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I'm gonna be staying in Sonoma County for a week on vacation with my girlfriend. All I know the area has is great wine, the French Laundry, some great restaurants (Chez Panisse, Gary Danko) and authentic Vietnamese in San Fran. I spend whatever money I have on dining, which in this case would be a max. of two Danko, Panisse ($110 a personish) meals or one French Laundry meal at the upper end. That being said, I would also like to have a dining experience each day (prix fixe lunch, whatever) that will give me something I can't get in Charlottesville, VA. I should have access to a car, and am also open to any vineyard suggestions/dining/culinary excursions that you can come up with.

An overview of the area's restaurant districts, cusine types, favorite restaurants, price points, budget meals, ANYTHING about the area's culinary scene would be helpful to me. This is a once in a lifetime experience and I want to taste as much of the Bay Area's kickass food as I can.

Thanks everyone,


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  1. There is quite a bit of high end stuff as you know, and there is some good inexpensive ethnic. We have a high concentration of Indian restaurants, also Viet and different varieties of Chinese, if you've never eaten dim sum you must correct that oversight. Basically any east Asian country has put some example of its cuisine here. Also Lao, Cambodian, and don't forget the seafood, Dungeness crab & the oyster farms up in Tomales Bay, gorgeous country. Wine country is gorgeous as you will discover. You will find some good examples of Mexican and Central American chow and can eat iguana soup if you like, it's pretty good. Be warned, NorCal burritos are different from SoCal burritos, we tend to favor 'urban food logs', and no, I don't intend to start a religious argument. Also there are many favorite purveyors of very very good coffee that will ruin you for Starbucks, and innocent questions as to which is best have started many arguments on this board. I favor Cole's in Oakland, but Blue Bottle has many adherents and there are certainly quite a few good places in The City.

    What *not* to look for: BBQ or bagels. The dearth of good bagels is a constant lament to transplanted E. coasters. BBQ is not bad, but we are not the epicenter in the same way that KC or Chicago or various Southern enclaves might make the claim.

    Another note: Look to the East Bay in addition to SF and Wine Country for some good food.

    As for food tours, there are some olive growers that offer tours, also Anchor Steam beer, also Scharffenberger Chocoate, they used to anyway, and if you search on this board for 'tours' you will probably find others. But don't eat at Scharffenberger's cafe, it's been universally panned. The good news, Scharffenberger is close to Vik's, which is casual and yummy Indian small plates.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Louise

      Thanks Louise. Unfortunately i'm not much of a coffee lover and have had phenomenal Dim Sum in SE Asia. Any places in particular in the East Bay you particularly love? What would you say your best dining experience was in the area? Or a list of the top restaurants you've been to?

      1. re: uvahustla

        Normally I'd suggest checking out some of the Pho or Bahn Mi places, but if you've been in SE Asia you've probably had both. In any case, Oakland Chinatown and/or International Ave will supply ideas.

        Chez Panisse is a controversial favorite. Look over the sample menus and consider trying to go early in the week. Note, downstairs is dinner only and reservations only. I'm not an authority on getting reservations either downstairs or upstairs, maybe some other hound can chime in with an opinion. CP is really the birthplace of "California Cuisine" so may be worth a trip on those grounds if nothing else. Closed Sunday. Has website.

        Also in Berkeley and across the street from CP is the Cheeseboard Collective and its sister operation, the Cheeseboard Pizza Collective. Both very "Berkeley" institutions. Note, they are closed Sunday/Monday. Has website.

        Check out some taco trucks on East 14th, aka International Blvd, Oakland. There have been several 'crawls', El Ojo de Agua is one I've been to several times with good results. Warning, it's *extremely* no frills, as in, eat on your car hood. Also worth sampling are the many "Aguas de Fruta", or drinks made with fresh fruit, sort of like lemonade but not restricted at all to lemons. Tamarindo, Pina, and Horchata are common ones.

        Don't know if they have much in the way of Brewpubs back home, but they are something else to check out. Gordon Biersch in SF is right under the Bay Bridge and has a gorgeous view.

        I can't say a lot for the other high-end places in the East Bay, so don't feel confident referring you there.

        One observation I'd make, there are a lot of good breakfast places around and depending on how much of a breakfast person you are you may want recs there too. Knowing where you finally wind up staying will help in soliciting recs but for what it's worth, in the Berkeley/North Oakland area, some of my faves are the Sunny Side Cafe on Solano in Berkeley and Inn Kensington, in Kensington. 970 Grayson (Berkeley?) has many devotees though I haven't been there myself. Search for 'breakfast and <city where you are staying>' on the SFEBay board for many opinions.

        Recently I was at Pappo on Alameda which was very nice, though I don't know if it's worth a long journey. Yume Sushi on Park St in Alameda is supposed to be very good though I haven't been. Also on Alameda is St George Spirits/Hangar One Vodka which is on the former naval base and has a very nice tasting flight, which I have done.

        Downtown in Berkeley was also nice, went there on a Monday (?) evening and tasted among other things a custom made Vodka from SGS/HOV, made with a special variety of wild mushrooms.

        Between the Oakland and SF Chinatown, Oakland has parking, is flat, and has minimal touristy junk shops. It is a place that people actually live, shop, and eat.

        Definitely I would recommend going on some of the food tours mentioned. And make a point to take in several farmer's markets. The bounty of produce available in N. California is amazing. There is a very nice one at Ferry Plaza in SF on Saturdays, plus a smaller one on Saturday in Berkeley, plus an amazing one Friday morning in Oakland Chinatown, plus one in SF that is mainly reachable by car, Alemany, which has many good prepared goods. All of these have been commented on on this board, recommend looking.

        Also worth visiting is Berkeley Bowl Supermarket which has arguably the best produce section any where.

        And make a point of eating some good french bread, preferably our unique sourdough. Levain bread (sourdough wholewheat) is also excellent, especially with walnuts, and you can perhaps get some at a high end grocer for a picnic. We are terribly spoiled for good bread here.

        If that isn't enough, recommend you look through current and past restaurant reviews in the food archives of the SF Guardian and East Bay Express, which are conveniently online. One or the other also list current food events, such as winemaker's dinners.

        That's my current brain dump. Hope you have a good time here, as you can tell you are in no danger at all of going hungry.

    2. Where will you be staying? Sonoma County is pretty big and includes the city of Sonoma, among others. The city of Sonoma is about an hour from SF by car - do you plan to stay up there the entire week or will you also be coming into SF? If you do a search of the board for both Napa and Sonoma, a bunch of ideas should pop up. Thata can get you started, at least.

      3 Replies
      1. re: dinnerout

        Still haven't finalized a destination, but it might be Hidden Villa Farm at 26870 Moody Rd. Los Altos, CA. I will have a car though and am willing to travel anywhere in a two hour radius for a good meal. I've been looking around and I have some places in mind, but unfortunately I'm also going to need some budget/ethnic meals to survive the trip financially. What are your favorite restaurants in the area?

        1. re: uvahustla

          You do know that Los Altos is south of San Francisco and even further south of Sonoma County? It is in Santa Clara County. On a bad traffic day, it could take you two hours to get to Sonoma County.

          1. re: wally

            Yeah, I'm starting to realize that. I guess I'll alter my search to places in the Sonoma/Downtown SF, I just figured it would save money. Thanks

      2. Definitely go to Cyrus in Healdsburg.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Akiki

          I've read a little about that on the boards here, any dishes in particular you recommend?

        2. Looking at your hotel choice, I'm not sure if you're trying to save money or if you are interested in the program at Hidden Villa Farm. If it's a money move, there are ways to stay much closer to good Chowhound destinations and public transit for around the same price. Your most central option is downtown SF, though parking will add to the cost if you're renting a car. You could also stay in the East Bay (Emeryville, Oakland, Berkeley). I know hotels in these areas look outrageous, but bidding on Priceline should be able to get you in a good, centrally located food area for around $50 per night. It is easy to mess up Priceline bidding, but I'd be happy to give you some tips. Contact me at my screen name at mindspring dot com.

          2 Replies
          1. re: lexdevil

            That sounds great. I was only planning on renting a car to make sure I could really get around. I have a friend that works at a winery in Sonoma, and I would love to check out CIA. I'll start researching places in downtown SF and the East Bay. When I make my booking, I'll try the Priceline thing out and contact you.

            Thanks a lot.

            1. re: uvahustla

              Contact me now rather than waiting. I'll teach you the Priceline tricks so you don't get screwed. Also, my e-mail address is in my profile (important because the mods are likely to remove these posts on the grounds that they're not strictly food related).

          2. TFL is usually closed the first 2 weeks in January, so you'll be out of luck there.

            Check out Drake's Bay Oyster Farm in the Point Reyes National Seashore.

            Ad Hoc in Yountville is worth a visit. $45 for a four course prix fixe served family style. Every professional cook I've taken there has left happy and inspired.

            If you want to see exciting things with vegetables, go to Ubuntu in Napa. The dessert menu there is stellar, too.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Non Cognomina

              Thanks Cog, those are the kind of recommendations I'm looking for. I might cry for the rest of the night about TFL though. Any price range on Ubuntu?

              1. re: uvahustla

                Ubuntu price range: Small bites $4-6. The rest of the menu is $8-$18.

                Sorry about TFL.

            2. Sorry for being slow on the uptake, I think of all the locations you mentioned as being very distinct and some distance apart. This is particularly an issue if one gets to enjoy a fab meal with wine (imperative in my view!) There have been some posts with a lot of info about the Napa Valley, so put in Napa as a search and hopefully they will pop up. I'm no expert on the wine country by any means, but I'd look at Redd's and Terra and Ad Hoc for sure. (You can of course check them out on their websites) If you are staying in SF you will have a ton of choices. Check out Ame (Asian fusion), Myth, Canteen, Aziza (Cal-Moroccan), Zuni Cafe, Delfina...oh, too many to even think of! Someone from out of town was asking about Acquerello and instead tried out Ristorante Milano and loved it - I haven't been there in too many years to count, but you may want to search for that post as well.

              If I were in your shoes, I'd plan to stay in SF for most of the nights - and I'd take up the offer of help with Priceline! Then I'd spend a couple of nights in the wine country - and quite honestly would try to get a place relatively close to where I was eating. For example, Healdsburg is some distance from Napa and the roads up there can get pretty dark and curvy at night!

              The coast here is beautiful, as several have noted...unfortunately, we just had a large oil spill so before you head anywhere in that direction, I'd be sure to contact the place you are going (like the oyster farms) to make sure all is okay. This horrible situation has postponed Dungeness crab season as well...

              1 Reply
              1. re: dinnerout

                I agree about driving in the North Bay while in a food coma (not to mention the added degree of difficulty brought on by alcohol and January weather). Ultimately, for a first timer on a limited budget, I'd stay someplace central (SF, Oakland, or Emeryville). My preference would be Oakland or Emeryville, where you can park a rental car for free at most hotels. I'd skip TFL because 1)it will be closed OR you won't get a reservation, and 2)it will take up your entire budget. I'd then try to do:

                1-2 days in the East Bay. Going to Chez Panisse (up or down) is a must. Upstairs will help your budget. Also in the East Bay I would do a Korean meal (Ohgane or Sura) and an Ethiopian meal (Cafe Colucci or Messob). I would also consider hitting a taco truck.

                3-4 days in San Francisco. Folks on the board will have lots of suggestions, but I'd consider Incanto and Delfina for excellent rustic food that stays below the Gary Danko price point. You should also spend a Saturday morning/afternoon at the Ferry Building farmers market. I'd think about Bar Crudo for excellent seafood. I'd do Tadich or Swan Oyster Depot for something that is quintessentially San Franciscan. I'd also add a Vietnamese restaurant (you can go upscale at Slanted Door or get something great and cheap elsewhere). I'd consider public transit for some (but not all) of the SF outings.

                I'd do 2 days w/ one night in the North Bay. Visit a few wineries and book one high end dinner (maybe Cyrus, which many on this board seem to wet their pants over).

              2. The motels on Lombard St. are reasonable and a safe location, lots of restaurants and bars nearby, straight shot to GG Bridge and Sonoma and Napa. You could try calling Cow Hollow Inn, modern motel with parking lot below, on corner of Lombard and Steiner. Other similar ones on Lombard are the Coventry Motor Inn and the Chelsea. These look like built by same builder. The area is walking distance to Fish Wharf, if you like to walk, no real hills to deal with en route. You'd be walking distance to A16, a much talked about authentic Italian on Chestnut St. Also, around the corner from Cow Hollow is Isa, gets raves.

                1. I've booked my flight: Arrive Jan. 7 (Mon.) noon, leave Jan. 12 (Sat.) around noon. My hotel from Mon-Wed. nights will be in Emeryville. * Thanks lexdevil for helping me find a good deal. Based on this, I'm thinking Chez Panisse as a must for either lunch or dinner. I was planning on going to napa/sonoma Thursday and Friday. My friend works at a winery up there and knows some places to go tasting, and I was thinking Ad Hoc for lunch and maybe Cyrus. Other than Panisse are there any must do's in Berkeley? Will I need a car to get to San Francisco or is transportation reasonable? I'll put up a proposed itinerary once I figure out my exact North Bay plans and where I can get reservations.

                  Thanks again

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: uvahustla

                    I was just in Berkeley Tuesday and that and College Ave in Oakland are real foodie sections and I even forgot to go to the Cheeseboard on Shattuck. I had wonderful pumpkin pie (there are many things to choose from) at Crixsa Cakes (Hungarian) on Shattuck. You can wander around 4th Street. It's best to take BART to SF, get off at first stop, which is Embarcadero and it's usually easy to get a cab there lined up at Hyatt Regency. You can walk to Perbacco on Calif. from that stop.

                    1. re: uvahustla

                      Ad Hoc doesn't do lunch -- they start at 4 pm every day (unless they've changed the hours lately). If you're staying in Emeryville, I would definitely rent a car, getting around will be a pain without it. I'm sure that your hotel will have shuttles to the BART stations, but there are some good places to go in SF that aren't that BART accessible, and you'll want it for at least one of your days in SF and definitely in wine country. The whole area around Chez Panisse is great for wandering, the 4th St. area is also fun, and a trip to Vik's is a bargain and a must if you're doing a day in Berkeley. If you're leaving SF at noon on a Saturday morning, make sure you're all packed at night so that you can be at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market when it opens and spend a few hours there before heading to the airpot. As for Chez Panisse, check out their website and look at the menus for upstairs and downstairs, and then call for reservations and see what's available. I've had pretty good luck getting reservations both up and down for dinner, and I think that I prefer upstairs, but downstairs is great too.

                      1. re: JasmineG

                        Ad Hoc seats for dinner 7 days a week, 5:00pm- 9:00pm.

                        1. re: Non Cognomina

                          If so, then the hours have changed pretty recently, because when I ate there this summer, my reservation was at 4.

                          1. re: JasmineG

                            Yep, think it was last month that they changed. They used to seat for "Sunday Supper" from 3pm to 7pm, but they just didn't get enough business for the earlier seating. I think the hour change happened at the same time the started serving 7 days.

                            1. re: Non Cognomina

                              Ah, okay, that makes sense, especially since the restaurant was almost empty for my 4pm seating.

                      2. re: uvahustla

                        Staying in Emeryville, you'll have free parking for your car if you rent (whether you're at the Courtyard, Four Points, Hilton Garden Inn, or Exended Stay America). A car would give you more freedom to go wherever, whenever (and be critical to your North Bay excursion regardless). From the Oakland Airport, you can get a small car for a week for around $200. It's more expensive from SFO, but you can contact me re: Priceline car rentals and I can help with that. Another option would be to just rent a car for the journey north.

                        1. re: uvahustla

                          The usual must dos in Berkeley besides Chez Panisse include: The Cheese Board (close to CP), Acme Bakery, downtown farmer's market. The maybes might include: Berkeley Bowl, Gregoire's, Scharffenberger tour, Vik's, Cafe Fanny, the original Peet's Coffee (nothing special really but it's close by).

                          1. re: ML8000

                            planning a trip to sonoma next week, my research came up with Farmhouse Inn & Cyrus as tops. Also Girl & the fig in Sonoma were mentioned. Check out my recent posts and you will see my wine research for sonoma too. Have fun!

                        2. Try Odyssey Restaurant in Windsor. it's located at 426 Emily Rose Circle - kind of hard to find, but if you go to the Old Downtown in Windsor, just ask. Or you can give them a call (707) 836-7600. it is fantastic. The chef is Rudy Mihal formerly of SF's Zupa. It's very small, but the food and the atmosphere is great. His front man, Tom, is really wonderful. The food is superb. Check out the review from the Bohemian. http://www.bohemian.com/bohemian/08.2...

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: sonomasal

                            Odyssey's still on my list to try. Here's a link to some 'hound opinions.

                            Odyssey Restaurant
                            Windsor, CA, Windsor, CA

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Unless you have Peruvian in VA, or have been to Latin America, I suggest you try one of the Peruvian places in SF. Food is unique. Mochica, Fresca I think, others will know the other ones...

                          2. If you want easy, convenient access to SF, the East Bay & Sonoma/Napa I would consider staying in San Rafael in Marin County. You should be able to get a motel room there pretty reasonably & it is the most centrally located area to getting to all your destinations.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rfneid

                              Yes, and there's a hotel at Larkspur near the ferry -- is it a Marriot Courtyard? Easy parking, very pleasant, with bookshop, movie, restaurants.

                            2. Since there's so many high end, I'll fill you in on some good ethnic eats that are cheaper.

                              There's nowhere else to get a good bowl of pho outside of Vietnam than in San Jose. This is untested water for myself, since everytime I ask my Viet friends whose pho is the best, they always say, "my mom's". However Pho 99 was a really good treat, as was another place in Mountain View, can't remember the name which is no help at all. Maybe others can chime in here.

                              San Francisco (Golden Era) and Oakland (Golden Lotus) do have two amazing vegetarian Vietnamese restaurants that do amazing things with Seitan, offering a caramelized chicken dish that tastes and feels very closely like the real thing. Turtle Tower has a great bowl of pho done northern style (no sprouts, touch of ginger).

                              Follow the previous dim sum thread in comparison to Vancouver.

                              Cheap Indian: Darbar and Kahori Lahore are good, especially in comparison to Naan N Curry which tends to overuse butter and cream.

                              Get a good bowl of Ramen: In Japantown, there's Tampopo and Suzu. Katana-Ya is in Union Sq. and then Oyaji is in the outer mission, great place to get drunk with the sushichef/owner.

                              The real restaurant people's food? Taco trucks at 2 AM after drinking. Anywhere along International in Oakland (Guadalajara on Fruitvale is my favorite).

                              Soul Food: Everett and Jones in Berkeley and Oakland (5-6 locations, my fave's san pablo, just the meat, potato salad, and a slice of wheat bread), go to Broadway if you like sides. Front Porch and Hard Knox Cafe have great fried chicken.

                              Southeat Asian:

                              Burma Superstar on Clement in SF (good neighborhood to explore with fresh markets)
                              Champa Garden in Oakland, it's Lao and Thai food.
                              Other Budget stops:

                              In-n-out burger
                              Top Dog in Berkeley
                              Golden Boy Pizza in North Beach

                              20 Replies
                              1. re: jondis

                                Here's my proposed itinerary, let me know if anything doesn't pan out geographically, time wise, BART wise, etc.:

                                Jan. 7th-Jan. 12th:
                                - Get in around 12 at SFO, catch shuttle/BART to Emeryville hotel.
                                - Check out Cheeseboard and Berkeley Bowl for Lunch
                                - Chez Panisse dinner downstairs early seating.
                                * What non-food things are there in this area?

                                - Brunch at Suppenkuche (Hayes & Laguna)
                                - Check out Union Square, Vietnamese Lunch somewhere in this area?
                                - Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, Dinner at Aziza
                                * Can we use BART for this?
                                * Fun things to do around Union Square, is there vietnamese close by?
                                (like Golden Era, Bodega Bistro, Saigon Sandwich)

                                - Lunch at Canteen, sightseeing somewhere
                                - Mexican snack late afternoon in Mission district (Rec's?)
                                - Delfina for Dinner, Go out in mission?
                                * What is there to do near Canteen?/Canteen Lunch Recs
                                * Night life/Bar scene in the area, other recommendations?
                                * Delfina must have dishes?

                                - Acme Bakery, Drive up to St. Helena in morning
                                - Round Pond Olive Tasting Tour (11 am)
                                - CIA Cooking Demonstration (130-330)
                                - Casa Nuestra Vineyard
                                - Dinner at Ad Hoc (7 PM)
                                - Drive Back to Emeryville
                                * Is this cramming to much in one day?
                                * Is the drive from Yountville to Emeryville really only going to take 1 hour?


                                OPTION 1:
                                Vineyards in Napa, Lunch at Ubuntu @ 2 PM, Drive Back, Bar Crudo

                                OPTION 2:
                                Chinatown Farmer's Market/Cole's Coffee, Dumplings/Taco Truck, Sharrfenberger Chocolate Tour, Bar Crudo/Gary Danko Tasting Menu, no wine
                                * Any tips for the farmer's market, Bar Crudo recs other than lobster/burrata salad, Ubuntu recs, Napa vineyard recs?
                                * Which day sounds better to you?

                                - Wake up early and do Ferry Farmer's Market, Fly out of SFO 11:30 AM
                                * What time does the market open?

                                Thanks a lot everyone for all of your help so far. Any questions you can answer are much appreciated, I don't expect to find an answer to everything. I'm very excited about this trip and let me know if you feel like I'm missing anything.

                                1. re: uvahustla

                                  As a fellow chef make sure you don't miss the farmers market!! There is absolutely nothing remotely close on the east coast.

                                  1. re: oysterspearls

                                    Seriously, can you get a later flight? It will be hard to tear yourself away after only an hour or two at the market...

                                  2. re: uvahustla

                                    Tough call on your Friday options. My initial reaction is option 2 sounds like a far more interesting and fun day to me; but, I tend to get a bit tired of tasting/vineyards after 2 of them. As a chef, I think you'll find Chinatown and its market to be more fun than wine tours.

                                    If it were me, I'd go option two and go to Bar Crudo. That said, Tom Sietsema in the Washington Post was just out to Napa for a visit and wrote that Ubuntu was the best meal he had. You can check his chat transcript from Wed. the 12th; I can't recall if he gave specifics. Having lived in the DC area most of my life before coming here to SF, I trust his take on these things.

                                    1. re: uvahustla

                                      If you're going to Cheeseboard for the pizza on Monday, unfortunately they are closed on Mondays.

                                      1. re: mwtrx67

                                        Berkeley Bowl is fun to look at and shop if you're cooking at home but the prepared food is not worth a trip. To find something to eat, walk around 4th St near University or Shattuck or College Ave -- goes from Berkeley to Oakland. Oliveto on College in Oakland is open for lunch and dinner and it looks great, gets great reports, I just have not tried it yet.
                                        For Mexican, since La Taqueria will be closed for vacation, I think, try El Farollito -- there's one on Mission near 24th St. They grill the tortillas and thus melt the cheese when making the burritos -- I get the chile relleno ones.
                                        Pappalote on 24th St near Valencia has great salsa (smooth and smoky) and good prawn burritos, other things good there. (There's another location on Fulton near Haight area.)

                                      2. re: uvahustla

                                        As far as your Monday options, yes, the Cheeseboard is closed that day. If you wanted to hang around the Chez Panisse area, Gregoire is very close by and really great. Lots of reviews on the board. French takeout food. If the weather's nice, you can grab lunch there and plunk down on the church lawn kitty corner. For non-food adventure, UC Berkeley is very close and has some interesting buildings and a beautiful campus. See http://www.berkeley.edu/tour/campus/i... for highlights. Also close by is the Epicurious Garden, which has a variety of things to try. If you have a car, you could drive to the 4th Street shopping district, which offers Sketch ice cream for dessert. If you wanted to lunch there, there is Eccolo, Tacubaya, and O Chame. There are several bookstores, clothing stores, and a Sur La Table on 4th Street.

                                        1820 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710

                                        O Chame
                                        1830 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                                        2109 Cedar St, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                        1788 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                                        Epicurious Garden
                                        1513 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                        1. re: meemster

                                          A second on Gregoire since it's very close by. The other options are sort of a drive and well...Eccolo and Tacubaya are inconsistent or not worth it, if you ask me.

                                          For a Mission snack, I'd go to Cancun for an al pastor burrito, Bi-rite for some ice cream or check out a taco truck (14th and Harrison).

                                          Re: Emeryville to Yountville in an hour...depends what time of day. Non-commute and it might be true. (6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) I'd give more time.

                                          1. re: ML8000

                                            Yountville to Emeryville after your dinner at Ad Hoc (allowing about 2 hours, if you sit at 7pm, you'll be out around 9pm) you should be able to drive in about an hour. The only time it has taken me longer at that time of day on a Thursday is during bad weather, or if there is an accident.

                                        2. re: uvahustla

                                          Ferry Building Farmers Market on Saturday opens at 8 am:


                                          At Ubuntu, definately save room for dessert. They have the most inspired dessert menu of any restaurant in Napa Valley, and most places I've been to in the Bay Area. The menu is updated so frequently that the only dessert I can recommend is the "cheesecake" in a jar, which is the signature dessert.

                                          1. re: Non Cognomina

                                            Wow, thanks for your input so far. Quick update, my hotel in Emeryville wouldn't let me extend my stay, so I did the Priceline bidding and am now staying at the Union Square Hilton-Financial District on Thursday and Friday Nights. Does this change any one's recommendations?? Here's my revised itinerary:

                                            - Get in around 12 at SFO, catch shuttle/BART to Emeryville hotel.
                                            - Lunch at Oliveto, Check out Berkeley Bowl/Sightsee
                                            - Chez Panisse dinner downstairs late seating.
                                            * What non-food things are there in this area?

                                            - Ferry Building Farmer’s Market (10-12)
                                            - Rent Car
                                            - Vineyards in Napa, Late Lunch at Ubuntu
                                            - Sightseeing
                                            - Bar Crudo
                                            * Napa Vineyards, Recs, Ubuntu Recs, Farmer’s Market Tips? Bar Crudo Recs

                                            - Cheeseworks (in morning)
                                            - Casa Nuestra Vineyard
                                            - Round Pond Olive Tasting Tour
                                            - Tour CIA
                                            - Dinner at Ad Hoc (7 PM)
                                            - Drive back to Emeryville
                                            - * Is this cramming to much in one day?

                                            - Brunch at Suppenkuche (Hayes & Laguna)
                                            - Check out Union Square, Vietnamese Lunch somewhere in this area?
                                            - Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, Dinner at Aziza
                                            * Can we use BART for this?
                                            * Fun things to do around Union Square, is there Vietnamese close by?
                                            (like Golden Era, Bodega Bistro, Saigon Sandwich)

                                            - Oakland Chinatown Farmer’s Market in the morning/Cole’s Coffee
                                            - Pizzeria Delfina, Explore Mission (Taco Truck) - Dinner at Canteen
                                            * What is there to do near Canteen?/Canteen Recs
                                            * Night life/Bar scene in the area, other recommendations?
                                            * Best Delfina Pizza?

                                            1. re: uvahustla

                                              Yes you are cramming in alot

                                              a couple of things-
                                              where in the Mission are taco trucks? I know of the usual suspects on Harrison in front of Best Buys and sometimes further up near 18th, but have not seen others.
                                              Late lunch in Napa and sighseeing then Bar Crudo? Bar Crudo is not in Napa, in SF and that would be cramming my friend.
                                              No Vietnamese Lunch in Union Square, you could go into the Tenderlion and very un pretty hood and go to Bodega Bistro or many of the other great ethnic options in that hood.

                                              Can we use BART for this? for what not across the GG bridge nor to Aziza.
                                              like Golden Era, Bodega Bistro, Saigon Sandwich)= all in the tenderloin easy walking from Union SQ

                                              I will come back for more, got to go

                                              1. re: uvahustla

                                                Going to your hotel in Emeryville, then Oliveto for lunch (why there? it would not be at the top of my list for lunch in the East Bay), then to Berkeley Bowl, then to Chez Panisse, all without a car, won't be all that easy or fun. I would recommend instead getting down to 4th St. in Berkeley from your hotel; you can go to Vik's (not on 4th St. but nearby) for lunch, wander around the shops down there, have ice cream at Sketch, then take the bus up to Shattuck to see what's up that way.

                                                Tuesday: I wouldn't bother with the Tuesday market, especially since you'll be going to the Saturday market. If you want to go on Tuesday to the inside of the Ferry Building, that's a good idea, because it will be less crowded than on a Saturday, but the Tuesday market is pretty small. Also, a late lunch in Napa and a dinner at Bar Crudo is kind of crazy -- if you're doing two days in Napa, make them back to back and stay up there overnight, driving back and forth will waste a lot of time and gas and be tiring.

                                                1. re: JasmineG

                                                  Oliveto for lunch would not be my choice as well. Esp with a res at Chez downstairs, I'd be reluctant to have a really long and heavy lunch. Vik's is a good rec, Gregoire (down the street from Chez) would work as well.

                                                  Sketch will be closed for the entire month of January.

                                                2. re: uvahustla

                                                  Good - this is starting to untangle a bit - I think it will help a lot to have the last two nights in SF.

                                                  A couple of pieces of info that may help:
                                                  1) I would really rent a car for the first three days - while Oliveto is accessible by BART, Berkeley Bowl is not. You may also want to do the Scharffenberger tour while you're in the East Bay. And/or visit Hangar One vodka's distillery. Also, public transportation during non-rush hours can be spotty (BART runs every 20 minutes in the East Bay, and I can't even figure out if there is a shuttle at night from MacArthur BART station to Emeryville), so you might find your post-Chez Panisse trip back a little painful without a car.

                                                  2) Bar Crudo and Canteen are both near Union Square.

                                                  3) Oakland Chinatown Farmer's Market isn't worth going out of your way to see - you can eliminate this and not miss anything.

                                                  4) Traffic can be really painful here, so try to choose one part of the Bay Area to concentrate on per day.

                                                  I'd recommend making a Google map of all the places you're interested in, so you can see how they cluster - I'd try to do
                                                  Day 1 - Berkeley/Oakland
                                                  Day 2 - SF - Ferry Building Farmer's market, have lunch either there or at Canteen, bike across GGB, dinner at Aziza
                                                  Day 3 - Napa
                                                  Day 4 - Union Square/Tenderloin/Chinatown/North Beach
                                                  Day 5 - Mission

                                                  1. re: daveena

                                                    Actually, Berkeley Bowl is less than a 10 minute walk from the Ashby BART Station (and I'm not a particularly fast walker).

                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                      Oh yeah, you're right. I'm glad OP chose to get a car for Day 1, though.

                                                  2. re: uvahustla

                                                    For pho, one of the days when you're in SF mid-day go to turtle tower, on Larkin reasonably close to union square.

                                                    Travel logistics:
                                                    visit www.transitinfo.org and you can input point A, point B, and what time you are traveling and it will tell you which transit to take. You can BART from Emeryville to SF, muck about at Suppenkuche, union square, then go to Turtle Tower for Pho, the best around, then you could rent bikes and haul across the golden gate bridge, but it'd be a full afternoon of biking.

                                                    Driving-wise, everything is fine if you aren't driving between 8 AM and 10 AM, and 5:30 and 7 PM week days. Otherwise, don't even think about going near the Golden Gate or Bay bridges during rush hour.

                                                3. re: uvahustla

                                                  -The drive from Yountville to Emeryville should take about an hour. I wouldn't expect traffic to be that bad on a Thursday night.

                                                  -Bar Crudo - order the seafood chowder paired with a flemish sour ale (they'll know the one to pair it with). Best pairing of beer and food I've ever had. Best bowl of chowder I've ever had.

                                                  1. re: uvahustla

                                                    A couple of great bakeries you shouldn't miss: Since you'll be in the East Bay, you've got to try Bakesale Betty in Oakland's hip Temescal District. I'd either go for a quick bite (Betty's scones are amazing). Her fried chicken sandwiches with jalapeno coleslaw are legendary. You'll know who Betty is -- she wears a blue wig and they're known for giving free bakery goods away, especially to new customers.

                                                    While you're in Yountville, don't miss Bouchon Bakery, owned by TFL's Thomas Keller. This is one great bakery -- there's also one in the Venetian in Las Vegas.

                                                    Bakesale Betty
                                                    5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                                4. Incanto- rustic amazing Italain, outter noe valley, good wine list, $$$, not upscale more of a local neighborhood spot. San Francisco
                                                  There is very little good Vietnamese in SF, some better places in San Jose 50 miles south of SF.
                                                  A16 for sure, SF in the Maria district on Chestnut.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Lori SF

                                                    I would not bother with the SF taco trucks. They aren't "gourmet", they are just cheap and no avocado, just soupy, flavorless guac. I agree that you should not do Napa then dinner in SF. If you can eat at the bar at Slanted Door at Ferry Bldg, you'll eat well. Get there early because it's so popular that even getting a seat at the bar is not easy. (It's upscale Vietnamese -- I like the shaking beef, Imperial Rolls and the fish is always very fresh.)

                                                    1. re: Lori SF

                                                      Second Incanto. On Tuesday, I'd take BART in to SF, get off at Embarcadero and check out the Ferry Plaza market in the morning. Take the historic Market street train and ride up to Woodhouse fish at Church and Market for fresh crab; their sources are just as good as Swan's oyster depot, but the lines are more manageable. You'd be remiss if you didn't eat dungeoness crab when it's at the height of its season.

                                                      Then, after lunch you could whiz down to Union Square on the underground Muni and check out the molecular gastronomy shop, stroll over to Chinatown to windowshop and work up an appetite to head to Incanto for dinner, which is well-served by one of the lines of streetcar trains that goes up Market street, before getting a late BART back to Emeryville. I would think Incanto is the most interesting restaurant to visit as a chef in the area, but I just realized they're closed on Tuesdays, so maybe you should hit Incanto on a different night.

                                                      1. re: SteveG

                                                        which is the molecular gastronomy shop?

                                                    2. Please give us a report upon your return. Be prepared for other activities on your bike trip across the GG Bridge if the weather's bad.. This is not the sunny California of some perceptions, and blustery winter weather could make such a trip more of an ordeal then a pleasent excursion.

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: mpalmer6c

                                                        Thanks everyone. I'm going to go ahead and rent a car out of San Francisco for my first three days of the trip. Why I want to go to the Tuesday Market- since my flight leaves at 11:30 on Saturday morning, I figure I should check in at 9:45 at the latest, meaning I would have next to no time at the market. I'm not as worried about the driving because my girlfriend and I are used to it (routinely traveling 2.5 to 3.5 hours to visit family) also after Cyrus dinner we will have the option of crashing in Sonoma if necessary.

                                                        NEW ITINERARY!
                                                        - Get in around 12 at SFO, Rent Car, Check In
                                                        - Lunch at Vik’s, Check out Berkeley Bowl/Sightsee
                                                        - Chez Panisse dinner in Cafe.

                                                        - Ferry Building Farmer’s Market (10 AM)
                                                        - Snack at Slanted Door
                                                        - Vineyard in Napa, Round Pond Olive Tour (330-5)
                                                        - Cyrus (Dinner 8 PMish)
                                                        • * Napa Vineyards, Recs,Farmer’s Market Tips?
                                                        • * Can I Park at Farmer’s Market
                                                        - Cheeseworks (10 am) for afternoon snack/picnic
                                                        - Lunch at Ubuntu (12:15)
                                                        - Casa Nuestra Vineyard (707/963-5783) Open til 4:30, Cheeseworks Snack
                                                        - Tour CIA
                                                        - Dinner at Ad Hoc (7 PM)
                                                        - Drive back to Emeryville
                                                        - * Is this cramming to much in one day?
                                                        - Bodega Bistro
                                                        - Bike/Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge,
                                                        - Dinner at Aziza
                                                        * Can we use BART for this?


                                                        - Pizzeria Delfina, Explore Mission
                                                        - Union Square Area
                                                        -Dinner at Bar Crudo
                                                        * Night life/Bar scene in the area, other recommendations?
                                                        * Best Delfina Pizza?

                                                        I will post a full report when I get back that will probably be more in depth than most people will care for. I always take a lot of food notes and will be taking pictures at most places as well.

                                                        1. re: uvahustla

                                                          The Tuesday market really isn't worth it -- it's nice if you work in the neighborhood to pick up something during the day, but it's not worth one of your stops during the week. I would also strongly recommend staying up in Napa on Tuesday night -- there's no point in driving back that night and then back up in the morning. It's not so much about whether you like driving or not, but it will just waste your time -- especially with an 8pm seating at Cyrus you won't be out until very late, and a 10 am time at Cheeseworks, that won't work very well, especially since you'll be driving Wednesday morning at rush hour. If you stay up in Napa Tuesday night, Wednesday won't be too busy. And yes, I'd drive across the bridge instead of walking it -- if you're here in the summer, walking it is great, but when it might be raining, and if you're trying to do other things, driving across it is just fine. And no, you can't BART to Aziza.

                                                          1. re: JasmineG

                                                            You can't BART but you can do a BART to 38 Geary and it is a straight shot on that bus.

                                                          2. re: uvahustla

                                                            Glad you decided to rent out of SFO. Keep trying on priceline to see if you can do better than the compact from Fox. Here are my comments on the latest itinerary:

                                                            Looks fine. You could still have done the Oliveto lunch, but I imagine that going to Vik's will help you afford the Cyrus dinner. Vik's is a very easy drive from the Courtyard (Hollis in Emeryville turns into 7th and then 6th in Berkeley--sort of a back way, but efficient). After Vik's, drive up University and check out the Cal campus. Then head back down University a few blocks and turn left on Shattuck to get to Berkeley Bowl. While at BB, pop across the street to Crixa Bakery. Post Bowl, reverse course on Shattuck to get back to Chez Panisse. Consider having cocktails at Cesar (next door to CP) before or after dinner.

                                                            I would skip the Ferry Building on Tuesday, when it's not at its best. I think you might as well head straight to the Wine Country. From the East Bay, driving through the City is not the most efficient route to the Wine Country, so this is a detour, and not just a pit stop. I would probably drive up to Bakesale Betty in the morning for scones to get the ride off to a good start, or possibly La Farine for morning buns (BB may be closed then, as she often goes to Australia to visit family over the holidays). Another option would be a dim sum breakfast in Oakland Chinatown before heading north.

                                                            Just be prepared to drop something if needed. Of course, if you do more time in the Wine Country on Tuesday, you could cut something here.

                                                            Return rental car to SFO. Take BART to downtown. Post lunch I would take a walking tour back through Union Square to Chinatown and on to North Beach. Great neighborhoods to explore and lots of small cheap food bites along the way. Skip the GG bridge, but consider a look at Fishermans' Wharf (for Aquatic Park and the waterfront...don't bother eating or spending much time) because you can pick up a streetcar there back to the Ferry Building/Market St./Downtown. There is no BART friendly biking across the bridge option.

                                                            FYI, Aziza is out in the Avenues and will require you to hop on the 38 Geary bus. Do-able, but not super pleasant. If Aziza is one of several attractive options, you might consider something closer in to downtown or something more BART/streetcar friendly. What about dinner at Zuni?

                                                            Sounds fine, though you could make it an all Mission day by moving Bar Crudo to Thursday. That way you could do the Union Square area early in the day, and just settle on the Mission for everything after.

                                                            Go to the FP Farmers Market early. Check the BART schedule to make sure you don't miss your flight (you can hop it at Embarcadero, right outside the Ferry Building). I hope that you're just bringing carry on size bags, so they don't cramp your style too much at the market.

                                                            1. re: uvahustla

                                                              Are you staying in Emeryville? It is a hard place to get in and out of the HWY 80 is quit bad in the morning and late afternoon on.

                                                              On Thursday you should ride bike across the bridge, I have lived here for a very long time and I still love riding bikes over the bridge, Marin has great bike trails and its a fun ride. You won't smell too many fumes because it is usually windy and especially heading back with the typical head wind you won't smell a thing. You could ride over to FISH in Sausalito and sit outside and enjoy some of the freshest seafood. This is picnic table style and even in Jan. on a nice day it is beautiful.
                                                              Azzia is no where near BART so you will either have to cab it or drive it.

                                                              Pizzeria Delfina is a fun spot on a Friday for lunch, good pizza some wine by the glass and the day gets fun. That entire block has lots of good eats- Bi-Rite Creamery great ice cream, Bi-Rite market you might enjoy, Tartine and a nice park around the block with a great view of the city. You can walk down 18th street towards the Mission, turn right on Valencia go up to 24th street and then take Mission Street back up to 18th.. I do this alot myself. You will get a good glimse of this area and lots of food spots, shopping, etc.

                                                              Bar Crudo is great, you could go to Tunnel Top next door after for drinks, an old school diveish bar one of my old hang outs.
                                                              I am not night life person but I do get together with friends occassionally and we like The Ambassador, Rye, Olive and Mecca. Otherwise, I pretty much stay in my neighborhood for cocktails.
                                                              The Amabassador & Rye- Geary Street -(between Jones St & Leavenworth St)
                                                              Mecca- is more upscale and in a different part of town, on Market in the Castro-
                                                              You might want to check out Yelp for night life it tends to be a younger crowd that goes out to the lastest greatest.
                                                              If you want really good beer with huge selection then the Toranado in the lower haight would be a place to go, people from all over the world go here. Nickie's bar is down the street my other favorite neighborhood spot and they have good bar food.

                                                              1. re: Lori SF

                                                                I think he'll be able to leave Emeryville post rush hour most days. Monday arrival is afternoon, but before rush hour. If he decides to do Ferry Building on Tuesday morning, he'll hop right onto the bridge at 9:40 and arrive by 10:00. If he goes north, 80 should be better by then as well. Wednesday is a bit tougher until you're past Albany, but it's definitely the reverse commute. Thursday (rental return day) I don't think there's any reason to hit the road before 10:00 AM. As to returning to the hotel each night, it will be long past rush hour.

                                                              2. re: uvahustla

                                                                Tuesday looks like a nightmare. You have yourself crossing the Bay Bridge into the city to go to the Ferry Building, then crossing it again going east to go to Napa, then driving at least an hour and a half to go west to Sonoma for dinner.

                                                                Is there any way you can move the Round Pond tour to Wednesday? It would make more sense for you to to do all the Napa things on Wednesday. If you are set on going to the Ferry Building Tuesday, I'd get there in the morning, then drive across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sonoma (with any of rworange's suggestions for Marin Headlands, Larkspur, etc as detours). Spend the day in Sonoma instead, have dinner at Cyrus, crash at your friend's place, then go to Napa on Wednesday.

                                                              3. re: mpalmer6c

                                                                Yeah, I would definately rent a car at the airport to make getting around Berkeley easier on Monday. Emeryville isn't all that convenient to the places you want to go.

                                                                One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that there is a special restaurant promotion in SF in January called Dine About Town. Today, the official website linked in the Place record below should have the 2008 list of restaurants ... as of this post it hasn't posted yet though. As it gets closer to January, more and more restaurants are added. The initial list is usually brief.

                                                                I know Aziza is on that list this year and people were happy with Aziza's dat menu last year. Also that site has non food things to do in SF. The moderators will delete suggestions on this board that are not in the narrow scope of this board which is food tips.

                                                                Do SOMETHING ELSE on Tuesday and NOT Ferry Plaza. The only day to go there is on Saturday for the BIG market. Unofficially it opens at 7am.

                                                                Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge is over-rated. I've walked the Bridge a number of times and the fumes and noise from the cars makes it a little less pleasant. Also, January is known for being a rainy month, so you are taking your chances. I'd drive across and take the first exit and drink in the exquisite views at Marin Headlands. You could proceed on to Larkspur which has a nice pizza place called Pico and Emporio Rulli with which has nice baked goods. Lark Creek Inn (don't eat there) does have a pretty surrounding outdoor area which has some nice redwoods ... it's California ... you want to see a redwood, no?

                                                                I was LESS than thrilled with Cole Coffee

                                                                However if you go to Olivetto's it is nearby and I'd visit it then.

                                                                I'd go to Bittersweet instead a great chocolate shope that has 5 types of hot chocolate and serves Blue Bottle coffee ... better than anything at Cole's.

                                                                Dine About Town
                                                                San Francisco, Ca, San Francisco, Ca

                                                              4. Ok, your schedule is seriously geographically challenged. Tuesday is a horror show ... Emeryville to SF to Napa to SF to Emeryville fighting traffic all the way. If you are going to Napa/Sonoma ...spend the day there. In SF, spend the day there ... ditto on the East Bay Here's some suggestions


                                                                - Get in around 12 at SFO, catch shuttle/BART to Emeryville hotel.

                                                                - Option A: Lunch at Oliveto, Check out College Avenue eats ... Bittersweet, Cole Coffee (if you must), Lulu Rae (which has Tango gelato), Katrina Roselle, Rockridge Market. On the way to Chez Panisse check out Berkeley Bowl.

                                                                - Option B: Lunch at Sea Salt (near Emeryville).Stop by Charles Chocolates for a 'tour'. Go to Hangar One. Sea Salt also has an eel bahn mi and is pretty representative of the vibe of an East Bay restaurant. If you consider this I'm happy to give you other Sea Salt recs.

                                                                - Chez Panisse dinner downstairs late seating.

                                                                - Option A: On your way to NAPA, start the day at Betty's Oceanside Cafe in Berkeley and get the souffle pancake and check the local Fourth St Berkeley vibe.

                                                                - Option B: On your way to NAPA, start your day at Cafe Fanny, Chez Panisse's cafe. Pick up some excellent bread at Acme Bread next door.

                                                                - Vineyards in Napa, Late Lunch at Ubuntu

                                                                - There is supposed to be a new food complex opening in Napa don't know if it is open yet but might be worth your while

                                                                - Eat either in Napa/Sonoma or Berkeley area. Maybe an earlier lunch in Napa and check out Sonoma. There's a Portuguese restaurant there ... La Salette. I love Vella Cheese as a cheese shop. It is so laid back and defines what I dream what wine country is about ... smal, personal, family-owned. Pick up the grated dry jack ... lots of it ... keep it in a glass jar in the pantry and it will age beautifully over time.

                                                                - Cheeseworks (in morning)
                                                                - Casa Nuestra Vineyard
                                                                - Round Pond Olive Tasting Tour
                                                                - Tour CIA
                                                                - Dinner at Ad Hoc (7 PM)
                                                                - Drive back to Emeryville


                                                                - Brunch at Suppenkuche (Hayes & Laguna) Why?

                                                                - Explore Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach. Supposedly Rick Bayless of Fronterra has opened a new place in Macy's Union Square. Chinatown ... Golden Gate Bakery if it finally re-opens. North Beach ... Linguira foccacia, XOX chocolates, Graffeo coffee (better than Cole). If it is still open the Original Imperial Tea shop.

                                                                * Can we use BART for this? Yes.

                                                                - Bar Crudo ... since you are in SF or better yet Aziza


                                                                - Oakland Chinatown Farmer’s Market in the morning ... eh ... it is winter and I agree it is more for local shopping. I'd head for Oakland and check out the taco Trucks and Mexican food in that area. Here's a map of the Taco Trucks and Ruth Lafler's suggestions have been stellar ... STELLAR ... I have had some of the best food EVER following her suggestions ... don't miss the ojo de agua drinks like the creamy ... yes creamy aqua frescas ... I have yet to try the breakfast burrito there ... but it is high on my list.

                                                                - Head over to Berkeley. Have lunch at Cafe Gratitude in the Gourmet Ghetto ... you won't find stuff like that in VA. Explore the Ghetto ... get a slice at Cheeseboard, check out the cheeseboard, get some tea at Imperial Tea in the Epicurious Garden complex. Have a pastry at Masses. Go to the Original Pete's coffee. Go over to Crixa for some of the best in the country examples of Eastern European Cuisine. Check out Berkeley Bowl if you haven't doen't done that yet.

                                                                - Pizzaolia for dinner

                                                                Ferry Plaza Farmers market ... Bomboli at the Italian market near Mastrelli's. June Taylor Jam. Sciabacca's Olive Oil. Dried smoked onions from Terra.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                  Aaacck ... I forgot about the Golden Gate Bridge ... gotta cross that if visiting ... ok ... Friday revised ...

                                                                  Avoid morning rush hour and check out the taco trucks / Mexican eats in Oakland

                                                                  Drive over the bridge to SF take the first exit, head for the water and drive along the Embarcadero where you will see the Ferry Building (to get your bearings for Saturday), Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, the Marina, Fort Mason ... where you hook onto the Golden Gate Bridge.

                                                                  Drive across and take the exit that gets you to the Marin Headlands and drink in the spectacular view. Head to Larkspur and check out Picco, Emporio Rulli and the Redwoods. On the drive back check out the cute houseboats in Sausalito and the spectacular waterfront view with the homes hanging percariously on the cliffs ... if it is raining ... watch for sliding buildings ... just kidding ...sort of.

                                                                  - Dinner at Aziza. Since you have a car this will be easier. On your drive up Geary stop by Creations desserts and pick up some mango mochi. Have a drink ... and ONLY one drink , for St. Francis sake ... NO food ... at the Cliff House. Spectacular view and then head over to Aziza for dinner.

                                                                  If you decide on Oakland for a taco truck breakfast some really cool places to check out are (most courtesy of Ruth who scoped out the best)
                                                                  - Breakfast burrito ... with potatoes ... from Ojo de aqua and mango aqua fresca
                                                                  - Ice cream from nearby Cinco de Mayo ... hand churned ... really ... bucket ... paddle ... for one hour ... exotic flavors ... $1 a scoop. The pinapple raspado is pretty darn good too. There's a churro vendor next to it.
                                                                  - the carnitas tacos at El Novillo are truly the best I've ever had at ANY taco truck ...seriously at the top of the class
                                                                  - El Gordo tack truck is fascinating with the meat cooking in a huge pot and the tortillas being dipped in the fat before being grilled. The al pastor is the best of its class and the grilled onions are wonderful.

                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                    I'm pretty sure he only has a car through Thursday morning (it's super pricy to park at SF hotels, and the rental is high enough already). If he wants to drive across the GG bridge he needs to do it on Tuesday or Wednesday.

                                                                    1. re: lexdevil

                                                                      Sure ... any of those days can be moved around to fit the car schedule.

                                                                2. For Aziza, no BART. You can drive and park on the street or take the Geary bus for $1.50. Be sure to hang on to your transfer as proof of payment.
                                                                  When you cross GG Bridge, head on down into Sausalito -- cute little town on the water. Beautiful views of SF from there.

                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                    NEW ITINERARY!
                                                                    - Get in around 12 at SFO, Rent Car, Check In
                                                                    - Lunch at Chez Panisse, (Am I wasting Chez Panisse by doing lunch over dinner)
                                                                    - Tea at Imperial Gardens Berkeley Bowl, Crixa Bakery
                                                                    - Have a Drink at Cliff House, Late Dinner at Aziza (* Because will have car)
                                                                    - Bakesale Betty on Way Bfast early,
                                                                    - Yoga at Ubuntu (Has anyone done this?)
                                                                    - Lunch at Ubuntu (11:30)
                                                                    - Olive Oil Tour (1-2:30)
                                                                    - Casa Nuestra Vineyard (707/963-5783)
                                                                    - Tour CIA
                                                                    - Dinner at Ad Hoc (7 PM)
                                                                    - Cheeseworks/Acme Bread (10 am) for Picnic Supplies
                                                                    - Drive across Golden Gate Bridge: * Bike if weather is nice (Parking?)
                                                                    - Views at Marin Headlands/Sausalito
                                                                    - Sonoma Vineyards, Have a Picnic, Vella Cheese Shop
                                                                    - Hiking?
                                                                    - Cyrus (Dinner 8 PMish)
                                                                    - Drive back to Emeryville/Stay in Sonoma
                                                                    - Union Square: Lunch at Canteen
                                                                    - North Beach: Linguira foccacia, XOX chocolates, Graffeo coffee
                                                                    - Chinatown
                                                                    - Dinner at Bar Crudo
                                                                    * Can we use BART for this?
                                                                    - Mission: Tartine Bakery, Pizzeria Delfina for Lunch, Bi Rite Creamery
                                                                    - Fulton Cable Car -> Fisherman’s Wharf ; Boat Tour
                                                                    - Dinner at Incanto (Is this doable transportation wise, or should I just eat at Delfina?)
                                                                    - Farmer’s Market Early

                                                                    1. re: uvahustla

                                                                      Looks like a great trip--I can't wait to hear your thoughts.

                                                                      BART does not head north from San Francisco, so you would not be able to take BART across the Golden Gate Bridge. There are buses that serve mostly commuters into and out of San Francisco's Financial District--it's probably easier to rent a car, considering your itinerary.

                                                                      Incanto is easy to get to from the J Church streetcar line (same one you'd take to get to Delfina, but Incanto's further out). Especially because you are hitting Pizzeria Delfina for lunch, I'd go to Incanto for dinner to get a sense of the contrasts and strengths of each.

                                                                      1. re: uvahustla

                                                                        Your plans are really coming together now--so much more coherent and efficient. Only glitch at this point is that Crixa is closed n Mondays. A minor loss in the great scheme of things. And Chez Panisse is lovely at lunch (note that it's the upstairs cafe only, but many prefer that).

                                                                        1. re: uvahustla

                                                                          This looks great!
                                                                          Minor notes:
                                                                          - It's "Cheeseboard", not Cheeseworks (in case you're trying to Google it for directions/hours)
                                                                          - pencil in a vodka tasting at Hangar One in Alameda (a short drive from Berkeley) on Monday afternoon, just in case you have time
                                                                          - Liguria bakery closes once it runs out of focaccia (frequently before noon), so get there before you go to lunch to pick up your afternoon snack
                                                                          - On Thursday, you won't need any transportation besides your feet!
                                                                          - Cyrus is as famed for its cocktails as it is for its food so... stay in Sonoma Wednesday night.

                                                                          Looking forward to the report!

                                                                          1. re: uvahustla

                                                                            There is definitely a parking lot on the Marin headlands side of the GG bridge. Look at it on google maps/satellite view, and you'll get a feel for it. You can then walk onto the bridge if so inclined, but you don't have to walk across the whole darn thing to get the experience, and in January it could be awfully cold and windy.

                                                                            Especially if staying in SF for the last half of your trip, BART and transit is totally doable for Thursday, Friday, and even Saturday if you're willing to wake up early enough to be at the market at 7:30, you can explore, eat breakfast, and then leave it by 8:45 when the crowd will become unbearable and have plenty of time to make your flight, especially if you spring for a $40 taxi to the airport.

                                                                            Your Friday food choices would be my ideal food day in San Francisco, though I'd be tempted to overeat at every place you listed so I hope your stomach's up for it!

                                                                            1. re: SteveG

                                                                              There are parking lots on both ends of the GGB, I'm not sure which is larger. One could easily walk out half way or so and then turn around and come back. Good reminder that it is always windy up on the bridge deck, so be prepared for that!

                                                                            2. re: uvahustla

                                                                              Great itinerary.

                                                                              Monday - if you want great tea, go to Teance on 4th St in Berkeley not Imperial Tea Court. It's a 10 minute drive and offers superior atmosphere, service, and food quality. 4th st also has good shopping and browsing both food and non - it's my favorite part of Berkeley.

                                                                              Wednesday - Cheeseboard is the only place you need to go for cheese. Cheese service starts at 10am. Try the Istara. You could also stop by the Cafe Rouge meat market for house-made charcuterie for you picnic. It's on the way to Sonoma - the shop is right next to the University Ave freeway entrance in Berkeley.

                                                                              Thursday - Your itinerary is pretty public transit friendly as long as nobody in your group has mobility issues. Traffic in SF can be so bad that public transit within the city is often faster than driving.You'll need to use a combination of BART and Muni to hit all the places on your list. 511.org is a great resource for public transit info. The kitchen at Bar Crudo is so small that they don't make dessert, they serve XOX chocolates instead. So, no need to go to the XOX store when you can have them later that evening after dinner. I probably already told you this, but it's worth repeating: order the seafood chowder with the flemish sour ale.

                                                                              Friday - Yes, you should go to Incanto. It's a beautiful cable car ride and the food is awesome. Order the braised lambs neck if they have it on the menu.

                                                                              I look forward to reading your report.

                                                                                1. re: wolfe

                                                                                  It's not a cable car. It's a trolley, the J-Church.

                                                                                  1. re: Paul H

                                                                                    Thank you Paul but I was pointing out to Morton the Mousse that he said
                                                                                    that it was a beautiful "cable car ride" to Incanto.

                                                                                    1. re: Paul H

                                                                                      It's not a cable car and it's not a trolley. It's a STREETCAR.

                                                                                2. re: uvahustla

                                                                                  I believe that's "Liguria" as in the region of Italy.

                                                                                  I've followed this discussion with fascination, noting someone finally pointed out that the 'loin was a bit "iffy" but no one said a word about some of the recommended areas of Oakland that are rife with mindless violence.

                                                                                  I would recommend taking advantage of the fact that almost every place posts menus, providing the opportunity to decide whether a particular one is worth whatever extra hassle in transporation (and also being prepared for the sticker shock some of even the less-exalted ones might impose).

                                                                              1. Did anyone recommend SWANN's oyster bar. What a treat and a great bunch of characters. A mug of beer or a good Sauvignon and a plate of oysters and relish the atmosphere and flavours!
                                                                                Loved and went back several times. Everytime I'm in San Francisco I make at leats 2 trips here.

                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: WINEBOY

                                                                                  Just my humble opinion, but I'd substitute Yank Sing (dim sum) at Spear and Mission (it's lower Mkt area, near Ferry Bldg.) for Canteen.

                                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                                    I respectfully disagree--keep Canteen, which is delightful, especially for lunch.

                                                                                    1. re: pane

                                                                                      Also, I think Canteen would be especially interesting for a chef, given the back story (to the OP - you may already know this, but the chef at Canteen was previously the executive chef at Rubicon, a well regarded and fairly chichi restaurant, who left to open his own restaurant in the former coffee shop of a hostel, now dormitory. Tiny restaurant, tiny kitchen, great food).

                                                                                      1. re: daveena

                                                                                        Just had a very pleasurable lunch at Canteen. It reminded me a little bit of the original Gregoire -- top notch food served quickly at a reasonable price in a tiny space.

                                                                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                          What were the lunch prices like compared to dinner? I was guessing $60 for two w/out drinks.

                                                                                  2. re: WINEBOY

                                                                                    Swan"s Depot was my first place I fell in love with in 1986 when I would visit, now I have lived here for almost a decade and I still love Swans. If they can fit it in then it is a must.

                                                                                  3. Hey Chef.
                                                                                    I am a chef, trained in SF now living in Jackson Hole. As you've realized, SF is an incredible city for a chef...full of never-before-seen vegetables, cuisines, smells, sights...you get the picture. Danko is definitely my favorite restaurant on the planet and it's wonderful that you're going. Some other things to do foodwise: go to Chinatown, even if it's only to walk around. This was one of my favorite things to do while I lived in the City. The sheer amount of fresh seafood is truly inspiring. Make sure to stop for Dim Sum and pick up supplies. Get yourself down to the Mission and seek out truly amazing Mexican street-style food. Also, many food shops where you can pick up epazote, pepita seeds, achiote, etc. K&L Wine merchant would be another stop. I'm a wine geek and it is one of only 2 places in the country where I purchase wines (local and napa wineries not included); make a trip to Yountville and hit Bistro Jeanty. Although not as 'cutting edge' as Bouchon, it's much more authentic. The best cassoulet you will have. Ever. Delfina is another great restaurant. Down in the Mission. Also, make absolutely sure to stop by Ferry Building Farmer's Market. Hog Island Oysters, Scharffenberger Chocolate, the Slanted Door, etc.. Other than that, you'll find top-notch Vietnamese, Mexican, Irish (the Kells), Chinese, French, Italian, Chez Panisse (Berkeley), the list goes on....good luck and happy eating.
                                                                                    Chef Tim

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: chefpels

                                                                                      almost forgot...if you have business cards stating you're in the hospitality industry, make sure you present them when you go a'tasting in wine country. Not only will they comp your tasting fee, but most wineries offer a trade discount of 30%-40% off their prices if you want to buy. Make sure to inquire about a trade discount before tasting though.

                                                                                      1. re: chefpels

                                                                                        Thanks for the tips Chef, I'll definitely take advantage of the discount and am psyched for the food shops in Chinatown and in Mission

                                                                                        1. re: uvahustla

                                                                                          Hi, oh boy ... its getting close.

                                                                                          I just wanted to mention since I see Vella Cheese is on your agenda not to expect too much. It is no Cheeseboard. I made my stop recently for the grated dry jack which I am currently in love with.

                                                                                          It is just a little cheese case with a one or two salami's and a few little other items. I just like it because it is so personal and they care about what they make. You can ask for samples though they don't make that apparant. I learned on this visit that the wheels of Jack cheese are softer than the bulk (square) Jack.

                                                                                          There's a cheese store on the square called Sonoma Cheese which I haven't been to since I moved here a few decades back. It seemed worthless then and remains so. They carry other brands of Monterrey Jack cheese with about 20 samples. It just doesn't compare to Vella's Jack. They do have some samples at Sonoma Cheese of Spring Hill Cheese found at farmers markets and Jimtown spread. Other than that, eh.

                                                                                          But with Vella, it is on a sleepy street just off the square. The office is up the stairs and if you have a question the clerk can't answer someone trots down (or calls down) from the office to answer it. I just like the vibe. Hope if you stop there you find it worth while.

                                                                                          A few other places nearby in the city of Sonoma proper are Sonoma Market a GREAT place for picnic supplies. Excellent deli, olive bar and many of the major bakeries like Bouchon are in the bakery department.

                                                                                          the fig pantry (they have an e.e. cummings thing going), has some products that are represtative of the area like Rancho Gordo beans, Fatted Calf products, etc. However a lot of those you'll also find that at the Ferry Plaza farmers market. The restaurant just off the sqaure ... the girl & the fig ... has a cheese counter too with a few nice cheeses.

                                                                                          Just off the square, in the alley near the theatre, is La Salette a Cal-Portuguese restaurant. It has a love/hate relationship on the board. I'm on the love side ... or very strong like side. There are some glitches. However, on a rainy day it is a romatic place to get a good glass of port or sherry with the bar seats facing the blazing wood-fired oven. Almosti baked good from that oven is quite good. I'm a fan of the rice pudding.

                                                                                          Looks like the storms might clear by early next week though. The pretty yellow mustard is starting to blanket the vineyards and a few foolish and brave trees have started to blossom.

                                                                                      2. re: chefpels

                                                                                        Scharffenberger is good, but I'd recommend Recchiutti for chocolate, also in the Ferry Bldg. Fan-freaking-tastic key lime pears (or apples) and burnt caramels.

                                                                                      3. Hey Clark, don't know if you've been watching the news, but the SF Bay Area is getting hit with a lot of heavy rain, winds, etc. There are a lot of places with power outages, closed roads, flooding, etc. There may be a few places mentioned in this thread that may be affected during the first few days of your trip out this way, so you may want to call ahead and plan for longer than usual travel times.

                                                                                        On an up note, there are lots of people who may be cancelling reservations and staying in, so you may be able to get in last minute at some places.

                                                                                        Good luck, safe travels, and be sure to pack your rain suitable footwear!


                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Non Cognomina

                                                                                          Well everyone after a delayed flight-->missed connection-->an extra transfer, a missing suitcase, my girlfriend puking out of our rented car during rush hour, we have finally arrived!! Big props to lexdevil on the lodging help. Our room has an amazing view of the bay and and we somehow got comp'd a bottle of champagne. We missed our Chez Panisse lunch but luckily got in for a late dinner seating upstairs. I'll keep y'all posted.

                                                                                          1. re: uvahustla

                                                                                            Welcome. On behalf of the entire Bay Area, we apoligize for the weather.

                                                                                            Looking forward to your report. Hope you will start a new thread about where you ate with a link back to this one since this is getting a bit long and your report might get lost in it.

                                                                                            1. re: uvahustla

                                                                                              Welcome to the city, Chef Tim. Here's hoping you are having a great time! Where have you been eating???

                                                                                          2. Just saw this...but for future readers looking for suggestions:

                                                                                            Sourdough and Salamie are two musts while in the Bay Area.
                                                                                            Columbus reigns supreme, but while in North Beach, a stop to Molinaries for their North Beach special (porsciutto and peppers) is tops. Their Coppa is great as well.
                                                                                            Also, a slice of Princess Cake from Victoria Bakery, or anything whipped cream and cake like from Stella Bakery are unmatched elsewhere. If you manage to get focaccio from Linguire make sure you get the raisin if available. Golden Boy pizza is also a great suggestion. If someone where to spend more time in North Beach, brunch/lunch at Momma's is the quintessential San Francisco experience. They bake their own breads, and the cranberry walnut is to die for. I can't stress how important it is to taste a real sourdough bread while in town.

                                                                                            As for the Ferry Building farmers market, and incanto suggestions... as someone who lives on the East Coast right now, I doubt these will be all that impressive on such a tight schedule. They're just not unique enough.

                                                                                            41 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                              Yeah ... the only thing I can say to all that is a caveat that if the weather remains bad, there will be far fewer vendors at Ferry Plaza but it is still worth it to check out those who brave it ... and as a visitor you aren't buying that many veggies anyway.

                                                                                              I get the Ferry Plaza newsletter which unfortunately doesn't post online until the following week so on Friday I'll post who is out and who is in.

                                                                                              Last week the following didn't show due to the storms ... it was the most I've ever seen missing at the market and I've braved years of stormy winter Saturdays at Ferry Plaza.

                                                                                              Out: Achadinha Cheese Co., Allstar Organics, Andante Dairy, Bella Viva Orchards, Bernard Ranches, Chan's Nursery, Cowgirl Creamery, Devoto Gardens, Downtown Bakery, Ella Bella Farm, Far West Fungi, Frog Hollow Farms, G.L. Alfieri Farms, Happy Girl Kitchen Co., Hare Hollow, Hayes Street Grill/Viccolo Pizza, Hodo Soy Beanery, Hog Island Oyster Co., June Taylor Co., Juniper Ridge, Knoll Farms, Lagier Ranches, Marin Sun Farms, Noe Valley Bakery, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Primavera, RoliRoti, Rose Pistola, Short Night Farm, Tierra Vegetables

                                                                                              Again, that was last week.

                                                                                              sugartoof, next time you visit the Bay Area I hope you will post and ask to get pointed to the best vendors and products at Ferry Plaza. It is a large market and it is easy to miss the good stuff on occasional visits. I'm hoping we'll knock your socks off next time. One other good reason for VA Chef to visit Ferry Plaza is because it is one of the few markets that it is possible to meet the actual owners of these farms and chat. Given he is a chef, this might be an added plus for him.

                                                                                              Molinari has a branch in the Ferry Building called Mastrellie's and while smaller, much of the same food can be found.

                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                I'm a Bay Area native who visits regularly. My point was there is absolutely no reason for someone to visit while on vacation. Green Markets and fresh produce aren't nearly as exotic on the East Coast as some seem to think. California produce, while incredible in many regards, isn't exactly the rare spotted owl. It's nothing unique to experience. Nice, and fun, but not a top of the list experience.
                                                                                                I find the attitude that a VA chef could possibly meet a farm owner to be a pretty naive precious concept. Many of those products are available week round at Bi Rite market, to name just one option. It's just a green market, no different then the ones available across this nation where farm owners work their land, and their market booths. A number of the vendors you listed distribute their products across the Bay Area, and elsewhere. It's hardly unique.

                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                  Without really wishing to get into a debate about the Ferry Building Farmer's Market I will say that since uvahustla is coming from Charlottesville, VA...the Ferry Building itself is going to end up looking and feeling much like a somewhat larger version of a spot in Charlottesville: The Main Street Market which has a fishmonger, very high end cheese and wine shop, excellent restaurant, upscale kitchen supply shop, 100% organic butcher, flower shop, chocolatier, bakery and so on. Combined with the fairly excellent Charlottesville City Market for produce it replicates a smaller version of what's available at the Ferry Building. It's a smaller scale and so with less extreme variety...but it's the same idea and really does very well.

                                                                                                  1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                    Maybe so, but do they have an incredible view of the San Francisco Bay???

                                                                                                    1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                      Please check the chefs note of 1/13 and rethink the advisability of skipping the Ferry Plaza. Apparently more is better.

                                                                                                    2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                      sugartoof, I am more than aware that there are other fine farmers markets in the the states ... and elsewhere in the world.

                                                                                                      The fact that you would compare Bi Rite to Ferry Plaza to me seems that you really don't understand Ferry Plaza. These 'farmers' supply some of the top chefs and restaurants in the country. It is not comparable to being down on the farm at a local fine farmers market ... or even any other farmers market in the Bay Area and I've been to maybe 90 percent of them.

                                                                                                      Again, it is not just about produce. If that was all it was, it wouldn't be worth a trip for a visitor. Seriously post a query next time you are in town and have some time available and maybe you will get a better feel why Ferry Plaza is unique and different than stopping by Bi Rite.

                                                                                                      It is like comparing the outdoor markets of France or Mexico or Greece or Taiwan or London or Italy ... many of which I visited ... and say there's no difference ... produce is produce ... is similar to comparing the markets in this country.

                                                                                                  2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                    I have to disagree. There is not a chef in America worth his/her weight in gold that who has not at least heard of Chris Cosentino's work.

                                                                                                    And when it comes to the Ferry Building market. For a chef that is like a child visiting Disney World with no exaggeration. When I was there last year it was no less memorable then my meal at the French Laundry.

                                                                                                    1. re: oysterspearls

                                                                                                      Of course, Chris Cosentino is now one of the Bay Area's celebrity chefs. That's great if you're enamored by publicity, and tv appearances, and get excited by concept foods, then have at it. Frankly, his food is mediocre, and poorly executed. It's a poor representation of a town known for it's food that rarely delivers in quality these days. I care about taste, not his reputation, and you should too.

                                                                                                      The Ferry Building, like Chelsea Market is one of dozens of artisinal food markets in this country. It is not unique, nor is it's selection.

                                                                                                      Try and suggest that which is uniquely San Francisco/Bay Area.
                                                                                                      I personally would much rather a chef visiting the city take a trip to the Boudin factory rather then an outpost of Acme bread in a gourmet food court located in the hollowed out facade of a city landmark.

                                                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                        The Ferry Building is one of the most uniquely San Francisco places that there is. It's not the indoor market that people are talking about -- while that's fun, the Saturday farmers market is incredibly unique to San Francisco, and is a place that I would send any visitor, no matter where they are coming from. If all that you think it is is a gourmet food court, then you either just haven't seen what the farmers market is, or your definition of gourmet food court is one very differently from mine.

                                                                                                        And describing the food at Incanto as mediocre is so incredibly opposite of my experience that maybe you just have very different taste buds and views of food.

                                                                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                          I'm curious - what did you order at Incanto? I've eaten in a lot of Italian restaurants in NYC (and I love them), but I've never, ever seen cured tuna heart on a menu there. Nor have I seen cockscombs, pig trotters, lamb neck...

                                                                                                          I think Cosentino is an important figure in the SF culinary scene not because of his appearances on the Food Network, but because he's so vocal and passionate about sustainable eating. While other prominent chefs (Bourdain, Batali) are vocal about loving offal, I think Cosentino is the only one who really talks about it in the framework of sustainability. And, while sustainable eating is obviously part of the DNA of Bay Area food via Alice Waters, I think Cosentino is the one who really makes the dialogue about meat.

                                                                                                          Plus, everything I've ever had at Incanto has been delicious. I've never tried any of the "safe" dishes, though (handkerchief pasta with ragu, pork shoulder) - while they have their fans, most of the negative reviews I've seen have been from people who had those two dishes.

                                                                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                            Sugartoof- I've been to a lot of food markets in the US as well as in France and Italy. I would agree with JasmineG that the Ferry Building is a unique experience, and definitely worth visiting if you have never been.

                                                                                                            Perhaps the NYT is simply eager for more market options, or to promote development, but author Kim Severson would appear to disagree with you in this week's article titled, "Hungry for a Market, but Where," http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/02/din...
                                                                                                            I read the article before reading your comment and so was particulary struck by the contrast in views.

                                                                                                            1. re: souvenir

                                                                                                              Souvenir - I think you're missing the point. The article names the Ferry Building in the context of several other food markets. The fact is every regional development project now features local culinary fare. It's something done to draw tourism. It happens to be that San Francisco is a fairly transient city that draws many recent transplants who appreciate the all in one food court atmosphere of the Ferry Building. As I've said before, I would much rather send someone to a Boudin factory then an Acme Bread outpost. Many of you wouldn't see the importance of why. To each their own. Many of you probably don't take issue with the palm tree landscaping outside the Ferry Building either.

                                                                                                              By the way - it strikes me a bit hysterical that comments here keep insinuating that I've never been.

                                                                                                              (don't know why that comment repeated, sorry)

                                                                                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                I don't wish to prolong the back and forth, just to clarify. There is no insinuation in my post that you (sugartoof) haven't visited the Ferry Building. My sentence was intended for a visitor to SF who has an interest in markets, and hasn't yet visited it. I believe that the Ferry Building market is worth a visit.

                                                                                                                As far as the NYT article, I don't believe I did miss the point. It simply sounds as though you and I understood the article differently, which makes sense as everyone assimilates information differently, based upon his or her own skills, knowledge, experience, filters.

                                                                                                                1. re: souvenir

                                                                                                                  Which is fine. There are many reasons to suggest the place. I personally feel it homogenizes the city rather then showcases it, and expressed that viewpoint. I don't see where the NYT's names the market as being the champion of all food markets, so much recognizes there is a trend in such markets....and my problem with it is exactly that - one can find a similar experience elsewhere. I don't think it matters at that point if one can get a specific name brand of marmalade for goodness sakes. It's not as if there are dozens if not hundreds of amazing marmalades in the country. I've had the marmalade in question, and it's fine...I'm not bad mouthing it... I am disturbed that anyone would pretend it's a holy grail of a San Francisco food experience passed down through generations. Or that people would judge someone who doesn't agree with their assessment of said marmalade. It's truly absurd.

                                                                                                                  As I said earlier in a post that seems to have vanished, I come from a school where I'd much rather direct someone to a corner grocery so they could buy an It's-It Bar. That is truly San Francisco, and special.

                                                                                                                2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                  Acme is just as native to San Francisco as Boudin, and is as important an institution as the foundation of the artisan bread movement in the Bay Area. I don't know why you would consider it less a San Francisco experience than Boudin (and for the record, I love Boudin).

                                                                                                                  Plus, you make is sound as if the Acme location in the Ferry Building is just a retail outlet, when in fact they bake on site (including some items that are only available there).

                                                                                                                  Finally, your posts are -- perhaps intentionally, since you seem to have an ax to grind -- blurring the distinction between the Ferry Building itself and the Saturday Farmers' market there. In all the years I've personally and on Chowhound recommended the Saturday Farmers' market to visitors I don't think I've ever had anyone say that it was no big deal and just like at home. Many NYers have said, in fact, that it puts the Union Square Greenmarket to shame (as it should, considering that Northern California allows for a much wider array of local produce than NY does).

                                                                                                                  ETA: At the bottom of this thread there is a post from the original poster naming the farmers' market as one of his two favorite things from his visit. Res ipsa loquitur.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                    As a native San Franciscan, I disagree with your assessment of Acme as being of equal cultural value as Boudin, the last real Sourdough fixture in the city. Acme makes fine breads, which are available all through the Bay Area (chances are the OP was served Acme bread along his other stops), but it has many equals in flavor and quality all across the country. Amy's Bread in NYC carries a very similar line of artisan breads just to name one example. I'm aware that Acme helped set off a rebirth of bread bakeries in the Bay Area, but it's no Boudin. What Boudin sells is uniquely a San Franciscan taste. When they go, that's it. When I get back to SF, I want my real sourdough I can only get there, not just a good artisan bread. There are good artisan breads all over. I'll also add that Acme is a Berkeley company, and built it's reputation outside of SF, so it's a misnomer to call it "native to San Francisco".

                                                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                      I oddly agree with both you and Ruth. I've kind of determined that your tastes and mine in food are different.

                                                                                                                      However, I am sorry that SF has dropped the ball on sourdough. Unfortunately, Boudin is currently the best left that is easily accesible. This is the heritage of SF Why don't more bakeries take sourdough seriously? IMO the only decent sourdough left is what is served at Tadich. Pity.

                                                                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                        I like the sourdough at Scott's Oakland. Have you tried it there or at the Walnut Creek branch?
                                                                                                                        Comment in a yelp review. (not mine)
                                                                                                                        I would have finished my dish, except that I had stuffed my face earlier with several slices of their yummy sourdough bread slathered generously with their soft butter.

                                                                                                                        1. re: wolfe

                                                                                                                          No. Niot yet, but thanks for thie tip.

                                                                                                                        2. re: rworange

                                                                                                                          Tadich's sourdough is made according to a special recipe by Boudin. It used to be made by Parisian, but when they closed, most of their accounts were taken over by Boudin. And, by the way, Craig Ponsford, master baker and owner of Artisan Bakers in Sonoma, has joined Boudin and is in charge of their high end baking. I was really impressed with their breads when I took a tour of the bakery with a baking group that I belong to. I would recommend that folks try the breads that are made at the demonstration bakery at Fisherman's Wharf or at the 10th Ave. original bakery -- you might be surprised at the quality of many of the breads.

                                                                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                            I think the bread at Swan's is great, too. Seems very much like Tadich's to me. The bread at Original Joe really went down hill. Do you think they'll ever really reopen?

                                                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                              I agree what Tadich's has been (and maybe still does) serve is one of the last remnants of what a Sourdough should taste like. As reported, you can get that old style bake from the Boudin factories sometimes. There are generations that grew up with this flavor as an integral part of it's life, so it really is a pity that a next wave of San Franciscans may not know the difference.

                                                                                                                            2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                              One is old SF, one is new SF, but they're both icons.

                                                                                                                              As for something being similar to NYC -- you recommended Italian delis, bakeries and pizza, which I don't think anyone would say could not be found -- probably in superior versions -- in NYC.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                Sorry you have misconstrued comments, and felt the need to attack me for sharing my opinions. Very few of the responses I'm getting seem to have much relevance to anything I'm actually saying so these rapid attempts to discredit me are pretty strange.

                                                                                                                                Also, it's not a matter of which city produces the best something or other so much as representing the very things that make San Francisco one of a kind. Boudin may not make the best bread in the region, but I believe it's a determent to the preservation of the city for a Chef to visit and not experience a proper Sourdough.

                                                                                                                                I never suggested every single suggestion made must always represent an only in SF experience, but in this case, I felt it was sorely lacking and a few choices were unnecassary. My one post was flooded with many more which disagreed with me, and frankly, that should have been enough, because there was no reason I should have to justify my original comments in the first place. There were comments edited from forum members insinuating that I was merely a "hater from NY". Again, my original post did not merit this reaction. If our understanding of what makes San Francisco unique may be different - please allow a dissenting viewpoint within the rules of this forum. Thanks.

                                                                                                                              2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                Agreed. Boudin is uniquely SF, as are Levi's. Given it's the same "mother" yeast, it should taste similar.

                                                                                                                                That said, I no longer really like Boudin or seek it out...but then I also don't live near the 10th Ave bakery any longer, not even sure it's still running. Acme is also great but it is a modern bread which isn't good or bad.

                                                                                                                                I'm not a native SF'er but my family came to SF/Cali during the gold rush, so I do appreciate history and the idea you could get something the same.

                                                                                                                                BTW, the "mother" yeast is the same as the beginning but I think the climate in SF has changed. It's not as foggy in SF. The fog doesn't roll in the same way and just sit on the ground..so that might effect the bread.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                  Do either of the airborne determinants of authentic San Francisco sourdough -- lactobacillus san francisco and candida humilis -- even make it into Boudin dough anymore, with Boudin's use of powerful industrial air filters?

                                                                                                                                  My sense is that no commercial bakery allows the airborne "yeasts" into their dough -- doing so would allow some nasty microorganisms to get in that would cause off-flavors --so none of the SF Bay Area bakeries produce what is authentically *San Francisco* sourdough. Any claims, by Boudin or others, that their commercial sourdough is authentic *San Francisco* sourdough are based more on marketing and the perpetuation of a myth than on accuracy, unfortunately.

                                                                                                                                  So, in terms of this thread, Acme is as relevant as Boudin.

                                                                                                                                  The bakeries do make very good sourdough bread, often using an excellent starter or levain; sometimes adding vinegar for extra sourness, and employing good baking techniques. Adding vinegar to the dough to make it extra sour isn't as much like cheating as it may sound -- the lactobacillus gives off acetic acid when it metabolizes the sugar in flour anyway. That's how the sour flavor gets there in the first place.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                    I'm confused as to what is being debated here, or why.

                                                                                                                                    Boudin has been around since the mid-1800's, and produces a sourdough which replicates what generations of San Franciscans would recognize as the familiar taste of the true sourdough we were raised on.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                      I'm not sure what's being debated here except to say Boudin's has changed subtly over the past few years due to weather and industrial processes. I say it's still authentic, but it has changed.

                                                                                                                                      I had a chance to have some Boudin's a couple of weeks ago and it seemed milder (less tang) and softer (no crust cutting the tongue). I can't prove anything except I use to eat a fair amount of the stuff when I lived in the Richmond.

                                                                                                                        3. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                          I never said that Incanto was the best restaurant in SF. Or even the top five for that matter. But what Chris Cosentino is doing was known throughout the restaurant industry long before he ever appeared on Iron Chef.
                                                                                                                          For a visiting chef I still believe it would be interesting and memorable.

                                                                                                                          And regarding the Ferry Building. Acme bread aside, I found cheese from Soyoung Scanlan, produce from Frog Hollow and marmalade's from June Taylor very unique.
                                                                                                                          I visit Union Square and Redding Terminal markets often and don't believe they compare to the Ferry Building.
                                                                                                                          Let me also add I've worked in some of the very best restaurants in the country. And utilized ingredients that in many cases are not even sold retail or to the general consumer. And was blown away after visiting the Ferry Building and talking with farmers and tasting their products.

                                                                                                                          1. re: oysterspearls

                                                                                                                            I think you're underestimating the type of products available in VA, or within close proximity. Perhaps taking care in a product is some wildly special thing to Californians, but that's sort of depressing. The whole slow food, artisan approach is alive and well all over the country. For the most part, they just work hard, and don't need blogs or marketing to label what they do.

                                                                                                                            There are fun products to sample at the Ferry Building, but it's hardly a cornerstone of a real Bay Area culinary experience. In fact, I wouldn't look to the Bay Area for the best Goat Cheeses, or Marmalades in the first place.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                              Having worked at the Inn At Little Washington you can trust I am familiar with VA products.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                                            Haha I just got in and saw 120 replies and got excited about some potential food event or new recommendation. There's no reason to get personal and I respect both opinions. Charlottesville is big in the slow food movement and does have a thriving farmer's market and local food sources. That being said, I'm sure the market here is much larger and will simply have different offerings from that in VA. As far as the Incanto discussion it's meaningless since my late arrival is going to prevent me from going.

                                                                                                                            On the food side I've really been blown away so far; Chez Panisse Up, Ubuntu, and Cyrus. I've gotten to speak with chefs and cooks at each place and have been treated wonderfully. I've got pictures of every dish and pages of notes. TO THE BOARD: When I get everything together what format would you like me to post in? It will be lengthy, so I could do each restaurant individually on a new post, or start a new trip thread and do one restaurant per post? Any other ideas? I'm open to anything. Let me know. If the food maintains its current level of quality I might be the luckiest man in the country this week.........THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE!!!

                                                                                                                            1. re: uvahustla

                                                                                                                              My vote would be a separate post for each restaurant. With the new Places option it is nice to have a post for a specific restaurant so that people looking for info on that particular restaurant find it easily. Thanks for asking. Glad to hear all is well.

                                                                                                                              1. re: uvahustla

                                                                                                                                I vote for one post with separate links - you have such a fantastic itinerary that I'd like to be able to link your entire trip report easily, when we get requests from visitors asking where to eat.

                                                                                                                                1. re: daveena

                                                                                                                                  Yeah, like the wonderful Family of 6 reports from a few years ago. That allows little scrap info that maybe doesn't merit their own posts. http://www.chow.com/search?search%5Bb...

                                                                                                                                  however it's done we'll all appreciate your report back and look forward to it.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: daveena

                                                                                                                                    I'd second this option in part because I'm betting you'll be making a few comparisons across your meals and I'd like to be able to more easily move back and forth in the post checking those out. Thanks and hope it's going well!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: daveena

                                                                                                                                      Oh wait... ha ha... what I meant to say was, one thread, with a separate post for each restaurant (maybe with the restaurant name in all-caps at the top of its post to make it easy for people to scan). Although, one post with links to separate reviews works, too.

                                                                                                                                      Like everyone else, I'm really looking forward to the reviews!

                                                                                                                                    2. re: uvahustla

                                                                                                                                      Glad you were able to overlook the snippy-ness and glad your trip is going so well. I hope that the public transit portion of your visit (starting today, I think) goes smoothly. Looks like some rain is possible over the next few days, but nothing like the deluge you've already endured.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: uvahustla

                                                                                                                                        Hey Chef my comment above about a landlocked market was because it's not just about the food. In the words of a displaced Michigander: "Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circum spice".

                                                                                                                                  2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                    We've removed a number of posts from this thread that were angry and unfriendly. When a post is more focused on another poster and how or what they've posted, rather than on the food itself, your post is likely to be removed. Please remember to rate chow, not chowhounds.

                                                                                                                                  3. Looks like a sunny day for Saturday and according the the CUESA newsletter most of the vendors will be back at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

                                                                                                                                    Saturday, January 12
                                                                                                                                    In/returning: Hodo Soy Beanery, Allstar Organics, G.L. Alfieri Farms, Tierra Vegetables, Frog Hollow Farm, Happy Girl Kitchen, Andante Dairy, Primavera, Hare Hollow, Marin Sun Farms, Lagier Ranches, June Taylor Co., Devoto Gardens, Rose Pistola, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Hayes St. Grill/Viccolo, Ella Bella Farm, Hog Island Oyster Co., Happy Quail Farms (last day for a while!), Noe Valley Bakery, Cowgirl Creamery, Far West Fungi, Bella Viva Orchards, La Cocina, Bernard Ranches, Capay Canyon Ranch

                                                                                                                                    Out: Downtown Bakery, Chan's Nursery, Knoll Farms, Short Night Farm

                                                                                                                                    Some of the vendors I would highly recommend

                                                                                                                                    Andante cheeses - the cheesemaker is wonderful to talk to and, IMO, these are the best cheeses at the market.

                                                                                                                                    Bodega and Yerba Santa Goat Cheese - the caramel made from the cheese is so delicious. The cheesemakers father makes this.

                                                                                                                                    Sciabica & Sons olive oils - just my favorite olive oil. I especially love the emerald green, peppery first-press fall oils.

                                                                                                                                    Bates and Schmidtt - I love their balsamic apple vinegar

                                                                                                                                    June Taylor - Wonderful jams. Lots of samples. Try the cherry and the apricot. No samples of the syrups but they are amazing.

                                                                                                                                    Rancho Gordo - Heirloom beans. According to CUESA on Saveur's list of 100 foods and trends that represent the contemporary culinary world.

                                                                                                                                    Flying Disc Ranch - this is the season for dates and the dates I have been buying lately are delicious

                                                                                                                                    Marshall's honey - don't miss a taste of the pumpkin blossom honey

                                                                                                                                    Tierra - wonderful smoked, dried onions, if avaliable. Also excellent dried peppers and a great chipotle powder.

                                                                                                                                    Fatted Calf - A very popular vendor on Chowhound.

                                                                                                                                    St. Benoit yogurt

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                      Back home after a wonderful trip. I think my favorite thing food wise in the city was the farmer's market followed by 18th St. in the Mission District (Tartine, Delfina, Bi-Rite Creamery) The market simply has unique products to offer (12 diff. kinds of dates, 5 kinds of Asian Pears, citrus fruits galore) and a very hands on friendly approach. This will be my last real post on this thread, but I am working hard on my trip report and will let everyone know when it is up.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: uvahustla

                                                                                                                                        BEST OF:

                                                                                                                                        1) Cyrus
                                                                                                                                        2) Ubuntu
                                                                                                                                        3) Chez Panisse
                                                                                                                                        3) Ad Hoc
                                                                                                                                        5) Tartine Bakery

                                                                                                                                        1) “Cheesecake” In A Jar - Ubuntu
                                                                                                                                        2) Apple Crumble – Ad Hoc
                                                                                                                                        Pound Cake, Oreo Cookie, Pecan Roll – Bouchon Bakery

                                                                                                                                        1) Cyrus, hands down
                                                                                                                                        2) Chez Panisse

                                                                                                                                        FOOD EXCURSION :
                                                                                                                                        1) Farmer’s Market
                                                                                                                                        2) Cheeseboard
                                                                                                                                        3) 18th St : Bi Rite Creamery & Store, Tartine Bakery

                                                                                                                                        1) Cauliflower in Cast Iron Pot – Ubuntu
                                                                                                                                        2) Steelhead w/Blood Orange and Fennel – Chez Panisse
                                                                                                                                        3) Foie Gras w/Persimmon and Brioche – Cyrus
                                                                                                                                        Lobster w/Avocado, Mango, Hearts of Palm – Cyrus

                                                                                                                                        Report is pretty much done....