30 Before 30

Mission: Complete all bolded items before I turn 30
Deadline: April 15, 2015

Chowder in a sourdough bread bowl and crab louie salad at Barbara’s Fish Trap in Half Moon Bay

I thought about going to Boudin and eating on the pier, but it’s a bit of a tourist trap and I have Half Moon Bay on my list of places I’d like to visit. This way I get to eat my sourdough bread bowl while sitting on the beach, though I’ll have to go before mid-summer if I want to eat my crab in-season.

It’s It

I plan to buy an It’s It, Big Daddy, Super Sundae, and Chips It, and then invite some friends over to do a little tasting party with me so we can choose our favorite of the line.

Burrito in the mission district, The Little Chihuahua

I chose The Little Chihuahua because it has the Fried Plantain & Black Bean burrito. That combination of savory and sweet it calling out to me. I plan to bring the kids, get our food to go, and then walk over to the Golden Gate Park playground so T1 can ride down the concrete slides.

Chez Panisse

I’d like to dine in the restaurant on a Monday night, when the menu is more rustic and regional. Or maybe the cafe, which serves similar food but isn’t as pricey.

French Laundry

Saving up all my pennies for this experience (Alinea taught me that it’s not just a meal, it’s a performance).

Oyster farm tour at Hog Island Oyster Company

I fell in love with oysters on my honeymoon, where I was able to eat several from different bays and understand the way the environment affects the taste. For $10 I can visit Hog Island and see how they’re grown, then buy some to-go and shuck them myself.

Jelly Belly factory tour

The website pitching the tour says it takes a week to make a single bean. The tour only takes 40 minutes though.

Anchor Steam Brewery tour

500+ reviews on Yelp and 5 stars. Spots in the tour must be reserved 6 months in advance.

Irish coffee at Buena Vista

Invented in Ireland, but popularized by a travel writer in San Francisco

Roast chicken at Zuni Cafe

I’ll be ordering the roast chicken for two, and a fully prepared to wait a full hour to have the freshly roasted bird delivered to my table

Cioppino at and Crab Louie at Sotto Marre

Both dishes were invented in San Francisco

Try coffee at 3 San Francisco favorites – Blue Bottle, Ritual, Sightglass

I’ve actually had Blue Bottle a few times already. I think it lives up to the hype after trying both the pour-over coffee and the espresso.

Roli Roti chicken from the farmer’s market

This truck always has the longest lines at the market. I’m going to buy a roasted whole chicken and bring it home for lunch.

Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown

File into a tiny room to watch fortune cookies being formed. As I type this I’ve already completed this one, and I recommend buying the adult fortune cookies for a some very tame adult fun.

Dim Sum with carts at East Ocean Seafood Restaurant

I’ve done dim sum take-out from a bakery, but I want to go somewhere with rolling carts and relatively inexpensive dishes. I chose East Ocean after reading lots of Yelp reviews about different places.

Cheese Lover’s Tour

I was just going to do the Cowgirl Creamery tour, but then someone tipped me off to the Cheese Lover’s Tour via Food Farm Tours that takes you to several different locations and then feeds you a “locavore picnic with wine.” Yes, please.

Salang Pass

We live in Fremont, which has the largest population of Afghan Americans in the US. Salang Pass claims to provide an authentic experience and comes highly recommended.

Pinoy BBQ Atbp

There is also a large Filipino population in Fremont. Pinoy BBQ is turo-turo style dining, with dishes laid out cafeteria style that you point at to order.

A garlic meal using ingredients purchased at Garlic World with Garlic wine

Even though it doesn’t lead the world in garlic production, the town of Gilroy has branded itself as the “Garlic Capital of the World.” I plan to stock up on all sorts of garlic heavy ingredients and then throw a very pungent dinner party.

San Francisco Street Food Festival

Street food served by around 80 vendors. Attendance of around 80,000 each year.

Mission District food tour with Avital Tours

There are a lot of food tours in San Francisco, the Yelp reviews pushed me to decide I wanted to have this company show me around.

Pastries at Tartine

Shortly after we moved to San Francisco we dined at Delfina and at ice cream at Bi-rite. The lines were long at Tartine, so we didn’t go in. I’ll have to make another trip up there to right this wrong. Michael Pollan says the bread there is the best he has ever tasted.

Hangtown Fry at Brenda’s French Soul Food

Hangtown fry is an omelette made with oysters and bacon, invented during the California gold rush.

Feastly meal

Feastly is a startup that aims to connect cooks with diners. Monica says she is going to make a “Warming Winter Meal” at her home and I can sign up to join her for $18.50 a person. The cooks/chefs get reviews from people who have dined with them previously, and I’m hoping to dine with either Tracy G or Alysha O, who both have excellent reviews. I’m excited about both the food, and the opportunity to meet like-minded diners.

Sea Forager tour

I want to do the Mega Low Tide Clam/Mussel Extravaganza and learn how to forage for seafood right on the shore.

Buy crabs from the Half Moon Bay crab boats

Walk down to the end of the pier and buy live crab directly off the boats. Then I’ll take them home and cook them myself (another first for me!)


I’m going to round up my favorite girls in the Bay Area and visit the “gender illusionists” at AsiaSF. It will be a night unlike any other for me!

Self-guided pork bun tour on Clement Street

Thanks to commenter Jen, as she was the one who tipped me off to the Bold Italic blog post that shows you how to do your own tour of the pork buns in the “second Chinatown” of San Francisco.

San Francisco Vitners Market

I’m not a fan of the typical wine tasting experience at a winery – the setting is beautiful, but that’s all that you are paying for. Wine prices are largely about marketing, and so I’d rather find my wine in a setting where I can taste and compare a lot of different options.

Old Skool Cafe

A youth-run supper club that provides job and training to young adults between 16-22. The Yelp reviews indicate that it’s really good food too.


Are you in the San Francisco area? If any of these interest you too, maybe we can meet up and try them out together!

21 thoughts on “30 Before 30

  1. My mouth is watering just from reading your list! Though I don’t live in the area, I’ve visited quite a few times and have done some of these. I’d love to hear about each of these when you’ve completed them!

    Jenna Reply:

    I’m going to attempt to keep up with taking pictures and writing my thoughts about each experience. We shall see…

  2. T1 and T2 will love the Jelly Belly factory! I’ve taken my nephews there two times and they absolutely loved it!

    ducksandbooks Reply:

    and they have a great giftshop, with a Jelly Bean bar, where you can try one flavor at a time or a few at once to make combos in your mouth (they use the CUTEST little scoop to get out one bean at a time from the bins!)

  3. Can I add a few suggestions? Sand dabs at Tadich – so fun with the old time waiters. Go early, bring the kids and no one will mind. Very 20th century:). And R&G Lounge for Cantonese food – go for the salt and pepper crab.

    There are weeks when I’m free – if you want a grandmotherly type to tag along and talk to T1, I’m pretty good at that;).

  4. Another suggestion – it’s totally not gourmet/foodie food, but Tommy’s Joynt is fun. Good sandwiches – really good meat. Kid friendly – can be a little rough (I remember my brothers noticing the condom dispensers in the men’s bathroom) but kids are definitely welcome. 🙂

  5. Hi Jenna, just an FYI–there are two East Ocean Seafood Restaurants in the bay area. One in Emeryville (ocean view, bomb dot com food, http://www.hkeo.us/) and one in Alameda. Both are VERY popular. I actually live walking distance to the one in Alameda and there is a huge line on weekends. I’d go on the early side (10:30/11) to avoid a long wait. Either restaurant you can’t lose! They are owned by different people and named after a famous restaurant in HK.

    Jenna Reply:

    Does the one with great views and great food in Emeryville have carts? If so I want to go to that one.

    HelSF Reply:

    Hi Jenna–they both have carts on the weekends!

  6. I love all of these. Part of my goals in 2014 is to try more local things. It was largely inspired by your time in Chicago when you started eating more morally (that sounds so trite, but I think you get what I mean). It’s amazing to dive into local businesses, local food. Can’t wait for the foodie experiences of 2015.

  7. If I didn’t live in the farthest possible state away, I’d totally join you for all of the tours! I love this list!

  8. Love this list! I also am planning to do a “before 30” list, but not as themed as yours. Your theme sounds delicious, though 🙂

  9. Love this list! We might be visiting SF this year so I will be looking back at this before we go. Have you considered writing about your experiences trying wine and coffee and anything else you didn’t used to consume? Did you like them right away?

    Jenna Reply:

    I have posts swimming around in my head on different themes related to leaving Mormonism – alcohol – coffee – navigating life without an authority figure dictating my choices. But it’s still painful for my family so I’ve left it alone so far. I did have wine at Christmas dinner with my parents, which was a nice milestone to cross off.

  10. My bridesmaids took me to AsiaSF for my bachelorette party. Totally down to go again, it’s a blast.

  11. I’m happy to see that Roli Roti made the cut, but I still think you should try the pork sandwich. The chicken is good, but the sandwich is what people wait in line for.

    Jenna Reply:

    The pork sandwich at Roli Roti? I thought it was a chicken truck. Obviously I need to pay closer attention.

  12. Just a helpful hint with the French Laundry. In order to make a reservation for a specific day, you must call 2 months, to the day, in advance that you want to eat there. They don’t typically take reservations for specific days earlier than that. 🙂

  13. You are making me homesick for the Bay Area… may I make one more suggestion? Get a pizza at Cheeseboard in Berkeley and eat it on the grassy median (and like everyone else, ignore the signs telling you not to!). Cheeseboard is a worker-owned cooperative that operates both an excellent cheese shop and pizza restaurant. They make one vegetarian pizza and a salad per day, and there’s always a line out the door. It’s also right across the street from Chez Panisse!


    P.S. the Jelly Belly factory is pretty fun… just make sure you bring some extra cash for the gift shop to buy a bag of Bellyflops!

  14. Jenna – Barbara’s Fish Trap is so so so good!!!! Have you ever been to Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing? I lived in Monterey, 5 blocks from the wharf, and got very seafood spoiled. Phil’s has the BEST fish and chips – homemade tarter sauce!
    Cheers! Sarah

  15. I went to AsiaSF for a bachelorette party as well – it is a great time! lots a fun, definitely a place to go with a group of girlfriends. Just some other food suggestions in San Jose, since you asked about them in your last post 🙂 there is a stretch of AMAZING restaurants in San Jose off of Saratoga Ave. I grew up around the corner and still live nearby, and over the years these restaurants have opened up and they are ALL awesome!

    Zeni Ethiopian – traditional seating option and live music on the weekends. They get super busy, and service can be kind of slow, so going early is always a good idea.

    Yummy Tofu & BBQ – SO GOOD! We were told their seafood pancake is the best in the area.

    Kyusu Burmese Cuisine

    Dan Japanese Restaurant – totally different from any Japanese you have probably had before. Usually need a reservation.

    There are tons of great places to eat in the South Bay, and it is definitely easier than always making the trek to SF 🙂

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