The Bay Area will always have a special place in my heart. Getting a degree from Stanford University was one of the biggest childhood dream of mine and I feel so blessed to have been able to check that off. I still remember telling my parents that I was gonna go there while we were visiting the campus when I was 5 years old with my cousins.
From the first time I visited the campus, I was enchanted by everything Stanford. It was the best 4 and half years of my life, making some of my most memorable memories there. Even though it was extremely hard to balance professional tour life and school, I would do it again in a heartbeat. The life lessons that I had learnt in those 4 years are invaluable to me.
Being a foodie, the Bay Area was also an amazing place to have some fun food adventures. There are so many amazing eats in NorCal, but there are still a couple of spots that I make sure I go to everytime I come back to the bay.
Here a few of my favorites:
When I was at Stanford, this was the go-to spot for weekend brunch. We would all be moving slowly from the night before, but we would make the 10 minute trek to Stacks just so we could have their breakfast. Their staff is always super chill and everything on their menu is legit. They recently just started having gluten free items on their menu and I was stoked to try it!
I ordered the banana pecan Gluten AND Dairy free waffle and they did not disappoint! The edges were crispy and they also had sugar free syrup if you asked nicely enough!
If you are more of a savory type of person, try any of the potato skillets and the corned beef hash plate.
photo from: menu.me
2. FRAICHE YOGURT
GUYS…this place makes me so happy. I definitely have moments when I’m in Florida and I would have severe cravings for this.
There was a Fraiche location on campus at Stanford and I would go so many times my friends used to make fun of me. I already have a frozen yogurt problem, but when this place had a non dairy flavor that wasn’t a sorbet, I was SOLD. Their non dairy flavor is a soy based organic yogurt and it’s creamy, but not too overwhelming. All of their organic yogurts are made in-house from scratch in their very own dairy plant using local California organic milk and probiotic-focused cultures, making it taste super ‘fraiche’ (no pun intende). Fraiche differentiates themselves from other places because they don’t make their frozen yogurt from pre-made mixes, but just like you would at home.
photo from: tinyprints.blog
At each location they have fresh and frozen yogurt and their toppings are what sets this place apart from other frozen yogurt joints. The chocolate shavings is one of my favorite toppings. They take a huge block of chocolate and they shave it off right onto your yogurt. They also have fresh fruit purees that are the perfect amount of sweet and fruity. My go to toppings are ollalaberry puree, mochi (homemade and not from a package), dried figs, and honey.
photo from: tinyprints.blog
3. IKE’S PLACE SANDWICHES
IKE’S was also on campus, but it was tucked away in the Engineering side of campus and because I was a Communication major, I never was on that side of campus, but I would go over just to eat these sandwiches. If you are dairy free and gluten free, this place is your heaven. They have sub style gluten free sandwich bread and vegan cheese that they can melt. But don’t worry…for you gluten and cheese loving people, they have that there too.
All the sandwiches are served warm and toasted. My go-to sandwhich is the Chase of Monte Cristo. It has turkey, ham, strawberry jam, and swiss cheese (I sub for vegan cheese). I ask for gluten free bread and add avocado on it. Each sanwich come with a variety of toppings and for an additional price, you can even add jalapeno poppers into your sandwich (non GF)
I just recently came across this ice cream sandwich store while I was in San Jose this past year for the Women’s US Open. With my gluten and dairy allergies, I have not been able to find an ice cream sandwich that I could eat in YEARS and when I saw all the gluten and dairy free options available, I went crazy! I got the vegan/GF oatmeal cookie and triple fudge cookie with dairy free soy vanilla in the middle. The Soy Vanilla was pretty creamy without a heavy soy flavor.
I also loved the process in which they make these sandwiches: first, they put the cookies in an oven to warm them up and then they take a huge scoop of ice cream and mold the cookie around the ice cream. The contrast of the hot and cold makes the cookie harden up and when you bite into these huge cookies, it is truly heaven sent! Needless to say, I went back a couple of times during my week in San Jose.
5. SOTTO MARE OYSTERIA AND SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
If you are a fan of Cioppino, then this spot is a MUST GO. Located in the heart of Little Italy in San Francisco, this small place gets super busy so make sure to reserve your table ahead of time. The Cioppino is the main attraction, but nothing on this menu is bad.
Photo by: menu.me
The Cioppino comes in quite a large bowl and is filled with different seafood, including clams, mussels, scallops, fish, crab, and shrimp coming from the local SF fish markets. None of it tasted fishy and the tomato based broth was perfectly seasoned, as it was full of flavor yet not overly salty. The seafood broth came with pasta but being gluten intolerant, I skipped the pasta and just ate the seafood and drank the broth. The Cioppino was so good we ended up ordering another bowl!