((This post originally appeared on The Unemployed Eater))
Imagine a young man celebrating his second 29th birthday. Now imagine this same young(ish) man celebrating 29-II in the midst of a nine-month long low-carb wedding diet (because he hopes of not being suffocated by his wedding suit as if it were a Bond villain). More so, imagine how this young man would want to celebrate this momentous birthday, in which he bestows upon himself an entire Cheat Weekend. He wants carbs, dude. Carbs. Thus, when it came to deciding the weekend birthday destination there really wasn't much debate. It would be San Francisco, an unparalleled carbohydrate sanctuary, and, more specifically, home to sublime sourdough bread.
This would be a Cheat Weekend that other Cheat Weekends write home to their parents about. The Cheat Weekend other Cheat Weekends shared with their grandkids. The Cheaty-est Weekend of Cheaty Weekends. The weekend in which I would leave my heart rate in San Francisco.
And I did just that. I ate like an idiot and loved every bite.
Here is everything I (with my fiancee's kind assistance) devoured in less than 48 San Francisco hours...
BREAKFAST - Saturday, 8:47 A.M.
Almond Croissant and Chocolate Croissant at Tartine Bakery
When you tediously wait in a decently long line at eight in the morning for a freaking pastry you want it to be really, really good. Well, Tartine's Almond Croissant is the best I've ever had. Flaky and buttery, yet crisp and almond paste-crystallized where you want it, the croissant packs serious almond flavor. And the Chocolate was still celestially hot out of the oven! I can't really envision a more ethereal croissant experience not in a country that starts with 'F' and ends with 'rance.'
LUNCH - Saturday, 12:17 P.M.
4 Formaggi Pizza and Broccoli Rabe Pizza at Pizzeria Delfina
The past few weeks I lost sleep over which pizza spot to inhabit during the visit. That's not hyperbolic b.s.; I was that conflicted. I'm a huge Tony's fan, but ultimately decided to give Pizzeria Delfina a whirl. Really delicious, solid, farm-to-table, Neopolitan-adjacent pies with a chewy, bubbly, thin crust (with A+ underbelly leopard spotting). I especially enjoyed the Broccoli Rabe because broccoli rabe is the best thing ever and I could eat it on anything. Let alone atop a high class pie.
AFTERNOON SNACK - Saturday, 1:03 P.M.
Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Brown Sugar Ginger-Caramel Swirl Ice Cream at Bi-Rite Creamery
Completely by accident the three destinations I desired to visit most WERE ON THE SAME STREET. The same block to be exact. This coincidence made it simple to glide ("roll" is probably the more proper term as my belly expanded...) from Tartine to Delfina to Bi-Rite Creamery. Bi-Rite is very good. I wouldn't say great though. Both ice creams, although smooth and tasty, possessed hints of teeny, tiny icy remnants; consequently, Bi-Rite just slightly misses the creaminess apex along the likes of Santa Monica's Sweet Rose Creamery and Princeton, New Jersey's The Bent Spoon.
EARLY EVENING SNACK - Saturday, 4:50 P.M.
Tartine Bakery leftovers
Somehow odd bits of the croissants survived the morning and I obviously needed to take care of that.
DINNER - Saturday, 5:52 P.M.
Marlowe Burger at Marlowe
This was my only formal dinner in San Francisco. It was also my birthday dinner, so I wanted it to be extra special. Getting in the way however: we had to meet my parents near the ballpark before we caught the Giants-Mets. Although bountiful, the options around AT&T aren't exactly 2nd 29th birthday-worthy, except for Marlowe. Marlowe turned out to be a solid choice and you really can't go to Marlowe and not order the namesake burger. I mean, you can, but why do something so stupid? The well-charred patty sneakily has 20% lamb ground in and it makes all the difference. Add merited cheddar, crispy bacon, oddly effective shredded lettuce and a nose-clearing horseradish aioli and you have ambrosia. It also comes on an Acme bun, which is about as San Franciscan as an earthquake while riding a cable car.
DESSERT - Saturday, 8:08 P.M.
A selection of baked goods from Icing on the Cake (Los Gatos)
Truth: there is nothing better in life than the smell of Icing on the Cake bakery. Not the shaky glass water scene in "Jurassic Park." Not acing an interview. Not winning the World Series. Not Golden Retriever puppies. Nothing is better. They should sell IOTC car air fresheners. It is nirvana. Located in the affluent South Bay enclave of Los Gatos, I recommend anyone with a sweet tooth make the trek to the whimsical bakery with a transcendent waft. The baked goods are also about as good as it gets. And they have a crazy large selection. I've never encountered a bakery with such a vast selection where nothing sucks. So my Dad fulfilled my birthday wish by picking up a potpouri of IOTC for the game, including my favorites Maple Moon (maple-glazed cakey-cookie), Chcoolate Chip Pound Cake (buttery awesome and probably weighs multiple pounds) and the Chunker (a chocolate chip cookie with large brownie chunks on top).
LATE NIGHT SNACK - Sunday, 12:45 A.M.
Pizzeria Delfina leftovers
After a post-game Moscow Mule at Tradition, we returned to our hotel room and went hog wild on our Delfina leftovers. Few thrills in life eclipse late-night cold, good pizza on your birthday.
PRE-BREAKFAST SNACK - Sunday, 9:39 A.M.
Gougere from Tartine Bakery
Amidst eating like a fool Saturday we forgot about the third Tartine item we purchased: a gougere. I wouldn't call myself a Gougere Afiocionado (but, honestly, nobody should call themselves something so peculiar...), yet I can't imagine a stronger execution. Gruyere cheesy and crusty on the outside, hollow, eggy and peppery on the inside. So French I found myself saying "oui" for no particular reason.
BRUNCH - Sunday, 11:25 A.M.
Weekend Buffet at Ironside
On our way to another Giants game, we were forced to pick a ballpark-adjacent eating house again. Ironside has long been my pre-weekend afternoon game destination. Their $18 unlimited buffet (plus an additional $10 for bottomless mimosas) is simply the best deal in SF. Possibly, based on quality-to-buck-ratio, the best buffet deal on Planet Earth. Vanilla bean oatmeal, crisp silver dollar buttermilk pancakes, chipotle-garlic potatoes, cheesy eggs, cheddar grits, fried sweet plantains, chocolate bread pudding, and the piece de resistance, round spicy housemade sausage patties. Now, is an enticing, unlimited buffet the morning after you ate like an idiot a good idea? Perhaps not. That said, despite being (incredibly) full from the night before, I devoured two full plates and six sausage patties.
AFTERNOON SNACK - 3:15 P.M.
Garlic Fries at AT&T Park
I shouldn't have eaten these. Especially so fast I didn't get a pic. But the garlic fries up north are so superior to Dodger Stadium's version, I almost did it out of spite. It was a hate eat.
DINNER - 8:00 P.M.
Menage A Trois Sandwich from Ike's Place
Was it worth it to take a $20 cab across town to a sandwich spot I've always wanted to check out, then lug our heavy bags about a mile to BART just to have a quality final meal while we waited for our flight to board? Depends which of us you ask I guess. I would say, YES! Despite being out of their signature halal chicken (substituted with fried chicken in my case), as well as a little sloppy and overdressed (which is sorta Ike's thing), I really enjoyed my sandwich. With cheddar, pepper jack and Swiss cheeses, BBQ sauce, honey mustard, and real honey, it reminded me of an improved version of the kitchen sink sandwiches I concoct on drunken nights. Added bonus: it came on a Dutch Crunch roll, which is a quintessential NorCal secret weapon and the perfect final bite for my birthday weekend.
So, there you have it. What started at Tartine ended at Ike's. For a whole San Francisco weekend I ate like a total idiot. And loved it. Funny enough, I didn't even end up eating the foodstuff I coveted so much it made me decide on SF in the first place, sourdough bread. Oh well, guess I'll have to return for my 3rd 29th birthday next year.