Tuesday was my last day in San Francisco, but I was flying out on a red eye close to 1 AM (technically on Wednesday), so I had most of the day to take advantage of. My first main plan of the day was meeting up with a friend from Miami (who now lives in San Francisco) around lunchtime near his work in Rincon Hill. Back when I first made plans with him I thought about a couple places we could go for lunch, if he didn’t have any suggestions. One was Mariposa Baking Company, which is a gluten-free bakery in the Embarcadero Building not too far away from his work. I had been to their Oakland location this trip (twice!) when I was in the East Bay, so it became less urgent to visit the Embarcadero location. American Grilled Cheese Kitchen was another option in the area. I had this on my list anyways because they have gluten-free bread and I love grilled cheese (who doesn’t love bread and cheese?). Sandwich places do have a higher risk of cross-contamination, but the many flavors and options led me to lean towards considering a visit and asking them to be extra vigilant.
That morning I woke up and checked out of my hotel and began wandering in my friend’s direction. I was pretty hungry and didn’t think I would be able to make it until lunch though. I did a quick Yelp search for breakfast places and then gluten-free places. Creperie St. Germain popped up not too far from my hotel. I’m pretty sure I saw the Creperie before in my research, but it hadn’t caught my attention enough to put it on my list (can’t remember why). This time though I thought it could be a solid breakfast place and they advertised their gluten-free crepes pretty prominently, so I decided to check it out. When I made the decision I was more intrigued (and hungry) than “dying” to check it out like some other gluten-free places, but I’m really glad I stumbled across it.
The Creperie is inside the 555 California Building (formerly world headquarters of Bank of America). The covered side entrance to a row of shops is on California Street, but slightly east of the major steps and main entrance to the building. The Creperie is one of the earlier shops when you walk in.
There are quite a number of crepe options for you to select (as well as sandwiches and salads). My experience with crepes are limited, so I spent a lot of time deciding. I’ve had a sweet “crepe” before at the Original Pancake House, but that was thicker like a pancake. I then had a savory breakfast crepe in St. Augustine that I really enjoyed a few months before. That time I had forgone a super sweet crepe (with Nutella, bananas, etc.) for the savory breakfast one. I hadn’t regretted the decision, but I felt like maybe I should go for a sweet one this time. I went for the “Classic” crepe, which was Nutella, bananas, and strawberries. They asked if I wanted whip cream and powdered sugar on it and the answer was of course “yes.”
Even though I was meeting my friend later (potentially for lunch), there were a number of savory crepes that also caught my attention. I decided to also go for the braised beef savory crepe, which comes with avocado, fried garlic, jalapeño, tomato, green Onions, and Swiss cheese. I was on “vacation” after all. Probably way too much food, but they had to-go containers, so I could always carry one for later.
The Creperie is pretty much all taken up by the counter and prep area and all of it is visible. It was cool to watch them make the crepes. You see how delicate and thin the crepe is and I was impressed that it didn’t burn super easily or fall apart (while they were making it or while I was eating it). The crepe I had in St. Augustine was served on a plate and one you would eat with a fork. I was excited these were more “handheld.”
I took my crepes to-go (there really isn’t anywhere to sit next to the Creperie, but there might be more of a seating area further down the walkway) and ate them out on the steps. I started with the Classic, since that seemed more breakfast like. My last experience with crepes in St. Augustine, I hadn’t regretted getting a savory breakfast crepe. However I was very happy to have a super sweet crepe this time. You really can never go wrong with the Classic either. The crepe itself was great. Super thin, crispy, and flaky. I liked that it was clear how thin the crepe was in each bite, but that overall it was solid (physically) and held everything in when wrapped up. I was a little worried gluten-free crepes would fall apart more easily and that was not the case here. Stuffed with bananas, strawberries, and Nutella and smothered in whip cream and powdered sugar, it was all pretty incredible. Surprisingly I didn’t think it was overly rich (at least in that it didn’t make me sick). Maybe the fruit helped balance it out? I did just like that all the flavors came through and none really dominated the other. I couldn’t have this sweet of a crepe every morning for breakfast, but I definitely will consider the sweet crepes more often moving forward (even though I am a savory guy).
Since I had been pretty hungry, I wasn’t completely full from the Classic and started eating the braised beef crepe. I was expecting beef more like steak because of the braised name, but it turned out to be more like ground beef. It still was very delicious. All the flavors made it like taco-flavored and the crispyness of the shell was almost like I was experiencing something gluten-y at Taco Bell (though the flavors and quality were not Taco Bell-esque). I ended up finishing the whole thing there. The inside flavors were very solid, but I really liked the texture and taste of the crepe itself with the taco/savory fillings. It wasn’t completely groundbreaking from things that I’ve had before, but it was slightly new and unique.
I was stuffed at the end of eating both (not surprisingly), but I was very very happy that I coincidentally looked around for breakfast places and made the decision to visit Creperie St. Germain. It hadn’t been on my original list and this was one of my favorite meals from my trip. Any gluten-frees that haven’t had crepes before (as was the case for me until about three months before) should make it worth a stop when they are in the Financial District or close to the Embarcadero. Crepe fans (gluten-free or otherwise) I think would also enjoy a stop when they are in the area. I’ll be back when I am in San Francisco certainly to sample more of their flavors!
Creperie St. Germain- 555 California Street, San Francisco, CA (plus an express location at 2nd and Howard)