Surprise! It’s cloudy and overcast in San Francisco. Trying to decide on what to do and where to go when the weather just makes you want to drink hot toddies by the fireplace? Force yourself outside and head to Golden Gate Park. The greenery of the park is most beautiful when it’s grey outside. The best part about Golden Gate is that there is so much to do for all ages and weather. If it’s raining, there is the De Young and the Academy of Sciences. I’ve taken my girlfriend and my goddaughter to the Academy. They have a butterfly room and a living roof. Enough said. If it’s not raining, stop by Golden Gate Park Bike & Skate. Rent a bike for $5 an hour. No brainer. It should also be noted that the park is not filled with massive hills like the rest of the city. So you don’t need to be Lance Armstrong-level fit to enjoy a leisurely couple hours of biking. Since it wasn’t raining, Michelle and I opted for bikes and rode all the way to the coast. You could also stop and explore other beautiful areas of the park, walk around the rose garden, or the Japanese Tea Garden…There is so much to take advantage of there.
After spending time exploring Golden Gate, and provided you have a car, I’d suggest getting a change of scenery and driving to the Marina. Michelle and I got a late lunch at Blackwood, a modern American Thai-fusion restaurant that was busy even at 3pm. And rightly so. This restaurant is LIT (literally). They have multiple fireplaces, particularly spicy food, and a majority of dishes that basically give you a steam facial when placed on your table. We ordered one of their specialty hot pots with tiger prawns. It was the perfect thing to warm us up and all-around delicious. We also got the Tom Yum Kung – a spicy and sour soup with shrimp. Hit the spot.
Also located in the Marina (on the same street as Blackwood) are two small indie theaters. Great options for passing the time on a gloomy day. After seeing a late-afternoon movie, a cozy Italian dinner sounded ideal. My favorite spot is Tony’s Pizza in North Beach. Be warned, there is always a wait – usually around an hour – even if it’s a weeknight. So put your name in and walk up to Coit tower. You won’t regret the views or the pre-meal workout (on the walk, I like to play Django Reinhardt from my phone and let it ring out from my chest pocket).
Tony’s is the baby of a 12-time World Pizza Champion. And it’s obvious. The best pizza you will ever eat is their Margherita pizza, if you can get it. They only make 73 of these a day. But don’t worry, you truly cannot go wrong here. When Michelle and I went last night, they were out. So we got the La Regina. We were not expecting it to be so massive, but wanted to try it considering it won the 2013 International Pizza Championship in Parma, Italy (btw, does anyone know how to become a judge at one of these? I volunteer as tribute.) It was spectacular and full of salty meaty goodness. It looks super thick and deep dish but the dough was very light. (*Note: ask for a side of anchovies. If you like Caesar dressing, you like anchovies. Don’t be a dick and say they are gross. Just try it.) Thank God my girlfriend isn’t a vegetarian (no offense to my brother Cole. Well, maybe a little).
To take a step back, before you eat your heart out of one of their pizzas, get your veggies in with the Little Italy salad. It’s so good. And it cancels out the pizza, right? Always a good call to start with some classic cocktails. Michelle got a French 75 and I got a White Negroni, made with white or dry vermouth instead of the usual sweet vermouth (I have also gotten this with Cocchi Americano instead of Campari). Also, their meatball was the second best I’ve ever had (stay tuned for the best in a later post). ALSO, along with complimentary bread, they bring out this lethal combo of garlic, olive oil, and honey for dipping. I know it sounds weird, but it is mind-blowing. Just accept the fact that you will be waking up several times throughout the night to brush your teeth and fight that goddam persistent garlic breath.