Need a day trip that involves GREAT food
Ok- so I'm leaving California for the east coast in a couple weeks. I have a few free days before I leave, and want to take a little day trip that gives me great scenery, terrific food I can't get anywhere else (maybe local crab?) and a general great memory.
Swans in SF for Crab
Head up North and yes go to Manka's
A few ways to go, if head up through the Marin headlands towards Stinson Beach, stop into the Pelican Inn. Or take Sir Francis Drake Drive all the way in to Invernese.
Go to Pointe Reyes Station-
I love the Pine Cone Diner
Continue up hwy 1 towards Marshall- Stop at Tony's Seafood
Wild Flour Brick Oven French Bread Bakery, next to
Osmosis (day spa famous for the Japanese Cedar Enzyme Bath)
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant -Forestville
For a little less driving too, you could do a day in Sonoma. The town square and immediate area has many great places:
Basque Boulangerie Cafe for pastries and coffee
Artisan Bakery for the same
Girl and the Fig for a nosh at the bar or full sit down meal
La Haye for a more upscale dinner
Vella Cheese to try samples see where it's made
The Patch (across street from Vella) fresh fruit/veggie stand
And then of course all the wineries. Not to mention a ton of other good food recos within walking distance or a short drive.
Try Cyrus Restaurant in Healdsburg. The town is quaint (also a terrific bakery on the square - early birds get the good bread, warm). While you can order ala carte, there are several tasting menu options. The owners/managers are former Danko people, with a more welcoming the atmosphere and more gracious service. It is worth the drive; your taste buds will thank you.
If it is a day of culinary exploration, here is another suggestion that won't break the bank:
Breakfast: local SF - Rose's (Cow Hollow) @Union & Steiner, or drive up to Yountville to Gordon's (on Washington St.). Their weekend-only pastries are heavenly, and the quiches are seasonal and savory.
Lunch: After a winery visit drive north to St. Helena for lunch at Cook. Jude Wilmoth (chef/owner) prepares seasonal cuisine while retaining favourites of his regular patrons. The wine list is modest and affordable, with local and international offerings. If it's cold and he is offering his braised short ribs, don't pass them up
Dinner: Driving back to the city? If sushi and other pan-Asian cuisine with a fresh Bay Area touch sounds good, try Sushi-Ran in Sausalito. The fish is fresh, and the toro some of the best I've had in the area.
If food is more important than scenery and you want to explore, go to Berekely and check out Shattuck Av. Park around the 1500 block and walk around to explore all the different culinary treats. This area is home to Chez Panisse and the surrounding businesses feature an array of delights.
Not that you can't get scenery too. Not far from here you can explore the Berekely shoreline and marina for wonderful views of the bay with SF and GG bridge in the distance.
The OP did say DAY trip. Some of these itineraries, while great, involve a lot of driving. I'd go to Point Reyes Station and get food for a picnic on the beach. Then maybe Manka's for dinner.
Another idea is to drive up to Sonoma for lunch, go up to Glen Ellen, over the mountain and down into Napa Valley. The drive isn't bad at all and very scenic. You end up near St Helena and can poke around wineries and have a nice dinner there or in Yountville. That way there's no doubling back.
I don't know if you've done your trip yet, but I wanted to second the recommendation of Manka's. I stayed there for three nights in October and it was fantastic all the way around, both accommodations and food. For a day trip, go to Point Reyes Light and then have dinner at Manka's.
another alternative is a drive down route 1 to beaches between here and Santa Cruz. There's a yummy old Taqueria in Santa Cruz just east of the entrance to the northern pier at that end of the board walk, on a funny island in the road. Sorry I can't remember the name - but it's easy to find. Very good carnitas and al pastor tacos when i was last there.
On the way home, stop at Duartes in Pescadero. This place is a classic - and one of the older restaurants in NoCal. They specialize in a few things - fresh seafood (deep fried smelts in season are heavenly), artichoke soup (you can get a bowl that is half artichoke and half green chile), and pies. The ambience is lame in the newer part of the restaurant, so eat in the bar area to get the feel of what the place used to be like.
If you are tired of the Sonoma and Napa Valley wineries but still want wine country atmosphere, check out the mom & pop wineries in Livermore, and eat dinner at Wente Restaurant.