A San Francisco treat, Part 2

Posted on February 27, 2014


The Codmother serves up a meal that'll make you want to sleep with the fishes.

The Codmother serves up a meal that’ll make you want to sleep with the fishes.

The idea of eating by myself at a restaurant has never appealed to me. So, sitting at Hyde St. Pier and hungry, I looked for quick places to eat in the area. Destiny (with a little help from Yelp) brought me to The Codmother, a food perma-truck with a small seating area and tent out front. I thought I’d stick to a lighter main dish—fish tacos—so I wouldn’t feel quite so sinful indulging in their deep-fried Oreos (something both destiny and Yelp recommended). When my meal came out, I found that not only were the Oreos deep fried, but the fish tacos were too.

Looking back on the day, I would say that lunch was the definitive pinnacle when my momentum swung from “Hell yes! I’m going to walk everywhere and see everything” to “Maybe I’ll see where that trolley across the street takes me.”

Further contributing to the fact that San Francisco is a giant train museum, the city bought and restored more than a dozen classic streetcars (not to be confused with cable cars, because these run on their own power from overhead electric lines) from around the world and constructed tracks along the waterfront in the mid-’90s. I boarded the next streetcar, something I had only ridden at the Illinois Railway Museum, and experienced what it was like to truly ride a trolley in a city. The engineer in me was smiling the whole time.

I (reluctantly) departed the streetcar close to where I began that day—at Powell St.—where I hiked up to city hall to figure out how I should spend the last couple hours of the day until Maureen got off work.

The Painted Laides. Yup, they're houses alright.

The Painted Laides. Yup, they’re houses alright.

I saw that I wasn’t far (on Google, 1.1 miles doesn’t seem far, but on foot going uphill, it really is) from the famous row of houses known as the Painted Ladies. Trudging up my last hill of the day, I came across the thoroughly underwhelming houses. They’re situated across the street from a hill on a park, and a crowd of people sitting on the grass was looking in their direction. I couldn’t tell if everyone was staring at the houses (waiting for someone to come out? one of them to fall down? grow legs and walk away?) or the vista of the city behind them. I kept going to the other side of the hill and was treated to a truly spectacular sunset over the western part of the city.

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I’ve only been to a few hilly cities, but, as I was walking around San Francisco, I was reminded of my time in Athens. It wasn’t just that both cities required thunder thighs to get around and had similar forms of public transit (Athens didn’t quite feature cable cars but instead had the electric buses and modern trolleys that were everywhere in San Fran), but the cities had similar feels.

A sunset worthy to end my day's journey on.

A sunset worthy to end my day’s journey on.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think it was that both had sprawling, not really centralized downtowns that peter off into semi-residential, semi-commericial areas, each with its own distinct personality. And I think, as rewards for the poor saps who ascend the hills themselves, both have little green areas at the tops so pedestrians can wipe off their sweaty brows and admire the vista of the city and waterfront beyond.

Still not content with the number of trains I had taken that day, but exhaustively content with my amount of walking, I found a tram to take me back to the Caltrain station, where I took a train that would get me back to Maureen’s place. After some dinner, I was ready to rest up for Alcatraz the next day.

Posted in: Lincoln Square