We planned to have a quick bite at the cafe before spending the afternoon at the California Academy of Sciences, an aquarium/science museum in Golden Gate Park.  But when we walked in we knew right away that we would be spending at least as much time in the cafe as in the museum.

Freshly prepared fast food from many cuisines.  It’s San Francisco on a plastic tray.  We had tofu and cauliflower curry with brown rice, an hierloom tomato salad, barbecued ribs, carnitas tacos, Pho, steamed pork buns, and blackberry agua fresca.  This fed 7 of us and cost about 70 bucks.  With more time we could have doubled that.

The stalls are organized by cooking style rather than cuisine.  “Steamed,” “Slow-Cooked,” etc.  Many of the stalls have cooks stationed behind who will prepare the food on the spot.  Here’s the guy making the tomato salad:

Be careful to skip the first cafe you see from the entrance to the building.  It’s inviting because it has terrace seating but your resistance is rewarded.  There is a sit-down restaurant downstairs which will be our dinner destination the next time we come (without kids.)

The museum?  Brilliant.  It has a rain forest.  The aquarium dominates Chicago’s Shedd despite being only 1/8 of the size.  We spent 3 hours there and didn’t even make it to the planetarium.  Next time.