Monday, July 26, 2010

Take it from me

This past weekend had it's highs and it had it's lows. I am feeling generous today, so I thought perhaps my bay area readers would benefit from the knowledge I gained through this past weekend's experiences.

What Not To Do:

Fisherman's Wharf on Saturday with Kids.

BAD. IDEA. I'll repeat that for anyone who missed it. BAD. IDEA. Sadly, I am afraid that Fisherman's Wharf may not be a desirable destination for anyone at anytime, but when you combine the crowds of a Saturday afternoon, a two year old who refuses the stroller, and a 4.5 year old who thinks that walking is boring, you have a recipe for disaster. I remember visiting the wharf as a tourist years ago, and I never hated it. In fact, I think I enjoyed the festive atmosphere. I remember street vendors and performers, fun restaurants, gooey ice cream sundaes at Ghiradelli Square, the smell of the ocean.... I wonder if these colorful memories are a clear picture of what actually was, and has since decayed, or if as a teenager I just didn't see the grit and the cliches of a tourist trap. Well in any case it is all crystal clear now. The bay area attraction is a crowded, chaotic collection of cheap t-shirt shops, overpriced junk food, and aggressive, often very drunk pan-handlers. As we walked down the street we had to cling to our little boys so that they would not be swept away in the throngs of under dressed out-of-state visitors. (Yes, you need a jacket in July). There is little to do actually, unless you want to shell out big bucks to visit the aquarium, or take a trip to Alcatraz. The Kargas family was on the cheap, so we decided against these activities. I thought we might grab a bite to eat, but all of the restaurants were packed, over-priced and required a wait. After about an hour we fled back to the car to head the hell out of dodge. Because we could not find a restroom appropriate for a diaper change I had to change my kiddo on the front seat of the car. I will spare you the details. Needless to day, not a fun morning.

But things got brighter. Quite by accident we ended up at Fenton's for lunch. This is on my "Do Again" list.

Fentons- We will be back.

Fenton's reminds me of a Madison restaurant I loved as a kid, Ella's Deli. I have very fond memories of this eatery from my childhood. Ella's is colorful, it is decorated with old fashioned toys, and an actual carousel sits right outside the restaurant (eat your veggies munchkins, and you can go for a ride!). There are kosher hot dogs and greasy french fries, bagels & lox (a personal favorite), pastrami on rye, and crunchy dill pickles. But of course the very best part is the old fashioned ice cream parlor style desserts. Big-over sized sundaes served in tulip glasses. Milk shakes with two straws and a metal mixing cup for what couldn't fit in the glass. Everything topped with whipped cream and a cherry of course.

Fentons does not have the carousel, or the toys, but it captures the spirit of Ella's. It has that care-free vibe that makes one throw caution to the wind "ah what the hell! I'll have a triple fudge brownie sundae with extra hot fudge!" The husband ordered a chili dog and fries, Zack a burger and Evan, Mac & Cheese. I did go with the safe, calorie conscious option of a grilled chicken salad, however the meal was followed up by an enormous ice cream concoction (which included carmel corn) that we shared with four spoons. Kids happy. Mommy happy. Daddy on the way to a low cholesterol diet.

So there you have it friends in the bay, spare yourself and stay far, far away from Fisherman's Wharf, and head straight to Fenton's instead.

You're welcome.


  1. What, you didn't take advantage of the pay toilet on the sidewalk? Or stand in line for 45 minutes to ride the trolley? Or the opportunity to pay $50 to park for an afternoon?

    Actually I LOVE the warf, but only when I'm with my girlfriends! Warf+Kids-$=NO

  2. Ohhh, do I miss San Francisco! I loved the Wharf (never did it with kids, sounds horrendous) with bread bowls of clam chowder and sea lion watching. Plus, it's walkable to the Italian restaurants in the Italian section of town. YUM.

  3. glad you found what I am sure you were supposed to find!
    Yay Fenton's

  4. This so cracked me up, Rachel! I could have spared you the aggravation and directed you right to the ice cream. lol Next time, ask a native with little kids! But then we wouldn't have had the entertaining blog....