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Jul 25, 2006 04:58 PM

Saturday late lunch between Petaluma and Oakland airport

Hello Bay Area hounds,

I’ve been lurking on your board recently, planning a trip next month to Sonoma County with my husband Antonius and our five year old son. (I lived in Berkeley for many years, but now live in Chicago.) The posts here have been invaluable, especially those by Melanie Wong on Sonoma and rworange’s compendia of markets. I was also impressed by the practical advice on traffic given to lparis for heading from SFO to Napa, and I would like to ask a comparable question if I may.

Though most of our time in Sonoma will be at the Sea Ranch (and thanks to you all I think I understand the somewhat limited chow options up there) the last night of the trip we’ll be in Petaluma. We’ll be driving on a Saturday from just south of Petaluma (McEvoy Ranch) to Oakland airport, leaving around 12:30 and we probably want to arrive at the airport around 4. In between we’ll need lunch. So my first question is, how much of that time interval are we likely to spend driving (from Petaluma to say, Berkeley, and then to Oakland airport)? The estimated times on mapquest seem insanely low.

Second, I’d welcome any comments on the quickness of service at the following places that seem like possible lunch stops for us: Hidden City Cafe in Point Richmond, Sea Salt, Ryowa in Berkeley.

Other ideas? I think the crowds and parking challenges of the gourmet ghetto would rule that part of Berkeley out for our purposes. (We’ll be having lunch at Chez Panisse on the day we arrive, anyway. Also the Cheeseboard will be on vacation then, sadly.) I think Fourth Street would also be too crazy on a Saturday but if you guys can suggest a relatively quick stop around there, I’d be eager to hear it.

Another idea I was considering is something in downtown Oakland/Oakland Chinatown, followed by a stop at Ratto’s to get sandwiches to take on the flight back. Any suggestions for that area would be great, too!

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide – and I promise to report back after the trip.


p.s. I must say I love the search capabilities of the new Chowhound!

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  1. First of all, driving times are off topic for the board and that post that the Chowhound Team edited is so much better and useful to future hounds since they took that stuff off. Sorry we caused them the extra work. Please feel free to email me off the board with your question about time. My email is on my 'My Chow' page at the end of the top five restaurants. BTW, maquest seems right about Saturday.

    Ok, onto the food ... flattery gets you everywhere ...

    SKIP ... I mean SKIP Ratto's. The better deal would be to drive down Telegraph avenue and pick up sandwiches at Bakesale Bettys. We are talking top class here with some top baked goods ... get the lamingtons. There is also a better Italian deli in the Walgreens plaza across the street from Bakesale Betty's.

    Both Hidden City and Sea Salt are pretty quick. A reminder that Sea Salt has free parking in back on the week-end. Of the two, I'd go for Sea Salt and I think it might be quicker.

    If you do go to Sea Salt, you can follow San Pablo Avenue down to Oakland. While Cheeseboard is closed, Arimundi, one of their bakeries is open. You can get the pizza everyone talks about or their wonderful cheddar cheese buns ... no actual cheese though, just baked goods ... however, if in Sonoma, The Cheesemakers Daughter might give you a small fix.

    Gee, it's too bad you couldn't leave early in the morning and make the Saturday Farmers Market at Ferry Plaza, it's about over at 1 pm. It would give you everything you need, great breakfast and things to eat on the plane.

    The other thing to consider might be stopping by Cafe Fanny on San Pablo for sandwiches. Next door is Acme bread and you could bring some of that home. I recently did a back to back comparison with another top baker in the area and Acme just shined ... it is ... well, the Acme.

    Both Cafe Fanny and Acme have lines going out the door and up the street on Saturday, but it isn't all THAT long, and in Acme's case, so worth it.

    15 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      The deli in the plaza across from Bakesale Betty's is Genova, a real Italian deli that started nearby in 1926 and an Oakland institution (in a good way). It would be a great place to stock up with food for the flight.

      I really like Hidden City in Pt. Richmond that was mentioned, and it's right off 580 as you leave the San Rafael-Richmond bridge.

      Hidden City Café (Chez Panise alumni owner)
      109 Park Place
      Point Richmond
      Closed Monday
      Tue-Fri: Breakfast 7:30-11:15 a.m. Lunch 11:30a.m.-2:30 p.m.
      Sat-Sun: Brunch 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

      1. re: Mick Ruthven

        No need to schlep that far from Hwy. 80 to find a deli. There are two great ones on Solano Ave. in Albany: Zand (Persian) and Zarri's (Italian).

        1. re: Mick Ruthven

          The only issue with Genova is the place is packed on Saturday and the wait for a sandwich can be a little long so keep in mind its not a dash in and out.

        2. re: rworange

          Hi rworange,

          first of all, let me apologize for posing an inappropriate question in the original query -- I hadn't realized that the other thread had been pruned since I viewed it yesterday, but it's understandable that the moderators would object. Sorry.

          Second, thanks a LOT for the heads up on the current state of Ratto's and the alternate suggestion of Bakesale Betty's, which sounds great. And also the info on the Cheeseboard sibling (Arizmendi?), which will be a great consolation!

          With recommendations from both you and Robert Lauriston, I'm definitely leaning toward Sea Salt, thanks.

          And thanks too for the reminder of the tempting Ferry Plaza farmers' market... hmm. The main point of this trip is a getaway to the coast, but a secondary theme is olive oil sampling, and the McEvoy Ranch is only open on certain Saturday mornings. But perhaps by then we'll have had enough in the oil department and just swing through SF in the morning, instead.

          In any event, I'll report back on what we do.

          thanks again,

          1. re: Amata

            >a secondary theme is olive oil sampling<

            Do you know of the Olive Press in Glen Ellen, a few miles north of Sonoma? It's a coop press where you can sample (and buy) the oil from their member growers in the shop in front of the press. If you're there, a very good lunch is available in the same building at Olive & Vine, a catering company with a storefront cafe.

            1. re: Mick Ruthven

              Hi Mick,

              yes, we do know about The Olive Press and definitely plan to stop there, also Davero at Plaza Farms in Healdsburg and possibly B.R. Cohn in Glen Ellen, all on the day we head from Sea Ranch to Petaluma. I was thinking of Bovolo as a lunch possibility but if we are already in Glen Ellen by lunchtime then the cafe at Olive and Vine sounds like a good bet, thanks.

              p.s. I should say that these tastings will be interspersed with park visits so that our poor five year old doesn't get hopelessly bored!

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Hey, that's great to know! Thanks for the tip.

                By the way, I saw somewhere that Bariani olive oil is available at the Berkeley Farmers Market -- are they also at Ferry Plaza, do you know?

                1. re: Amata

                  Reporting back will be wonderful. Love to hear what you select.

                  FYI, McEvoy Ranch has a store at the Ferry building.


                  Last time I was there, they had sampling. There is another olive oil vendor at the Ferry Plaza Market too. HOWEVER, my favorite olive oil vendor is at the Saturday Farmers market ... Sciabica & Sons ... No sampling but they have these little sampler packs with about seven oils. I'd suggest both the plain and the flavored. The flavored oils use true flavors and are equisite. Also, a larger bottle of one of their unfiltered oils is great.


                  If you do go to the market, and I REALLY hope you do ... a loaf of Acme and some Andante cheese ... heaven on the trip home.

                  Downtown Bakery has some wonderful baked goods at the market and with a nice cup of Blue Bottle coffee, that's one nice breakfast.

                  Also, there is SO much sampling of fruits that that alone is breakfast ... and free ... and these are the tops in their class ... oh, check out June Taylor's jams ... she has the only true bing cherry jam I have ever tried.

                  There is an Arizundi in the city too, but no competition with Acme.

                  Not to be TOO pushy about the market, but you wouldn't have to worry about rushing to the plane. If you get there 9-10-ish, by the time the market ends at 1, you still have a few hours to kill ... coffee in North Beach? ... where you can pick up some great truffles at XOX.

                  Yeah, I was more talking to other hounds about driving directions than you. We try to be helpful and sometimes lose focus about what the board is about. It was just a reminder up front.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Thanks again, rworange. You make a powerful case for the market! (Now, could we get to Fish in Sausalito for lunch and THEN to the airport? :-) Okay, maybe not... )

                    1. re: Amata

                      Trust me. If you go to Ferry Plaza you won't need lunch ... and the view from the ferry building is prettier. There is a ferry next to the Ferry building that goes to Sausalito, so after the market you could always hop the ferry and take a cab ride to Fish. I'd watch those Saturday ferry schedules though time-wise.

                  2. re: Amata

                    Visiting McEvoy's olive grove is a whole different experience than tasting the oil at a food stand.

                    Sciabica produced Ratto's house brand olive oil for 30+ years, don't know if it still does.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      <Visiting McEvoy's olive grove is a whole different experience than tasting the oil at a food stand.>

                      That's a good point, Melanie, and thanks for the reminder of the appeal of visiting McEvoy Ranch itself. (It's easy to get carried away with trip planning and try to pack too much into a single visit!)

                      Thanks to all for the good ideas!

                2. Sea Salt is great. Quiet in the middle of the afternoon, one of the nicest places in Berkeley for a late lunch.

                  You'll have plenty of time. Chez Panisse Cafe would be doable.

                  1. Two other suggestions without any mention of traffic.

                    Sol Food in San Rafael is easy off/on to highway and is quick and good. Its small but offers outdoor seating. The cubano sandwich, pollo al horno, and special of the day are worth trying.

                    Another is 900 Grayson in Berkeley.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Scott M

                      Wow, thanks to everyone so far for the great suggestions. You guys are fantastic.

                      Scott, thanks especially for identifying a possibility in San Rafael -- I don't know anything about Marin options and it's great to have something in mind in case we're too hungry to wait till the East Bay.

                    2. Bakesale Betty would be great for airplane food since her fried chicken sandwich doesn't appear to use mayo (I believe her coleslaw is more oil-based). Also, if you want to avoid mayo on a sandwich, bahn mi might be the way to go. I know that rworange and others have posted on some good places in the East Bay.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Cindy

                        It's correct that the slaw uses olive oil rather than mayo. Same story with her killer egg salad. At the same time, I would not do Betty's for plane food, at least not her sandwiches. The olive oil tends to soak the bread after a bit, and the sandwiches tend to "shed." I love me some Betty's, but I like to eat her sandwiches where I have easy access to lots of napkins and a trash can. If you do opt for Betty's, I'd suggest asking them to go light on the slaw. You might even ask them to put the chicken and slaw in a plastic box and give you the roll separately so you can assemble the sandwich when you are about to eat it. This should improve your odds to avoiding spending the flight covered in tasty veg. Of course my real recommendation is to eat that puppy right away. It's best when the chicken is still a bit warm, playing against the cool slaw. Then get some pie or cookies (esp. the ginger) for the flight. Or, if you can keep it cool-ish, strawberry shortcake.