Monday, July 30, 2012

U.S. Adventures: San Francisco- Summer 2012

San Francisco—one of my favorite places in the world, and a place that is truly like a second home.  Recently we were fortunate enough to stop there for a few days on our way to an amazing family trip to Hawaii.  We mainly just wanted to eat, and hang out with some old friends, and get our bodies a little adjusted to what is ultimately a 6 hour time change.  My kids love San Francisco too, and love seeing their old babysitter (as do we when it comes time to go out for dinner).  It was a quick trip with some great meals—most of which I will discuss in this post.  I am saving our last dinner for a separate post.
The first day, after traveling for hours and getting up at 4:00 am, we were all starving. We tried to pop into Tadich Grill, an old school place right by our hotel but it was packed.  We saw Perbacco right next door, and although it isn’t a place we would probably normally take the kids, we were desperate.  We were greeted warmly, even with our two slightly disheveled and weary travelers.  This warmth and professionalism is one of the reasons I love San Francisco restaurants.  The other one, of course, is the food, and Perbacco was great.  I had herb and ricotta gnocchi with mushrooms and melted leeks ($17).  Hubby and my son split an amazing hanger steak with large roasted mushrooms and arugula ($19).  That steak was amazing--flavorful and perfectly medium rare.  But the surprise winner of the day was my daughter’s requested plain potato gnocchi with just butter ($10).  This was easily the best potato gnocchi I have ever had.  They were so light and fluffy; they practically melted in your mouth.  Honestly, we almost ordered a second order of them to share we all liked them so much.  My daughter won’t stop talking about them and has requested a return visit to Perbacco when we go back to visit.  What a perfect welcome lunch.
Tadich and Perbacco

We did manage to get into the Tadich Grill that night for dinner—this was the place where my son wanted crab for every course—and it could be pretty easily done there.  Tadich is one of the oldest (maybe the oldest) restaurants in San Francisco and has that old school men’s club look with big old wooden walls and a huge bar in the middle.  We shared a bunch of things—Dungeness crab cocktails for the kids (just leg meat, awesome) and I had the avocado crab salad ($25) which is basically like a crab Louis salad, one of my favorite things.  It was lettuce, crab legs, and lots of avocado with some other adornments and a big bowl of their Louis dressing.  The salad was pretty standard—honestly the pre-peeled legs were a little less tender than Dungeness usually is when you peel it yourself.  The dressing was great though.  I make Louis dressing a lot at home and this one had a slightly different taste to it.  Generally, the recipe I make is mayo, chili sauce, cream and lemon with some chopped bell peppers and green onions—I think maybe this one had vinegar in it instead of the lemon and it was a little less peppery than mine.  It was really tasty and has inspired me to mix up my recipe a little.  It was a fun dinner and pretty much exactly what I expected—the food wasn’t amazing, but it was a cool place for the kids.

The second night I got to go out to dinner with one of my girlfriends and we decided to try Wayfare Tavern.  Wayfare is celebrity chef Tyler Florence’s restaurant and was also right around the corner from our hotel in the financial district.  Very cool, masculine feel to the place and again, I was completely charmed by our server who was extremely knowledgeable but also really friendly to us.  She was down to earth and joked around with us several times.  I think San Francisco has some of the best service people in the world. 

open kitchen

I had the steak tartare ($16) to start, which was one of the better ones I had—it was American Wagyu beef and was almost pink, it had so much marbled fat.  There was an egg yolk perched on top and slivers of fried shallots.  There was a distinctly spicy kick to it, which was nice in a pretty rich dish.  Oh, and I didn’t mention the popovers, which were served for their bread service, and were also served grilled with the tartare.  They were amazing.  I love the soft interior and the crisp but slightly chewy exterior.  I am a sucker for a popover. I then had the soft shell crab as my main dish ($15) (it was an appetizer). Honestly, I was not as impressed with this.  Maybe it is because it is getting to the end of the season, but the crab just wasn’t that meaty—there wasn’t a lot of juiciness to it, and I love biting into them and getting that juicy bite from the main body.  There were roasted tomatoes and some lettuce as well as some sliced black truffle, but this dish was only okay for me.  One of the best and most original parts of the meal was the dessert we shared—the goat cheese panna cotta ($10).  It was amazing.  It was done like a crème brulee with a burnt sugar top, but the flavor of the creamy part underneath was amazing with a slight sweetness but with the depth, intensity and slight sourness of the goat cheese.  They served it with some crunchy little cookies that were a nice texture variation.  Exactly the kind of dessert that sticks out in my mind. Delicious.

I do love that town.

230 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94111

Perbacco on Urbanspoon

Tadich Grill
240 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94111

Tadich Grill on Urbanspoon
Wayfare Tavern
558 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94111

Wayfare Tavern on Urbanspoon


  1. Hi Erin,

    Thanks for your always great reviews! I'm originally from SF and now live in Indy. I miss SF a lot but am fortunate that I get to go home many times a year. Anyway, your post was great and made me hungry for some really good bread (which I find Indy lacks :) I need to schedule a trip soon.


  2. I love San Francisco too, and I always enjoy reading about a place that will go on the list for our next visit there. Thanks for posting!

  3. Great review. I plan to visit San Francisco someday in the near future. I will definitely stop by these restaurants and try them for myself!

  4. Why did you skip the fried chicken at Wayfare?!

  5. @Heather, Mary Jane and Indy: thanks for reading and am always happy to make more suggestions about SF!

    @wibia: because, there was soft shell crab. Also, wasn't that hungry.