San Francisco, CA: Mission Very-Possible: It’s An In-N-Out Job

I woke up Thursday morning with a desire — no, a yearning. A couple weeks ago, Eric H. reminded me that other than beautiful beaches and medicinal marijuana, the west coast gives us the In-N-Out burger chain. When I was leaving Vegas after seeing the World Series of Poker (GO TEAM CHI!!!) , I made the taxi driver who was taking me to the airport swing by the drive-thru. The In-N-Out in SF was at Fisherman’s Wharf, near Pier 39, on the northeast side of the city. I despise fast food and everything that the chains stand for, but have always admired In-N-Out for being able to do it right. Although I had heard of it, the write-up it was given in Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation made me take a second look.

So I decided to do a walking tour of the east side of the city on my way to the burger joint. I started on Market and walked north to Chinatown. Did you know that the SF Chinatown is home to the largest population of Chinese people outside of mainland China? 30,000 of them!

After about 7 blocks of strange-smelling shops, overpopulation and everything else Chinese, I started wondering how it would end. And then I realized it was as clear as the difference between China and Italy. I mean that literally, Chinatown seemed to share a border with some-kind-of Little Italy, centered around Corso Christoforo Colombo.

It was a gorgeous day, and the light hit this large church so beautifully, I had to stop and take a picture. But not for too long, since the rumble in my tummy said I needed to keep moving.

I kept walking by signs for something called Coit Tower, and finally my curiousity overcame my hunger. I detoured up what I later found out was Telegraph Hill and saw some pretty great views of the bay area.

Telegraph Hill was apprently donated to the city by a group of citizens early in the twentieth century. During The Depression, Lillie Hitchcock Coit donated money to beautify the city and the tower is what resulted. Judging by the real estate in the area, I can see where they found people rich enough to give away that kind of cash.

Local artists were invited to paint murals inside the tower, which is the main attraction. Unfortunately, it costs $4.50 to see it (no free Thursdays), and I wasn’t in the mood to fork over cash for anything but burgers and fries that afternoon.

I resumed my mission and beared north to what I later found out was the famous Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. I figured that since I was in the area and wasn’t going back, I’d tour the area. Pier 39 is actually a pretty nice place, with lots of shops and restaurants. I even found a store made just for me:

I stood by the water for a sec and took yet another picture of the bridge and Alcatraz. I started making my way back to the street — wait, what the hell?

Seals? Really? By the way, I think they hadn’t showered yet because they smelled terrible. And this guy didn’t look so good:

I later saw him move so I’m pretty sure he wasn’t dead. The others were playing around, although they kinda looked like they were fighting, and I think I heard one call another one something insulting.

I strolled down the street along the water and after about 3 blocks, I saw a very comforting sight. My legs ached and my stomach grumbled, but I had finally made it.

I ordered a cheeseburger and fries, but evidently the cashier only caught the burger. When the guy pointed that out to me after giving me the burger, I wasn’t too concerned. But another worker then handed me some fries and apologized for the confusion. Free fries, bonus!

After lunch I made my way back into town (not counting a slight detour due to taking the bus in the wrong direction), stopped by REI and then headed home. Mission accomplished! Get all the pics here. Stay tuned for weekend hijinks.



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