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4 Hour Stopover for Lunch in SF this Friday

I'm from Toronto and on a "last minute" trip to New Zealand, leaving the day after tomorrow - I just got my ticket and see that I have several hours' stopover in SF - allowing me to be in the city from about 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. before I will need to go back to the airport...perfect for a leisurely lunch and a bit of a stroll. I've never been to San Francisco so would appreciate if anyone could suggest somewhere interesting/tasty, particularly for seafood/crab or Californian cuisine, that wouldn't require a reservation (or have too fancy a dress code as we will be dressed quite casually given its a long way to NZ) and that would be easily accessible from the BART system coming from the airport.

Thank you, fellow chowhounds, for your help!

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  1. This will be Friday afternoon or Saturday afternoon? Different places are open.

    Zuni is open all day and midafternoon you can usually sit right down.

    Is your stopover eight hours? Because you'd probably want to allow four for BART, airport security, and customs.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      It will be Friday afternoon. My flight arrives at 11:40 and my connector is at 8 p.m. (and my luggage is checked right through so have no baggage to deal with either arriving or going). I clear US customs on the Toronto side so, once arriving in SF, I can head straight into the city. So I think my time estimates are pretty conservative...aiming to be heading back to the airport by 5, which should give me lots of time since I already will have my boarding card and no baggage.

      I've heard amazing things about Zuni -- just assumed I'd need a reservation for Friday lunch... which BART stop should I get off at, do you happen to know?

      Thanks Robert!

      1. re: gorge_ous

        A late lunch for one at Zuni should be no problem, I wouldn't expect to have to wait more than a few minutes.

        I'd say get off at the 16th St. station, walk past Mission Dolores on the way to Zuni, then after lunch take a vintage streetcar all the way down Market, visit the Ferry building (food lovers' paradise), and return from the Embarcadero station.

        http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          This sounds like a nice itinerary in theory, but keep in mind that 16th Street BART to Zuni is more than just a 'bit' of a stroll; more like three quarters of a mile, with some up and downhill I believe (?) and passes through not the greatest neighborhoods if that matters to you. If you don't feel like that much walking in sometimes somewhat gritty areas, consider Tadich Grill (a shorter walk from either Montgomery or Embarcadero BART Stations). Hog Island is a great recommendation also although be aware that their menu is fairly limited.

          And yes, I think Civic Center is a bit closer BART Station to Zuni than 16th Street, though it isn't that close. However, I do think it is all downhill from Civic Center to Zuni, though I am not positive.... The BART website can help you plan your trip and figure out distances:

          www.bart.gov

          1. re: susancinsf

            I think if the OP were to walk 16th up to Guerrero and check out Mission Dolores, then walk back on 16th to Valencia, then down to Zuni, that would be the "flattest" way to go. But I hesitate before ever having a visitor I don't know use the 16th/Mission BART station, no matter what time of day.

            1. re: Frosty Melon

              Mission Dolores is on Dolores, not Guerrero.

        2. re: gorge_ous

          Here's a post from a Torontan who went out to the Beach Chalet during his stopover on the way to NZ, musta been the same schedule.
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/30362...
          That's just an FYI though, not something I'd recommend on public transportation, as it sounds like he had a lift from his friends.

      2. I love Zuni, but it's a bit of a walk from a BART station for someone needing to get back to a flight. My recommendation would be the Ferry Building. It's a block from the BART station, the weather should be lovely, and you can probably get a table at either Slanted Door or Hog Island at that time easily. Afterwards you can walk around the building both outside and inside, and see the view and the shops inside. If you want to spend a bit more money you can go across the street to Boulevard (though I'm not sure what time they close for lunch, you can probably check that on their website) and get a seat at the bar.

        7 Replies
        1. re: JasmineG

          Thanks Jasmine - those sound like great ideas too - I will definitely check out the websites! In checking the location, it looks like the nearest BART stop is the Civic Center stop - is that correct? Thanks again for being such a great help! Glad to hear the weather is supposed to be lovely -- haven't had a chance to check that yet. Its bloody cold here in Toronto....brrrr....

          1. re: JasmineG

            They could just hop on Muni Metro at Civic Center and get off on Van Ness?, leaving a short walk to Zuni. I recently walked from that stop to Miette Confiserie in Hayes Valley (passing Zuni) and it was easier than I thought it would be.

            1. re: chocolatetartguy

              Or hop on the F and alight directly in front of Zuni.

            2. re: JasmineG

              My vote is also for the Ferry Building and the Emabarcadero in general. You can take BART directly there and back. Walk along the waterfront, check out the Claes Oldenburg's Cupid's Span, the views of bay and bridges, lots of shops in the Ferry Building, and GOOD FOOD AND DRINK!

            3. If the weather's nice, I would get out at 16th and Mission and go to either Bar Tartine, Pizzeria Delfina, or Ti Couz for lunch (Bar Tartine closes around 2, but the other two are open all afternoon)... then Bi-Rite for ice cream... then take advantage of the fact that lines are going to be as short as they're going to get at at Tartine, and buy a bunch of things to snack on for the plane!

              The Ferry Building is great, but it's still essentially an indoor food mall. I'd go there if it's raining, but I can't imagine a more blissful layover in SF than wandering and noshing in the Mission. And off-peak hours at Tartine! You have to take advantage of that!

              1. What I would do if I was in your situation is to take BART from the airport to Powell Street and walk past union square to Farallon. It's an unbelievable room, food is fantastic and memorable, and you can spend whatever free time you have hanging around union square or going into shops

                1. You have not asked and others have not addressed this. But since you are checked through and already have your boarding pass, you can have an early dinner in the city. You may also want to stop on your way back to the ariport at the Millbrae BART (subway and elevated train) station. There are several options for good Asian food there. Across the station on El Camino Real are a couple of very good Chinese: Fook Yuen and Hong Kong Flower Lounge. Also there is a Vietnamese place called Le Petite Camille. Then hop back onto BART for a very short ride back to the airport.