Johanna’s Great 3Q City Tour: San Francisco
Published: April 8, 2016
Author: Johanna Renfro
As a child, I grew up believing I would become a dolphin trainer with a small farm of miniature animals at home. When I grew up, I went to college to study business and became a search marketer who lives in San Diego. I wish I could see my interview at the 3Q San Diego office to watch my overenthusiasm to learn things like the dress code consisted of yoga pants and running shoes, the office was stocked with food and wine, we were allowed to work from home (WFH) twice a week, and the best thing of all – it was a pet-friendly office!
Over the last year and a half I have grown to consider 3Q a second home, and my San Diego office mates to be family. We have worked to maintain a strong culture while doubling in size over the last year! In that time, I found myself often wondering what it is like out there in the rest of 3Q Digital World. Offices are growing and moving into new spaces, and we are expanding into new cities. I have teammates that I email hourly, but have never met in person. These people have pulled remote all-nighters with me finishing client deliverables, know about the new trick I taught my dog over the weekend, and have a daily positive impact on my life. The weird thing is I could not identify them in a lineup because I have zero clue what they look like besides their Slack picture. This year I am taking a few months to experience the rest of our 3Q offices, and I started in our motherland: San Francisco.
I drove from San Diego to San Francisco with my fiancé and our dog, Charlie. For accommodations, I chose a dog-friendly Airbnb that had a great view of the city and was a few blocks away from the downtown 3Q office. This was a great option for our month in the city as the building had a gym, pool, and office space and was a quick walk to work. Our Airbnb hosts were great resources for local food and activity recommendations and quickly became our good friends!
The night we arrived, there was a firework show over the bay that started right as we walked onto the apartment balcony. Our Airbnb host joked that he had set it up for us, but really it was for Super Bowl 50, which was that upcoming Sunday. The entire city was jam-packed with humans and cars trying to get around and see the sights. We braved the crowds at Super Bowl City the next day and visited Gott’s Roadside Cafe, the site of the Puppy Bowl!
While the city was getting ready for the Super Bowl, Charlie and I were getting ready for our first day of work at the new 3Q SF office! I have come to San Francisco several times for work, but this was my first time at the new space. The new office is so cool! It has an industrial vibe with concrete walls, an exposed roof, an inviting open concept kitchen, and beautiful glass conference rooms. My favorite conference room was the Kennel Club, which has live plants to keep you company during meetings.
Charlie made himself at home right away, making all sorts of new friends and exploring the office! He worked extra hard at being cute in hopes that his idol, Jay Stampfl, would scratch his belly.
The San Francisco office has really absorbed the culture of the city. There is constant action and movement as people come and go throughout the day. Some of them are from the nearby Oakland and San Mateo offices, and others are visiting from out of town like myself. During my time there I never saw the same mix of people in the office, which kept the atmosphere fresh and stimulating. I saw our various teams working together, literally on the walls. In San Diego we have whiteboards, but they are in conference rooms and infrequently used. In San Francisco, there are whiteboards outside of conference rooms and people use them regularly. As I walked through the office, I saw project collaboration and creative brainstorming in action!
As an added bonus to meeting my coworker besties for the first time in person, I also made lots of new friends thanks to the best networking tool ever: Charlie! After a week of coming into the office I started hearing comments like, “Oh, you are Charlie’s mom!”, as people connected the dots about the random golden dog running around the office and napping under their decks.
Part of my mission during this visit was to try all the great lunch spots around the new office. One of my favorites was The American Grilled Cheese, which is located dangerously close to the office for a grilled cheese and tomato soup enthusiast like myself. They had a board of ‘cheesy puns’ that I found more entertaining than I probably should have.
Picnic on Third was debatably my favorite spot. They have a new menu daily. Every menu is announced on their blog and is inspired by a different flavor, such as Your Thai Mother-In-Law, Tex Mex, Slow Cooking in Austin, and Road Trippin’ in California. It was a struggle to not eat here every day, and I still check their daily menu to torture myself.
I wanted to find San Francisco equivalents of my two favorite San Diego eats: tacos and acai bowls. For tacos, I wandered a few blocks to Mexico Au Parc. There was a line when I got there, which is always a good sign. I ordered the tamales combination plate and a chicken taco (we can pretend I only ordered this much for research purposes). The tamales were so-so, but the chicken taco was full of flavor and overflowing with fresh guacamole. I try to eat meat infrequently, and while I did enjoy the chicken taco, this place had lots of vegetarian-friendly options that I am eager to try. Charlie and I both give a stamp of approval!
The acai bowl was a little harder to find as it is not yet a breakfast staple in the city like it is in San Diego. My San Francisco foodies did not have much to suggest when I asked around, so I turned to a popular search engine and found an acai food truck called Bowl’d Acai via an organic listing on my mobile device.
Their mobile site was user-friendly, but unfortunately I was unable to go because their hours didn’t match my work schedule. I followed them on Instagram for updates, and ended up going for an early breakfast before work two weeks after my day of click (I know you were all wondering). I ordered their most popular, the Original Gangster, as well as These Nuts which is similar to the original but has peanut butter, hemp seed, sliced almond, bee pollen, and honey. Everything was fresh and not overly sweet. The peanut butter addition was extra delicious! I would recommend it to any acai fan.
While visiting San Francisco, we used the weekends to explore and eat our way through the city. For a little adventure away from the Super Bowl madness, we drove out of the city to hike Muir Woods.
The weather was perfect the entire month we were in San Francisco with lots of sunshine and very little rain. Charlie and I went for a long walk along the bay to soak up the sun while sightseeing.
We also ventured out to Ocean Beach and hiked along Land’s End Trail to see the Golden Gate Bridge.
Favorite weekend food spots included Drakes Dealership, Bio French Organic Café, The Little Chihuahua, Ike’s Place, Plow, Tacolicious, Zero Zero, and Garaje. Drakes Dealership is a few blocks away from the Oakland office and is a converted auto-shop-turned-beer-garden. It’s a great dog-friendly lunch spot for sunny days. Bio is a small French café in Union Square that has beautiful sandwiches, salads, quiches, fresh baked goods, and gourmet homemade candies like dark chocolate-covered grapefruit. For any chai tea lovers, I recommend coming here for a chai latte as it was loaded with natural spices and flavor.
Ike’s is where we ate after our long hike at Land’s End. I would say that these sandwiches are too big for one person to finish, but I proved my own theory wrong that day. Ike’s is an essential eat while in San Francisco that can please meat lovers and vegans alike. Their menu is loaded with options for whatever you eat and has rotating sandwiches. When we visited they were appropriately serving “The Peyton Manning” and “The Panther”.
Despite multiple warnings that we would wait in line for hours, we chose Plow for our last Sunday brunch in the city. On the way there our Uber driver commented how, “San Francisco people are not happy unless they are waiting in lines.” This turned out to be accurate as we waited over two hours for our table. To avoid eating each other (I recommend bringing snacks), my fiancé and I took a quick Uber over to Dolores Park, which is a 10-minute drive away. We met up with friends and had a great time people-watching and taking in the beautiful city views.
Even if the weather had been bad that day, the area around Plow is full of adorable little shops that can provide a distraction from starvation. We had a game plan for what we wanted to eat, and as we were seated put in an order for The Plow (choice of meat, two ricotta pancakes, and their signature Plow potatoes), a chia seed pudding, and eggs benedict with spinach and mushrooms. Our food arrived quickly, and everything was spectacular. Their ingredients are all from local farms and you can really taste the quality in every bite. The chia pudding was covered in tasty toppings, the pancakes were moist and had just the right amount of lemon, and the eggs benedict was covered in the most perfect hollandaise sauce. It sounds crazy, but I would wait another two hours for it!
After a month I got into the groove of San Francisco living and was very sad to leave my 3Q Digital San Francisco family. We had an office happy hour complete with parking lot corn hole for our last goodbye! I am grateful for the hospitality of the San Francisco office, and have grown as a 3Q employee after spending time working amongst the incredible minds it houses.
Next stop: 3Q Digital Chicago!