We arrived at the airport Thursday morning to find our flight had been delayed because, according to Delta, there was too much air traffic heading to the west coast right then. (Really?) When we finally boarded, I found my exit row window looking somewhat less-than-safe, with something that looked like medical tape holding it in place. That made me a little nervous.
I dozed on and off and worked on my knitting, then Matt and I had the very delicious sandwiches we’d packed for the trip, because now we are THOSE PEOPLE.
We arrived only a little late in San Francisco, and headed to the information booth to by transit passes. April picked us up outside, and took us to lunch at Zante Pizza. We ordered a vegetarian Indian pizza and Indian beers, and life was very good.
April drove us to our hotel, the Executive Hotel Vintage Court, and we checked in and dropped off our bags. I wasn’t sure what the hotel would be like, but it ended up being much nicer than I’d expected. We then ran back down to where April was waiting, and headed toward Telegraph Hill to see Coit Tower. I’d been there on both previous visits, and I wasn’t going to ruin a good streak.
The sky was fairly clear, so we could see almost everything except for the Golden Gate Bridge.
After we finished taking in the scenery, April drove us down to Fisherman’s Wharf and dropped us off to go be tourists. We walked down by the little beach, then headed toward the historic ship dock. The national park was closing down for the day, but the visitor center was open, so we stopped in to see the museum. Further down the wharf, we noticed the Musee Mecanique, and decided to go in and see what it was about. It was FANTASTIC, and free!
All the machines took quarters, so I dug some out of my purse and we tried some of them. In the back, they had a collection of old video games, as well as skee-ball and whack-a-mole. I wished I had way more quarters than I did.
We decided to walk down the Embarcadero toward the Ferry Building, which was about a mile and a half a way. We encountered the same pedicab guy three or four times, and he tried unsuccessfully to convince us to hop in each time. It’s not really a vacation if there isn’t a ton of walking. Along the way, we passed the Alcatraz ferry dock, and the huge complex they were building for the America’s Cup in 2013.
We finally reached the Ferry Building Marketplace, and found it full of awesome restaurants and shops (I was really excited to see Cowgirl Creamery’s outpost there). There were a bunch of little places with carry-out, and some full-service restaurants with outdoor patios facing the bay. We weren’t hungry at the time, but I made note of the empanada cart.
Matt’s destination of choice was Boccalone, which sold two things: pork products and water. He lamented not being able to carry on gigantic hunks of meat, and settled on some smaller packaged bits instead, and also a t-shirt.
We got a couple glasses of water and went to go sit and examine our maps to figure out where to go next. We weren’t ready for dinner, but it seemed like a pretty good time for beer. I didn’t see anything great on the map, so we decided to just walk for a while and see what we could find. While we walked into the financial district, I searched around for beer bars and finally noticed the Rogue Brewpub on the map. PERFECT.
I quickly discovered just how excellent Google’s transit directions are. We found our way to a bus stop, and the bus arrived right when Google said it would. We fired up our transit passes and hopped on. Within a few stops, the bus became packed to the point of preventing excess breathing. I kept checking the map as it counted the stops along the way, but still managed to miss it by one. We hopped off and walked back a block to the brewpub.
We sampled some of their excellent beers and hung out for a while, trying to decide whether we wanted to have dinner there or elsewhere. After a while, it became apparently that they were setting up for trivia or bingo, so we decided to go somewhere else. Matt researched a couple recommendations, and we decided to try Comstock Saloon, which was less than half a mile away in North Beach.
It turned out to be a very good choice for dinner. They had a great cocktail menu, and our entrees were excellent, not to mention a huge step up from what we’d have found at the brewpub. (My gnocchi with mushrooms and sunchokes made me very happy.) Matt pointed out the gutter running along the front of the bar beneath the stools; according to David Wondrich, that used to be so you didn’t have to leave your spot to go pee. REALLY.
Since we had to walk through Chinatown to get to our hotel anyway, we decided to seek out the notorious Red’s Place. We found it down the end of an alley, and walked in to find the bartender and one person sitting at the bar. We assumed by the way he was talking to the bartender that he worked there, but no… he was just in it for the long haul.
I decided to go with their special, a shot of Jameson and a Budweiser for $7. Matt wanted a beer upgrade, so he asked for an Anchor Steam. The bartender asked if he wanted the last of their Christmas release (it seemed a little early, but whatever), so he took that. Because of that, she decided it was time to celebrate Christmas in the bar, and went to put Christmas music on the jukebox.
Two women and a man came in a little later and said they were celebrating one of the ladies’ birthdays, but she looked not very happy about it. When we finished our drinks, we inquired about the scary-looking bottles on the back bar. They were both Chinese whiskies, and the bartender described the one in the red bottle as being kind of like Jagermeister, but made from sour apples. The other one, which looked like something you’d put in an engine, she said was best avoided. We believed her, and got a shot of the first one instead. It was surprisingly delicious.
Much as we’d have liked to spend our night and possibly the rest of our trip at Red’s Place, we knew better. We decided to go elsewhere, and promised ourselves that we would bring Steve and Colleen there. It was an easy walk from our hotel, after all.
We headed toward the financial district, and found a place called Rickhouse that we’d seen listed in Foursquare as having a giant whiskey collection. That was no joke:
The place was crowded, but we found a spot at a barrel next to the bar where we could order. I got a Sazerac and asked the bartender to make it with really good rye, because I had faith in their selections. After a while a couple of bar stools opened up, so we moved there and examined the menu. I had a corpse reviver next, and we talked to the bartender for a while. Then we decided it was probably time to head back to our hotel, since our friends would be arriving the next morning.
In preparation, we stopped at a corner store to pick up something to bring to their hotel room. I was going for champagne, but Matt saw the Moscato and had to get that instead. GAG. We also picked up a couple of cans of Tecate for the room, and walked back up the gigantic hill to our hotel.