We drove to the Zuni Cafe straight from the airport with loads of time to get there. Or so we thought since we allowed not too much thought for finding parking (you’d think coming from Toronto…) but I suppose we were in vacation mode.
Anyway, 40 minutes later, many one way streets and devastating parking spot “sightings” that were not parking spots because the street cleaner has priority wed between 12-2pm we found a place. And headed down to the Zuni Cafe
Here’s a little excerpt of history from the website–read the whole thing it’s quite a great story….
“Billy West opened Zuni Café in 1979, with a huge heart and exactly ten thousand dollars. In the early years, the restaurant consisted of a narrow storefront with a creaky mezzanine, roughly one quarter of its current size. To capitalize on the neighboring and highly visible corner cactus shop, (where Billy had been a partner, until it became clear cactus sales wouldn’t support three partners), he hand-plastered the walls and banquettes of his new space to give it a southwestern adobe-look. He chose the name Zuni, after the native American tribe, and decided to offer mostly simple and authentic Mexican food, drawing inspiration from Diana Kennedy’s cookbooks. A Weber grill was an important early investment, and was rolled on to the back sidewalk for each day’s service. Next came an espresso machine, which doubled as a stove since you could scramble eggs with the milk steamer.”
I started with a glass of white wine (my actual request was local and not excessively oaky) and ended up with a lovely glass of minerally Zuni Chardonnay which hails from a vinyard in Santa Cruz. Felix has the best apple juice he’s ever sipped-organic, fresh pressed. Tad had an Anchor Steam beer. His main was the Wolfe Ranch quail with quail egg, pan-fried sweet potatoes, kale salad and harissa.
I really was torn about posting my lunch photo which was described as house-made Llano Seco Ranch fennel sausage (so juicy and delicately flavoured it was heavenly) with escarole, roasted Yellow Finn potatoes, cracklings, watermelon radish and caper-shallot vinaigrette— but somehow my photo has turned it into something I can only describe as a penis. Avert your eyes if you have to.
So while Felix used the best manners at his disposal to finish his pasta and tomato sauce (with a side of fennel sausage) Tad and I decided we made the wrong decision by skipping the fresh oysters and remedied the situation.
We shared a pair of Pacific Hog Island Oysters (bottom, from Tomales Bay just north of San Fran) and Marin Miyagi’s (top, also from Tomales Bay). Here is a great blog piece about the Tomales Bay oysters and area. We liked the Hog Island the best, lighter and a little sweeter but both were lovely–the ocean in your hand.
And then dessert. Meringue crisps, coffee and chocolate whipped cream with chocolate sauce and toasted almonds. With a coffee. And Felix only ate a bit–too full. Spoils for me.
Moe proof we were in San Francisco–Felix watching the cable car being turned.
Our second day we went for lunch at the Anchor and Hope (thanks Janice!) Here is their lunch menu-there was definitely a business lunch scene happening but the overall atmosphere is casual, open and funky space with huge nautical ropes strung around the ceiling beams.
And would have been nice had we all been there at the same time–again not knowing the parking secrets, it took Tad about 35 minutes to park and finally Felix and I had to order without him. I had the Cubano, roasted pork, jamon de paris, swiss cheese, pickles, Dijon, taro chips and Tad had their extremely juicy burger. Felix had their fries, aioli and ketchup. (yes, I just gave in to maintaining calm child while people negotiated business around us.)
The beer menu was impressive and long and a satisfying read in itself if you like beer.
S’long San Francisco…..may we only ever take the amazing vintage style trolley next time we visit.