San Francisco: Arrival & Starvation


The plane left from Kennedy Airport. I bought a muffin near my apartment and, upon arriving at the terminal, decided I’d eat whatever snack they gave me on the plane. Little did I know, American Airlines doesn’t give you snacks: they charge you for one of four horrible options. The worst of these options, the Chinese Chicken Salad, was consumed (enthusiastically, I might add) by the girl across the aisle from me. It smelled worse than it looked. I had a $3 giant Snickerdoodle that had more chemicals listed in its ingredients than Janice Dickensen’s face. But it held me over until the plane landed.

When the plane landed, I got my rental car (a controversial decision: half my friends said I was crazy, the other half said I’d need it) and drove to meet my friend Raife near his acting program in, what I think, was downtown San Fran (near all the giant chain stories–Macy’s, Banana Republic, Borders.) I parked in the most expensive parking lot in the history of the world and then set out to find (in the hour I had before I had to meet Raife) my first San Francisco bite.

Do you do this when you arrive at a new city? Seek out a meaningful first bite? I do. I want my first bite to be memorable, significant, something the city is known for. When I went to Paris last year, my first bite was a chocolate eclair at a patisserie near my hotel.

I paced and paced, searched and searched: maybe I’d find a Mission style burrito (which made no sense because I was nowhere near the Mission). Maybe I’d have fresh sour dough bread.

But I could find nothing and I was getting hungrier and hungrier and time was ticking and soon I’d have to meet Raife and, not only that, but see a play with him. So, friends, readers, country men, forgive me, but this was my first bite:


I can’t even tell you how bad this pizza was. It was comical. As they put my slice into the oven, another party came in and ordered chicken fingers. The woman opened a freezer, took out a bag of frozen chicken fingers, and plopped them one by one into a deep fryer. Welcome to San Francisco, indeed!

But, actually, I was so hungry you could’ve served me salt on a spoon and I would’ve been happy. The pizza temporarily hit the spot and then I saw a play with Raife (he wanted to show off his acting program; indeed, the acting (at A.C.T.) was quite great). Afterwards, I convinced Raife and his roommate Tohva to take me somewhere proper for dinner.

So they took me to a neighborhood fave near their apartment in the Castro:


In case you couldn’t see that picture, it says CHOW. And Chow is a teeming, uber-popular night spot filled with gay people on a Friday night. We sat at a table in the back and ordered wine mojitos (a great idea, and cheap at $5 a pop) and then food because I was still starving.

Raife had a fish sandwich, Tohva had an artichoke with her wine mojito and detected no funny taste in her mouth as the two combined (Urban legend)?


I had a Cobb salad that was surprisingly well dressed:


Just enough dressing and just the right amount ingredients. I liked this and felt restored after my pizza slice of death earlier in the day.

For dessert, we shared a rhubarb cobbler–


–a seasonal selection that made me happy, but Raife and Tohva were disappointed because they ran out of their favorite Ginger cake.

We crawled back to their apartment, I pulled open their couch and passed out and had dreams of all the food I’d be eating over the next seven days. Are you ready to find out what I put in my belly this weekend? Keep reading…

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