How I See San Francisco: Chef Ryan Scott
In 2007, Ryan Scott burst onto the national culinary scene as a contestant on Top Chef. He could have gone all Hollywood on us, but Ryan made the right decision to stay local and become one of the prominent faces of San Francisco’s culinary scene. Today, he is the chef and proprietor at Finn Town, a “tavern with a twist” located in the colorful Castro neighborhood. When he’s not cooking - on and off T.V. - you can find him, his wife and their two dogs, Pumpkin and Teddy, exploring the city. This is how he sees San Francisco.
Describe your perfect day in San Francisco.
Walk on Ocean Beach with my wife and dogs, take a long run in Golden Gate Park and soak up this city that I love so much. Depending on the mood of the day, grab a Bob's Donut on Polk Street, run to the Ferry Building for oysters at Hog Island, or go to the Mission for an authentic burrito at El Farlito or El Toro. Even better, if I’m able to enjoy some ice cream from my friends at Humphry Slocombe, then I know it’s truly my day. I will go for the Secret Breakfast, made with bourbon ice cream and cornflakes (yes, bourbon!) for breakfast any day.
What should every visitor to San Francisco do at least once?
Every visitor to San Francisco should check out the following:
- The Cliff House for popovers.
- The Legion of Honor, and have lunch at Pizzetta 211 in the Outer Richmond.
- The Palace of Fine Arts. A must-visit and the admission is free! Go see my friends Mike and John at Marina Deli, a great deli that has fine wine and is a favorite locals’ place to grab a BLT and then sit on the lawn at the Palace of Fine Arts.
- The Ferry Building. There’s great sightseeing and fresh, seasonal produce at the farmers' market. Walk a couple of piers down for brunch at Pier 23. Don't miss any seafood on their menu and the Bloody Mary’s a killer.
- Finally, come have a nightcap with me at Finn Town and see all the beautiful colors the Castro brings to this city.
What’s your favorite place to take a photo or read a book?
Favorite place to read a book is Green Apple Books on Sixth and Clement. Such a cute area of the Inner Richmond. This is one of the only places I know where you can go to an Irish bar, then go have Dim Sum across the street, then to the coolest bookstore. New or used, they have it all.
Where do you indulge your artistic side in San Francisco?
Concerts, concerts, concerts. If my buddies Train are at the Great American Music Hall, I’ll always make it a point to catch their show. The Warfield is another great venue to check out for live music, or the Edinburgh Castle or the Riptide are always fun for trivia night.
What’s your favorite event that happens in San Francisco?
Outside Lands Music Festival. Great food and great rock and roll combined.
Where and what would you choose for your last meal in San Francisco?
I’d like to start at Bix for a martini paired with their Potato Pillows with Creme Fraiche and American Sturgeon Caviar, then move on to the House of Prime Rib for the End Cut. The secret is to order the pink peppercorn horseradish sauce. You must ask for it because it’s not listed on the menu. Top it off with champagne and a soufflé at Gary Danko.
Which restaurant is still on your list to dine at in San Francisco?
There’s so many new spots that have opened over the past two years and being on the road for my new cookbook, One To Five, and opening Finn Town hasn’t left me a lot of time for checking them out. I’ve heard great things about Uma Casa.
Who do you follow to keep up with San Francisco news?
For food news, the San Francisco Chronicle is still a regular must read, one of the best in the country. For local food gossip, their online Inside Scoop can’t be beaten.
Any last final advice for travelers in San Francisco?
Visit the neighborhoods, like the Haight, the Mission and the Castro, not just the waterfront and downtown spots. They’re vibrant, friendly and full of great architecture, shops and creative, multi-ethnic restaurants that make San Francisco the best food city in the country.