27 Dec

30 Before 30, Brainstorming

Posted by Jenna, Under Adventures, Goals

I’ve seen a lot of 30 Before 30 lists that have very grand and exciting goals – but I learned my lesson with my 101 in 1001 list and didn’t want my 30 Before 30 to become a source of stress or anxiety as my 30th fete approaches. I want it to be filled with goals that I love and will enjoy prioritizing.

Inspiration struck one day and I realized I want my list to be about food! Specifically, 30 food experiences unique to the San Francisco area. Growing up I knew two things about San Francisco – it had a huge bridge, and it was a place where you eat chowder out of sourdough bread bowls on the pier. My version is going to include restaurants, items, and experiences. If I launch it in the new few weeks I’ll have 15 months to eat my way through.

Below is what I have put together so far. What do you think I should set out to eat between now and April 2015? Suggestions in the San Jose area are greatly appreciated because getting up to San Francisco can be a lot of work with the little ones!

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Sharing one of my favorite Chicago food experiences with T1 – eating local treats at the Green City Market

Chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, (Boudin)
It’s It
Burrito in Mission, (La Taqueria)
Chez Panisse
French Laundry
Oyster tour, (Hog Island)
Jelly Belly factory tour
Anchor Steam Brewery  tour
Bakesale Betty chicken sandwich
Irish coffee at Buena Vista
Roast chicken at Zuni Cafe
Cioppino
Wine tasting in Napa
Mushroom hunting (TH’s Christmas present, we’re going in January!)
TCHO Chocolate Factory Tour

 

66 Comments


  1. Falafel’s Drive In in San Jose is a classic dive. Go for the falafel sandwich and banana shake (and take some baklava to go!).

    Jenna Reply:

    Have you been to http://www.pinterest.com/pin/95208979595829677/?

    Sonia Reply:

    I haven’t! I don’t live in the Bay Area but was told that Falafel’s Drive In is a must. On my most recent trip (mid-December), I checked it out and loved it.

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  2. I don’t know if you’ve tried them before, but my fav must dos in the Bay Area are are Oren’s Hummus Shop (http://orenshummus.com/) in Palo Alto and Fiesta Del Mar Too in downtown Mountain View (https://www.facebook.com/FiestaDelMarToo). I think this is a fab way to start the celebration of 30 early :)

    Jenna Reply:

    Oren’s hummus shop has the best hummus I’ve had so far in the Bay Area. And you can get multiple types of hummus from every farmer’s market! Something about their recipe is so creamy though.

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  3. We went to the Stinking Rose when we were there on our honeymoon and really enjoyed it. Is the Ghiradelli factory too much of a tourist trap to go on your list? Their hot cocoa is amazing.

    What about classes? You could do a sushi making class or a sourdough bread making class or just a knife skills class.

    My husband and I made homemade lasagna for Christmas – homemade cheese, pasta, and sauce. Maybe you could add a few things like that to the list? We do seasonal to-do lists and they always include making something, like marshmallows or cheese.

    Jenna Reply:

    Ghiradelli factory doesn’t do tours anymore! Sad, right?

    Sarah Huffman Reply:

    I think Tcho still might, and they’re by the Exploratorium.

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  4. Chocolate eclair at Tartine!!!!

    Jenna Reply:

    We ate at Delfina and Birite one night and I’m sad we didn’t wait in line for a pastry at Tartine. Guess we’ll have to go back…

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  5. Fun list! Old Skool Cafe in SF, Tin Pot Creamery in PA, steamed bass from Dynasty in Cupertino, handmade noodles in chow mein at The Noodle Shop in San Mateo, ramen from Orenchi in Santa Clara, Pizzeria Delfina in SF, crab and garlic noodles at PPQ in SF, dim sum, Layang Layang in Cupertino.

    Jenna Reply:

    The Old Skool Cafe is an awesome idea. I’m out of room on my 30 by 30 list, by I’m bookmarking almost all of these on my Pinterest board

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  6. Try Burma Superstar in SF… worth the trip and so good! Picking a few recipes to cook would be fun, too.

    Jenna Reply:

    I’ve actually been to Burma Superstar already. It ignited my love of Tea Leaf Salad.

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  7. Seconding: Dim Sum (suggest City Lights), Old Skool Cafe (southern/philanthropic dining) and Oren’s Hummus

    Suggesting: Donut Savant Oakland, The Kabuki Movie Theater (dinner/movie combo), Tony’s Napolitana, an underground supper club (we just ate at Lazy Bear – amazing!), Bacetti (upscale, gelato klondike bars!), Humphrey Slocomb icecream, Wise Sons Matzoh Ball Soup, Off the Grid (food truck gatherings all over the bay area)

    Yay! Enjoy the noshing!

    Jenna Reply:

    I must do this underground supper club thing. It is right up my alley.

    Jenna Reply:

    And the reviews for Lazy Bear are making me drool. If you ever go to Portland you have to go to Beast, it sounds like the experience is very similar.

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  8. After tiring of trying to agree on places to eat with a group of people, some of my friends came up with a clever idea. Once a month they’d meet for dinner by going to restaurants they had never been to before. They would pick the restaurant by going through the alphabet. The first restaurant had to start with A and be new to everyone in the group. The second one B and so on. That helped to broaden everyone’s food experiences in the city (Minneapolis) without too much indecision. Plus it was fun finding places with the odder letters.

    Jenna Reply:

    I am in love with this idea! If you find the right group of adventurous friends it’s a perfect fit.

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  9. If you’re going to try Napa wines you should also try Paso wines. I hear a lot of people actually prefer past to Napa and it’s a lot cheaper to taste or purchase in Paso. Gilroy and Morgan Hill have a lot of good wineries as well. Castillo’s Hillside Shire, Creek view, and satori are a couple favorites in the Morgan Hill area which is just south of you.

    Jenna Reply:

    I’m thinking I might do a wine festival instead of a tasting at a few wineries? I’m going to do some more research.

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  10. Sounds expensive! I had a lot of baking on my 30 before 30. I second Ghiridelli’s if you haven’t been.

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  11. I had the chicken at Zuni and it was SO GOOD!!!

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  12. Get a reservation at French Laundry now. My parents had to get reservations a year in advance ( although that was at least 5 years ago). Also the Culinary Institute in Napa is a great experience. My favorite Chinese place is in San Francisco- House of Nan King. You don’t order, you just tell them how many people and they bring out the food and it all tastes amazing! Have fun!

    Beth Reply:

    Not only very, very far in advance, but its very difficult. My husband worked with the secretary and his boss to call the minute it opened one day to get a reservation for the boss and his wife – that’s three of them calling and redialing continuously to get through because the minute they open phones each day, they are swamped with calls and literally book up in minutes.

    But they did eventually get through with the three of them calling, and they got in. It definitely isn’t chump change either. I want to say it was around $300 a PERSON. His boss could afford it, but…yikes. That’s a lot of money for one meal, one evening!

    Jenna Reply:

    I thought that is what we would have to do to eat at Alinea in Chicago, but it wasn’t so bad.

    I think of those expensive meals like going to the Super Bowl or a broadway play. It’s a performance, not just a meal :)

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  13. AsiaSf and happy hour at The Tonga Room are both a bit touristy, but fun in SF.

    Life On Mulberry Reply:

    Oh AsiaSF!! Hilarious, if not terribly foodie.

    Jenna Reply:

    AsiaSF had to go on my list. No matter how bad the food is. I’m enjoying the phrase “gender illusionists.”

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  14. I know you said you’d prefer not to go to SF but there are some things up there not to be missed on a Bay Area food to do list. A trip to the Ferry Building (it’s a food paradise, seriously. I’m baffled no one’s mentioned it yet! Go on Farmers Market. Make sure you have Blue Bottle coffee while you’re there), Dim Sum at Yank Sing or elsewhere in Chinatown, pastries at Tartine Bakery, pizza at Delfina, Birite Creamery, Humphrey Slocombe, and Birite Market for picnic supplies (then picnic in Dolores Park a block away – do this with the kids, that park has the best playground ever). We just went on a date night to Slanted Door (also in the Ferry Building) and it was an excellent meal. I live down the street from Oren’s Hummus and it really is as good as everyone is saying. I’d also suggest Korean BBQ in Santa Clara. If this interests you I can dig up the name of the place recommended to me by several Korean friends, let me know.

    I saw someone mention Burma Superstar. Rangoon Ruby in downtown Palo Alto is owned by the same people (I think, at least I read that when it opened but haven’t verified). I’ve been to both and Burma Superstar is better but Rangoon Ruby is a decent approximation. And if you can’t get a res at French Laundry I recommend Ad Hoc. It’s Thomas Keller’s more casual, family style restaurant. My favorite restaurant ever. Have fun!

    Jenna Reply:

    My mom is going to adore you for telling me about Rangoon Ruby. We are all in love with Burmese, but the closest place I knew of is in San Mateo, which is pretty far for us to drive for a meal.

    If I hadn’t already had Korean BBQ it would definitely be on my list.

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  15. Take these as you will from an Aussie tourist who LOVES San Francisco…
    I wish I could remember the name of the place, but I had the best ice cream of my life in Sausilito – it was an ice creamery next to a toy / hobby shop opposite the park…
    I would also suggest hot dogs / pretzels at Pier 39 while watching the sea lions (one you can do with the kids along) or at a Giants’ game…
    Fresh seafood you caught yourself on a fishing boat for hire along Fisherman’s Wharf
    Stinky Rose (haven’t been yet, will the next time I get there, fingers crossed!)

    Jenna Reply:

    Your ‘fresh seafood you caught yourself” idea sent me off on all sorts of tangents. Now I want to do a sea forager tour in SF, that teaches you had to crab and look for mussels, and then another time I want to drive out to Half Moon Bay and buy crabs right from the boats.

    Sarah Huffman Reply:

    You can get fresh oysters at the farm near Point Reyes, too.

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  16. - Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero – homemade sourdough bread and artichoke & chili soup is to die for

    - Bill’s Cafe in Willow Glen (San Jose) – their Greek lemon soup is amazing

    - Original Joes in downtown San Jose – handmade raviolis are a favorite, as is the pesto!

    - Psycho Donuts in Campbell or downtown San Jose – crazy combinations, prepare for sugar shock!

    - Dick’s bakery in Willow Glen (San Jose) – known for their burnt almond cake

    katy Reply:

    thought of one more – go to the Fortune Cookie Factory in SF. They use the word factory, but it’s a tiny little hole-in-the-wall down an alley way in Chinatown. You get to see the employees making the tiny cookies by hand, and you MUST buy a bag of the buttery delicious almond cookies while you’re there.

    Jenna Reply:

    I am SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS. I think I’m going to do it tomorrow.

    Life On Mulberry Reply:

    Oh ditto this.

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  17. I would love to go to Chez Panise or The French Laundry someday! And even though I grew up in Southern California, I went to sleep away camp in Northern California where they used to give us it’s its for snacks. I haven’t had one since middle school, but I’d love to have one again!

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  18. Sarah Huffman says:

    Masala Dosa (Amma’s Kitchen in Fremont is great)
    Bubble Tea
    Dim Sum
    Xiao Long Bao
    high tea (Tyme for Tea in Niles – Fremont – is excellent and friendly to kids)
    Salang Pass
    Blue Bottle for coffee – if you do it in the Ferry Building there’s other awesome stuff there too.

    Sarah Huffman Reply:

    Also, I’m mildly shy but am a neighbor – I live in Union City, near Ardenwood. Been reading for years and years. *waves*

    Jenna Reply:

    Hi! We tried so hard to get a place in Ardenwood. All of those Facebook employees are taking all the spots!

    My friend Maria lives in Union City, so I go up there sometimes. We could try one of these places together if you’re interested.

    Sarah Huffman Reply:

    That would be awesome! I’m happy to be a local reference, too, if it’s useful – foodie geek who’s been in the bay area for a decade now, more or less. :)

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  19. You can get an It’s-It just about anywhere! You can buy packages at most grocery stores, and I have even gotten them singly at random convenience stores. I always have to get one when I go home to visit.

    You should have more Asian food on here. I’m from the Sacramento area so I don’t have any specific recommendations, but I’m sure there is great Vietnamese food in Fremont. You have to try pho!

    Jenna Reply:

    My final list has a lot more Asian options. I actually had to start crossing things off because it got too long. I’d also like to try every restaurant (all Asian and Indian) within a 5 minute drive of my house.

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  20. Life On Mulberry says:

    Cowgirl creamery visit for humbolt fog cheese and/or tour of Pt Reyes.

    What about a GOOD winery tour/experience? If you are in doubt, then add it to your list and we will go when I visit! My mom’s photo is up on the wall at V Sattui in Napa and we’re members. There are lots of smaller, lesser known wineries we can visit where we have memberships too!!

    Jenna Reply:

    We should talk about wine tastings. I’m not sold on the whole idea I think.

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  21. Life On Mulberry says:

    Not specific to any one restaurant, but have you done breakfast dim sum? That is an easy one to do – the truly authentic ones will have no menu and roll everything around on carts and you pick it out as you go.

    Also – a good meal of Peking duck that you put on steamed buns is delish. I vote for that addition too.

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  22. Life On Mulberry says:

    I am having fun with this… What about a food festival? Here’s a last I found. http://local-food-tours.com/culinary-cultural-experience/tag/northern-california-food-festivals/

    Did you smell the garlic as you drove thru Gilroy? Maybe something there that’s touristy and kid friendly, but somehow related to the masses of garlic?

    Jenna Reply:

    You inspired me to think about garlic. In Gilroy you can buy garlic wine! I’m going to make some 44 Clove Garlic Soup (http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2006/08/a-44-clove-ticket-to-a-happier-place/) and try it with the wine and other garlic things. We’ll have a garlic party where everyone has horrible breath.

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  23. Domenicos Deli in Danville. The best fancy Deli Sammie you will EVER have

    Jenna Reply:

    I lived with someone from Danville my freshman year at BYU!

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  24. Sonoma is way friendlier (both more family friendly and more affordable) than Napa, plus there are CHEESE FACTORIES with TOURS! While you’re up in that part of the world, overnight at the Calastoga Hot Springs (a good family vacation to do with grandparents!) and go soak in the pools. Visit Lakehouse Restauraunt for dinner and sit outdoors in the fairly light-lit patio. Lovely.

    Jenna Reply:

    Cheese factory tours? You know how to speak my language :)

    Life On Mulberry Reply:

    Yes! Cowgirl Creamery has a tour of their place in Pt Reyes. One hr for $5!!

    http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/products/pt-reyes-tasting-80-4th-st

    Carla (@charliesue) Reply:

    A bit pricey, but I’ll go here with you if it sounds up your alley! :)

    http://www.foodandfarmtours.com/cheese-lovers-tour

    Jenna Reply:

    YES! Oh my goodness it’s as though they designed this tour specifically for me. It even uses the word “locavore” in the description.

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  25. I just moved to San Francisco in April; this is what I would recommend based on my experiences so far:
    B Star / Burma Superstar (same ownership, one takes OpenTable and one doesn’t) for Burmese food in the Inner Richmond (seriously, AMAZING)
    The Pork Bun tour of Clement Street (Bold Italic did an amazing piece on this)
    NOPA on Divisidero
    Carrot bisque from Alembic on Haight
    Italian pastries from Stella Pastries on Columbus in North Beach

    Rachel Reply:

    There is also a Burma Superstar in Oakland (Temescal) in a very nice/cute area of shops.

    Jenna Reply:

    Burma Superstar really does live up to all the hype (I went a year ago). ANd you have me so excited about that pork bun tour on Clement Street. Would be a really fun way to spend an afternoon with a friend.

    Jen Reply:

    Here’s the article about it. My favorite is Clement Restaurant, but that could be because it’s right around the corner from me!
    http://www.thebolditalic.com/articles/3614-dissecting-the-pork-buns-of-the-inner-richmond

    A couple others I thought of:
    Nopalita in the Sunset for Mexican/Sangria
    Homeroom in Oakland for Mac & Cheese (get the bacon; it’s incredible)

    Jenna Reply:

    I was supposed to go to Nopalito last night! Friend got the flu though.

    Let’s go out together, you and I have similar taste. We could meet up with my other friend-via-the-blog, H.

    Jen Reply:

    Sounds good! I’ll shoot you an email!

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  26. Jenna, if you want the BEST BURRITO ever you have to go to Papalote’s in the Mission: http://www.yelp.com/biz/papalote-mexican-grill-san-francisco#query:papa%20lotes

    I dream about that burrito, it is so flavorful, they have a ton of meat choices (even tofu for a vegetarian like me), and the wait for us was not long at all.

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  27. I’ll totally join you for the tour (and tasting!) at Anchor Steam Brewery! And Lodi has a big wine tasting festival/event mid-May. Of course there are also events that happen in Sonoma, Napa, Paso Robles, etc.

    Jenna Reply:

    Noted! I’ll be in touch when I am ready to cross that one off.

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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