Tag Archives: Kara’s Cupcakes

Lunch at San Francisco’s Ferry Building

Christine and I usually visit San Francisco at least once a year for her work and every time we go, one of the first places we hit is the super cool Ferry Building Marketplace at the end of Market Street.

Housed inside the beautiful shell of the historic Ferry Building (which opened it’s doors in 1898), the marketplace can best be described as a gigantic indoor farmer’s market. With offices upstairs, the bustling lower level is home to some of the tastiest gourmet grub in the city.

The Ferry Building, San Francisco

Little girl (not Greta!) at Miette

Miette's collection of cool goodies!

Artisanal cheeses, chocolates, meats, tea, coffee, breads…there is nothing you can’t find at this place and if you are lucky enough to come on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday between the hours of 10:00AM and 2:00PM, you’ll find a real life farmer’s market camped outside the building as well. And, man alive, is that place amazing!

But even if you can’t make it for the outdoor farmer’s market, the permanent storefronts inside the Ferry Building will more than satisfy you. We’ve eaten at almost every joint in there and aside from the bland, totally overpriced Mexican food at Mijita, everything we’ve eaten there has been excellent.

That said, we are total creatures of habit and almost always eat at the same two places. First stop is usually Charlie Phan’s Out The Door. Located directly behind Phan’s already-legendary The Slanted Door, Out The Door has some of the best Vietnamese “street food” I’ve ever had. Soups, salads, spring rolls, out-of-this-world Vietnamese coffee, this place is probably one of my favorite restaurants of all time. Seriously good food!

Miette @ the Ferry Building!

Miette pastry table at the Ferry Building!

The amazing chocolate pots @ Miette!

And the meal we had the one time we actually managed to score a dinner reservation at The Slanted Door — which is usually booked months in advance — will go down in the record books as one of the finest meals I’ve ever had. I  kid you not, amigos, I have actually had dreams about their world-famous Chicken Claypot with caramel sauce, chilies and fresh ginger. DELICIOUS!

Our second favorite spot in the Ferry Building is Miette Patisserie home of awesome cookies, pastries and the second-best cupcakes in the city (right behind my all-time favorite, Kara’s Cupcakes!). But cookies and other baked yumminess aside, the thing that keeps Christine and I coming back year after year are Miette’s incredibly tasty Chocolate Pots de Creme. Holy crap, these things will totally change your life!

Served in a tiny glass jar (which you get to keep!) the chocolate pot is like the best pudding you ever had topped with a healthy dollop of dreamy, melt-in-your-mouth, creme fraiche. Yum!

Boccalone sandwich board sign @ the Ferry Building!

Boccalone at the Ferry Building!

And while we were a little sad to learn that they no longer uses the Miette logo glassware for the pots (which make rad tea light holders back home), as long as the chocolate keeps tasting this good, who really cares what it comes in?

Our two favorite stops aside, this past visit we decided to try something different for lunch. So, at the urging of Grandma Wendy, the four of us jumped into the long line outside Boccalone Salumeria to try their Food-Network-famous mortadella hot dogs. And, lemme tell ya, the sign out front, “tasty salted pig parts”, doesn’t even begin to describe how good this fancy hot dog was.

The sight, the smell, even the sound as it popped in your mouth when you bit into it, this was truly a weiner for the ages…delicious!

Boccalone delivery bicycle!

Mortadella hot dog @ Boccalone!

My only complaint about the Ferry Building Marketplace is the lack of parking. This was our first time driving to SF with Greta (we’re saving her first airplane trip till January!) and the parking really sucked. The dedicated lot they do have is very small and street parking is a nightmare. And when you do find street parking, it’s metered up the wazoo, so, bring your quarters!

Oh, and one more cool thing. The Ferry Building Marketplace has free WiFi, so, bring your laptop and sit a spell at one of the giant wooden tables facing the bay…the view is incredible!

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Kara’s Cupcakes, San Francisco

Some folks swear by Sprinkles, and Yummy Cupcakes in Burbank is always great in a pinch, but our favorite cupcakes on God’s green earth come from the crazy good Kara’s Cupcakes in San Francisco.

Christine and I first discovered Kara’s while making our regular pilgrimage to Ghirardelli Square to buy some of their yummy Ghirardelli Drinking Chocolate.

If you haven’t tried this stuff, then you have not had truly incredible hot cocoa, amigos. It’s delicious…and since we first tried it a couple years back, Ghirardelli Drinking Chocolate has become one of the staples of our kitchen: salsa, eggs, tortillas, and Drinking Chocolate. Not necessarily in that order…but, I digress. Back to the cupcakes!

Kara’s has two locations in San Francisco, the one mentioned above at Ghirardelli Square and another storefront in the city’s happening Marina District just off of Chesnut Street. And though we usually frequent the one at Ghirardelli just out of convenience, I gotta say that the Kara’s in the Marina has a much bigger menu to choose from.

And what a menu it is! Even the most basic-sounding cupcake here is out-of-this-world incredible, but we have two favorites that actually start me drooling just thinking about them. Christine’s favorite is Kara’s dark chocolate Fleur de Sel, which is basically a chocolate cupcake with caramel filling, ganache frosting and fleur de sel sprinkled on top.

I’m not kidding, that cupcake is the most perfect union of chocolate and sea salt outside of those dreamy little morsels we had at Todos Santos in Santa Fe. Just incredible! And best of all, it travels well. You know, in case I pick one up for her while she’s busy shopping the Gift Show downtown.

But my favorite is, and always will be, the outrageously-good Banana Caramel. Now, I know not everyone loves bananas like I do, but wow…this banana cupcake with caramel filling and silky cream cheese frosting will change your life, baby! I have never had a cupcake as good as that one…and trust me, I’ve had a lot of cupcakes in my life, yo. This one is cupcake heaven!

Also good are the Coconut and Kara’s Karrot cupcakes, but if you only have time (or money!) for one $3.25 cupcake, I’d say go with the Fleur de Sel or the Banana Caramel. And if you are a true lover of cupcakes, then you have to stop what you’re doing right now and head on up to Kara’s…seriously, you’ll die!

Oh yeah, and I just saw on their website that they recently opened another Kara’s in Palo Alto…so, that’s even less of a drive from L.A.! Yay!

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