San Francisco Journals

Alameda Island (a quiet spot on San Francisco Bay)

A February 2003 trip to San Francisco by tmhhmt

view from the train Photo, San Francisco, California More Photos
Quote: Some friends of mine recently moved from San Francisco to Alameda Island and invited me out for a visit. I didn't expect much, and thought it would just be another Bay Area suburb-–but I was very wrong.

Alameda Island (a quiet spot on San Francisco Bay)

Overview

Quote:
Alameda apparently has more Victorian/Queen Anne homes than any other place on the entire West Coast--making it a prime vacation spot for a house-viewing addict such as myself. The older homes are in a part of town known as the Gold Coast and many of them back onto a private lagoon. You can see the lagoon from many of the streets and imagine yourself owning one of the million homes with your own private dock--there is no public or street access to the lagoon. Alameda is only 20/30 minutes from San Francisco and just a few minutes from Oakland's Jack London Square. I've been to San Francisco hundreds of times and had never even heard of this place until my friends moved there in...Read More

Tillies

Restaurant

Quote:
Tillies is an authentic neighborhood diner/grill with an extremely friendly staff, great waffles, and even better prices. It's been a fixture in Alameda for hundreds (okay, dozens) of years, and with the exception of one hostess with an unneccesarily shrill voice and unintentionally frightening retro bouffant hairdo, the place never missed a beat as the perfect place to have a basic meal. In fact, we ate either breakfast or lunch there nearly every day during our vacation. The food is hugely filling and the prices are far (far) lower than similar joints on the other side of the bay. A huge omelet, hash browns, toast, and coffee at Tillies (less than $7) will definitely see you through b...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

Tillies
1500 Webster St.
San Francisco, California 94501
5105231737

Kamakura Restaurant

Restaurant

Quote:
Yet another "way too friendly" dining experience in Alameda. Kamakura is a great sushi place--the fish is fresh and the wait staff could not possibly have been nicer. The lunch menu is standard Japanese fare such as teriyaki and tonkatsu, but there is also really good udon and I think only one thing on the entire lunch menu was even close to $10--and that was for a huge combination plate that looked much more like dinner, or lunch with leftovers. The sushi on offer was extensive and the salmon skin and soft shell crab rolls were really really good. The sushi prices seemed extremely reasonable. Maybe the prices seemed so reasonable just because they were less than t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

Kamakura Restaurant
2549 Santa Clara Avenue
San Francisco, California 94501
(510) 521-9121

Tucker's Super Creamed Ice Cream

Restaurant | "Tucker's Ice Cream"

Quote:
What trip to the beach is complete without big fat ice cream cones?

This place makes its own ice cream and it's really good. I almost wished we hadn't found the darn place because all the good I did from walking around the island was undone over and over by their burgundy cherry ice cream. They also have frozen chocolate dipped bananas. I love them!

So, first walk the entire island, try to do it twice if you can, then go into Tucker's and have a sundae. This way, you work off the fat then get to have the fun of putting it back on.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

Tucker's Super Creamed Ice Cream
1349 Park Street Alameda
Alameda, California 94501
(510) 522-4960

Canvas Cafe The

Restaurant | "Canvas Cafe/Gallery"

Quote:
This is absolutely a great place to see and be seen. Across the street from the park, in the neighborhood of the inner Sunset - it even has free parking (a true rarity) in the back. The food is standard/a bit above average cafe food. We ordered an odd mix of muffins, pita, hummus, babaganouch, croissants, tea, wine all sorts of stuff - we were all tired and hungry as we came here after an afternoon of sightseeing in the Presidio and making holes in the sand at Baker Beach with the kids. But, on top of the standard cafe fare this is also an excellent (truly) art gallery - I fell madly in love with the work on an artist named Tim Yankosky, and if it weren't for that pesky mortgage I'd ha...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

Canvas Cafe The
1200 9th Avenue
San Francisco, California 94122
(415) 504-0060

Quote:
How boring am I? I'm so boring that, in addition to always going to the same two bookstores on every trip, I have to eat at the same restaurant afterwards and always (always) have the same stupid meal. Maybe I've got a touch of obssesive/compulsive disorder? Unimaginative? Anyway - Pasta Pomodoro is a chain of really good Italian restaurants that covers northern California quite thoroughly, though I've only ever been to the location on Irving. Here's my standard meal: the piccolo sized spinach salad with loads of pancetta, grilled red onions, tomatoes, and thick shaves of ricotta salata. It's too good for words and something I'll never make at home. Following the sa...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

Pasta Pomodoro / Irving
816 Irving Street
San Francisco, California 94122
(415) 566-0900

New Eritrea Restaurant

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant | "New Eretria Restaurant"

Quote:
Even though my friends moved to Alameda Island, we were still drawn back to the city again and again for meals at places we've been used to eating when they lived in the outer Sunset. New Eritrea is one of those places. It's a great Eritrean (as opposed to Ethiopian) restaurant - very large. I've only ever had one thing off the menu, the combination. You order it for the number of people at your table and at $10.50/person it's quite a deal. You get a more than ample helping of several of their main dishes along with a huge round of injera - the bread that is your fork/spoon/napkin all in one. The combination platter has chicken in spices, lamb in some sort of sauce, something beef, and...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

New Eritrea Restaurant
907 Irving St
San Francisco, California 94122
+ 1 415 681 1288

Alameda Museum

Attraction | "Alameda Museum/Meyer House Museum"

Quote:
A free museum (donations encouraged) that is small but worthy of 20 - 30 minutes of your spare time. The hours are odd so call ahead - 510/521-1233. Full of Victorian and a few Indian/Mexican artifacts, antiques, and ephemera. Alameda, in addition to the naval base, was something of a resort/playground for the rich and famous and several photos and bits of marketing material from that time are on display. At 2021 Alameda Avenue, a few blocks away is the Meyer House Museum, as they've billed it, the one and only house museum in Alameda. Open only on the fourth Saturday of the month, admission is $3. We sort of chanced upon it at the right time - the phone number is 510/521-124...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

Alameda Museum
2324 Alameda Avenue
San Francisco, California 94501
(510) 521-1233

Alameda Point Antiques and Collectibles Fair

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Alameda Point Antiques and Collectibles Faire"

Quote:
This is the absolute best and loveliest location for a flea market. It takes place on the former Alameda naval base. There is a constant ocean breeze and a gorgeous view. I could have shopped forever. Parking is easy because of the huge lots, the walk from the car only seemed long on the way back because we were lugging our purchases. Next time, I will definitely bring a cart. Off topic--you can drive around the base to look at the big ships. In fact, one (I was told) is a museum. Although this is supposedly the biggest antique market in northern California, it was a very manageable size and easy to cover the entire market without foot damage or sunburn in a few hours. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

Alameda Point Antiques and Collectibles Fair
2700 Saratoga St
San Francisco, California 94501
(510) 522-7500

Alameda Certified Farmers Market

Attraction | "West Alameda Farmers Market"

Quote:
Every Tuesday starting at 9:30 in the morning there's a fantastic farmers market in Alameda.

If you're from the east coast - and you find yourself at this market in the middle of winter - you may find yourself buying things you don't even want to eat just because everything's fresh off the farm, and impossible to imagine it could all be so new and fabulous looking when it's 12 degrees below zero back home.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

Alameda Certified Farmers Market
Corner of Taylor and Webster
San Francisco, California
(800) 949-3276

Ten Ren Tea

Attraction

Quote:
On the Wok Wiz tour we visited the Ten Ren Tea store, and when the tour was over my friends and I headed back to buy lots and lots of tea. Best buy : Hibiscus Spice Tea in bags. Really really good stuff - needs a little honey or sugar but only a very tiny bit. Worst buy : I love pumpkin seeds. I have always loved pumpkin seeds. I love green tea. When I saw a bag that said 'green tea flavored pumpkin seeds' I immediately added it to my pile on the counter. Tell me, what was I thinking? They're salty cloying sweet - they're horrible, they're shocking - they're gag-ifying. The worst $8 spent on a vacation in a very long time. Strangest buy : an ounce of $80/lb white tea. I've he...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

Ten Ren Tea
949 Grant Ave
San Francisco, California 94108
(415) 362-0656

Quote:
One of the most beautiful and consistently sunny and wind-free beaches in the bay area, as I recently discovered. San Francisco beaches are usually chilly and windy - the water is choppy and not safe for the average swimmer. This beach was pleasant and gentle - there's a jog/bike path along the entire length. From this beach are the MOST gorgeous views toward San Francisco and the Bay Bridge. I got there early every morning of my vacation for a walk and it was a fantastic way to start the day. On the weekends there were crowds, but not such that it wasn't still quite lovely. There were lots of kite flyers, families, kayakers. Maybe not worth a drive from San Franci...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

Alameda Memorial State Beach
Shore Line Drive
San Francisco, California

Baker Beach

Attraction

Quote:
I loved the beach in Alameda--then I had my first taste of Baker Beach. The drive there through the Presidio is gorgeous and full of curves, probably great fun on a motorcycle. I pulled over dozens of times to take pictures on our way to the beach. Baker Beach is another of the wind-free beaches in the bay area (I'm used to the beaches near Richmond/Outer Sunset where the sun rarely shines and the wind chills your skin). There are sand dunes, native grasses, a superb (remarkable, fantastic, your favorite superlative here . . .) view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin headlands. There's not much surf, but I was told it's a bad place to swim--not at all safe. The day I was there, the su...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

Baker Beach
Bowley Street off Lincoln Boulevard
San Francisco, California

Black Oak Books

Attraction | "Black Oak Books and Chelsea Books"

Quote:
Black Oak Books is at 630 Irving, Chelsea Bookshop is at 637 across the street. I never miss a chance to shop at these stores whenever I'm in town. The selections at both stores are marvelously eclectic, I always discover new authors or find books I've never heard of by authors I love - things I want but didn't know I wanted. On this trip I picked up a leather-bound set of Thackeray from the early 1900s. It was a splurge but I couldn't talk myself out of it (and neither could anyone else). Black Oak carries new, used, and rare books - on this trip I found a slipcased copy of Macbeth illustrated by Salvador Dali that I didn't know existed. I didn't buy it (a bit pricey), but ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

Black Oak Books
630 Irving St
San Francisco, California 94122
+1 415 564 0877

John Fluevog Shoes

Attraction | "Fleuvog Shoes"

John Fluevog Shoes Photo, San Francisco, California
Quote:
I never miss buying myself a new pair of Fluevogs when I'm in town, and this trip was no exception. Fleuvogs are exceptionally funky, cool shoes with lovely, unusual details. They're the kind of shoes that guarantee your friends (and strangers) will come up to you and ask you where you got them. Their flat shoes/low heels are extremely comfortable, not to mention stylish. Their high heels are generally hell on your toes, but they're even more stylish so I buy them anyway. The funkiest pair of shoes I've seen in the store was a pair of aluminum 8-inch platforms with thong sandals perched at the top. The platform was sort of an x with pierced cutouts and rubber rockers at the b...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

John Fluevog Shoes
1697 Haight St
San Francisco, California 94117
+1 415 436 9784

Wok Wiz Chinatown Tours and Cooking Company

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Wok Wiz Tour"

Wok Wiz Chinatown Tours and Cooking Company Photo, San Francisco, California
Quote:
A morning through afternoon guided tour of Chinatown ending with dim sum lunch at a really good restaurant. I first heard of this tour on Huell Howser's California Gold show - a long time ago - and for this trip planned way ahead and made reservations. The tour company's owner, chef Shirley Fong-Torres, only leads the weekend groups but I was not at all disappointed in our guide. Whether or not you've been to Chinatown before (unless you grew up there), this tour will definitely show you something new. The architecture, the family associations, the good luck charms, superstitions, feng shui, food, customs, and traditions that are particular to SF Chinatown - all are explained. The tou...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 7, 2003

Wok Wiz Chinatown Tours and Cooking Company
At the corner of Sacramento and Grant streets
San Francisco, California 94103
+ 1 415 981 8989

Jack London Square

Story/Tip

Quote:
I'd read in a few reviews here that Jack London square had a lot going on and was a great place to spend some time. Okay, maybe it was just the day I was there (a Thursday night in February), but there was nothing going on and there were hardly any humans that weren't at work behind counters or waiting tables. The place was full of huge restaurants and tons of stores, all open for business, but barely a soul eating and truly no one shopping. How the stores are staying open if that is what an average week night looks like - I have no idea. We spent a lot of time at the Barnes and Noble, which also would have been empty if not for a book signing, and ate moderately decent Mexican food at...Read More
sunset at sunset beach Photo, San Francisco, California
Quote:
San Francisco has two Chinatowns now - the one on Grant and the other one way out on Irving. It's not called Chinatown but it should be - it's sort of a junior sized version. Our base of operations (i.e. parking spot) was at 23rd and Irving - the site of yet another Ren Ten Tea store. After my experience buying white tasteless tea and heinous horrible tasting pumpkin seeds at the Chinatown Ren Ten Tea store why - you may ask - was I back in the store? I was back because I was told they had the absolute best bubble/pearl/tapioca tea drinks and I wanted one. I had the coconut pudding drink with black pearl tapioca - there was no pudding involved but quite tasty. My friend had the mango s...Read More

Amtrak from L.A. to Oakland

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

view from the train Photo, San Francisco, California
Quote:
I've spent most of my life in the Midwest and on the East Coast--where taking the train was, for me, a fairly normal occurence. From Ann Arbor to Chicago, from D.C. to New York or Boston, the train was the best, least expensive, and easiest way to get around. However, though born and newly returned to living on the West Coast, I'd never ever been in (or near) a train here--it never seemed practical. The flight to San Francisco is barely an hour and the price rarely is too much above $100. But . . . Getting in and out of the airlines at both ends is more difficult than ever, the traffic at LAX sometimes suspends belief, and the flight itself is not very comfortable, with delays more usu...Read More