When my best friend announced she was moving to San Francisco, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. She’s always been in love with the idea of a bigger, more bustling city and while our fair San Anto comes in as seventh largest in the U.S., I couldn’t deny its small town feel (which I love). Moreover, her move meant I could visit and forgo any hotel bills—always a win.
While the differences between San Francisco and San Antonio couldn’t be more obvious—their public transit is leagues ahead, no urban sprawl, it’s a huge tech start-up incubator—there are a few similarities that make the city feel instantly familiar. I stuck with the Mission District, home of the city’s oldest standing building, which reminds me of our own Southtown with its plentiful eateries, galleries and boutiques, all within walking distance. If I had to cherry-pick which concepts should take hold of the Alamo City, these would be it:
Artisanal Cheese Shops: At the behest of Associate Editor Bryan Rindfuss, I stopped by Mission Cheese (missioncheese.net) and instantly fell in love. The teensy shop holds maybe 25 people tops, all there for their love of cheese, wine and craft beer. I chose to indulge in a Monger’s Choice board ($12) that featured three cuts of frommage, be it local or from across the nation, and a flight of beer paired to the sampler ($10). What set this experience apart was the enthusiasm with which the cheesemongers delivered the product and told each cheese’s origin and what to expect in regards to flavor.
Mobile Sushi: No, not food-truck sushi. I mean sushi that’s made in front of your eyes by a team of chefs and dispensed via tiny wooden boats that bob their way along a 15-foot over track. It’s slightly touristy, to be sure, but it’s also entertaining and wallet-friendly. Our stop at Warakubune Sushi Restaurant was expedient—three sushi pieces came out per plate, and plates were labeled by price ($1.95 for standard rolls, $4.65 for tuna and seasonal oyster creations). Special orders were encouraged, but why bother looking at the menu when you could peek over the ledge of the mini-boats, eye your selection and literally hand-pick an especially yummy-looking roll such as the fried asparagus with sweet unagi?
Mescal Bar, Por Favor: I’ve implored this before (See “Booze and Bar Resolutions for Drinkers, Tenders and Owners,” Dec 30, 2013), but allow me to try once more. The reason for my visit to Loló (lolosf.com) wasn’t its small bites menu; I was there for the mescal. The restaurant carries a house mescal from its agave bar. I chose a Gold Digger of house mescal, yellow chartreuse, tonic syrup and grapefruit bitters, served up for a sweet, smoky (obviously) and plenty boozy cocktail. The 1451 Stevenson with mescal, pineapple, Angostura and liquid smoke (?!), on the rocks was refreshing and smooth, even with the added touch of humo. The creations showcased the spirit’s versatility and got me boozed up enough to forget the tiny flour tortillas used in Loló’s grilled beef tacos.