 p.m.: Catch the Hornblower Cruise, which leaves from San Francisco’s Pier 3 at 7:00 p.m. for a three-hour yacht cruise with stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. The cruise includes a four-course seated dinner with wine, beer, and cocktails, live entertainment, and dancing. Options include seared salmon fillet drenched in a coconut herb sauce and roasted stuffed chicken breast with spinach, crimini mushrooms, and Gruyère cheese.
10:30 p.m.: Don’t turn in just yet. Instead, hit San Francisco’s bar scene, which has a bar for everyone, like the nautical-themed, pirate-inspired, Smuggler's Cove, which specializes in Prohibition-era cocktails and rum-infused Caribbean concoctions, and made The Daily Meal’s list of 150 Best Bars in America.
8 a.m.: Wake up early and head down to the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, located at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero, the eastern waterfront area at the Port of San Francisco. The farmers’ market is a lively assembly of local farmers, artisan producers, and independently owned and operated food businesses. Among the most popular things to buy at the waterfront market is the milk chocolate almond brittle from the Alfieri Farms booth. Buy the largest box they sell, as you will be instantly hooked!
10 a.m.: As you continue along the Embarcadero, head into PLUGZ Electric Bike Rental and rent some electric bikes to traverse the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito for lunch. By the time you reach this waterfront community that sits directly across the city, you’ll have worked up an appetite for lunch.
11:30 a.m.: Many Sausalitans like to say that Sausalito was why they built the Golden Gate Bridge, for its picturesque waterfront community. Try Scoma’s Restaurant, a floating restaurant founded more than 40 years ago by a pair of Sicilians. The seafood restaurant offers panoramic views of Angel Island, Tiburon, and San Francisco. If you’re looking for a less formal dining experience, look no other than Davey Jones Deli inside the New Bait Shop, an eclectic gourmet sandwich shop located off the beaten path. "We’re known for our creative combos, and for trying to profile our customer’s palates," said owner Davey Johnson. The deli features fresh roast free-range turkey and beef accompanied by local cheeses, grains, fruits, and veggies. They source much of their food straight from producers like Pacific Sun Gourmet and Petaluma cheeses. Those seeking to order a plain sandwich beware: "We hate turkey, lettuce, tomatoes orders and will try to get you to at least have our sauces or super healthy homemade condiments; don’t be afraid! That’s the flavor!" said Johnson.
Try the saucy le boeuf at Davey Jones Deli. Photo credit: Davey Jones Deli
3 p.m.: As you drop off your electric bikes at the wharf back in San Francisco, stop in for a late-afternoon Irish coffee at The Buena Vista Cafe. While many mistakenly credit the café for creating the Irish coffee, it has actually served the drink since a local travel writer told the bartender about the Irish coffee served oversees at Ireland’s Shannon Airport in 1952. The bartender used the journalist’s description to craft the concoction of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and cream. After 60 years, this revamped Irish coffee is a San Francisco treasure and must-try.
6 p.m.: It’s Saturday night and you need to let off some steam, and there is no better place to do this than at the Fairmont Hotel’s Tonga Room, which has served Mai Tais since 1945. A top-40 band performs from a thatch-covered barge on an indoor lagoon at the tiki bar, which has a dance floor built from the remains of the S.S. Forester, one of the last tall ships which sailed between San Francisco and the South Seas. The kitschy restaurant features periodic light tropical "rainstorms" complete with thunder and lightning. The Tonga Room’s manager, John-Phillipe Cote, recommends noshing on the Tonga Platter during the Happy Hour Buffet while sipping a Mai Tai.
9 a.m.: If you have the time and patience for a long line and want an opportunity to mingle with locals, head to Dottie’s True Blue Café, south of Market Street in downtown. Some of the favorites here are the grilled chili-Cheddar cornbread with jalapeño jelly and the blueberry cornmeal pancakes.
11:30 a.m.: Stop into Zeitgeist in the Mission for a pint or two in their outdoor beer garden. There are more than 40 beers on tap, but this beer garden is also known for its bloody marys.
1 p.m.: The bohemian Haight-Ashbury district is the spot for San Francisco’s best Caribbean cuisine at Cha Cha Cha. Reservations aren’t taken, but it's worth the wait for the paella, jerk chicken, and sangria. Bring some friends or a big appetite to share the hefty portions.
3 p.m.: If lunch has left you sluggish, head to Coffee to the People for a pick-me-up. Order a hemp milk latte and settle into one of the large plush couches. Once you’re sufficiently caffeinated, explore the dozens of independent restaurants, bars, clothing boutiques, booksellers, head shops, and record stores.
6 p.m.: As night sets and your weekend comes to an end, don’t leave San Francisco without stopping at Clement Street in the Inner Richmond district for Asian cuisine. Burma Superstar’s Burmese cuisine, like the tea leaf salad, lamb curry, and coconut rice, will have you planning your next trip to San Francisco before you have even left the city limits.
Kat Ernst is the San Francisco City Editor for The Daily Meal.