San Francisco: The American Experience
San Francisco is, without a doubt, one of the most diverse cities in the world. Within a mile radius of my place, I can find authentic restaurants serving anything from Thai and Vietnamese to Greek and Italian; I can stumble into a Chinese Community Church or take a jaunt through North Beach or Chinatown. Yet, as diverse and accommodating as San Francisco is, there’s also something quintessentially American about it. The amazing steakhouses, old school seafood restaurants and 5-star restaurants unassumingly sprinkled about pay homage to the city of the 1920s.
My cousin, P., got to experience quite a bit of San Francisco’s diversity while he was here with lunch and dinner outings in the Mission, Chinatown and North Beach; definitely a far cry from the demographics of the Maltese islands. With Thursday night being our last big evening in the city before our Tahoe escape, we decided to make it a real San Franciscan experience. Our choice for dinner: the House of Prime Rib.
My cousin and her boyfriend were able to come up from the Peninsula for the evening to join us for dinner. With an 8P dinner reservation, we decided to start our evening at nearby Amelie for happy hour before heading over to the HOPR. For some strange reason, I haven’t actually blogged about Amelie yet, but it is quite possibly one of my favorite happy hour spots of life. It was the one aspect of our evening that doesn’t fall into the ‘All American’ category — it’s French-inspired and staffed by Europeans — but it’s so fantastic that we had to give it a whirl. For happy hour, they have a you-pick wine flight option (3 wines of any they have on their extensive list) for $10. Seriously unbeatable and amazing. Their cheese plates just put them over the top.
After getting our head start at happy hour, we all headed down to Van Ness to experience the legend that is the House of Prime Rib. Boat Shoes has mentioned his deep-rooted love for this place on a number of occasions but didn’t really know that it was a place that we could actually go on a date. Let’s be honest, a restaurant that specializes in all things carnivorous isn’t exactly a vegetarian’s paradise. With my cousin in town and another meat-eating duo in tow, though, we were sold. The vibe is great — definitely an old school San Franciscan spot that makes you want to order a Manhattan even when you hate bourbon. It has that kind of power.
Fittingly, everyone at the table ordered the House of Prime Rib cut which came with an insane amount of food: a salad starter and sides of potatoes, creamed spinach and yorkshire pudding. If you leave there hungry, you’re clearly doing something wrong. While they have a fish option, I wasn’t overly hungry so I ended up with the salad and a baked potato which were spectacular. Honestly, if I had ordered more food I very well may have exploded – they really don’t mess around with the portions.
After dinner, we continued our evening at Johnny Foley’s, a dueling piano bar in the Union Square area. I am always a fan of piano bars and this place definitely didn’t disappoint. It was crowded when we arrived but we managed to snag a table and hang out until they performed their last song of the night. After leaving there, we decided to make one final stop at Bourbon & Branch, a speakeasy in the Tenderloin. We’ve been there once before, but this time I was much more awake for the experience. The concept of the place is awesome and their drinks are pretty stellar: think a great Cucumber Gimlet and a solid Old Fashioned. B&B was definitely a great call for a final stop – my cousin loved the vibe and the overall experience and it was definitely a great way to cap off an epic San Franciscan evening.
Stay tuned some pretty pictures from our weekend excursion to Tahoe!