Before having Nori I’d visit the Bay Area a few times each year for work, friends, wine country and of course the amazing food! See my previous San Francisco diaries for recaps of some of our favorite eats from each visit. We took Nori there for the first time last week to do a talk at Google in Mountain View, but stayed in the city to try some new-to-us spots around SF!
Favorite pieces packed
This comes in 6 colors and has been perfect for transitioning from casual to semi polished for meetings. I’ve paired this with everything from my H&M nursing tanks, to turtlenecks, dressier tops or lace camis. It does pill a bit after wash & wear, but nothing a sweater shaver can’t help. On our flight there, I twinned with another passenger in the same cardigan also paired with black bottoms and mules ; )
Travel-friendly designer accessories
My Hermes belt, Goyard tote (easily folds flat if I need to pack it), and Gucci soho bag are my go-to travel buddies due to their versatility! If I’m trying to pack light I’ll usually just limit myself to one large tote and one neutral crossbody bag that’ll pair with all my looks.
Animal print dress
Nick is thinking of a leopard dress intervention because of how many times I’ve worn this in a row. I usually swap out the fabric sash belt for solid black belts, and have worn this dress with pretty much every form of footwear – black ankle booties, sandals, mules, and pumps. I also wore this on the plane ride back since it’s nursing friendly and doesn’t wrinkle! Note the sleeve cuff openings are narrow so I have to unbutton them each time when putting this on / off. See it here styled with a suede moto jacket and sandals.
Sunset District (WHERE WE STAYED)
On previous visits, I always stayed at our friends’ house in this area and loved the abundance of Asian food options nearby (it’s practically a second Chinatown). Golden Gate Park is also close by if you want to walk or run off your meals! We needed more space this time so rented an airbnb, but stayed in the same area! For those who asked, our apartment rental this time was a basement unit so not the cutest, but it was very kid-friendly with pack n’ play, high chair, stroller, toys, and free zoo / museum passes. Here’s my referral code if you need one and you get $40 off your first booking!
Thai Nghiep Ky Mi Gia (Vietnamese Soup or Dry Noodles)
I’ve been to this mom and pop hole in the wall a few times now across our visits. You can get noodles either dry or in soup, and I love that indecisive diners can get mixed noodles (half egg, half rice noodles). On the surface, nothing really stands out but something about the garlicky flavors and perfect noodle chew is just very comforting and homey. The popular #9 braised duck leg with wontons and soup on the side is a safe bet!
Marco Polo Italian Ice Cream
We walked and drove by this unassuming shop several times before I realized it was a spot many of you guys had recommended to me! Nothing about the name or the storefront even remotely hints at the exotic and tropical ice cream varieties inside. Mangosteen, soursop, jackfruit, guava, to name a few. And while I’m not usually a fan of durian, theirs was very good! All the flavors were so intensely fruity.
Banh Mi & Boba
I am usually highly skeptical of any banh mi that costs more than $4.50, but this more premium version stays true to the flavors of a traditional cold cut banh mi, but uses elevated pates and house roasted pork inside freshly toasted bread (I heard the bulgogi was excellent, too). Their milk tea is a little bitter and watery so not my favorite (I prefer good old Gong Cha or Boba Guys) but I’d definitely come back for the sandwich!
Palette Tea House
This is an “upscale” dim sum place, so you’re paying for presentation and ambience (the plates look like a painter’s palette, and they give you a variety of sauces to fill with). But the food is solid and not as overpriced as you’d think for being in such a touristy area. The matcha bao was a table favorite as was the squid ink fried rice. Seating was easy and they serve alcohol, so might be a good place for a group/special occasion.
We drove across the Golden Gate bridge to walk around downtown Sausalito. There are some drinking spots on the waterfront and cute boutiques and cafes. Nothing outstanding but a scenic stroll and nice change of pace from SF. Definitely time it to avoid traffic/rush hour. When I used to intern in the Bay Area, I loved biking across the Golden Great Bridge with friends to Sausalito for a day trip!
Chibog (favorite meal of the trip)
For dinner, we went down to Daly City which has a ton of Filipino food options. Our friends are regulars at this place, and we can see why! They serve traditional Filipino favorites, and everything hit the spot for Nick and his parents. The bangus (fish) sisig served on a sizzling platter was a true standout, as was the super crispy lechon kawali. We ordered a la carte to share family style, but you can also get individual silog plates served with garlic rice and a fried egg – I’m drooling just thinking about it!
U Dessert Story Vintage
We went to this photogenic spot for brunch (only the Marina location serves brunch) and while the Japanese breakfast didn’t live up to my expectations for the price, the chicken katsu sandwich was good. We came for the desserts though and those did not disappoint! The mango sticky rice bingsu (shaved ice) was our table favorite – I don’t know how they get the ice so fluffy but it is somehow lighter than actual snow, and all the different toppings were a textural delight. I also loved how everything we tried wasn’t too sweet, which is my qualm with most dessert spots.
We went here for a friend’s birthday dinner, and they serve Hawaiian/Asian-inspired bar food. This is a large space good for bigger groups, with a surprising number of kids in attendance while we were there! Afterwards we headed to our friend’s recently opened bar, Lost and Found, which has yummy garlic fries and a nice mezcal cocktail, according to Nick.
One of the days we drove around downtown to stroll around the Mission and Castro neighborhoods, then made our way to Mountain View!
Fast-casual Hainanese style chicken and rice. You can choose dark thigh meat (skin-on) or light chicken breast (skinless). The Chinese in me would say dark meat is a no brainer for more flavor, but we got a combo and the breast was still very tender. We liked both the Hainanese ginger scallion sauce (I make my own version at home) as well as the Thai sauce. Each order comes with lightly pickled cucumbers and a flavorful broth.
This was one of the top recommendations from you guys on my Instagram post, and I’m so glad we were able to try it – it was one of our favorite discoveries of the whole trip! We met the owner Erin (from Hawaii) who was so nice and gave us the backstory of the little shop, which has a completely different vibe than Marco Polo. They focus on high quality dairy and seasonal, frequently local ingredients, and all the flavors are so rich and creamy. Some available during our visit were ube pandan, coconut pandan, vegan thai tea, black sesame, matcha w/ toasted rice, japanese coffee milk…even the regular chocolate was decadent. Try to go when they have fresh butter mochi available as a side/topping!
I’ve heard for years about the abundant food perks on the Google campus and how gaining the “Google 15” is real. While there for our talk, our friend invited us to lunch at Baadal, their sit-down Indian restaurant. While I’m no expert in this cuisine, I thought it was all very good and flavorful and not your usual tikka masala and palak paneer (menu changes daily). We gorged on several helpings before realizing more food options awaited about every 10 yards on the premises!
Have you visited any of these spots? I’d also love to know any “must eats” to save for our future visits!