Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

San Francisco in a quick sixty

Wick's World

 


Sixty hours is plenty of time to fill a weekend, as long as you’re in one my favorite American cities — San Francisco. Fifty-nine of those hours were spectacular as usual. But do not under any circumstances begin hour one with a short drive from the airport, up the coast to a café named Louis. This culinary dive sports one of the most scenic spots in our country and offers you a plummeting descent from top of the cliffs to the Pacific Ocean matched by a steeper descent in the quality of food generally found in the Bay area. For this restaurant, were I to give it a review, I would say, “Come for the view; leave before you order.”

Family-owned Louis has been in business since 1937. The menu (and possibly the grease) has not changed from day one. Recently granted another long lease by the Park Service which controls the land, Louis is certain to be around for a long time — too long a time, you might say.

In the past, my rule of thumb has been to not write a critique or review about a restaurant unless I can say something good about the place. No need to worry about writing a negative review about Louis. If you visit their website, you will find hundreds of people have already done that. To be fair, an equal number of diners love this greasy spoon as those who detest it. The old adage, “You either love it or hate it,” certainly applies here. If you like burgers and greasy fries with a spectacular view, Louis is your spot. If you are like me, you should jump on the nearest trolley or head to a nearby BART station and make haste to Fisherman’s Wharf where you can find the real San Francisco treat.

One hour does not make a ruined vacation. Actually, if you get that first bad experience out of the way by starting at the bottom, then everything else is uphill, like most of Frisco’s terrain. If you use Frisco to refer to anything in the Bay Area, two things happen: The locals know you are a tourist and you will be immediately corrected.

My stomachache and bad mood were dissipated as quickly as the fog that departs the city in early afternoon. We hopped in a van and headed up the coast to the stunning redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument. Established in 1908, a Scotsman named John Muir deserves credit for preserving this forest of 400-800-year-old redwoods. The quietness and the woodsy smell of the area alone make this drive worthwhile. Along the way we were treated to the white sands of Muir Beach and one of San Francisco’s favorite ocean spots, Stinson Beach.

With 36 hours remaining of our weekend excursion, we drove across the Bay to catch a ferry to Angel Island. While awaiting the next departure at the coastal village of Tiburon, we had our finest meal of the trip. I would rank my meal of Pollo en Mole as good as any I’ve found in Mexico or the southwestern United States.

The sauce was so good I asked our friendly waiter, “Do you sell this mole sauce in jars?”

“No,” he replied, “but I can bring you a container to take with you.”

I was very grateful for the pint-sized takeout carton of sauce he brought to the table along with the check, but evidently not grateful enough to remember to take it with me on the ferry.

We awoke Sunday morning with just enough time to take in a couple of acts at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival taking place in Golden Gate Park. With seven stages, over 100 bands and three-quarters of a million attendees, this annual three-day festival is one of the largest free festivals in the country.

People often ask me about our three-day trip, “Why would you go that far for such a short amount of time?”

The chief instigator for the trip was a pair of free airline tickets we needed to use up. However, my wife and I have spent a lifetime living life to the fullest. This was simply another example of that. Maybe we had so little time and so much to do, but in our 60 hours in San Francisco, we did more than enough.

 

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