During our one-week trip to California, we only spent two beautiful, glorious days in the big city of San Francisco. San Fran has always been known for its activism, openness, and emphasis on love and equality, coupled with its stunning natural beauty and penchant for the unique. From block-to-block, there’s no city in the world quite like it.
We knew we’d be spending a few short days in the city, so Terry had been amping me up about the gourmet vegan food world captivated within many of San Fran’s distinctive districts. We walked around the gorgeously forested Golden Gate Park, dotted with wild buffalo, museums, ice cream stands and winding storybook creeks and rivers.
Our first food stop was La Méditeranée in the Fillmore District, a family-owned Mediterranean restaurant that served up old-school Turkish coffee, homemade Baklava, and a full vegan menu. Open since the 70’s, the place was small, quaint and warm, with a flurry of friendly waitresses guiding us through the menu and to our table.
The waitress steered me toward the veganized Mediterrean plate, a standard hodgepodge of plant-based mid-east dishes. It featured grape-leaf Dolmas, baba gounesh, hummus, olives, mixed greens, and homemade falafel. The food was just as incredible as the atmosphere and service – straight-up perfect.
The next day we drove around the bright, rainbow-adorned Castro Dstrict and stepped through an alley of wall art, one of my favorite things to discover in a new city. Gigantic faces boldly declaring equality, unity, peace and love decorated every wall as we wound our way down the street and stepped out into the Mission District.
My friend was ecstatic to take us to Gracias Madre, an artsy tavern serving up organic, locally-sourced vegan Mexican dishes (say whaaaaat!). I was stoked to discover that they served a HORCHATA LATTE, two of my favorite things combined in one.
I was so in love with my mole enchiladas stuffed with potato and zucchini, black beans and kale that I could barely contain myself in public. My boyfriend also got cashew cheese nachos, which we’re definitely made and fried in-house. It’s been a few days and I am still super obsessed with this place!
I also grabbed some vegan ginger snap cookies from Hot Cookies, a quaint little cookie shop in the Castro District. We stopped there after a few drinks and a lot of dancing, and sadly, I forgot to take a picture.
I ate a quick, healthy breakfast at the hotel. After adventuring around the city, we drove through the Pacheco Pass, a long and windy northern California road that cuts through the region’s abundant farmlands. We stopped at a fruit stand to grab avocados, oranges, pickled garlic, eggplant and asparagus to grill at T’s mom’s house in Merced, our final destination. The prices were rock-bottom, and the fresh fruit was top-notch.
We spent the night in the quaint town of Merced, and woke up to an impressive spread of fresh fruit and locally baked bread laid out by T’s mom. I filled up on freshness and grabbed some snacks for the road back to Santa Cruz.
The last meal of our adventure was on the plane to Hawaii, after a long day of traveling. We took a bus from Santa Cruz to San Jose, then the BART to San Fran, an air train to SFO Airport, sprinted to our gate to catch a flight to LAX, then sprinted from our arrival in LAX to our plane departing to Honolulu.
It broke all my traveling rules – we didn’t stock up on enough snacks, we didn’t eat before getting on the plane, we didn’t drink enough water. We were starving, grumpy and lethargic on the plane, and decided to cave in and purchase food. I was stoked to find an all-vegan, non-GMO Tapas box from Delta. It was packed with gluten-free seeded crackers, quinoa and red pepper dip, hummus, almonds, organic dark chocolate, a lemon fig bar, and more. It was surprisingly cheap, filling and satisfying, and I was happy to vote with my dollars to keep the option around.
All in all, it was a busy and fulfilling trip that totally re-stoked my love for vegan food and rekindled my dedication to living a life of kindness. Thanks much, San Fran!