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…

7 thoughts on “San Francisco: Arrival & Starvation”

  1. Hey, I met you last night. I’m Catherine’s brain-damaged boyfriend. Sorry I was rude and wanted to leave so fast but, like you when you arrived in SF, I was starving. Hope your meal at Zuni was good. Catherine and I went to Paul K and it was great. (Zuni was FULL.)

  2. Oh my god! There’s a Blondie’s just up the street from that cable car stop! (That is Union, right?)

    I think I even said Blondies! Oh…now you HAVE to get a Blondie’s slice before you leave town, just to eliminate the horror that is…wherever *that* place was from your mind, if not from the Internet.

    I hope you’re enjoying the rest of it. I can’t see how that wouldn’t be happening, though. :)

  3. I feel like Blondie’s is one of those places that USED to be really good but somehow isn’t anymore…totally not worth the calories. (Particularly since you have real pizza back home.)

    and yeah, that area where you wandered doesn’t have a lot of good, quick, cheap options. Glad that you ended the day positively at Chow. :)

  4. my cousin told me about your blog (i’ve been wanting to go to ad hoc for awhile and she showed me your post). it’s a shame that you had to eat at that terrible pizza places! i’m sure you have a lot of friends in SF and know SF bloggers, but if you’re ever in town again, you should check out some of the place on my blog! the bay area has GREAT food!

  5. Hey, you should have called me and told me where you were!

    First off, if I have figured your location correctly when you first arrived downtown (Union Square?), and near ACT, you could have had a decent!!!!! meal at MAX’s, corner of Geary and Mason, instead of that horrid pizza.

    But your friends did redeem you by taking you to CHOW, a really great place to eat. I used to live in the Castro and know it well.

    But as a local I wouldn’t call Chow an icon….just a great local restaurant (a type in which SF abounds).

  6. It could be worse. I had crap dominoes-style pizza for my first bite in…MILAN. of all places.

    But seriously it was 5 p.m. and I had eaten one package of crackers that day and I thought I was going to keel over into a fake gucci sunglasses stand. So i mean…what can you do.

  7. You headed in the wrong direction. If you went N or E (Transamerica Building, the water) you would have found several good places.

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