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1 Day in San Francisco, 1 day in Sonoma - potential line-up

Hi all,

I know you get these queries all the time. Believe me, I've been reading through them -- and they've all been very helpful. I have one day in San Francisco, and then 1-2 days in Sonoma and Napa. It'll be a whirlwind for sure -- any suggestions (or alternatives) would be much appreciated.

Some notes:

- I would absolutely LOVE to have a solid carnita, and or anything else from a taqueria. Should I do this in the Mission, BART it over to Fruitvale, or stop at a truck somewhere on the way to Healdsburg? [FYI: I'm a mid-twenties woman travelling alone. I've heard Mission and the Tenderloin are a little sketchy. What are your thoughts on this? And what about Fruitvale?]
- I would also love to have a cannele. I've heard Bay Bread is the place to go, but I'll be there on a Monday and most of their locations are closed. Can I get a cannele at their Columbus location?
- I'm not looking to splurge anywhere, but cost is somewhat flexible. I've already got CP and Ubuntu on the line-up, so everything else should hopefully be more low-key.
- I love all types of food. I know Chinese is a strength here, but it's not bad where I come from either, so it's not topping the priority list. I'm looking more for 'California cuisine', however one might call it.
- I'll be staying near Fisherman's Wharf (don't worry, I won't eat there!), as well as in Healdsburg for a night.

Monday:
- Breakfast: Cannele and quiche? This is totally flexible
- Lunch: Graze my way through the Ferry Building OR Slanted Door?
- Snack: Taqueria?
- Stops: Berkeley Bowl, maybe poke around the Gourmet Ghetto, though the Cheeseboard will be closed I think
- Dinner: CP Cafe

Tuesday:
- Breakfast: ?
- Drive to Healdsburg
- Lunch: Girl and the Fig on the way OR a winery restaurant?
- Stops: Visit wineries and tasting rooms
- Dinner: Zin?

Wednesday:
- Breakfast in Healdsburg: ?
- Drive through Napa (not much time to visit wineries)
- Lunch: Bouchon Bistro? in Yountville
- Dinner: Ubuntu

What do you think? Thanks in advance everyone! And please let me know if you want anymore details.

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  1. Looks like you've done your research. I'm a woman in my 20's who lives in the Mission, and I've never had a problem there or in the Tenderloin, where I eat frequently. Tenderloin is definitely more sketchy, but, like any city, you just have to take reasonable precautions--don't walk around by yourself at 10 p.m.

    Monday breakfast: Tartine in the Mission, for lunch I would graze at the FB rather than Slanted Door

    Tuesday: I very much liked Girl and the Fig when I went for dinner several months back, and I've had two exceptional dinners at Ad Hoc in Yountville lately

    Wednesday: To keep it cheap-ish but still good, you might want to check out the Downtown Bakery

    Can you tell us where you are from? That might help people make better recommendations.

    5 Replies
    1. re: pane

      Thanks for the clarification about safety. I'm sure the Mission will be fine then, esp. during the day. Good thought on Tartine too!

      I'm Canadian, originally from Toronto, but I've been hopping around in the last few years. Toronto has a great multicultural restaurant community, but Mexican food -- and Mexican inspired food -- is totally lacking. It's a common complaint on the Ontario board.

      1. re: littlegreenpea

        With all due respect to the Mission & Fruitvale... I would consider saving some of your Mexican calories for Antojitos La Texanita (Santa Rosa en route to Healdsburg) and Antojitos La Mixteca (Napa) particularly the latter... the Chileajo (Pork Spareribs in Costeno Chile-Sesame Seed sauce) has to be one of the very best Mexican dishes in the Bay Area.

        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          Links

          -----
          Antojitos La Texanita
          1667 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95407

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            .

            -----
            La Mixteca
            2580 Jefferson St, Napa, CA 94558

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              Great! Thanks for the links.

        2. We love it when you've done your homework! I don't think in your limited time it's worth it to BART over to Fruitvale for carnitas. Although, if you are going to be driving over to Berkeley, you could easily squeeze in a quick detour to Fruitvale at some point.

          Another good bet would be to hit one of the taquerias or taco trucks in Sonoma county. Maybe post that as a new topic to lure out more responses.

          1. Good girl! We LOVE people who do their research...

            Keep the Ferry Plaza for grazing, but get your cannele at Boulette's Larder at the Ferry Plaza instead of Bay Bread. You won't be disappointed and can also eat well throughout the Plaza, including great carnitas at Mijita (that will save you a trip to either the Mission or Fruitvale -- which I think is a total waste of time). Lulu's is fabulous as is the caviar bar at Tsar Nicolai.

            If you are going to Healdsburg, consider Bovolo for lunch. Driving to Sonoma for Girl and the Fig and then back to Healdsburg for dinner is a LOT of driving. I'd stick to either Healdsburg OR Sonoma, not both. Healdsburg has some great restaurants including BarnDiva and Mirepoix. Then you can get up the next morning to head to Napa and you will find you have more time there than you realize; both for lunch at Bouchon and dinner at Ubuntu with a few wineries in between.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Carrie 218

              I've been disappointed by the things I've tried at Mijita. Are the carnitas better than their other offerings?

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                I'd like to know, as well. The fish tacos I tried were very average and over-priced, so I never went back. Nice location, though.

                1. re: Glencora

                  I'd rather eat at Pancho Villa next to the Ferry Building than Mijita ... and that is no big deal either. I guess I don't understand writing off the Mission which has some great food ... with Fruitvale even better. If going to the Mission, 24th Street is an epicenter of great food. For Fruitvale the section around the Bart is wonderful with Nieves Cinco De Mayo for ice cream, Ojo de Aqua for aqua frescas and El Novilio one of the finest example of carnitas that I have ever tried ... and it is an easy off from the highway.
                  http://www.chow.com/places/10986
                  http://www.chow.com/places/11003
                  http://www.chow.com/places/5920

                  I second a stop at Bovolo and you might consider that for breakfast.

                  1. re: rworange

                    I was only writing off the Mission and Fruitvale because the OP only has one day in SF and one day in Sonoma. Trying to get the best bang for her buck, she get get far more and better food with a single stop at the Ferry Plaza (including her much-desired cannelle) than by traipsing around all over the Mission. As well as just the cannelle and carnitas, she would also have access to great cheese, bread, caviar, Recchuiti chocolates, Hog Island Oysters, and more.

                    For a single-day visit, you have to admit that a stop at the Ferry Plaza is far-preferred over a trip to Fruitvale!

                    1. re: Carrie 218

                      But she said she wanted "solid" carnitas, not just any old carnitas. I don't think Mijita qualifies, and I hate to see her be disappointed.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Okay, I see your point.

                        1. re: Carrie 218

                          I'll keep Mijita in mind in case I'm pressed for time -- I do definitely want to make grazing at the Ferry Building a priority on Monday.

                          I would totally love a delicious carnitas while I'm in town. I'd love to know what a proper one looks and tastes like. The funny thing is that, with limited experience, I might be easy to satisfy in this regard (Mexican food is not really a Canadian strength).

                          1. re: littlegreenpea

                            Mijita won't give you any idea of what typical taqueria carnitas are like.

                            There are reports of good carnitas in Richmond, which you'll be driving through after you leave Berkeley:

                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/477338

              2. re: Carrie 218

                I liked Mijita's carnitas, but it was more like Italian braised pork than like any carnitas I've had in any other Mexican place. And there's something wrong with their tortillas.

              3. For Mexican food, you might consider one of the taco trucks in Boyes Hot Springs (suburb of Sonoma, more or less):

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/21563

                Are there any good Mexican restaurants or taco trucks between Healdsburg and Napa?

                One general thing that strikes me about your itinerary is that you'll be spending a rather large portion of your time in the car, but at least much of it should be on scenic roads, and on weekdays wine country traffic's not so bad.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Good thought. Thanks for the link. That was from 2002; do you know if the info (truck locations, etc.) is still somewhat accurate? And do you know if the trucks are generally out during the day (or are they mostly evening events)? Maybe it'd be better if I started a new thread about this.

                  The driving thing is a little hard to get around be/c it's such a short visit. But I'll try to keep it to a minimum: One day from SF to Healdsburg, skipping Sonoma. The second day from Healdsburg to Napa for dinner, via Yountville (and possibly Sonoma or Boyes Hot Springs). Do you think this still might be too ambitious?

                  1. re: littlegreenpea

                    Here's a more recent topic on wine country taco trucks:

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/444059

                    It would reduce the driving if you swapped nights in Napa and Healdsburg. Then you'd be doing a loop instead of doubling back.

                2. Thank you everyone -- you've been an immense help!

                  So far:

                  I hope to hit up Tartine for Monday's breakfast. Maybe grab a Mission burrito while I'm in the area, depending on what time it is (and what time most of the taquerias open). If I can't get a carnita in SF, then I hope to get one on the road somewhere in Sonoma County (still working that out though).

                  Definitely plan to graze at the Ferry Building for lunch then. I'm very excited about this!!

                  I've added Downtown Bakery and Bovolo to the list in Healdsburg (for breakfast/lunch options). Looks like Bovolo's closed on Wednesdays unfortunately, but I should be able to get there on the Tuesday. I think I'm going to skip Girl and the Fig this time (unfortunately) so I can spend more time in Healdsburg.

                  Now I just need to make sure I have enough time to walk around a bit, both to take in the sights/scenery and to walk all this off!!

                  Thanks again.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: littlegreenpea

                    If you are at Tartine for breakfast and picking up carnitas to go, I recommend stopping by Taqueria San Jose, which is on Mission at 24th (a very short drive or pretty easy walk from Tartine at 18th and Guerrero).

                    Both carnitas and pastor there are amazing.

                    1. re: littlegreenpea

                      I agree that you are right to skip Girl and the Fig (although I love it, that's a long drive) and stay in Healdsburg for lunch. I haven't seen anyone mention Ravenous in Healdsburg for lunch. I've had a couple of great meals there. It's not too expensive and seems very "wine country Californian" to me. Also, there is a very good taqueria in Healdsburg, Taqueria El Sombrero. I haven't tried the carnitas there, but I'll bet it's good!

                    2. If you don't have your heart set on eating lunch in Healdsburg, it's just as easy to pack a lunch and eat between stops (don't forget the water) or at wineries that may have picnic tables. If you want to eat in Healdsburg, there are a fair amount of wineries either right on Healdsburg Square or not too far from it. You made a sound decision in skipping Sonoma (city), it's a long detour.

                      As for Napa, if you take Porter Creek Road/Petrified Forest or California Highway 128 over the mountain from Healdsburg (Porter Creek Rd. is a bit south of Healdsburg, right before Santa Rosa), that will put you in Calistoga, and you can drive down the valley, stopping wherever you please before hitting Yountville. And I think it's a bit faster than driving down Sonoma valley, and coming around from Carneros. But that's my own opinion.

                      1. I just want to recommend Tartine (again). It really is a great place for breakfast, and the part of Mission that it is in is actually very nice--a really cute area. It's also a few blocks from the actual historic Mission church, so you could walk by there after lunch.

                        The Ferry Building is fun. I would recommend checking out the shops and sitting down to eat in the Slanted Door if something on the menu looks good to you. While the Ferry Building has great things to eat all the time, it is really the Farmer's Market days that are more conducive to grazing. For a meal, I would also recommend Slanted Door's faster-food version, Out the Door. It's a little window inside the Ferry Building. The menu is smaller, but it's just as good. I LOVE the chicken buns.

                        Beware of the pigeons. They aren't afraid of people!!!

                        1. Thank you all again for your wonderful suggestions!! I had a wonderful time. I'll get my write-up together and post it in the next couple of days.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: littlegreenpea

                            Here's the link to the review:
                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/505110