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Critique My Itinerary

Any suggestions for improvement are appreciated. Looking for fun places with great eats that don't break the bank. By breaking the bank, I mean FL caliber. Was willing to splurge on Gary Danko, but haven't been able to get in. I am on wait list at this time. While in Sonoma, I've chosen spots within walking distance of MacArthur Place off of Sonoma Square, so that rules out Cyrus and Dry Creek Kitchen.

Saturday, March 29, SF:
Market and then lunch at Slanted Door.
Dinner: Delfina

Sunday, March 30, SF/Sonoma:
Need great lunch spot on way to Sonoma (up Hwy 1) or a good place to hit before leaving SF
Dinner: Girl and the Fig

Monday, March 31, Sonoma/Napa during day:
Lunch: open for a picnic or Bouchon
Dinner: El Dorado Kitchen

Tuesday, April 1, Sonoma
Lunch: open for picnic
Dinner: Cafe La Haye

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  1. Canteen in SF might be a good choice before leaving SF for Sonoma.

    In Napa on Monday you might stop by the new Oxbow Market for picnic supplies. Actually you might try the new Ubuntu in Napa for lunch. Search the board for lots of recent positive reports.

    Sonoma Market would be good for picnic supplies on Tuesday.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      Thanks for the suggestions, rworange.

      Both markets are on our list of to-dos. I'm also hoping the Sonoma Square Market will be up and running on the Tuesday night of our visit. From what I've read it starts the first of April, and that Tuesday will in fact be April 1.

      Any ideas for afternoon drinks/snacks as we stroll through SF on Saturday? Probably Haight and Mission areas. Staying on Nob Hill, so that area too.

      1. re: eatyourveggies1

        If you are in the Haight on Saturday afternoon, duck into Alembic for drinks and small plates. They specialize in artisanal liquors but also have an interesting wine list.

    2. While having lunch at Bouchon is a lovely idea, you are going to get really tired of driving back and forth from Sonoma to Napa to Sonoma. I might suggest that you dump one of your Sonoma dinners and spend the whole day in Napa; splitting lunch and dinner between Bouchon and Ubuntu. Honestly, the three dinners you have chosen are all remarkably similar in scope, menu, and sensibilities.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Carrie 218

        We're planning to only spend one day in Napa as of now, which would include lunch there and market and wineries. We don't want to be doing the back and forth thing, particularly at night, which is why we've chosen all of our dinners within walking distance from our hotel. Is there another dinner spot you'd suggest on or near Sonoma Square?

        1. re: eatyourveggies1

          I would take General's Daughter over The Girl In The Fig, personally. But make Ubuntu your lunch choice in Napa... You won't regret it.

      2. I missed that you said you were detouring up Highway 1 on your way to Sonoma. Have lunch at Seaweed Cafe in Bodega Bay. Best food on the coast.

        http://www.chow.com/places/435

        10 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Thanks for the tip. This place looks great. I was planning on the seafood joint that was just mentioned in the new Town & Country Travel (name slips my mind at this point), but this place looks like they have a great Sunday brunch.

          1. re: eatyourveggies1

            Nick's Cove was the place mentioned in T&C. Anyone been there?

              1. re: eatyourveggies1

                I have and, as noted, reports have been mixed. My entree was a bust, though I liked the chowder. My friend's fish was very tasty. Personally, if I were going from SF up to Sonoma, I wouldn't bother driving on Hwy 1 just to catch Nick's. (Actually I probably wouldn't go that route anyway as it is much longer and slower and I'd rather wander around in Sonoma than drive!)

                1. re: dinnerout

                  I'd probably do the coast and Sonoma on different days, too, but then I live here.

                  1. re: dinnerout

                    I know this isn't food related, but is the drive up 1 not worth the extra time? If it isn't, I am happy either staying in SF longer or exploring Sonoma on our way up via a more direct route.

                    1. re: eatyourveggies1

                      I don't think the drive up the 1 is not worth it because it is not really on the coastline north of San Francisco. Down by Big Sur, you DO see water, but for much of the Highway 1 drive, you are in the middle of farmland for a LOT of miles. It is just twisty roads with occasional shots of cows and lush greenery (at this time of the year), but not that exciting.

                      1. re: Carrie 218

                        Thanks. This is what I needed to know...

                      2. re: eatyourveggies1

                        It's a lovely drive through a lot of different landscapes. You drive over Mount Tamalpais (can stop at Muir Woods if you want), along the coast from Muir Beach to Stinson, then along Bolinas lagoon, then through wooded parts of Point Reyes National Seashore, then along Tomales Bay.

                        1. re: eatyourveggies1

                          To me the extra time is not worth it, but as someone else pointed out, I live here. In addition to Hwy 1 being slow and windy, you also have to get from Hwy 1 to Sonoma, and there isn't a particularly direct way to do that. The countryside is pretty, but I think you will see more than you need and spend more time than you need to doing it.

                2. I wouldn't bother with Slanted Door. Loud, overpriced, poor service. Seems to be past its prime and coasting on its reputation.

                  If you really want to go to Gary Danko, get there about 15 minutes before they open and sit at the bar. I did this recently and it was lots of fun. Much easier to talk to your dining companion when you are right next to her/him, rather than across the table.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Bay Gelldawg

                    I chose Slanted Door since we'll be going to the market that morning. Are there any other places around the market that you'd suggest?

                    When I got wait-listed for Danko, the reservationist told me the same thing about the bar. I just typically don't like to eat early. Would rather still be enjoying the day and have a late dinner. We'll see.

                    1. re: eatyourveggies1

                      There is nothing wrong with Slanted Door and it will be fine after the market. You might be eating so much at the market that you can choose a dish or two at Slanted Door without over-eating.

                      It is starkly-modern and can be loud but the food is good, using many of the vendors you will be seeing at the market. IMO, it has finally grown into it's larger restaurant and hardly past its prime. Other restaurants in SF should be that good.

                      1. re: eatyourveggies1

                        I'd eat at the market. His up the Primavera stand. You can get some delicious Mexican food and agua fresca and eat at a picnic table on the water. You'll spend a fraction of what you would at Slanted Door, have a great view, and the food is excellent. Get some fleur de sel caramels from Recchiuti for dessert.

                        1. re: eatyourveggies1

                          I'd forget about lunch in Slanted Door or any restaurant and do a picnic centered around Andante Dairy cheeses, Acme breads, Fatted Calf cold cuts, and whatever fruit's in season.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            and carry the take-out a few blocks North to the walking pier at the foot of Pacific - stunning view. or if the the cherry trees are in bloom then the park at Davis and Jackson (Walton Sq.?) and watch the wild parrots hang upside down squawking and munching on the blossoms.

                      2. I would also skip Slanted Door (I find most of their food too cloying sweet for my taste) and nosh around the market -- there is a "raw" bar that offers a variety of goodies right behind the building, others have mentioned the cheese and charcuterie, but there is also Hog Island oysters, Tsar Nicolai caviar and champagne (my personal favorite), Boulette's Larder for everything from roast Guinnea Hen to amazing canneles, and Frog Hollow Farms fresh fruit and worthy pastries (I tend to always pick up a leek and mushroom empanada).

                        Seriously no reason to bother with a sit-down restaurant which is by many accounts, over-hyped.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Carrie 218

                          The food at Slanted Door is very good, most of the dishes are not sweet, and the wine list is one of the best in town.

                          But on a Saturday morning with nice weather, it can't come close to a picnic from the farmers market.

                        2. I've updated my eating itinerary according to some of your suggestions and switched our hotel reservations from sonoma to napa, so let me know what you think of our current plan. I'm still questioning whether or not Ad Hoc and Bouchon are good decisions after recent posts. Thoughts? Also, what's best for our one lunch in Sonoma? If you have better suggestions for dinners in Napa, we're staying between Yountville and Napa and want to keep driving to a minimum. Thanks for all of your help. Can't wait to report back next week.

                          Saturday, March 29, SF:
                          Market and then lunch at Slanted Door.
                          Dinner: Delfina

                          Sunday, March 30, SF/Sonoma:
                          Lunch: Canteen before leaving SF
                          Dinner: Ad Hoc

                          Monday, March 31, Napa:
                          Lunch: picnic
                          Dinner: Bouchon

                          Tuesday, April 1, Sonoma/Napa
                          Lunch: need lunch idea for day trip to Sonoma
                          Dinner: Ubuntu

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: eatyourveggies1

                            You might want to peruse this very current thread on lunch in Sonoma for ideas:
                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/500857

                            1. re: Carrie 218

                              Thanks, Carrie 218. I've been keeping up with that thread.

                            2. re: eatyourveggies1

                              I'd spend at least one night in or north of Sonoma.

                              Traveling between Napa and Sonoma is more of a schlep than you might think from looking at the map, especially on the weekends when the roads are jammed with tourists.

                            3. too bad you've changed to napa - it does have more restaurant choice but sonoma has more personality !
                              another choice in sonoma if you're there for dinner is harvest moon cafe or la salette. i'd do both over generals daughter - it's expensive - which i'd be ok with if it was exceptional or unusual - and somewhat heavy classic approach.
                              ad hoc is fun , though they make their money on the wine
                              ubuntu is good and original
                              bouchon i find a little overrated. personally i prefer cafe jeanty for more authentic bistro food
                              lunch in sonoma could do girl and fig and then try one of the other places above for dinner
                              girl and fig has nice little garden so its pleasant for lunch
                              otherwise sunflower cafe is fine if not memorable

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sonomajom

                                eyv1,

                                If it were my trip, I'd go the market/picnic route for all 3 days lunch, if the weather is nice, and use the restaurants/cafes for lunch only if the weather is bad. Drive the most direct route and spend the most time in wine country as possible. I understand your logic for not wanting to drive around too much at night and since it is getting dark later that does give you more time to wander around. But keep open to the idea of an early evening in Napa. And if you're coming from Florida, don't forget the time change. You'll be up well before dawn and starving well before the sun goes down, so early dinners won't really be upsetting to your normal eating rythms. That won't necessarily rule out G.D.'s bar alternative just because it's early SF time.