San Francisco trip, end of the year, 2013.

Over the weekend my brother and I drove up to San Francisco for a weekend of cold foggy boozing, with a bike ride thrown in and maybe a trip to the track. That was about all the planning we did for the trip, and that was fine with me. We just wanted to get out of town for the weekend, check out SF and visit a couple of friends who had gotten married and were now back from their crazy Euro honeymoon.

Naturally there was a lot of catching up to do. My brother and I did all our catching up on the 5 freeway north. He slept about 40% of the time, and half snoozed the rest of the time. He’s not a big talker, and when he was awake he kept playing Tupac’s greatest hits, so I let him sleep. We pulled into SF at about 10 pm on Thursday, the day after Christmas. San Francisco is loaded with transplants, so they were all out of town and the streets were quieter than usual. I was able to find great parking right in front of Amber’s apartment, and we loaded our stuff in, and went out drinking. It was a mellow easy night, capped off with  trip to Tommy’s Joynt, my brother;s favorite Tenderloin area restaurant. It was a good quiet night after a long drive, and we were happy to be warm and fed that night.

At this point, I’d like to say that I rented a POS car, a new Chevy Cruiz. No power, no throttle response, plastic everywhere,  terrible non ergonomic placement of every button, and just a nightmare of cheapness. I felt like at any moment the Chevy insignia were going to fall off and a small golden oval “MADE IN CHINA” sticker was going to be underneath.  Terrible. From the makers of the Chevy Malibu, the Chevy CRUZE. I need to get the coronet freeway ready for long trips, because after driving this little peashooter, I was seriously needing some reassuring power going over the Grapevine. 

Car stuff aside, the trip was stupendous. The first night we drank so the first morning Ed and I slept in. Our gracious hosts had to work on Friday, so Ed and I made plans to hit Golden Gate Fields for some betting. My online betting account still had some money left in it from Hollywood park, so the whole day would cost me nothing. Amber ended up ditching work to come with us, so we all ran around exploring the track and making bets on the live racing. 

Before the races Amber showed us a little parking lot adjacent to a cove with a nice little stretch of beach laid out before it. It was a perfect spot for some pre-game and we were stocked and ready. We parked the car and drank off a couple of beers before heading up to make some bets. We wanted to sit and drink some more, but we missed the first race, and we were getting anxious to get inside. I put a couple of beers in my bag and we headed inside. 

Once inside, my brother and I were both excited about how nice the track was. We made a few hurried bets, my brother making one big one on Bejarano and losing a chunk of change early. This changed his betting pace, and for the rest of the day I drank my sneaky beers and made bets on my phone. It was a beautiful day for our first day at this bay area track we had already bet on so much from our home track at Santa Anita. I made a few dollars and slowed down as well, coming close on a couple of trifectas that only cost me a couple of dollars. We left at about the fifth race, a little early, but still a great day at the track. Here’s a shot of Amber winning a nice bet, with a horse to show. 

After the track we headed home for showers before going out. Amber stayed at home this time while my brother and I took the car out and headed to Chinatown, San Francisco style.  I have to admit I am partial to Los Angeles’ Chinatown, having grown up here down the street from it. Still, both are light years ahead of New York’s. Especially food wise. San Francisco proved it this night, with the streets FULL of people either leaving a restaurant or waiting to get into a restaurant. Having eaten a lunch of Indian food earlier, Ed and I went shopping for gifts for m niece and nephew. The gift shops in SF are awesome, just the typical Chinatown gift shop junk you’d expect to see, but with the occasional extra thrown in, like a pile of fireworks, or a ginseng shop that sells piles of seahorses. Crazy!

One place I know I need to come back to is the Wok Shop. I also know I need to bring abut $500 because I am going to want to buy the metal steam trays that look super versatile, or a badass huge wok for asian inspired experiments. I already have a high powered propane burner, so its a natural fit, yes? Anyway, not this time, but I WILL be back. I took this pic and have been looking at it longingly. 

After Chinatown, we headed out to Fisherman’s wharf for what has become a Montez tradition. Taking advantage of the validated parking situation at Boudin, we stood in line for our favorite sourdough bowl, except at the last second I spazzed and ordered a pizza, which was pure awesome. It wasn’t particularly sourdoughy, I don’t know if it was supposed to be, but it was great. Ed had his favorite, the chili cheese sourdough bowl. Awesome thing, he didn’t have a fork, and when I said so, he said “Let’s see what  can do without one.” He ate the whole thing without the aid of a spoon, masterfully using the dough as a sort of soup tool. It was absolutely horrifying to see, but he was enjoying himself. To be completely honest, I myself have gone bowl diving in public, but with a clam chowder bowl. It’s equally horrifying. All slurps and clam chowder gnar in a bready mess. I almost regretted ordering the pizza, but not quite. It was pretty good. 

The next morning after sleeping in till 11 we woke up and had coffee. We decided to ride our bikes down to the Streat Food food truck area. This was a wonderful little penned in food truck area, holding about 5 or 6 food trucks parked in different areas. There is a central picnic style seating area, and I had the pleasure of meeting up with about 4 of Ambers girlfriends. We all sat around and talked while we waited for our food truck fare to be ready. When I saw what I ordered, my jaw dropped. The AGT Fries are a greasy cornucopia of potato bacon, slaw, pulled pork, dinosaur Chicken Nuggets, cheese, a fried egg, and probably 7 other things I didn’t know were in there or didn’t identify. This plate is what happens when I can’t eat for one and a half days, then someone sets me loose in a greasy spoon type restaurant, with full access to a line cook and a pile of madness all served on my favorite all time potato variation, the waffle cut fry. Pure awesome. My brother had the Double Dragon sandwich, which was also a deadly pile of bliss, and we both dove in like animals and enjoyed ourselves while Amber caught up with her girlfriends. 

She was having a blast with her friends, and we were on bikes, so Anthony, Ed, and I decided to go for a bike ride. We rode all the way across Golden Gate Park, from East to West, and ended up at the Lake Chalet for a beer. This place was beautifully laid out, with outdoor seating, great looking food, and a very casual beer friendly environment. It was also set right by the park so we sat for a spell. We had a pitcher, then continued riding up to the ruins of the Sutro Baths. We walked around and checked out the foundation of the old bath house, and also saw these crazy fishermen going at it on top of a big gnarly rock. I’ve done some extreme fishing in my time, but I have to tip my hat to these guys, it was windy and the surf was pounding. I imagine once the tide was high, they’d be stuck on the rock until it came back down again. There’s a lot of responsibility in self marooning yourself like that. These guys were up there and going at it in the December wind and cold. Respect! 

On the way back we ran into a really cool older dude who had built a couple of SUPERB boat models. In particular, I was interested in the sailboat model, but I didn’t get a chance to ask him about it. We had to get back to the tenderloin and get ready to go out again! 

We showered up after our bike ride and did end up going out, mostly in the lower Haight. My favorite was a little dive bar called Molotov’s, with the fantastic Toronado right up the street. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me, but the night was a fun and blurry mess of dark beers, including the Obsidian Nitro Stout by DeSchutes brewery, a Manzanita Double IPA, and a smoky Rauchbier by a brewery I forget. Delicious beers, and a non pretentious crowd. Hipster haters might not like the fact that there were dogs in the bar, but I swear it wasn’t a douchey hipster bar. Toronado is a legitimate beer spot, and not to be missed if you’re in the area and love a good craft beer selection. 

I also found this pic of Amber playing pinball, or at least yelling at a pinball machine. I seem to remember her tilting a machine, and then my brother running a table on a fellow who thought he could play 8 ball. Actually, come to think of it, it was a foul mouthed, surly wench, and Ed beat her good. Then just to display my superiority I beat Ed, and we all went home satisfied. Drunk too. Very, very drunk. 

Home right around 2 am via cab, and off to bed, the next day we were off at about 9 a.m. I stopped off at my favorite fresh farm produce stand, and we cruised down to LA easily. Not much traffic to speak of, and really a great trip.