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Mar 9, 2008 05:17 PM

What do you think of our Bay Area plans?


I am a longtime lurker but first time poster. My wife and I live in Providence, RI and are coming to the bay area on March 15 at noon and leaving on March 23rd. We are excited by the culinary options and have made a few reservations, but we would love feedback.

We will fly into San Francisco on the 15th and stay at a hotel on Union Square until the 18th. We will stay in the town of Sonoma on 18-20th. We will stay in Yountville on the 21st. Then we plan to spend the next two nights back in San Francisco.

We are both lacto-ovo vegetarians, but are open to eating everything not ruled out by our dietary restriction. We have made reservations at only a few places:

San Francisco: Greens

Napa: Ubuntu

Sonoma: Cyrus, El Dorado Kitchen

Places that we are considering but do not have reservations at include:

San Francisco: Yank Sing, Millenium, Chez Panisse Cafe, Maya, Fleur De Lys, Cheeseboard, Coi, A16, Zuni, Sea Salt, Kokkari, Thai House Express, Foreign CinemaWe W

Napa: Bouchon, Redd, Terra, Bistro Don Giovanni, Julias Kitchen, Cindy's Back Street Kitchen

Sonoma: Girl and Fig, General's Daughter

It would be great if you could let us know if you think the choices that we have made are wise given that we are vegetarian. We both enjoy spicy cuisines and were hoping to have a few great Asian or Mexican inspired meals in the bay area. We love Indian food and are very particular about it, and it seems that no one restaurant is all that outstanding based on previous posters recommendations. Thanks for whatever help that you can provide.

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  1. Honestly, given the unbelievable wealth of vegetables available here in California, your dietary restriction won't even seem as such.
    Certainly keep the Ubuntu reservation while in the wine country.
    Cyrus is very high on my to-do list, as is Redd.
    Personally, I find Bouchon to be horribly mediocre, but others may disagree.
    Fleur de Lys is not worth it. Plain and simple. The food is dated and boring. The atmosphere is stale. Seriously, don't do it.
    Lunch at Chez Panisse Cafe followed by a trip to the Cheese Board would make for a lovely afternoon.
    I really like Yank Sing, though I can't speak to their vegetarian offerings, for most of what I've had was about as far from vegetarian as one can get.
    Kokkari looks like a great option. I've not been, but certainly added it to my list a while back when I saw this post:
    A16 I very much enjoy, especially for eating at the bar.
    I would also put in a good word for Tartine Bakery in the mission district for breakfast one morning.
    Lastly, in my opinion the very best restaurant in the bay area, actually in the entire country for that matter, is Manresa down in Los Gatos. Assuming you will have a car, it's maybe a bit over an hour's drive. But oh so so worth it.
    Hopefully some of this was helpful. Have a great trip!

    4 Replies
    1. re: tupac17616

      Thanks so much for the replies.

      How do you all feel about Maya for a vegetarian? If you don't suggest it, do you have any alternatives for upscale mexican that is veggie friendly..

      What about Coi versus Millenium for a vegetarian? I know they are very different.

      Manressa sounds interesting. We will have to look into it.

      Thanks again.

      1. re: tupac17616

        tupac, what do think of Manresa since their chef(s) left for Ubuntu? have you dined there since?

        1. re: maria lorraine

          Jeremy Fox (now at Ubuntu) was Chef de Cuisine at Manresa. The Executive Chef at Manrese - David Kinch is, of course, still there. The current Chef de Cuisine is James Syhabout.

          1. re: maria lorraine

            Sorry I didn't see this sooner. I have dined there since, a couple of times in fact. It is as consistently wonderful as ever.

        2. I'd agree with tupac, doing vegetarian at Yank Sing would be a tough act. There is a vegetarian Chinese restaurant in Chinatown (Lucky Creation) and a couple of others out in the avenues. Lucky Creation, that I know if, offers vegetarian dim sum at lunch time. Penang Garden, a Indonesian/Malasian/Thai restaurant in Chinatown has some of the more interesting bofa fide vegetarian dishes for a "mixed" cuisine restaurant.

          Lucky Creation Vegetarian
          854 Washington St, San Francisco, CA 94108

          Penang Garden Restaurant
          728 Washington St, San Francisco, CA 94108

          1. You should consider Cha-Ya (vegan Japanese) and Cafe Gratitude (wacky raw vegan).

            Indian vegetarian, Udupi Palace in Berkeley or Dosa in SF. Ganges used to be bad but I haven't been there in quite a while. Most if not all of the other Indian restaurants in SF are Pakistani and relatively meat-centric.

            I'd skip Maya, it's a branch of a New York chain. Check out the menus at Colibri and Zazil.

            I'd skip Thai House Express and Sea Salt if you don't eat fish. If you do eat fish, there are lots more Asian places to consider.

            1. Your Greens choice is great (recommended by a friend) and I also recommend Kokkari. Coi sounds fabulous & am looking forward to trying it.


              I haven't been to Yank Sing in a few years but from what I recall, they had enough variety of vegetarian options to enjoy (MIL visiting from India loved it). Lucky Creation seems like a great idea but from Yelp reviews it appears to be a small hole-in-the-wall, cash only type of place (if you're okay with that...). For other Asian, I recommend trying "tea leaf salad" (w/o shrimp of course) at either Burma Superstar or Larkin Express Deli. Burma also has other salads which looked good but unfortunately we got a disappointing tofu dish and an equally disappointing poori/potato dish. Haven't been to Larkin Express but it is a CH rec & is closer to Union Square.

              Napa - Since you are already going to Ubuntu in Napa (lunch or dinner?), perhaps Redd in Yountville. Haven't been there but it is a refined, upscale restaurant & website states "veg. options available". Nice to be able to eat near hotel. Considering your list is made up of mostly Napa restaurants, perhaps you should split your trip more evenly between the two counties? Really no fun to drive back & forth.

              If you get a hankering for Indian food, DOSA as already mentioned but I'd recommend Vik's Chaat over Udupi in Berkeley (latter is only S.Indian and I am not a fan of their Sunnyvale location). BTW, DOSA is probably the most upscale (read $$) dosa place in the country:-)


              Last but not least I would not recommend Manresa only because of location. You are going to be doing enough driving from SF to Sonoma to Napa that you will not appreciate the one hour trek to the South Bay.

              Have a great trip!

              1. Some of the vegetarian items at Yank Sing:

                Savory Vegetable Dumpling
                Snow Pea Shoot Dumpling
                Spinach Dumpling
                Mushroom Dumpling
                Vegetarian Dumpling
                Tofu Roll
                Snap Peas In Chili Sauce
                Chinese Broccoli with "Oyster" Sauce
                Sauteed String Beans
                Egg Custard Tart
                Mango Pudding
                Sesame Ball

                3 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Thanks Robert, looks like I have to make a trip to Yank Sing soon! Recently tried Great Eastern & Zen Pen but found limited offerings in the non-shellfish category. Enjoyed GE but didn't care for Zen at all but that's another thread:-)

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Curious as to your source. According to the menu posted on, the Tofu Roll, Egg Custard Tart, Mango Pudding and Sesame Ball are NOT represented as Vegetarian.

                    I will say, however, that I am surprised at the number of items they do represent as vegetarian, and therefore retract my comment about it being a tough act.


                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                      I went by the lists of ingredients on