We decided to walk down Geary and see what we could find for breakfast. All of the diners we passed seemed unappealing. I think it's because that area of San Fran is really dirty (way dirtier than NY, which I found surprising) and it kind of turned me off. I couldn't make a fair judgement about the diners with all of the trash on the ground.
When we made it to Union Square we found a small cafe that served sandwiches, gelato, and pastries. I had an almond croissant and my husband had a chocolate croissant with espresso. The total ended up being almost $11 which is a bit pricy for those three items.
Since my husband had an appointment at the Academy of Art University at 1pm we knew we had to eat lunch early and decided not to fill up on breakfast. After walking around some more I'm greatly embarassed to tell you where we ate lunch. I promised myself I wouldn't eat here on our trip but I have to tell you it was a good decision given our time and budget. We ate at the Cheesecake Factory. I know, I know a foodie like me should have tried someplace local--but I still didn't have my guide books and I really like having recommendations when I don't immediately see a place that strikes my fancy. Again, the dirtiness of the area was affecting my judgement.
The Cheesecake Factory was exactly what I expected with one excellent addition: the view. This particular CF was on the 8th floor of the Macy's building and it overlooked Union Square. Our lunch was simple. For me: a luau salad (greens, honey wontons, mango, green beans, peppers, chicken, etc.). For him: a side salad, tomato soup, and a half of a chicken salad sandwich.
After our tour of the Academy of Art and the industrial design building (he wants to go back to school for transportation design) we were pretty exhausted. We took a quick nap and were starved when dinner rolled around. All of that walking really builds up an appetite! We settled on Tomasso's in North Beach because it got great recommedations from every guide book (I have two books that tell you about "hidden" places to go) and I was in the mood for a good pizza.
On our walk to North Beach we saw familiar sites of Nob Hill and Chinatown. When we crossed over into the North Beach area I was shocked. The guidebook mentioned it had a lot of XXX shops but I couldn't believe how many! Not that I care, I'm very liberal and that kind of thing doesn't bother me. I was just surprised that this was the same area recommended to us by an admissions person for family living! I may not care about the stores but I don't really want to raise a child right there. Maybe it looks totally different during the day. At night the neon lights are flashing everywhere.
We came across Tomasso's and were feeling a bit uneasy. There were no windows and all of the shops around them were either "peek-shows" or, well...you can see for yourself:
Fortunately we stepped into the restaurant and were surprised to see what appeared to be a family dining room. There was a really long table in the middle and booths on the side. There was even a booth by the kitchen that said "Reserved for Tomasso family" (or something to that extent). We were sat at the end of the long middle table with a nice view of the brick oven. The Tomassos cook their pizza in the brick oven with oak wood inside. That's what initially brought us to the restaurant.
We started out with a cesear salad. I had a feeling this would be an authentic cesear salad and luckily I was correct. This was definitely the best cesear salad I've had (at least in a long time). It only consisted of romaine lettuce, freshly shaved parmesean (some of the best parmesean I've had), and a light coating of dressing. Their dressing was traditonal (not visibly creamy) with the slightest hint of anchovy. Normally I hate anchovies but this tiniest bit of flavor made the salad just perfect. Perhaps they were fresh anchovies?
For our main course we split a small (their small is 12") vegetarian pizza with Italian pepperoni. Small round morsels or hard pepperoni. My favorite kind. I was a bit disappointed that they just had regular black olives on the pizza but everything tasted great. You could taste a hint of oak and the crust was perfectly crispy. While it's not the best pizza I've ever had it's definitely one of the top 5.
Since we were planning on going to the San Francisco Brewing Company after dinner I didn't get anything alcoholic to drink but my husband got a bottle of Peroni. We had never had it before and found it went perfectly with Italian food (duh, Kady! It's an Italian beer!). The beer is very light but still flavorful and very bubbly.
Again, I'm sooooo sorry that I didn't take a picture but the WHOLE family was right next to us and I get paranoid that they'll be upset that I'm taking pictures of the food.
After dinner we had saved room for some microbrewed beer at the San Francisco Brewing Company on Columbus. I ordered the Emperor Norton Lager and hubby ordered the Gripman's porter but we ended up switching because we liked each other's beer better. I've found that lately I prefer darker beers while my husband is starting to go lighter. I don't like beers that are thick since it fills you up to much but I do love a dark beer. Since I'm a lightweight (I'm not sure how but I got drunk off of that one beer) I didn't order a second but my husband tried a pint of ShanghaI.P.A. (clever, huh?). He liked it a lot but it's always hard to tell whether it's your tastebuds that like the beer or the fact that you're already tipsy and almost any beer would taste okay.
We were both impressed with the bar. There was an antique wooden bar and really fascinating palm fans in the center of the room that were rotating vertically rather than horizontally. The San Francisco Brewing Company is a cozy bar and offers typical bar grub.