SF Eats and Treats Pt. 1

San Francisco (i.e. S.F., The City by the Bay, The City, Fog City – but not San Fran as local friends have educated me on), has some of the most delicious and diverse food in the United States.

Fun Fact: According to the last census bureau available, San Francisco has the most restaurants per capita of any city in the U.S.

Our favorite thing about being a food in San Francisco is the diversity, quirkiness and commitment to standing out from the crowd. Your options aren’t limited to cookie cutter chain restaurants you can find on any block. If you want to have a simple home-style cooked meal at a hole-in-the-wall or if you want to dine like royalty, you certainly have limitless options to chose from.

Tip: Anytime you’re planning to go on a trip, make a list/bookmark which restaurants you want to visit. If you’re planning to go to a few on the same day, try to group the ones that are close together or in the same vicinity so you don’t waste time traveling back and forth to different locations. Also be mindful of days open, hours, attire, if reservations are available, etc. so you come well prepared to have the best experience as possible.

To satisfy our asian cuisine cravings, we went to Dumpling Time in the Design District. Ironically, it was right across of a Thai massage place I had taken Lisa to a couple of years ago. This isn’t your typical dumpling restaurant like Din Tai Fung in L.A., but a more of a modern interpretation. Dumpling Time can get very crowded, so make sure to go when they first open or during an odd hour if you don’t want to wait.

Watching our dumplings being made

We got to the restaurant when they opened and we were seated right away. We ordered the Tom Yum Goong Xiao Long Bao (6pcs/$9.50), Pork Bao (3pcs/$6) and Seafood Gyoza (5pcs/$10). This was the perfect amount of food for the both of us.

The Tom Yum Goong Xia Long Bao is one of their most popular dishes. It’s a soup dumpling with pork belly, shrimp and coconut milk, wrapped in “beet skin.” I know what you’re thinking…beet skin?!? I was shocked as well, but I think the beet skin would be Dwight Schrute approved. The beets give the dumplings a vibrant red color. The dumplings were delicious with the mix of pork and shrimp and the beet skin was not overwhelming at all. They’re not quite as juicy as the dumplings you will find at Din Tai Fung, but we would certainly order them again. Make sure you try it with the vinegar sauce included!

Tom Yum Goong Xia Long Bao

There are two varieties of Pork Baos you can order, steamed or seared. We went with the seared option because we wanted to try something different than your typical steamed bao. The bao was light and fluffy on top with a crispy bottom. The pork was savory and delicious. Not the best bao we’ve ever had, but we’d give it a solid 4/5 stars.

Seared Pork Bao

We saved the best for last. Our Seafood Gyoza was the last dish to come out and I would have waited another hour if need be. The Seafood Gyoza has crab, scallop, shrimp with spiced chili butter, wrapped in a spinach skin. Again, something we would normally be slightly hesitant to order. After eating some of the best gyoza in our lives in Japan, this was an immensely pleasant surprise. The seafood was juicy and cooked to perfection, but the skin was the star of the show. The spinach skin provided the gyoza with an exotic green appearance and was lightly fried without giving you the grease fingers. If we could only order one item, we’d order this again in a heartbeat.

Seafood Gyoza

Dumpling Time will certainly be on our list of recommendations to friends and family visiting San Francisco. We’ll be returning on our next trip back to the bay to try the rest of the menu. Stick around for pt. 2 and let us know your S.F. food recommendations!

Cycling Across Golden Gate Bridge

One of our favorite things to do in San Francisco is riding bikes across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. We did this for the first time a couple of years ago when Lisa lived in the city. We had such a great experience, we knew we had to do it again on our trip there!

Fun facts:
1) At the time of its opening, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world.
2) Instead of the widely recognizable “international orange” color the bridge is today, it was almost painted yellow and black to make it easily visible for naval ships to pass. However, the bridge was painted orange to compliment the natural surroundings and enhance the bridges visibility in fog.

It’s not often that we ride bicycles (in fact, we don’t own any here in Arizona), but there isn’t anything like riding freely, hair flowing through the wind, on one of the most well-recognized bridges in the world. It brings Lisa back to simpler times when she was in a bike gang in elementary school (story for another time).

We always rent from Sports Basement because of its proximity to Golden Gate Bridge, reasonable pricing and their staff is always helpful in adjusting our bicycles to our specified needs. They also have an extensive collection of outdoor clothing and equipment. If you’re planning on cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge, make sure to rent from the Presidio location as they have another one located in the Mission District. We paid $24 each for our bike (helmet included) and our friends Grant and Summer paid $50 to ride on a tandem bike together for 3 hours.

If you start your route from Sports Basement, you will pass Crissy Field, a former U.S. Army airfield. This is a perfect spot for picnics, playing frisbee, walking your dog and getting that Instagram-worthy picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, you can head down Marine Drive where you’ll be riding along the coast and approaching the bridge. At this point, you’ll need to bike up a fairly steep hill, so make sure to change your gears as needed.

Crissy Field

The Golden Gate Bridge is 1.7 miles across and has east and west sidewalks. We spent approximately 30 minutes crossing the bridge each way (including stops to take pictures). The east side walk (bay side) are open to pedestrians and cyclists on weekdays until 3:30 P.M. On weekdays and holidays, it’s pedestrian only. Since we biked on a Friday, we shared the east sidewalk with pedestrians. Luckily this day wasn’t crowded compared to the last time when there was an anti-vaccination rally being held (again, story for another time). Be mindful when riding your bike and make sure to always be aware of pedestrians. Always stay to the left side of the sidewalk and tell pedestrians when you are passing. There are a lot of seasoned cyclists out there, some who think they are the next Lance Armstrong, but don’t let them intimidate you. Once you cross the bridge, you can ride to the Golden Gate Bridge View Point for another spectacular view of the bay and bridge from another perspective. The west sidewalk opened around 4 P.M. for bicyclists only, so there was more more room to cycle freely. On your way back, you’ll see the other side of the bridge (not as scenic but extremely relaxing with breathtaking views of the Marin Headlands. Once you’re back on the other side of the bridge, you can return your bike and make sure you have all of your belongings.

Golden Gate Bridge View Point

Whether it’s your first time riding or a seasoned cyclists, make sure to appreciate your surroundings, take memorable pictures on the bridge and most importantly have the time of your life cycling across one of the wonders of the modern world. The Tanners would be proud (hope you’re old enough to get that reference)

– Colin