In the past few years, airports have made some real attempts to up their food games. Some have brought in popular local restaurants, while others have commissioned celebrity chefs to bring new restaurants into the airports. Gone are the days of Chili’s 2 Go being the only option, which meant that with a whole lot of spare time at San Francisco International Airport, I was able to make my way to Union Street Gastropub to grab a beer and a sandwich.
A long, long time ago, in a lifetime far, far away, a friend once told me about a place called Roam Artisan Burgers in San Francisco. At the time, I was riding the wave of Umami Burger and all the other delicious burgers being pumped out of LA, so I didn’t pay too much attention to burgers happening up north. Yet, when the opportunity came to make my way to Roam, I pulled it off and even convinced a few people to join me.
What do you do when you’re stuck in San Francisco’s Financial District late at night and looking for an actual meal? I sure as hell didn’t know the answer, but my friends guided me to Osha Thai, a place that apparently has multiple locations, but the one we went to was ready and willing to take in a sizable crew. After a lengthy debate about what to eat, who wanted to be a part of the family-style and how I was going to get my share of meat, we made our order.
When I settled in San Francisco, I realized I had to eat something I had been craving for a while: schwarma. Or, if you’re at Arabi in the Rincon Center: shawerma. Whatever the spelling, I needed it. And I needed it with chicken. And I needed it with sauce. And I needed it with nothing else except some pita to wrap it. I hoped that Arabi would satisfy this need, but I was way off.
San Francisco’s Financial District may not be lauded for their Mexican food (that distinction belongs to the Mission from what I hear), yet somehow I found myself at Tropisueño getting down with Mexico. A far cry from a simple taqueria, Tropisueño is a pretty classy place, with mood lighting and menu prices somewhat reflecting a neighborhood that calls itself the Financial District.
Something unique about San Francisco is that day drinking is kind a given. If you don’t enjoy throwing back a few beers on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you’re pretty much considered antisocial in San Fran. So on Sunday morning when we decided to go out for brunch, I should have known I was in for more than just brunch.
We went to a place called Lime in the Castro. Walking in, the place looks a lot more like a nightclub than a brunch restaurant. I love Sunday morning mimosas as much as the next guy, and I have no problem eating at a place that looks like a club, but this is the last place I would have wanted to be if I was hungover. Not only were the acoustics of the place loud because of all the people, but there was loud music blasting all the way. One of our friends had arrived early, so we were lucky and didn’t have much of a wait.
Now calling a restaurant Sushi Raw may seem redundant at first, because sushi is usually…well…raw. But the name does have a ring to it and almost sounds like it could be the Japanese word for “Law.” So even though I’m no sushi fan, I was still interested in seeing what this sushi could be like. Sushi Raw has locations throughout San Francisco and the one we went to was in the Lower Haight.
The menu looked pretty good. Despite a lot of the dishes having vegetables, the combinations with the vegetables removed looked like they would have been pretty enjoyable. One dish in particular looked extra good to me, though, the Corned Beef Hash. I have always found that dish to have quite the name and a nice little mix of ingredients. I went to the counter to order, only to be told that they were all out of it. Disappointed, I checked the menu again and ordered the Breakfast Burrito, which came with eggs, bacon, cheddar, avocado, salsa and sour cream. It was too early and I had too many hours on the road to be eating sour cream, so I ordered it without. It also came with hash browns on the side.
I should’ve known better, but it really wasn’t up to me. Living in SoCal has probably spoiled me in terms of Mexican food, but I was in San Francisco with some people from Arizona, and I assumed they knew Mexican better than me. They suggested La Barca, so we went.
We had some margaritas and chips to start off the night, which were actually pretty good, but then I opened up the menu and was shocked to see the prices. $10.50 for a burrito? In San Francisco?! Whack!
In the end, however, I ended up choosing that burrito, for it seemed to be one of the most unvegan options. Of the meat choices, I picked Chili Colorado Beef, which sounded impressive, although it is apparently neither from Chile nor Colorado…
In desperate need of brunch and a beer in San Francisco, I headed to Liverpool Lil’s, a nice little pub with that serves more than just your average pub food. A lot of their offerings looked pretty good, but the one that stood out most to me was one of their daily specials, Chicken and Waffles. I have always been intrigued by the concept of chicken and waffles. I feel like for most foods, you can’t really credit one specific person. In my mind, most were developed through the ages by a group of people, a village or a town. But chicken and waffles, on the other hand, had to be one lone genius who decided this bizarre mix would produce a beloved dish.
Regardless of how the dish was born, I was just happy with the knowledge of their existence and looked forward to trying it for myself.