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Jan 15, 2008 03:55 PM

Staying at Ritz in SF is Chez Panisse too far?

I am a newcomer to the Chowhound community and this is my first post, so please be gentle if my questions seems silly. We are going to Napa for 2 nights in May and then 3 nights at the Ritz Carlton. I have been pouring over the boards the last few days as I start planning our trip and have found it to be a wonderful source of information on restaurants and general SF area info. I would like to have dinner at Chez Panisse but will not have a car while I am in town. Is it a reasonable cab ride or is there public transport available?

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  1. Cable car to Embarcadaro. Bart to north Berkeley. Cab to Chez Panisse, just a few blocks ( 3/4 mile) but ride is better.

    2 Replies
    1. re: wolfe

      Berkeley BART station would be closer than No. Berkeley, about 9 blocks, 10 minute walk.

      1. re: meemster

        You are correct of course. Distance was from downtown but my head was into my wife's station.

    2. How are you getting to Napa? Most people go to Panisse for lunch en route to Napa but without a car, I don't think it is worth the hassle via public transportation and definitely too expensive via cab (probably $35 to $40 each way).

      San Francisco proper is full of so many fabulous eateries, that I think CP (with all its recent mediocrity) is not worth the effort.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Carrie 218

        SF obviously has many great places, including the Dining Room at the Ritz.

        A lot of people disagree that CP is mediocre. If it was mediocre or only average, why would people even bother with lunch on the way to Napa?

        Seems pretty reasonable that an out-of-towner would want to go to CP. Lunch is still a good idea however, making a nice 1/3 day trip to Berkeley, go to the Cheese Board, prowl gourmet ghetto, maybe look for some hippies.

        1. re: Carrie 218

          OPs question was not whether it is worth it, it is whether it is too far from SF to be doable for a dinner. OP said s/he would like to have dinner there.

          I think the answer is, yes, pretty far for a reasonable cab (which could be even more than $40 each way), but also yes, public transportation is available, and if OP wants to try Chez Panisse, very, very doable and not much hassle. I have walked from Downtown Berkeley BART station more than once, it is also a quick and cheap cab ride from there if one doesn't want to walk. And BART from the Ritz is easy and fun via cable car as others have pointed out. Coming home, one could cab up the hill from Embarcadero BART.

          I also agree that it would make sense on way to or from Napa if one is driving.

          This website will give all the public transit info:

          I suggest a search of the boards for a variety of opinions on CP vs other restaurants but bottom line: if you want to try it, don't let the fact that it is in Berkeley stop you.

          1. re: susancinsf

            Easier than searching the board is checking out the recent posts attached to the Place record for Chez Panisse.

            As Susan said, opinions have been mixed on the board since there was a Chowhound board, so hardly any change. The food is the same as always at CP, no recent mediocrity. If Chez Panisse is a restaurant that you would like to try, the only decision is whether or not you feel the responses in this thread regarding transporation are in your comfort zone.

        2. Public transportaion might take you an hour or so to get there, but I think it's worth it!

          4 Replies
          1. re: berkeleyite

            Should be less than an hour, actually, unless you walk very slowly, and faster than driving in traffic.

            The recommendations above (either to combine with driving to Napa or go for lunch at the cafe and take public transit) are both good ones. The cafe is also somewhat easier to get into than the restaurant esp for lunch, so you could squeeze it in without planning weeks in advance.

            If you take BART back after dinner in Berkeley, you'll need to transfer at MacArthur, adding another step.

            1. re: Windy

              I agree, though allowing an hour probably means less stress worrying about being late...or allow more than an hour and check out some of the nearby restaurants and stores...Black Oak Books just a few doors north is one of the better bookstores in Berkeley (meaning: it is very, very good), and Cesar next door has lovely cocktails (especially if you go early when it is less crowded)....

              Chez Panisse
              1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

              Bar César
              1515 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

              1. re: Windy

                I have to say, even the Cafe at dinner isn't that hard to get into (at least during the week, I've had excellent luck calling at short notice), and I've had very excellent meals at the Cafe for dinner recently. I think it would be a great idea to go either for lunch on the way to Napa, or to take public transportation (plus a short cab ride, if you like) to go there for dinner.

              2. re: berkeleyite

                BART from downtown SF to downtown Berkeley is less then a half hour ride. I take it most days. A cab ride is 5 minutes at most. A walk, 20 minutes for 9 blocks seems more then reasonable.

                I'd say book it. Relatively speaking, it's not that expensive...and I'd say go for dinner.

              3. Rather than cable car to BART, take a cab -- very short distance to California/Drumm for Embarcadero BART (You don't want to walk to BART because from the Ritz the hills are VERY STEEP.). (Cable Car is $5 each and takes a while.) From Berkeley BART, walk or take cab to Chez Panisse. Treat yourself to a cab back home to the Ritz from Berkeley. I would choose not to go to all this trouble and expense just for CP but if you go earlier in the day you can walk around Berkeley Bowl store and look at all the produce, snack at the Cheeseboard and walk around Shattuck.

                1. Once again rworange (in Jan.-15 reply) is perceptive and informative here. I'll offer a couple points of clarification. First, "lunch" implies Chez Panisse Café, not the restaurant (normally dinner only), see . Second, "dinner at Chez Panisse," for visiting food enthusiasts and experts the past 36 years who wanted to experience the place, typically has meant the original establishment which is the restaurant, not the Café.