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lunch between SFO and Napa

I need a reasonable place for lunch en route from SFO to St. Helena--Closer to SFO would be better

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  1. In-N-Out in Mill Valley (Tiburon Blvd. exit) qualifies as reasonable (price and quality) in my book ... further description of what you mean by "reasonable" would be helpful.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rainmarin

      Also which routing, over the Golden Gate or Bay Bridge?

    2. Bay Bridge to CA 37 ,then CA 29 North (at least that's what mapquest says

      1. If you like Middle Eastern, there is a small (very small as of five years ago when I lived there), but excellent place just off of 101 in SF (which is on your route), called Truly Mediterranean. I'm sure it's been discussed on this board.

        Truly Mediterranean
        3109 16th St. San Francisco, CA 94103
        (at Valencia St.)

        1. OK, given the Bay Bridge route, I'd get over the Bay Bridge to get that out of the way and then consider lunch in Berkeley which has some outstanding restaurants ... what type of food are you in the mood for and what day of the week? Some places are closed Monday or have odd schedules or are mobbed on certain days of the week.

          Taking the University or Gillman exits can put you right at the doorstep of some great restaurants, so what is your interest food-wise and what type of atmosphere?

          1. I would go to Hong Kong Flower Lounge for dim sum. Its one of my favorite dim sum places in the Bay Area and it doesn't get much closer to SFO

            51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, California 94030

            1. Good day o the week. Yeah, eat AFTER crossing the bridge. Around 3:30 it can start to get backed, though usually not horrid until 5.

              People might hate me for this, but I'd say take the Gillman Exit and go to T-Rex. They have a great burger, they are open all afternoon, the parking is SUPER easy and are starting to hit their stride for the rest of their menu items.


              It is JUST before San Pablo Avenue. You will see a Walgreens across the street.

              San Pablo at Gilman will also take you to Cafe Fanny which is Alice Waters breakfast/lunch spot. Nice sandwiches, not so much for ambiance ... the only thing to skip is the ice cream ... really, skip the ice cream. Next door is Acme Bread which is the Bay Area's top bread shop.

              The other option off of Gillman is to take a right on Fourth Street where there are some good places like Betty's Ocean View, Cafe Rouge and Tacubaya. Plenty of parking.

              Sketch Ice Cream is also on that block and highly reccommended.


              1. I agree 100%. I recently returned from Dallas on a Friday and landed at OAK airport around 2:00 pm and the traffic was horrible heading north through Berkeley.

                I just don't see you being able to avoid traffic. If you hold off eating until you are north part of Berkeley it might be going on 3:30-4:00 before you eat.

                You might consider getting off 101 as you are heading towards the Bay Bridge and just hit La Taqueria in the Mission.
                POTRERO AVENUE exit off 101 turns into CESAR CHAVEZ, turn right on MISSION ST: 2889 MISSION ST

                1 Reply
                1. re: Scott M

                  Bad time to be driving. 101 will be backed up through Marin County too. The important part is to get over the Bay Bridge as early as possible, so I would recommend against stopping in the Mission and keep going to the East Bay.

                  Cafe Fanny closes at 3pm.
                  If you can get there before closing, I'd get a couple sandwiches and desserts (not the ice cream!) to go and eat it in the car to stay ahead of traffic. Or Vik's for chaat to go. Better to get to your lodgings in the Valley to chill out before dinner then nto spend it steaming on the highway wondering if you'll ever get to Napa.

                2. If you wanna' get over the two bridges and beat the traffic and get most of the way to Napa, you could stop at Parry's in American Canyon. Nothing fancy - NY-style pizza by the (big) slice, stromboli, grinders and basic pasta dishes - but it is tasty and you'd be pretty much on Hwy 29 already with just a 15 or so minute drive into Napa from there.

                  Just look for the big yellow barn on the right as you head north on Hwy 29 and reach American Canyon Road.

                  1. Vik's House of Chaat is four blocks from the University Avenue Berkeley exit.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Of all the posts I've read so far, I second this recommendation.

                    2. I would grab a light snack at the airport Starbucks and then go straight to Dean and Delucca in St.Helena for a great sandwich that you can take to a near by winery and sit outside and enjoy a good sandwich and a cab.

                      1. If you want someplace faster than a sit-down restaurant, you might want to check out Darby Dan's. Its just north of the airport and the thing to get on Friday's is the 1/2 and 1/2 (half shrimp salad & half crab salad sandwich).

                        This place is a favorite "to the airport" stop for many a hound 'cause their sandwiches make great airport / airplane food.

                        If you do a search for "Darby Dan" or "South San Francisco", you'll find numerous posts on DD & other SSF lunch favorites.

                        Darby Dan Sandwich Co. [Peninsula]
                        733 North Airport Blvd
                        South San Francisco

                        1. I agree with others that it's best to get across the Bay Bridge ASAP and avoid potentially dreadful traffic. Definitely grab lunch in Berkeley, but I'd make it a quick stop because you want to right get back on the road because both Richmond and Vallejo bridge traffic builds up early.

                          4th St is ideal because it's right off the freeway. Just take the University Ave exit, veer right on the fork on the exit (there's a sign that says 4th st) and you're there. For fast, good food to-go you could get a house made mortadella sandwich at the Cafe Rouge butcher counter ($5, in the back of the restaurant) or a bento box at O Chame ($17, open until 3, call ahead because they sell out.) Grab a cookie Sketch Ice Cream and you'll be back on the road with delicious chow after just a 10 minute detour.

                          1. I'm surprised that haven't moved this discussion to the new TRAFFIC board. I'd go to House of Soul in Vallejo for real (cast iron pan)fried chicken. Google it, but it is the Georgia Street exit off Hwy 80.

                            1. Take BART from SFO, get off at Embarcadero Station and walk about two blocks down to the Ferry Building. Feast on some oysters at Hog Island, and maybe a taco or Albodingas soup at Mijita. Then stop in at Acme for some bread, Cowgirl creamery for some cheese, and the wine store for a bottle of vino. Pack that up, and eat it while you take the Baylink ferry to Vallejo, and head up to Napa from there. There's an enterprise rent a car outlet not too far from the Vallejo ferry terminal, and others nearby as well. Ferry takes an hour ... no matter how much traffic there is through Berkeley.