I know San Francisco. We’re old friends, and we go so far back I can’t even remember. But ever since I moved to London, I have found the city increasingly changed. At first the alterations were gradual, but now every time I return, the city’s face looks even more different. This trip is no exception, and I find myself discovering all kinds of new restaurants and sightseeing attractions in San Francisco.
The food in San Francisco is some of the best in the world, and I come across some new places to eat and drink that are helping uphold that reputation. On my second night in the city, a friend invites me to Sabrosa, a new Mexican restaurant in the former City Tavern space in the Marina. The restaurant joins Mamacita, Tacolicious, Tacko, and seemingly a million others in the neighborhood as the latest in a nearly decade-long trend in upscale Mexican food, and the result is a fun new addition to the scene.
Over in Russian Hill, I join friends to watch the last San Francisco 49ers game played at Candlestick Park. We meet at the new Taps Social House & Kitchen in the old Pasha location on Broadway. Seemingly every Niners fan in the city has amassed to cheer the team to victory, and I love the energy. The space is buzzing, and the tall ceilings and long bar lend it the social atmosphere that its name implies.
Down in the Mission, a new contemporary patisserie called Craftsman and Wolves hosts me for breakfast in its sleek space on Valencia upon invitation from Visit California. The exposed brick walls and communal table feel very New York, and the pastries in the glass case have me hungry as soon as I see them.
I sample The Rebel Within, a cleverly named muffin with sausage, Asiago cheese, and scallions baked around a farm fresh egg with a runny yolk. It is a great savory start to the day, and provides a nice contrast to the sweet twice-baked brioche bostock topped with black sesame, coconut, and kumquat. By the time I leave, I have a smile on my face that mirrors the one on my coffee.
Out in Golden Gate Park, Visit California invites me to lunch at the new Moss Room restaurant in the California Academy of Sciences. The subterranean restaurant is right underneath the museum’s cafe, but is a world apart. Low lighting and a full dining room and bar lend a vastly different ambiance than the bright cafeteria-style offering upstairs, and the menu is full of fresh, local produce and sustainable seafood.
I kill both of those birds with one stone with the Dungeness crab salad, a light, flavorful tower of seasonal crustacean with bitter greens and citrus. My main of Petrale sole from nearby Half Moon Bay is equally fresh and divinely prepared on a bed of wild rice.
Dessert is a surprise. The server brings out a fluffy ball of black cherry cotton candy, which is the perfect end to the meal. The California Academy of Sciences brings out the kid in everyone, and nothing gets my inner child excited like a delicate sphere of spun sugar.
And speaking of my inner child, I indulge it with a trip to some of San Francisco’s new sightseeing attractions. The Exploratorium, a museum focused on making science hands-on and fun, recently moved from the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina to Pier 15 near the Ferry Building. Visit California invites me to see the museum, and I spend an afternoon on the waterfront exploring new and old exhibits in the recently unveiled space.
All the way across the city, my mother and I drive along Ocean Beach to get to the San Francisco Zoo. There is a new baby gorilla there named Kabibe, which means “little lady” in Swahili (and is an excellent name. I’m not biased at all.). She made her debut on December 21st, and when we visit on an unseasonably warm and sunny Christmas Eve, she is out and about with her adoptive mother, Bawang.
As we watch the two of them together, roaming around the enclosure and playing baby gorilla games, I can’t help but think that Kabibe and all of the other new additions to the city have made it even better than it was when I left. San Francisco and I were closely acquainted before, but the bonds between us have grown even stronger since I’ve been back.