My girlfriend and I and our kids like take a few days away together around New Year’s. This year we went to San Francisco. It’s a nice time to visit the city since a lot of the Holiday crowds have died down and often (although not this year) hotels have some discount prices. Around New Year there is still holiday decorations up, after-Christmas sales, and a festive atmosphere everywhere.
Many years ago, when the Triton Hotel first opened, it was a hip, modern boutique hotel. I stayed there while on a work trip to San Francisco once and thought it was wildly different and unique.
|Triton Hotel lobby years ago|
It is conveniently located in front of the gate to Chinatown, and walking distance to Union Square, and loads of restaurants, shopping, and the Powell Street cable car. It’s a perfect location. Recently, Kimpton Hotels bought the Triton. Kimpton Hotels were one of the first Hotel Chain companies to boast that their hotels are “green”, and they still maintain that ideal. Their website states that they use non-toxic cleaning supplies, recycle, serve only organic coffee, and also give $10.00 of your room fee to the Nature Conservancy. I did not see any evidence of any of this during this visit because I didn’t see the housekeeping cart nor do I drink coffee, so I can’t verify either way, but you should check them out via their website: https://www.kimptonhotels.com/kimpton-cares/environment
So, I love that the Triton is now a Kimpton Hotel. Years back, I used to try to stay at Kimpton Hotels whenever possible because of their green initiatives, but their hotel room rates have gone up so much, I haven’t been able to stay at a Kimpton in quite awhile. Another thing I remember about Kimpton Hotels years ago is that they were very kid-friendly. When my kids were little we would check into a Kimpton Hotel and right away the front desk person or concierge would give them each a little drawstring backpack with toys, crayons, playing cards, and snacks inside. They loved it. So when my friend said she wanted to stay at the Triton this trip, I said SURE. My kids are teenagers now, but Kimpton still says they have something special upon arrival for every age! We looked forward to it! Triton’s room rates were fairly high, around $160-$180 for a small room with 2 double beds, certainly no deal, but my friend really wanted to stay there so we reserved 2 rooms for the 6 of us.
We arrived at the Triton just after check-in time at 3:00p.m. and there was no street parking available, even to pull over, so my friend dropped me off quickly and I ran inside to check-in while she and the kids drove around the block until a spot turned up. There was one person in front of me checking in at the front desk and when it was my turn to check in, there was some confusion with the rooms (two rooms, two different prices…) and it took quite a while to straighten out. I asked for a quiet room, as I always do when traveling, and she ended up trying to check us into rooms that were already occupied! Not good. Also, when I asked her about any “special gifts for kids” that Kimpton offers, she had no clue about it. Frustrating. While she was trying to straighten out our rooms I asked her for a dinner recommenation for a vegetarian friendly restaurant on the healthy side. This was San Francisco, after all, and I know they are known for their wide variety of vegan, vegetarian, and healthy food places. She sadly recommend a diner down the street, that was very well known but didn’t have anything close to healthy or vegan, since it was an old-fashioned diner. Lovely and retro but not the place to go for what we were looking for. I decided this front desk girl was not the best person to help us out with this, so I just waited until she tried to find us a room. But…the day was saved when she ended her shift “mid-check-in”, and handed us off to Jason, another front desk person.
Jason found us two rooms right away, on the fourth floor facing the street (FYI: rooms facing the alley are much more noisy, since garbage trucks come daily at the crack of dawn to pick up the trash for the surrounding restaurants, etc). I mentioned the special Kimpton surprises for kids and he promised to bring us up some “treats” for the kids and gave us a $10.00 credit toward anything in the mini-bar. Yay Jason! As I mentioned before, The Triton has always been known as a funky, hip, modern hotel and it hasn’t really changed much, even though it is a Kimpton Hotel now. We checked into our rooms and found the furnishings were fun and different.
|coat hooks between the beds...an odd place for them..|
|cute retro bench|
The mini-bar was stocked with the usual fare as well as some new, fun and hilarious items such as condoms, aspirin, and rubber ducks!
The room was small, as I expected, but fine for us and it wasn’t long before Jason brought up a tray full of treats as promised.
|Our treats from Jason|
That was really great. Nice customer service. There were a few downsides to staying in a funky hotel room. The view of the street was nice enough, but the windows had shutters, which looked cute but didn’t cut out the light in the morning as much as I would have liked. Also, I got really cold in the middle of the night. When I ran over to the closet to look for a blanket on the shelf where most hotels keep extra blankets and pillows for guests, I didn’t find any blankets or pillows, but I did find a yoga mat. Yeah, it’s THAT kind of hotel. But it was perfect for what we needed and I would recommend it for the location and their green practices. Ask for Jason.
See my review of the TRITON HOTEL on Trip Advisor under HealthyGypsyTraveller
342 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94108
After settling into out hotel room we headed out to see a movie at the METERON, a huge multiplex with 16 movie theaters just south of Market, which was about a 10-15 minute walk from the hotel. The theater is very large, crowded and confusing, and there is a bit of a walk from the theaters to the concession stand. Concessions offered the usual food fare and when I asked how their popcorn was made, they said that it was indeed vegan and they used Orville Redenbacher brand popcorn, which they pop on site, and instead of butter, they offer a popcorn topping that is butter flavored and made from soy bean oil. A large tub costs $6.75.
AMC Meteron Multiplex
35 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
After the movie we were all starving for dinner, so we took a look at Trip Advisor for veg-friendly restaurants near our hotel. (HappyCow is a great site for finding veg-friendly restaurants, but I find it is often limited. Trip Advisor works better for me) I thought we would try E&O Kitchen for dinner since it was very near our hotel and served Asian Fusion fare, which is usually very vegetarian-friendly and kid friendly, and it had excellent reviews. We walked over to E&O and, since it was a Friday night, the place was packed. The hostess took our name and cell phone number and said she would phone us when our table was ready or a place opened up at the bar. She figured about 45 minutes to 1 hour. We were all so very hungry so we walked around a bit to take our mind off our hunger and, well, basically, I’m still waiting for them to call! They never did!
So after 45 minutes, I gave in to a unanimous vote to go to California Pizza Kitchen (more on E&O Kitchen later!)
CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN
My kids love CPKs and it is our old stand-by whenever we travel, but since I eat a HEALTHY plant-based diet, I’ve always struggled finding healthy, vegan options on the menu. To make matters worse, in the past few years, CPK has taken the few healthy, veg. items I really liked off of the menu, such as the Asparagus Soup and the Broccoli Fusilli, so I was not looking forward to dinner there, but I was pleasantly surprised! The restaurant had not wait, although they were busy, and we were shown a table right away. For appitizers/starters there was a nice hummus plate, a lovely healthy vegan option for me, and the others ordered a variety of flatbreads, spinach and mushroom was a favorite. For the main course, the kids, all ordered vegetarian pizzas, of which they had a great selection, plus gluten-free pizzas and extra thin and crispy crust pizzas. They were all thrilled. The next quest was finding something vegan. I am not a big fan of salads but they had 2 nice, new hearty salads, Asparagus and Arugula Salad, and Quinoa and Arugula Salad. I tried the Asparagus and Arugula which had toasted almonds, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh shaved parmesan cheese. I shared it with my vegetarian friend, who loves cheese, and it was easy to take the thin cheese slices off my portion of the salad to give to her to make mine vegan, and hers vegetarian. If I was having it for myself, I would have asked them to substitute the cheese for avocado. They are VERY accommodating about substitutions. My girlfriend ordered the Thai Crunch Salad for us to share, which comes with chicken but we asked for avocado instead. It also comes with edamame and crispy rice noodles on it, as well as peanuts and a peanut dressing. I don’t eat non-organic peanuts (do you know non-organic peanuts are one of the most toxin-laden foods? ♥︎♥︎ see below…) but it was easy to leave them off my side, and I asked for a different dressing for me. They brought both dressings on the side. Perfect. My kids and I also had the lemonade, which came in a variety of flavors. My son had the raspberry lemonade and I had the peach lemonade. I’m sure it’s made with not-so-healthy flavored syrups but it was fun to try. Refills were free. I will definitely go back to CPKs again.
California Pizza Kitchen
53 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
A LITTLE ABOUT NON-ORGANIC PEANUTS:
♥︎♥︎ One of my very favorite books of all time is called: “ Diet for a Poisoned Planet: How to Choose Safe Foods for You and Your Family” by David Steinman. It was my “food bible” for many years back in the 1990s when I became vegan (from a vegetarian diet). In the book, Mr. Steinman, who grew up in Southern California where I did, discusses what pesticides and toxic residues are found in a huge array of foods, then rates all food by three colors (like a traffic light). Green Foods, which are fairly non-toxic/low pesticides, Yellow Foods, which has some toxic/pesticide issues, so recommended to eat infrequently, and lastly the Red Foods, which are the most toxic and pesticide laden of all, and recommended to not eat. In the book, peanuts are listed as one of the few RED foods. Here is what it states:
“Peanuts take the grand prize for the most pesticide-saturated food in the American diet based on results from the Total Diet Study. Peanuts had 183 residues in sixteen samples, representing 17 different formulations on their environment metabolites. Most frequently detected pesticides were chlorpyrifos, diazinon, dicloran, dieldrin, phonons, HCB, Malathion, pentachloroaniline, penta, quintozene, tecnazene, and toxaphene. Less frequently detected were BHC, chlorpropham, DDT, heptachlor, and tetrachlorobenzenes. Eating an average of slightly less than 2 ounces of dry-roasted peanuts a day over a lifetime would result in a risk of as many as twenty excess cancers in one million persons. A naturally occurring carcinogenic mold, aflatoxin, grows on peanuts, adding to the potential risk of this food. Look for organic brands that are sun-dried in the field to prevent aflatoxin growth. Arrowhead Mills organic peanut butter is made with peanuts dried this way.”
P.S. This book is fantastic and was my
“food bible” for many years. I love it! Read it!
Right next door to the Triton Hotel, was Caffe Presse. The front desk girl at the Triton recommended it for breakfast when I asked them for a healthy-type restaurant with veg options recommendation (and you remember how accurate she was with her dinner recommendations…this was no different!) and since it was so convenient, we went there for breakfast our first morning. What a mistake! For starters, there is not much terribly healthy on the menu, it is a menu of butter and sugar. Sadly, there is nothing vegan to eat at all except for a fruit plate, but they have several vegetarian options such as buttermilk pancakes, croissants, egg dishes and omlettes, and a yogurt parfait. One of us ordered the french toast, that arrived so buttery no one could eat it so I sent it back asking for them to please serve it dry. It came back just as buttery/greasy so I assume they just have a nasty, oily griddle that they cook it on, or they just ignored my request.
|Very buttery French Toast|
My son had the same buttery-ness on his pancakes, but he didn’t mind and ate most. I suppose since they are a “French” cafe they think that French means butter, butter and more butter. When really, it just means it’s gross.
A few others ordered the vegetarian omelette, which had spinach, tomatoes and feta cheese. The omelette came with the veggies inside raw, which was a bit unappealing, but perhaps that was just a personal taste. I think it would be a lot nicer to saute the veggies first, before folding them into the omelette.
|spinach, tomato, and feta omelette|
They were also terribly rude and pretentious in the restaurant. When we first entered the cafe, we were met by a most unfriendly host, whom I found out later was, sadly, the manager. I went over and asked for a table for us and he glared at me and asked if I had made reservations. What? Really? Reservations for breakfast? Ah, no. Perhaps reservations for Sunday Brunch at the Four Seasons, but for a small Cafe, uh, no. He shook his head (tsk tsk) and told us to wait. He strolled over a few minutes later and showed us to a small table, all by itself in a nook in the back of the cafe. No problem, we loved it. We endured more unfriendly encounters with the manager, that I won’t go into the details here because it really has nothing to do with HEALTHY TRAVEL, but we did not enjoy our experience at Cafe Presse at all.
Most items are not on the healthy side but
a lot of choices for vegetarians
a lot of choices for vegetarians
No vegan choices
Stressful, crowded, noisy, pretentious atmosphere
If you would like to read more about our experience at Cafe Presse, you can read my review on
Trip Advisor under HealthyGypsyTraveller.
Trip Advisor under HealthyGypsyTraveller.
Remember earlier I mentioned we came to E&O Kitchen our first night for dinner and they took down our name and cell phone because it was an hour wait and, yes, we are still waiting for the call! I was really disappointed because I was really looking forward to trying this place, so the following afternoon we stopped by for lunch. It was a Saturday mid-day and not very crowded at all.. The atmosphere was dark and not too cheery in the daytime and we were seated in the back. We started with an order of WOOD ROASTED EDAMAME BEANS with Shiso fumi furikake and maldon salt (??), yeah, I wasn't sure what that meant either, but it was tasty, although a little burnt (gotta watch those carcinogenic burnt black toxins!).
There really wasn’t very many vegetarian options that looked appealing, so my friend and I decided to try a few small plates. My friend ordered the BUTTERNUT SQUASH DUMPLINGS with Thai red curry lemongrass sauce, and basil oil, which truly was a “small plate”, and I ordered the SHIITAKE MUSHROOM DUMPLINGS with Soy butter pan sauce. They were both yummy but each small plate, which is more appropriate for a starter, had 4 dumplings on it and cost $13.00.
|dumpling small plate|
OUR kids all ordered the PAD THAI, that came with white prawns, tofu, egg, bean sprouts, preserved radish, peanuts, roasted chilies, and lime. We asked for it without the prawns, which they accommodated, but still charged us the full $18.00 for the dish. WOW! I really never understand why vegetarian/vegan options are not cheaper, and often more expensive than the food with meat. Such as Starbucks charging extra for soy or almond milk but not for cows milk. $18.00 for noodles with prawns is understandable, but without the prawns it should have cost significantly less.The food was very tasty, but $120.00 later we walked out hungry. I would not come back here for lunch or dinner again, especially with the family, as it is not as veg friendly as I had hoped. I can’t imagine what it would cost if we ordered enough food until we were full! It may be a nice place to come for drinks and a small plate if out for the evening with friends.
314 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94108