Saturday, June 13, 2009

Favourite San Franciscan food spots

Food is a very important factor in the enjoyment I experience when travelling.

There have been some particularly memorable dining places in San Francisco:

Milennium, Geary Street
Fully vegan, gourmet, delicious, mostly organic and stylish restaurant. A true inspiration for classy vegetarian dining seriously absent in Brisbane. Bookings are essential and the salubrious and sophisticated setting enticed Kristen and me to indulge in several courses and cocktails...and to purchase their recipe books, at a fairly hefty but worthy expense.

Orphan Andy's, Market Street, near corner with Castro
We feasted here for breakfast amidst orange vinyl 50's (?) diner decor. A popular spot, particularly for scrummy fluffy pancakes (banana ones are best), fresh juice and bottomless coffee, it is crowded from early morning, late into the night, mostly with buff gay guys. We didn't have the pleasure of being served by Woody, who Kristen and her dad, John, had chatted to on previous pancake missions but he was there in his glory - huge bushy beard, bald head, heavy nose ring, large earplugs (in his lobes not earholes), a Utilikilt (a very funky, modern version of a kilt) with heavy studded leather belt (studs spelt "nudist" across the back). The red-rimmed spectacles were a bit of a give-away that he wasn't the sort of bloke to knock your lights off as he sped past on his Harley. Despite his intimidating appearance, it was very apparent from his effeminate hand gestures that he was not that type.

Ananda Fuara, Market Street near Orpheum Theatre
Vegetarian Indian-style food and great wholemeal pancakes and non-coffee coffees. This was a favourite hangout of Kristen's (and Dad John's) but the queue out the door on my second visit was too daunting.

Bi-rite Creamery, 3292 18th Street, opposite Dolores Park
Time this right and you might get an icecream without having to wait in a queue that stretches to the corner of the block. We did, on my first day (see photos in first blog entry) and enjoyed balsamic strawberry. They do vegan gelati too and all ingredients are organic, wherever possible.

MINAKO Organic Japanese Restaurant, 2154 Mission Street, Mission
Kristen had previously eyed off this restaurant, easy to miss amongst the mess of Mexican tobacco and junk stores and taquerias and hoving homeless, and we spontaneously decided to give it a go one icy night after travelling home from Berkeley's World Music Festival. Waiting folk were crammed inside the door and we squeezed in, optimistically, with them in the warmth. The brisk host growled at our arrival and said there really wasn't any room but two guys in front invited us to join them at their table. Although this made Minako even more fiesty, we risked it, in our desire for delicious Japanese food. David (New York) and Albert (Montreal) were happy to have extra company after an intensive conference day and they slowly worked their charm on our quirky host. The menu was extensive and a bit overwhelming but under pressure due to kitchen time constraints, we made a group selection and enjoyed it all immensely (mostly vegan). We managed to transform Miyako from slightly intimidating host to jovial long-lost friend, enhanced I'm sure by David's dance moves, sweeping her up to dance to Barry Manilow - part of her diverse, eclectic musical collections.

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