My Person and I Say Goodbye to San Francisco with an Exquisite Meal at Bissap Baobab
Two weeks ago tonight, My Person and I spent our last night in San Francisco. He decided to take me out to Bissap Baobab, a West African restaurant that friends of mine in Denver had told me about. While he had been there before, we had never made it to the Mission to enjoy their cuisine together.
I'm incredibly thankful that our last evening in San Francisco included Bissap Baobab because it was quite the treat!
To start, the atmosphere was vibrant, but not at all overbearing. The music energized rather than exhausted me. I liked being able to relax and talk to My Person while enjoying the lively background.
Plus we didn't have to wait for a table. Granted, it was a Tuesday night around 5:30pm when we arrived, and we learned that that they were having open mic night later, so maybe those two factors contributed to the restaurant being less crowded. Whatever it was, I was glad for the pleasantly laid-back scene.
Don't get me wrong. I don't mind waiting for a table, but I do mind feeling like my meal must be rushed to get the next round of customers in.
And in San Francisco, eating out almost always felt hurried. There is this weird dynamic - like people know to talk while they wait for a table, so once they are seated, they just eat. Quickly. Because the wait staff will watch you, swoop in to clear your plates...sometimes even before you're done with that portion...and then flash a fake smile while they ask if you're ready for desert. Yeah, could I have some Tums?
There was none of that frantic vibe at Bissap Baobab. Everyone was incredibly friendly, especially our waitress. She made some delicious recommendations, which we took her up on, and our food was served quickly. But she never once made me feel like I had to eat faster. She'd just check on us to make sure we had everything we needed to enjoy our meal.
And the meal was exquisite!
Here are the pastelles filled with marinated beef and yucca fries with guacamole that we ordered first. We were in the mood for some comfort food and these carbs were delicious!
Even though moving works up quite the appetite, we did start to feel full pretty soon. Rather than ordering entrees, we decided to get one more appetizer - the Baobab Gambas. While the picture below may make it appear that I am hoarding the Gambas, I did split the prawns evenly with my Person. Jeez...I may be the oldest child, but I did have to share with my brother and sister!
The red curry was amazingly flavorful and the couscous and pita bread were more than enough food to soak up that curry! We actually took a decent portion home with us for a snack the next day.
And here is the real reason we wanted to make sure that we had room for desert...
Now, Bissap Baobab does have a chocolate desert, but My Person insisted that we should split the Banana Flambee. I'm not usually the person who foregoes chocolate, but I can happily report that this delicious dish was better than chocolate!
The bananas melted in my mouth. Every bite was sweet and savory and perfect! We left no bananas behind.
But all of these photos frustrate us. They don't do the food justice. The lighting in Bissap Baobab is eclectic and colorful, which makes for wonderful atmosphere, but tricky photography without professional lighting equipment. Please trust me. The presentation on every dish was beautiful.
While we were waiting for desert, the couple next to us left so I shot these pictures of this elephant chair. Everything in Bissau Baobab was vividly interesting. I want this chair in my living room!
Their website explains how the restaurant is named after the Baobab tree, which is the symbol of life, community, and culture in Africa. They pride themselves on treating their customers like family, and that is certainly how My Person and I felt.
Living in San Francisco for ten months was a mostly unpleasant experience for me, but spending our last evening in the city at Bissap Baobab was a choice that left me with at least one more small positive memory of our time there. Thank you Bissap Baobab for creating such an upbeat safe haven in a city detached from humanity.
If you're planning a visit to San Francisco, visiting Bissap Baobab and becoming part of their community is a must! And don't forget to order the Banana Flambee!