For many on either coast of the US, traveling cross country is something considered but seldom executed. Most assume that each coast has their own version of oceans, mountains, and Disney, and make plans to travel out of the country, instead of across it.
Growing up on the East Coast, I have personally managed to travel over “the Pond” more times than across “the Plains,” and I’m happy to say that this streak has finally come to an end.
Similar to why most people manage to travel at all, work called, and we had a great excuse to visit our neighbors to the west.
Traveling To San Francisco
Home to some of the richest technology based corporations in the world (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc), an environmentally-community (NO plastic, and yes, you pay an extra $.10 per paper bag), beautiful street architecture, and excellent public transportation-except apparently when the 49ers are in the finals-then things come to a stand still. (Do not talk about the Seahawks or Super Bowl-it’s not just a good idea.)
The goal for the trip was to explore and experience the food, drinks, and atmosphere of the local area while partaking in the 39th Winter Fancy Food Show. The Winter Fancy Food Show is one of the largest food and beverage industry events in the US, and this year was even bigger than ever.
Hosting over 1300 brands from all over the world, WFFS filled up the entire Moscone Center, the largest convention center in San Francisco. Needless to say, we were going to need accomodations that were in close proximity to the convention center, while providing a comfortable atmosphere to allow us the rest we needed throughout the three day event.
Where To Stay In San Francisco
The answer to our needs was the Omni San Francisco Hotel. Positioned right in the heart of downtown San Francisco, we were minutes from the convention and all of the beautiful scenery that San Francisco has to offer. Just walking out the front doors puts you right on the cable car line, a short walk to Union Square, and the ability to close your eyes, turn around, and walk in any direction to find amazing dining options.
With our close proximity to everything, we traveled with the mindset that, weather permitting (and it did), we would be walking to the majority of our destinations, a good way to compensate for the food that was consumed during the convention. Can we just say, “So. Much. Cheese.” We were in foodie heaven.
To our surprise and gratitude, if walking the city were not enough, many of the king suites in the Omni San Francisco are supplied with their own personal treadmill, gym bag, and yoga mat (all of which we put to good use), in addition to having a gym on property. There’s nothing like running with a view of the city down below. It’s quite exhilarating.
Dining in San Francisco
For those not familiar with the city, San Francisco is a very food driven city. Surrounded by many cultural cuisines, speak-easy cocktail bars, and rich vegetation in the cities and towns outside of the area, you are in for a treat. For our first night, we were invited to try the newly renovated and updated menu of Fog City. Formerly a historic dining destination located near the famous Fisherman’s Wharf where you can find one of many pier 39 restaurants, public transportation provides quick and easy access via cable car or bus (street parking is available, as well). Our waitress walked us through the menu, suggesting we “tapas out” with some of the featured house dishes.
We met up with new friends, tried a Death’s Door Gin cocktail (Fog’s Lime Rickey mocktail: Cucumber, Mint, Lime, Seltzer-made into an adult version with the addition of gin), and noshed on truffle fries, swordfish, and Broccoli di Cicco – broccolini with lemon, garlic, and roasted till crisp.
Our favorite dish, hands down, was the Wood Oven Whole Chicken – a whole chicken, backbone removed and roasted breast up on a hot iron skillet. A house specialty, it was almost fully deboned, sans wings and legs, and came with caramelized lemon halves to squeeze over as desired. The four of us inhaled it, as well as the purple and white baby potatoes and crispy brussel sprouts that accompanied. Dessert was a house specialty, called the ‘B-Bomb’ – a glazed doughnut topped with vanilla gelato. It was heavenly, rich, and just enough to roll us out the door, feeling full and more than satisfied.
We also had a chance to eat at Parallel 37 at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, and on our last night, ordered take out from Navin Thai. Their tom kha gai soup and spicy tofu with vegetables hit the spot, after a long day of cheese, meat, and snacks at the Fancy Food Show.
Between the food, cocktails, and awesome atmosphere in many beautiful parts of town, we strongly suggest making a point to ask locals for dining recommendations during your trip to San Francisco.
Getting Around San Francisco
Parking is pricey and hard to find in the downtown area. If you plan to primarily spend your time in this part of the city, public transportation is readily available between cable cars, taxis, buses, and subway. If you can, avoid renting a vehicle, and just take your time enjoying the scenery.
For our female readers, you may want to consider packing a pair of flats to help with the 45 degree uphill detours, as they can be a workout at any fitness level.
Cell and internet reception seems to be spotty regardless of carrier. If you don’t already have one, you may want to consider acquiring a WIFI hotspot to access internet and charge your phone in times when you need a boost. We used the AT&T Unite Pro by Netgear, and would not have been able to tweet and access email without it.
Business travelers can also find WiFi access inside most hotels and coffee shops. Not far from the convention center is a Target, as well as other grocery options, and sandwich shops. We observed a number of business deals being made over subs and grinders. As a city with food at it’s heart, you’ll fall in love with San Francisco for it’s convenience, energy, and of course, what’s on the menu.