Things to Do and Places to See: Northern California – Part 2

Saturday morning breakfast was at our hotel, but on previous trips we’ve eaten at Dottie’s True Blue Café.  As seen on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, it’s very small and there’s usually a line, so we decided against it for this trip – but the pancakes and pastries are really great.  *Note: they moved to the SoMa district early last year.

After breakfast, we spent the day at the San Francisco Zoo.  We specifically went to see the “Lion House” (you can watch the attendant feed a lion up close).  My wife still remembers this building from the 1960’s, but I found it hard to believe we were there for what she called a truly “sensory” experience.  Much to my surprise it was all that and more.  The real excitement came when the big cats roared – the echo within the building was deafening.

After the Zoo, we took a short ride to the Cliff House.  Parking was very limited, but we found a parking lot about 50 yards north of the restaurant.  Historically dating back 150 years and rebuilt three times, the structure today is not as lavish as what we had expected, but the ocean and the evening sunset views are wonderful.  Try to get a window seat at either the Bistro (older section – no reservations) or Sutro’s (new section – reservations and walk-in).  Without reservations, we sat at the Sutro’s bar, which still had a great view.

Dinner was at the Wayfare Tavern (the owner is Tyler Florence).  The restaurant has a very “pub” feel to it, with lots of dark wood and antiques.  For appetizers, we had the deviled eggs and tartare.  The tartare had a bit too much spice for our palates, but the deviled eggs were great.  For the entrée, we had the signature fried chicken and black cod.  The black cod was good, but the fried chicken was the standout.  After dinner we made a quick stop at First Edition, a basement club located on Market Street.  It was very crowded and a bit young for us old folks (good for the twenty-something crowd).

On Sunday, we were off to Pier 33, via the street car.  We decided to take the Alcatraz Island tour – a must-see (at least once).  It was historically very interesting and we tried to take as many guided tours as we could.  The trip took the entire day, but it was worth it.

Dinner was to be at one of our favorite restaurants in San Francisco, the Slanted Door in the Ferry Building.  Figuring it was Sunday, we didn’t make a reservation, which was a big mistake.  We arrived around 4:30pm and it was already booked for the evening (even the cocktail area).  Disappointed, we returned to the hotel and decided to try Zero Zero.  This was the restaurant we had seen Friday night (right next door to Restaurant LuLu).  We heard that they specialized in pizza, so we ordered their signature pizza and a carafe of wine.  The food was great, the atmosphere was very comfortable and the service was friendly and welcoming.  It was a very nice finish to our time in San Francisco.

We arrived home late and tired on Monday, but we really enjoyed our four days in NorCal!