Yesterday P and I decided to take a break from the ever-so familiar San Jose and traveled up north to our city’s cool older sister San Francisco. Usually when we head up to the city we go shopping in the chic tourist haven known as Union Square or hang out in the trendy Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, but this time we decided we would venture towards the Embarcadero and the Waterfront.
We had originally planned to visit the newly re-opened Exploratorium but because of unforeseen traffic on I-280N and a hectic parking situation on the Embarcadero, we had to rethink our plans. Luckily San Francisco’s Waterfront has a plethora of activities, restaurants and shops, so ideas for entertainment were not scarce. Having to choose between walking from pier to pier or venturing through the historical Ferry Building, we followed our stomachs and opted for the latter.
I know it sounds strange: eating in a Ferry Building? What could they possibly have there other than a Starbucks and the briny, salty smell of ocean water? And previous to my handful of visits I thought the same thing. Although, this is San Francisco and, of course, everything the city has to offer is incredibly awesome — Ferry Building included.
Walking through the entry doors to the Ferry Marketplace, P and I were greeted with the savory aromatic smells of grilled cheeses, smoked and cured meats and a fresh ocean breeze. Having been to the building only one time before, I wanted to take P to the insanely delicious Hog Island Oyster Company to dine on some freshly shucked oysters and steamy clam chowder. However, my plans were foiled because the bar’s level of tastiness was only rivaled by it’s popularity and there was growing line flowing out the door and onto the pier. But there was no shortage of other delectable eateries on the premises, so we wandered from storefront to storefront with specializations ranging from creamy cappuccinos (Blue Bottle Coffee), freshly baked breads (Acme Bread Company) and “tasty salted pig parts” (Boccalone Salumeria).
We decided on trying out Sidekick Cafe and Milk Bar, a subsidiary of the artisan cheese store Cowgirl Creamery (which was right next door). With a mouthwatering focus on recipes featuring the local specialty cheeses sold in their neighboring shop, it was almost mandatory that I order their grilled cheese, and with a weekly recipe change, that was made with a Reading Raclette, Fiore Sardo and tomato jam. P had their toasties — essentially an open-faced grilled cheese made with Clothbound Cheddar, caramelized onions and maple mustard — with a homemade tomato soup with crème fraîche and croutons to dip our cheesy sandwiches in for a side.
The food was heavenly. Or on the flip-side, so unbelievably savory that it was nearly sinful. From the sweet and rich combination of tomato jam and oozing melted cheese to the velvety broth in the tomato soup, my taste buds experienced something sensational and my appetite was perfectly satisfied. In fact we were so full we had to walk off our meals by taking a scenic tour of the neighboring piers, where we watched kids monkey around on the play structures near the Exploratorium and families catching some fresh Dungeness crab for a Saturday night dinner off the docks.
So, I guess the lesson here is: plans don’t always fall through. But when in a city like San Francisco, that’s never a big deal, especially on the Waterfront.