It was a whirlwind weekend of Fun, Family, and Food.

And what fun we had.  We landed early Saturday morning and, unlike all of our previous visits, stayed at the wharf instead of one of the many hotels dotting El Camino Real in San Bruno.  The Wharf?!?  The Tourist Trap of San Francisco?!?  Yep!  And what fun it was!

My sister Phoebe suggested it.  For the past 10 years we’ve stayed down the peninsula because it was convenient to the family and, was close to the senior housing where my father was living.  With Pop no longer there, it was time to have fun and play tourist.

It was pouring rain – the forecast was for rain the entire time we were to be there.  Oh well.  I grew up in the city.  Rain wasn’t about to dampen my spirits in the least.  Besides, a rainy day in San Francisco is still better than sunshine and blue skies almost anywhere else!

We started the eating frenzy at Pompei’s Grotto at the wharf.  My sister, Judy bartends there, and it was the perfect excuse to see her and get together with some of the siblings and offspring.  We only had about 18 for dinner.  Pompei’s Grotto is an old-time wharf restaurant.  Unpretentious with great food.  My kind of place.


It was noisy and raucous and I didn’t take a single picture.  Great cioppino, oysters on the half-shell, and other seafood.  The bill was just under $700.00.  Being that we were there for hours, it wasn’t too bad.  It was just a couple of blocks back to the hotel.  We were soaked when we got to the room.  I didn’t care.  I was home.

Sunday dawned wet and drizzly, but we headed out to brave the elements. We were still on east coast time.  After a croissant at Peet’s and a bit of playing tourist, the weather cleared.

We drove through the city and stopped by our first house on Kirkham Street.  We moved in in early 1995.  It still looks the same.  And still could use a paint job.  It was a great house.

We then headed over to The Tennessee Grill to meet my brother Mike and his family for a real breakfast.

I’ve been going to The Grill since forever.  Besides being a few blocks away from where I went to high school, it was right down the street from Pirro’s where I worked for many years.  It’s been owned by the Duenas family since the ’60’s and Johnny Duenas and I were roommates for a while circa 1974.  The food is unpretentious and good, great portions, and great prices.I had corned beef  hash and eggs over-easy with sourdough toast.  Perfectly cooked.

It’s going home every time I walk in the door.

We headed back to my brother’s and then down the peninsula to my sister, Eileen’s for a few hours of hors d’oeuvres with almost the whole family.

Unbeknownst to us, they were really throwing us a bit of a wedding party since no one could make New Hampshire last October!

Champagne and cake – and presents, too.  I have to admit I got a bit misty-eyed.  It was so much fun.

The food was never-ending.  Tray after tray of goodies kept coming out of the oven, including the family favorite – my mom’s Olive Cheese Balls.  No gathering is complete without them.

It’s still difficult to realize that all of those nieces and nephews are 21 and older!  Where does the time go?  I was changing their diapers not that long ago and now they’re doing shots of Patrón  and actually carrying on intelligent conversations.  It was a great time.  I got to meet my newest great-nieces, Isabella and Gloria, and spend some fun time with the others.  It’s great to have a house full of little ones.  And even better to give them all back.

Stuffed with hors d’oeuvres and cake, we headed to Celia’s for dinner.

We’ve been dining at Celia’s forever.  While everyone would really love to go elsewhere, it’s a guaranteed table for 30.  There just aren’t that many places where we can take over.  One day, perhaps.

I actually has a tostada salad for the first time, ever.  My usual combo plate was just too much after eating all day.

Uncle Victor had fun with Madison.

Her daddy just left for Afghanistan last week for six months.  Don’t even get me started on that %$#@& war. No one has heard anything, yet.  It’s pretty nerve-wracking.

The drive back to the hotel was fun.  I got turned around a couple of times south of Market.  I’ve been gone for 10 years and the place has changed dramatically.  I used to work directly across the street from Pac Bell Park on King Street back in the mid-’80s.  There’s not two streets that are the same.  Oh well.  Native Navigation kicked in and we made it back safe and sound.

Monday dawned clear and sunny.  What was supposed to be a Pacific storm drenching us all weekend went north and south of us.  Perfect weather to take a trek to the zoo!

This was the official portrait when the majority of us first arrived.  More caught up with us as we wandered the trails.

We grew up two blocks from the zoo and listened to the lions roar from our bedrooms at night.  It was part of our backyard and we knew every inch of the place and every way to sneak into the children’s zoo and Story Book Land. The ’50s and ’60s were a great time to be kids in San Francisco.

It’s changed dramatically in the past 15 years and the whole layout has been reworked.  It was pretty much a new experience for me.  Not bad.

The little ones had a great time but it was approaching yet another gathering at my sister, Judy’s in Pacifica.

Barbecue Time.

More food.  Judy had the grill going in back for chicken and picked up racks of ribs from her friend at Gorilla Barbecue down the street from her.  AWESOME ribs.  Totally awesome.  And homemade potato and macaroni salads, baked beans, sourdough bread… And then five different pies for dessert!  I didn’t get any pictures of this food, either.

Talk about slipping!

I really was having so much fun with everyone that the food was secondary.  Everything we ate was fantastic – and not a picture of any of it.

Oh well.  It’s San Francisco.  There’s no such thing as bad food out there.  It was late when we finally headed back to the city to pack and sleep for a few hours.

The trip ended way too soon and way too early Tuesday morning we were at the airport.

We had the most horrific time with United Airlines that I will never – ever – fly with them again.


The worst customer service I have ever had in my life, waiting in a line for 55 minutes and paying a total of $125.00 to check one suitcase that was six pounds over their weight limit was just part of it.

But even the nightmare of dealing with them couldn’t dim the fun we had.

And we’ve already made plans to visit again in October.  Hopefully we’ll have more time and actually get to see all you San Francisco friends we missed this trip!

And maybe I’ll remember to take some pictures of the food!

And…  Maybe I’ll be having too much fun to even think about it.