So when my beer hiking comrade The Beer Retard told me of his plans for a trip to the Golden Gate City, I barely hesitated to invite myself along. The way our plans worked out, however, I got there a day before he did and was on my own to explore a little. I wasn't planning to do a beer hike on my first day, just walk around and explore a little. The real drinking expeditions were going to come later in the weekend.
I got into my downtown hotel around 3:30pm Friday, changed into shorts, and almost immediately set off to do walks 7 and 8 from Adah Bakalinsky's cool little tome, Stairway Walks In San Francisco. I hadn't had anything to eat since an early breakfast in Seattle, but I figured that, being in a big city, I'd find food on every corner.
What a moron.
Walk #7 / Pacific Heights Market / Walk #8 (partial) / Pier 23 Café / S.F. Brewing / Nob Hille Grille; about 11 miles
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It was an absolutely perfect fall afternoon in the city. It wasn't long after I got off the bus in Pacific Heights that I got my first taste of the hills that are so famous in this city. Walk #7 in Bakalinsky's book starts almost immediately with a steep descension down a Baker Street stairway to Vallejo Street. There were some school children climbing up the other side (a gym class?) and almost all of them were complaining and stopping to rest. I had no doubt that I would feel the same way before too long.
|One of many|
Walk #7 is a nice tour of the wealthy neighborhood of Pacific Heights. About halfway through, I came to the Pacific Heights Market and went in to buy a bottle of water. There was a line at the counter, so I went to the rear of the store to take a peek at their beer selection, not expecting -- Wow! A totally unexpected treasure trove of Belgian beer, just about every quality craft brew from Northern California, and more! I quietly wondered if the people in the neighborhood knew about this little hidden gem right in their backyard. I grabbed a bottle of Russian River Redemption (against my better judgment -- I'd still not eaten anything and had a lot of walking still to do before dinner) and a bag of potato chips. I was informed that it needed to be in a paper sack if I was to drink it outside at one of their little tables.
And so this was to be a beer hike after all. I was fine with that. Why else was I here?
After the Market, I continued on, finishing walk #7 and going right into #8, which goes along the east side of The Presidio. It was getting late in the day by this point, so I decided to veer off the guide book's route and check out something that my Garmin GPS called "Yoda Statue", located near one of the buildings in the Presidio. When I got there, I found... Well...
|A Statue of Yoda|
It was a typical touristy shit-show, not unlike Seattle's Waterfront. A lot of junk shops, street performers, rickshaw bikes, and chain restaurants. All I could find for food though, was fish and chips. But I wanted a real fish fry, so I kept walking along The Embarcadero. Eventually it became apparent that I was going to have to settle for fish 'n chips after all, so when I happened upon the Pier 23 Cafe, I decided to duck in and check out their menu.
|The Presidio. Beautiful view, crappy picture.|
Which turned out to be closed. Fuck. I needed to eat. A couple of Twitter mates informed me that San Francisco Brewing closed a year or so ago. I had a plan B, though: Piccadilly, about 1.3 miles away.
So on I marched. Through Chinatown and down to Pine St. This isn't quite how I wanted to see Chinatown for the first time, but it was still pretty cool.
When I was just a block or so away from Piccadilly, I came across a little restaurant called Nob Hill Grille at Hyde & Pine. I peeked at the menu in the window and that was that. I would go no further. This is where I would finally sup. The NHG is more of a wine-centric place, but the bottled beer selections were first-rate. I blessed the bartender when he brought me a bottle of North Coast Pranqster and ordered some bruschetta, wild mushroom risotto, and the Old McDonald burger (goat cheese, house-cured bacon, fried egg). The look on my face as I ate and drank must have been somewhere between hilarious and unnerving. The food was simply perfect and I enjoyed talking to the bartender and one of the cooks about Assassin's Creed II, which I was currently playing at home. What could be better?
After this glorious meal, I really started to feel the almost ten miles I'd walked (and climbed) since 4pm. I was ready to get a shower and hit the sack. There was a long weekend of touring and drinking ahead.
The last leg of the walk, back to The Mosser Hotel, took me through the destitution of Ellis Street and past a couple of intriguing bars, but I couldn't bring myself to stop into any of them. There would be plenty more opportunities in the next couple of nights for prolonging the debauchery.
UP NEXT: Saturday evening urban beer hike with some San Francisco locals.
|Get all that?|