The music they were playing sounded like a jam session from the Muppets.
We were standing in line at Goodlife Bakery & Café in Mendocino, surrounded by North Face, facial hair, and Rainbow sandals. We were definitely bumping up against Memorial Day weekend in Northern California. I looked at the art of a local photographer displayed on the coffeehouse walls. Good stuff. My photography has been super lazy this trip, so I vowed to step it up today.
I ordered two breakfast burritos and a blueberry danish to go. When the lady handed me the danish, my hand actually dipped from the weight of it. Hmm, it would seem wise to share this.
We got to the small parking lot for the Point Cabrillo lighthouse and walked over the green grass to a picnic table under some fantastic California trees. I had the breakfast burrito with avocado and my dad had one with bacon. Now, imma let you finish, but I want you to know, this was the best damn breakfast burrito I’ve ever had. In the words of chef turned rapper, Action Bronson, “Fuck, That’s Delicious.” I think it was the roasted peppers and jalapeno garlic salsa, but knowing NorCal, it was probably all of the locally sourced ingredients blessed by a vegan monk kale farmer. Namaste.
Another traveler and his wife pulled up to the lot and said, “Well that’s the best place to eat breakfast in the world.” I gave a thumbs up and said, “I agree!”, while potatoes fell from my mouth.
The lighthouse was about a half mile down the road and we took our time strolling over. The conservation group that runs the light has a deal with the US Coast Guard that they can keep the light running at all times. The light can go 14 miles out and the foghorn can go 1 mile out. Apparently each lighthouse has a light “signature” and this one is displayed every 10 seconds.
While walking out of the lighthouse, a worker in a Subaru pulled up and unprovoked started engaging us in lighthouse lore. He had a grey beard, grey pony tail, and a Patagonia fleece that opened up to reveal a white shirt barely covering his gut that had a picture of Calvin (from Calvin & Hobbes) with the message: “Life is Short. Hike Naked.” His New York accent threw me off, but this probably just adds to his legend of the fascinating lightkeeper of Point Cabrillo. I wish I could Yelp this guy.
It was a three-hour drive to San Francisco through wine country and then on to the 101. We passed the time with podcasts and my dad took over driving for a bit while I DJ’d and looked at Bumble. I’ll say this for San Francisco women, a lot less selfies at Coachella and the street light exhibit at LACMA. A lot of pictures in wine country and Giants games though.
DAD: Don’t we have to cut back to the 101 to start heading back to LA?
ME: The Golden Gate Bridge is the 101.
After the winding hills of Marin County, you emerge from what is now called the “Robin Williams Tunnel” and there it is, the familiar red of the Golden Gate Bridge. The most iconic symbol of California.
I wanted to stop at the Marin Headlands to take a few photos but there was so much Memorial Day traffic that CalTrans set up a traffic sign that said, “HEAVY TRAFFIC MARIN HEADLANDS.” Ok, maybe no Golden Gate Bridge this time.
We drove over the bridge slowly, taking time to enjoy all of the happy families walking and biking across, and just like that, we were in San Francisco with its old familiar white street signs (btw, spectacular font on those signs). We took a driving tour of the city and I showed my dad the baseball stadium and he wanted to check out if the Bourdain approved Swan Oyster Depot had a line, which it did, but no matter as we had 500 PM reservations.
The last two times my Dad and I passed through San Francisco, I wanted to take him to Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern. One time we ended up at the divey Tommy’s Joynt (which I loved) and another time at Cheese Board Pizza in Berkeley (also great). This time we were going to do the damn thing.
I took an ex-girlfriend to Wayfare Tavern years ago and remembered loving it. It’s also designed exactly how I’d like my future apartment to be designed, exposed brick, blue gray walls, inviting fireplace, and a bartender playing Tony Bennett.
We started out with two Anchor Steams, which is superior on draught, and were seated near the fireplace. My dad was apprehensive about the fancy, and the girls at the bar dressed up in full bachelorette mode added to that, but he settled down when we got our table. We started out with shrimp cocktail and fresh popover bread with butter and coarse sea salt. Fresh bread is one of my greatest joys in life (I blame this on living in France) and I enjoyed it more than the shrimp. I had the proprietary blend burger and my dad had what Food + Wine magazine awarded “the best fried chicken in America.”
My review is yes, it is the best fried chicken in America (thyme FTW), but only marginally better than the best fried chicken you’d get anywhere. My Dad had the definite review though when he said, “Needs more crunchy.” So there you go Tyler Florence. Get your shit together.
It took all of my willpower to skip the desserts of TCHO chocolate pudding and Grand Marnier olive oil cake, but I was able to recognize these that these were just the siren’s song calling my ship towards the jagged rocks of gluttony (i.e. my dad didn’t want any).
We walked the few blocks back to my truck that patiently awaited us perched on a San Francisco hill, ready to take us to our next destination.
I closed the door and looked at my watch. 700PM and the Sun was still out. A rare fogless sunny day in SF. It would be a damn shame to spend it in a hotel room.
We drove through the Presidio and found a view of the Golden Gate bridge by Crissy Field and Fort Point. There were kids running around on the grass, families with full picnics laughing and bumping Drake, and loads of others tourists just like us, watching the Sun set behind the bridge.