As an East Bay native, I always have to confess to visitors that I don't know San Francisco as well as I really should, given my close proximity to the city. Growing up on the other side of the bay, I developed a keen sense that San Francisco was some mystical, far-away Emerald City--where you go for a special pre-Christmas shopping trip, or where you have to suffer long international embassy lines, or where one's dad disappears to every day for work. Besides, I boast some headstrong suburban pride: I grew up in the rattlesnake-breeding suburbs, surrounded by an odd combination of rough gang ghettos, fancy yacht parks, rolling golden hills, and health food nuts who bought organic food before it was cool. And, after all, my first love in the Bay Area will always be Berkeley (which I will boldly and belligerently proclaim to be the superior city).
But slowly, piece by piece, I've been getting to know San Francisco better and better lately--learning its neighborhoods and how its streets fit together, finding pockets that I love, figuring out its widely varied quirks and personalities, and venturing out of my old comfort zones of the pre-Christmas-shopping financial district areas. A few weeks ago, Jackie (of A Happy Day) and I finally made it out to the Outer Sunset and specifically to Outerlands, which we've been meaning to go to for months now. The Outer Sunset is the area of San Francisco at its westernmost slice, right smack next to the big, bad Pacific Ocean. "Outerlands" is actually a very apt name for this area: it feels like the outerlands of San Francisco, far-flung from the hustle and bustle of the business centers and from the way-too-much-personality-to-squeeze-into-a-tiny-space hipster-y Mission and Castro neighborhoods. In the outerlands of SF--the Outer Sunset--, life feels a bit slower, less frenetic, though plenty hipster still, thankyouSanFranciscogentrification. The Sunday we were there, it was foggy and hazy, which is typical of SF summer mornings, and people strolled slowly around on the streets towards their morning coffees or brunches, and garages opened to reveal tiny make-shift stands of homemade jewelry wares randomly on every few blocks.
The actual Outerlands restaurant itself (at 4001 Judah Street) is beautiful, which is pretty much why everyone kept telling me to go. Delicately lit with windows every few feet, the walls and counters are all lined with planks of reclaimed (drift)wood. It was like someone took a small restaurant from Portland and air-lifted it directly into San Francisco--smartly dressed and accessorized staff along with it. The food itself was solidly good (though still doesn't hold a candle to my favorite breakfast in the Bay, which is--of course, surprise surprise--in Berkeley), particularly the Dutch pancake served with perfectly ripe small strawberries and a deliciously made cappuccino, which was a welcome sight after the excellent ones I had had in Italy and have been hitherto unable to obtain here.
Post-breakfast, in search of some major gusts of wind, Jackie and I went off to explore Fort Funston, a hang-glider and dog park (no hang-gliding dogs, that I know of) along the coast, which I've been hearing so much about from my dog-owning San Francisco friends. In addition to great views of the bending Pacific coastline that made me long for another road-trip down along Highway 1, Jackie and I did manage to seek out some satisfyingly robust wind for flying scarf photographs as well as plenty of dogs to gawk at, wishing that we had our very own. No hang-gliders in sight that day, though.
A few more friends come into town this weekend, so there's a bit more San Francisco exploration on the immediate agenda for me. I'm also very much looking forward to at least a whole day at home... in the suburbs.
Happy Weekend, everyone!
Check out Jackie's point of view of our day together on her blog!