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Help wanted with a tentative itinerary for Yountville/Napa + SF in late August

hcbk0702 Jun 26, 2008 12:29 PM

We're coming in from NY to explore Napa Valley and the Bay Area for about a week (most likely arriving at SFO or OAK on the afternoon of Saturday, August 23). Here's what I have so far:

Saturday, August 23
Dinner – Bouchon

Sunday, August 24
Lunch – The French Laundry
Dinner – Ad Hoc or Redd

Monday, August 25
Lunch – ZuZu
Dinner – Ubuntu

Tuesday, August 26
Lunch – In-N-Out (on the way to SF)
Dinner – Yank Sing (or other Dim Sum place)

Wednesday, August 27
Lunch – The Slanted Door (not sure about this one)
Dinner – Aziza

Thursday, August 28
Lunch – Bar Tartine (not sure about this one)
Dinner – Chez Panisse

We may also stay Friday as well, so if anyone has additional suggestions for a casual lunch and dinner, please speak up! In terms of food preferences, we're up for pretty much anything. However, I'd probably avoid places like Fleur de Lys and Gary Danko, since I can go to Jean Georges, Le Bernardin etc. any other time throughout the year. Probably no sushi places either; Sushi Yasuda is my go-to back home, and Kurumazushi, Sushi Seki, Ushi Wakamaru etc. are also easily accessible.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. b
    bobpantzer RE: hcbk0702 Jun 26, 2008 12:47 PM

    After lunch at TFL, I would be surprised if you want dinner. If you do, be aware that Ad Hoc is a fixed price meal with four courses, served family style, and the portions are large. Redd is terrific but, after TFL, you're probably going to want to order light and may not get the full experience. Frankly, I'd eliminate Bouchon (or go there for lunch) and go to Redd that night instead. If you do anticipate wanting dinner after TFL, go to Ubuntu that night.
    You are aware that Chez Panisse, also a set fixed price menu, is across the bay in Berkeley. I don't know what time you're planning on going but the commute traffic across the bay bridge can be frightful. Not sure how close the nearest BART station is, but give that a thought. Though they're really not similar, if you decide to skip Chez Panisse, consider Zuni Cafe--unique to San Francisco, in my view.

    1. b
      bobpantzer RE: hcbk0702 Jun 26, 2008 02:08 PM

      I forgot this in my earlier post. Why do you want to go to In N Out? Yes, it's a cut above McDonalds, Burger King and the like but if you really want a burger, fries and a shake, go to Taylor's Refresher in St. Helena or the branch in the Ferry Building in SF. Instead, I'd stop in Sausalito and enjoy the views of San Francisco from one of the restaurants there. Just opened in Fort Baker, right beneath the GG Bridge, is a restaurant lodge called Cavallo Point. No reviews yet, but it's a gorgeous setting.

      13 Replies
      1. re: bobpantzer
        wolfe RE: bobpantzer Jun 26, 2008 02:17 PM

        It's probably not the burger, it's In and Out. In LA it's Pink's and Tommy's. In NY it's Grey's Papaya and in Detroit, it's Lafayette Coney Island. "Who can explain it, who can tell you why."

        1. re: wolfe
          bobpantzer RE: wolfe Jun 26, 2008 02:25 PM

          Yeah, you're probably right. I just don't want them to be disappointed. I think of them sitting there looking out on the parking lot of a shopping center listening to the roar of traffic on either 101 or interstate 80 (depending on which way they come) while just a few miles away is the picturesque village of Sausalito with it's views of the City. Oh, well.

        2. re: bobpantzer
          sunnyand72 RE: bobpantzer Jun 28, 2008 03:10 PM

          Am I the only one who doesn't get Taylor's Refresher? I wouldn't say it's a horrible burger, but it is nothing to write home about. Wine at a burger joint is cool and all, but the only thing impressive about the wine list at Taylor's is that it's at a burger joint.

          RE In-N-Out: You can eat there without leaving Napa!

          In-N-Out warning: In-N-Out gets worse the further you get from Southern California. You really can't get the same experience in NoCal.

          1. re: sunnyand72
            wolfe RE: sunnyand72 Jun 28, 2008 03:39 PM

            Although with their schedule it may be a little early.

            In-N-Out Burger
            820 W Imola Ave, Napa, CA

            1. re: sunnyand72
              ML8000 RE: sunnyand72 Jun 28, 2008 04:34 PM

              I never quite got Taylor's Refresher either. They do use quality beef and it generally tasty...but the burger is small, the bun weird and it's not cheap. A plain burger, coke and fries runs you $11 bucks. Another bun and 2 more oz of beef and it "could" be very good. The one plus is they're open until 10 p.m. (Ferry Bldg...never been to Napa) and past 6 p.m. it's very easy.

              re: InO...I don't sense much difference between NorCal and SoCal...I grew up in SoCal but I've never compared them critically...at $1.50 for single..it's sort of pointless to me.

              1. re: ML8000
                maria lorraine RE: ML8000 Jun 28, 2008 06:29 PM

                I don't know about the HAMburger but the AHI TUNA burger is tast-y.

                1. re: maria lorraine
                  ML8000 RE: maria lorraine Jun 28, 2008 10:02 PM

                  How is the ahi burger? Is it marinated? Ahi tends to dry if not prepared carefully so I tend to avoid it in sandwiches.

                  1. re: ML8000
                    Carrie 218 RE: ML8000 Jun 28, 2008 10:06 PM

                    The Ahi burger is my choice as well; disgustingly rare with an unctuous ginger slaw -- all far from dry.

              2. re: sunnyand72
                Robert Lauriston RE: sunnyand72 Jun 29, 2008 10:15 AM

                To me, Taylor's is bizarrely expensive for the average quality. The food's okay, which makes it better than most tourist traps, but as far as I'm concerned that's what it is.

                In-N-Out is a Los Angeles institution. Eating at one in the Bay Area is much like eating at the Boudin cafe at the Disneyland Fisherman's Wharf.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  maria lorraine RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 29, 2008 03:09 PM

                  A few questions, Robert...

                  Have you eaten at Taylor's St. Helena location, or the Ferry Building or Oxbow locations? Do you find the food varies from location to location?

                  Did you have the ahi tuna burger?

                  Have you found a difference in the food between the LA and SF Bay Area In-n-Out locations? Can you describe it?

                  1. re: maria lorraine
                    Robert Lauriston RE: maria lorraine Jun 29, 2008 04:45 PM

                    The quality and character of In 'n' Out's food is discussed on the Chains board. In my limited experience, their food is consistently mediocre, but I've only eaten there when the only alternative was an even worse chain, such as McDonald's.

                    I ate at the original Taylor's (before people started calling undercooked tuna "ahi") and at the Ferry Plaza branch. Even its fans tend to admit that the food's nothing very special.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      maria lorraine RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 29, 2008 05:47 PM

                      In-N-Out: But I was curious about *your* comment and your personal taste experiences vis a vis LA vs.SF Bay Area In-N-Out locations. Can you comment on the difference in food between the two metropolitan areas?

                      Taylors: It is ahi, is it not? Or is it tuna, not of the ahi type, cooked like ahi tuna? Is this preparation -- slightly seared, basically raw -- that you don't like, or Taylor's preparation of ahi tuna that you don't like?

                      Forgive me for all the questions, but I'm trying to decipher your tone and subtext, and it's better to just ask you straight out.

                2. re: sunnyand72
                  mcb RE: sunnyand72 Jun 30, 2008 08:53 PM

                  I absolutely don't get Taylor's either. What on earth is it doing in the Ferry Building? It sticks out like a sore thumb. A gross, greasy, fast-food sore thumb. Apparently the original location is supposed to be good, but the FB location was simply awful, and it seems to me to be the antithesis of what the Ferry Building Marketplace is supposed to be about.

                  On my one visit, I had the misfortune to get to the FB after all the other food purveyors had closed, and the only one open was Taylor's. OK, how bad could it be? Answer: Inedible burnt burger. (What part of "medium rare" did the cook not get?). I sent it back; the replacement was not burnt, but was not medium rare either. Lackluster green salad. Greasy fries.

                  With all the other places in the FB, I am flabbergasted that anyone goes to Taylor's voluntarily. In-N-Out is no great prize, but it's better that the FB Taylor's and is about 1/4 the price. (Taylors: burger, salad, fries = $20 without drink).

              3. JasmineG RE: hcbk0702 Jun 26, 2008 03:38 PM

                As has already been said, don't have dinner plans after lunch at TFL, you may not want anything at all, if you do, just have drinks and snacks at the bar somewhere. I'd schedule your Ad Hoc dinner the night before TFL, instead of Bouchon (and make it an early dinner). You can't get dim sum for lunch, so if that's what you want, move Slanted Door to dinner on Tuesday and have dim sum for lunch on Wednesday. (Yank Sing is a fine choice, there are lots of others to choose from, though). Also, Bar Tartine isn't open for lunch, so if you want to eat there, move that to dinner either Friday night (if you stay that long) or have dinner there Thursday night and lunch at Chez Panisse (this would only be the cafe upstairs, which is great, but not the downstairs more formal restaurant). I would stick with dinner at Chez Panisse, though, and have dinner at Bar Tartine either the next night or the previous night.

                1. b
                  bobpantzer RE: hcbk0702 Jun 26, 2008 03:58 PM

                  Before you decide on dinner at Bar Tartine (as suggested by someone above), check out the menu on their website. It's a really casual place with, at least as far as I'm concerned, kiind of an unusual and limited dinner menu. I don't think of it as a dinner restaurant but a breakfast or brunch kind of place. Maybe I'm alone in this. I'd go next door to Delfina for dinner if I was in that neighborhood.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: bobpantzer
                    JasmineG RE: bobpantzer Jun 26, 2008 04:01 PM

                    Bar Tartine is not the same as Tartine bakery. Bar Tartine does not have a limited menu, and is only open for dinner most days, and brunch on weekends.

                    1. re: JasmineG
                      bobpantzer RE: JasmineG Jun 26, 2008 04:19 PM

                      Thanks for correcting me. I'll try it for dinner sometime.

                      1. re: bobpantzer
                        wolfe RE: bobpantzer Jun 26, 2008 04:24 PM

                        Dinner menu Bar Tartine.
                        Better than In and Out.

                        Bar Tartine
                        561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  2. Ruth Lafler RE: hcbk0702 Jun 26, 2008 05:06 PM

                    It looks like for you're Napa stay, you're trying to group restaurants geographically. Unless you're somehow limited by your mode of transportation, I wouldn't bother. I agree with the people who say you're not going to want an Ad Hoc/Redd kind of dinner after lunch at TFL. I suggest that your plan for that night be to go to St. Helena and wander around (it's a charming small town), then go to Martini House and have drinks and a light meal on the terrace -- a very California wine country experience. Drop Bouchon (you've got plenty of French bistros in NY), and do Redd/Ad Hoc Saturday.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                      maria lorraine RE: Ruth Lafler Jun 26, 2008 10:17 PM

                      I agree with dropping Bouchon and I'm a former Bouchon lover. Their kitchen is being remodeled and the restaurant is really off its game. Truly. I'm not sure they'll be back on their game by the end of August. Even when I was a true Bouchon lover, I always sat at the bar (the only place, IMO) as the bad acoustics in the tables area make it so you can't hear your dining companions, but you can hear the person at the table next to you.

                      1. re: maria lorraine
                        FoodWine RE: maria lorraine Jul 2, 2008 10:52 AM

                        We also used to love Bouchon, especially last year, but do not like the place at all this year: it has gone downhill. Both the service (very uncaring)and the food were disappointing now.

                        We did like Ad Hoc, a lot.

                    2. hcbk0702 RE: hcbk0702 Jun 26, 2008 05:57 PM

                      Thanks for all the great advice! Here's a revised list:

                      Saturday, August 23
                      Dinner – Ad Hoc

                      Sunday, August 24
                      Lunch – The French Laundry
                      Dinner – Ubuntu

                      Monday, August 25
                      Lunch – ZuZu
                      Dinner – Redd

                      Tuesday, August 26
                      Lunch – In-N-Out
                      Dinner – ???

                      Wednesday, August 27
                      Lunch – Yank Sing
                      Dinner – Aziza

                      Thursday, August 28
                      Lunch – Zuni Cafe
                      Dinner – Chez Panisse

                      It seems like there isn't much enthusiasm for Bouchon on this board, so I'll most likely drop it. I'll probably put Ad Hoc in its stead.

                      Our reservation at TFL is at 11 AM, so I think we'll be able to manage a light, late dinner pretty easily (also, my brother is a glutton, though he doesn't look it). Would Ubuntu be a good choice for that?

                      Any thoughts on Redd vs. Terra or Martini House? From the reports I've seen, it looks like Redd is the most well liked.

                      As for In-N-Out, we're going there knowing exactly what to expect, just a fast food joint. I'm mostly interested in trying it since Californians are always talking about it, and I'd like to see how it compares to the Shake Shack in NYC. It's been a while since I've had a Shack burger though, since the lines are usually hilarious during peak times (1 hour 30 min+).

                      Any suggestions for alternatives to ZuZu, Yank Sing, or Zuni Cafe? Or are those three decent choices?

                      And lastly, I'm not sure what to do for Tuesday dinner. I guess I could put The Slanted Door there, but if anyone has another idea, I'm definitely up for it.

                      Thanks for all the help!

                      17 Replies
                      1. re: hcbk0702
                        JasmineG RE: hcbk0702 Jun 26, 2008 06:21 PM

                        I would do Bar Tartine that night, since you have nothing in the Mission and I love the food there, or you could stick with Slanted Door. FYI, for Chez Panisse, call one month to the day in advance for reservations. The rest of these places you can get reservations on Open Table, but you can also call the restaurant directly if they don't have a time that works for you.

                        1. re: hcbk0702
                          Ruth Lafler RE: hcbk0702 Jun 26, 2008 06:45 PM

                          ZuZu Yank Sing and Zuni are all "decent choices." I will give you the standard Yank Sing caveat that (1) it's not traditional dim sum but rather more modern/"nouvelle" dim sum, and (2) it's expensive. Figure $35 per person (or more, depending on how many of their "specials" you order).

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler
                            Robert Lauriston RE: Ruth Lafler Jun 26, 2008 07:57 PM

                            Yank Sing has all the traditional dim sum items in addition to more original dim sum and traditional dishes not usually served as dim sum (like Peking duck). Most of the items I usually order you find at most dim sum places:

                            steamed Chinese broccoli - traditional
                            sticky rice in lotus leaf - traditional
                            turnip cake - traditional
                            taro dumplings - traditional
                            cheung fun (soft rice noodle rolls) - traditional
                            chicken-mushroom fun gwor - ? not sure
                            mushroom caps stuffed with pork and tarragon - original
                            roast eggplant - not common as a dim sum item

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              Ruth Lafler RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 26, 2008 08:24 PM

                              Yeah, but no one (except, apparently, you) goes to Yank Sing for traditional dim sum -- that would be missing the whole point. You can round out your meal with those dishes, but it would be silly to focus on them if you're looking for one, great dim sum experience.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                JasmineG RE: Ruth Lafler Jun 26, 2008 08:38 PM

                                I have to say, I know lots of people who go to Yank Sing for traditional dim sum. Maybe that's silly and missing the point, but it's full of people for lunch who are having and enjoying the traditional items.

                                1. re: JasmineG
                                  Sarah RE: JasmineG Jun 27, 2008 09:50 PM

                                  I know our family and friends go there for the traditional items but also enjoy their variations or creations. Their service cannot be denied, simply the best, and yes, it'll cost you.

                          2. re: hcbk0702
                            ankimo RE: hcbk0702 Jun 26, 2008 07:22 PM

                            I wouldn't necessarily do Ad Hoc unless you check the menu ahead of time, and you like what's being offered (maybe make dual reservations and cancel one at the last minute). No real need to go to Bouchon, but you can check out the bakery next door for some on the road treats. If you have time to drive to Healdsburg, I would highly recommend Cyrus (amazing food and value). In SF, I think you should consider Ame, exemplary of new american fusion. also I second Zuni, Bar Tartine, Coi. Not a fan of Slanted Door. I think you will enjoy your food trip!

                            1. re: ankimo
                              wolfe RE: ankimo Jun 26, 2008 07:48 PM

                              In SF, I think you should consider Ame, exemplary of new american fusion. Zuni for the chicken, Bar Tartine for the porkbelly, Ubuntu for the cauliflower, Coi since it sounds like you like more unusual fare.
                              Ubuntu is in the City of Napa.
                              OP already knew that.

                              1. re: ankimo
                                FoodWine RE: ankimo Jul 2, 2008 05:03 PM

                                One part of the fun at Ad Hoc is to be open minded and to be willing to eat what they serve that night. I love just walking in, not knowing what I am going to be served, before I am there. I have so far not had a single disappointing dinner there (our first visit to Ad Hoc was in June last year) and we just came back from California (to NYC) and we loved AD Hoc again.

                                It is also good to know that Ad Hoc does have some fish reserved for diners who do not eat red meat or fowl. My husband does not, so he always gets fish there. It has been excellent.

                                We were disappointed with Bouchon. It used to be so good: it used to be much "more" than just another bistro. No more.

                                Personally, I think it is very selfish to make dual reservations and then cancel at the last minute on a whim. You are not the only person out there trying to make dinner plans, ankimo. Be considerate.

                              2. re: hcbk0702
                                ML8000 RE: hcbk0702 Jun 26, 2008 09:37 PM

                                I wouldn't do The French Laundry and Ubuntu on the same day, even if Ubuntu is veggie. It will be sort of a wasted trip. The most you'll probably want to eat is something simple like pho, soba, tapas or a salad around 8 p.m....maybe split a burger later, later on. I'd do Slanted Door for dinner Tuesday.

                                1. re: ML8000
                                  whiner RE: ML8000 Jun 26, 2008 10:10 PM

                                  I agree that I would do Slanted Door on Tuesday.

                                  1. re: ML8000
                                    maria lorraine RE: ML8000 Jun 26, 2008 10:27 PM

                                    A couple of the small dishes at Ubuntu -- the cauliflower, the almonds, the beets -- might be perfect after the French Laundry.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine
                                      ML8000 RE: maria lorraine Jun 27, 2008 10:29 AM

                                      That makes sense. I still contend it would be sort of a wasted trip not getting the full experience but the quality is there. I'd make the reservation later, like 8 or 9.

                                  2. re: hcbk0702
                                    maria lorraine RE: hcbk0702 Jun 26, 2008 10:20 PM

                                    I'm not at all a fan of Zuzu. Much better options available.

                                    And, I'd place both Terra and Martini House above Redd.

                                    Oh - In 'n' Out Burger is fun. Do it! There's this special lingo you can use when you order...here, check it out -- you can order something "animal style":

                                    1. re: hcbk0702
                                      susancinsf RE: hcbk0702 Jun 27, 2008 12:07 AM

                                      Zuni is more than decent, IMO, but I am not sure I would do it on the same day as Chez Panisse; for me it would be too heavy on the California influence, and too much time sitting in restaurants when there is a city to explore (both tend to be somewhere to linger over a multi course meal that is served in a leisurely fashion)....what about Zuni for dinner Tuesday? You could leave your lunch open for exploring based on where you happen to be in the City when you got hungry on Thursday.

                                      Another possibility would be to try La Ciccia for dinner Tuesday night, especially if Sardinian food isn't that common in NY, and particularly if you will have access to a car. It is definitely a different vibe and food style than anything else on your list. I'd suggest Incanto also, but it is closed Tuesdays, IIRC.

                                      Adding some links

                                      Zuni Cafe
                                      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                      La Ciccia
                                      291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                                      Yank Sing Banquet & Catering
                                      101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                      Chez Panisse
                                      1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                      1. re: susancinsf
                                        wolfe RE: susancinsf Jun 27, 2008 07:07 AM

                                        Another possibility would be to try La Ciccia for dinner Tuesday night, especially if Sardinian food isn't that common in NY
                                        Based on a recent Manhattan thread you have a good point.

                                      2. re: hcbk0702
                                        Carrie 218 RE: hcbk0702 Jun 27, 2008 11:19 PM

                                        I have done the lunch at FL -- I seriously could not eat until the next morning. I would be REALLY surprised if you wanted anything that evening other than some fruit and/or cheese that evening. I would replace Monday's Redd with Ubuntu (since Ubuntu is not open for lunch right now). Redd will be too similar in technique and sentiments with FL (but not quality). Ubuntu is remarkably different.

                                      3. l
                                        lizziee RE: hcbk0702 Jun 28, 2008 12:50 PM

                                        Lunch at French Laundry won't end until around 4:30 or 5:00. You won't be hungry for a major meal. You could always go to Bouchon and have some oysters around 10 pm.

                                        1. d
                                          dandear99 RE: hcbk0702 Jul 1, 2008 01:29 AM

                                          Without a doubt, In-n-Out over Taylor's. In fact, Thomas Keller, famed chef of The French Laundry and Ad Hoc, loves In-n-Out Burgers.

                                          Here's his actual statement from a magazine interview:

                                          I really respect a company that holds its ground when there is so much pressure to follow the "what’s next, what’s new" trend. In-N-Out’s quality lies in the simplicity of what it promises and delivers. To be able to do something over and over with integrity and excellence, even if it is fast food, is something to be truly admired.

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: dandear99
                                            Robert Lauriston RE: dandear99 Jul 1, 2008 01:29 PM

                                            Keller didn't express an opinion about the burgers, he just said he respects the company. That sounds like he's speaking as a businessman, not a consumer.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                              Carrie 218 RE: Robert Lauriston Jul 1, 2008 01:56 PM

                                              I've seen him eat there. I can attest that he likes the burgers...

                                              1. re: Carrie 218
                                                maria lorraine RE: Carrie 218 Jul 1, 2008 03:38 PM

                                                Keller has talked about the burgers and fries and how much he loves the place in several interviews.

                                                1. re: Carrie 218
                                                  Robert Lauriston RE: Carrie 218 Jul 1, 2008 07:55 PM

                                                  Does he eat the fries? Their crude and ill-conceived cooking method pretty much guarantees they come out mealy.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                    Carrie 218 RE: Robert Lauriston Jul 1, 2008 08:50 PM

                                                    I've seen him eat fries, yes.

                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                      cing2x RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 13, 2008 07:22 AM

                                                      you can ask for them "extra crispy". a secret that's not on their secret menu. that makes them better but burgers are still their strong suit.

                                                      1. re: cing2x
                                                        wally RE: cing2x Aug 13, 2008 10:44 AM

                                                        You can also ask for them "well done".

                                                        1. re: wally
                                                          tamianderic RE: wally Nov 9, 2008 10:31 AM

                                                          Even lesser known is that you can order your fries "animal style." Fries, cheese, grilled onions, and, i think, the sauce.

                                                          Healthy? Maybe not. Spectacularly indulgent? Absolutely.

                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                    ML8000 RE: Robert Lauriston Jul 1, 2008 02:07 PM

                                                    It's pretty well documented Keller is an In-n-Out fan. Ad Hoc was suppose to be the interim place holder for Bottles and Burgers, his interpretation of InO of sorts. AH did too well to turn into a burger joint.


                                                2. hcbk0702 RE: hcbk0702 Jul 7, 2008 05:20 PM

                                                  Thanks SF Chowhounders! Here's what I have now:

                                                  Saturday, August 23
                                                  Dinner – *Need something in SF Chinatown*
                                                  More authentic Chinese food preferred

                                                  Sunday, August 24
                                                  Lunch – The French Laundry
                                                  Dinner – Ubuntu

                                                  Monday, August 25
                                                  Lunch – ZuZu
                                                  Dinner – Ad Hoc

                                                  Tuesday, August 26
                                                  Lunch – In-N-Out
                                                  Dinner – Bar Tartine

                                                  Wednesday, August 27
                                                  Lunch – Yank Sing
                                                  Dinner – Aziza

                                                  Thursday, August 28
                                                  Lunch – Monterey Bay Aquarium (probably just the cafeteria there)
                                                  Dinner – *Need something in Monterey Bay*

                                                  Friday, August 29
                                                  Lunch – Zuni Cafe
                                                  Dinner – Chez Panisse

                                                  Help filling in the blanks would be greatly appreciated.

                                                  Also, are there any thoughts on the Cafe vs. Downstairs @ Chez Panisse? The food budget is already pretty enormous, so I was leaning towards the Cafe. If the more formal room is categorically better though, we can squeeze it in.

                                                  10 Replies
                                                  1. re: hcbk0702
                                                    Robert Lauriston RE: hcbk0702 Jul 7, 2008 05:37 PM

                                                    Looks good. For Chinese in Chinatown, you should go to Jai Yun. It's not like anyplace in NY.

                                                    For Monterey, see the Califronia board, lots of discussion there:


                                                    Jai Yun
                                                    680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                    1. re: hcbk0702
                                                      Carrie 218 RE: hcbk0702 Jul 7, 2008 10:17 PM

                                                      Beating Dead Horse: You are not going to want to eat at Ubuntu after lunch at The French Laundry. You will be WAY too full.

                                                      1. re: Carrie 218
                                                        Robert Lauriston RE: Carrie 218 Jul 8, 2008 08:33 AM

                                                        The seasonal salads at Ubuntu seem like exactly the sort of thing that might make a nice light dinner after four hours of gavage at French Laundry.


                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                          Piperdown RE: Robert Lauriston Jul 8, 2008 09:06 AM

                                                          I kind of agree on the being too full thing, although of any place to eat later, Ubuntu is a good choice, as there are light things on the menu, but their dishes are so good, I'd rather just go when I could try a wide selection.

                                                          If you're afraid that you'll be hungry later, I would head to Oxbow at some point, and pick up some pate's and charcuterie at the Fatted Calf, and maybe some cheese at the wine merchant. After the French laundry head to bouchon bakery and pick up some bread, and then just plan on having a mid-night snack.

                                                          1. re: Piperdown
                                                            maria lorraine RE: Piperdown Jul 8, 2008 03:37 PM

                                                            Good comment.

                                                            Though I would add that that where you're staying (hotel or otherwise) will determine your driving choreography after your FL meal.

                                                            IF you're staying in Yountville or the city of Napa, I'd definitely pop down Washington Street in Yountville and go to Bouchon bakery for bread (it's maybe four blocks), and then head south into the city of Napa to Oxbow.or Fatted Calf or Whole Foods for some gourmet munching snacks.

                                                            If, however, you are staying north of Yountville, I'd stop at Bouchon bakery, but then head north to Oakville Grocery in Oakville, Dean & Deluca in St. Helena, or Sunshine Market in St. Helena. Bouchon bread is carried at all three of these locations, I believe. Sunshine Market has Grace, Acme, Bouchon, Artisan, and many other artisan bread brands. Check the hours of all these places to make sure you won't be driving for naught. Good luck.

                                                            Where are you staying, hcbk0702? Any wineries while you're in Napa Valley?

                                                            1. re: maria lorraine
                                                              hcbk0702 RE: maria lorraine Jul 9, 2008 11:08 PM

                                                              We'll be staying in Napa (or very near it). Ubuntu is scheduled for dinner after TFL because that's the only time it'll fit; if we end up being too full (I'm almost positive we won't =P) we'll just have to scratch Ubuntu entirely.

                                                              We will be visiting wineries and I'm in the middle of planning that out, so nothing concrete on that front yet, but it'll probably be limited to Napa Valley. Heading to local markets also sounds like a great idea, and we'll probably do that.

                                                              And if anyone wants to chime in on the Cafe vs. Downstairs @ Chez Panisse, that would be helpful. =)

                                                              1. re: hcbk0702
                                                                maria lorraine RE: hcbk0702 Jul 10, 2008 02:30 AM

                                                                Chez Panisse upstairs or downstairs is an oft-discussed topic on this board. Any specific questions after reading the threads?

                                                                1. re: hcbk0702
                                                                  Robert Lauriston RE: hcbk0702 Jul 10, 2008 07:17 AM

                                                                  chezpanisse.com has a sample dinner menu for upstairs and a week of menus for downstairs. Compare them and see which appeals most. More discussion:


                                                        2. re: hcbk0702
                                                          walker RE: hcbk0702 Jul 12, 2008 08:26 PM

                                                          Another poster is right; you must get tickets for Alcatraz WAY ahead of time. Try charging them on the internet. People are so disappointed to come here and not be able to go there. If you go to Duarte's in Pescadero, make a reservation when you leave Monterey, otherwise, it's a loooong wait. I only like the fish, soup and pie but that's enough reason to go.

                                                          1. re: walker
                                                            susancinsf RE: walker Jul 12, 2008 08:32 PM

                                                            I've not had a wait at Duarte's when I've gone earlyish on a weekday, but I agree that a reservation is a good idea.

                                                        3. hcbk0702 RE: hcbk0702 Jul 10, 2008 11:51 AM

                                                          So here’s the (hopefully!) pretty-much-finalized plan:

                                                          Saturday, August 23
                                                          Golden Gate Bridge area and SF Chinatown
                                                          DINNER – Jai Yun

                                                          Sunday, August 24
                                                          Drive up to Napa Valley, Robert Mondavi and Nickel & Nickel
                                                          LUNCH – The French Laundry
                                                          DINNER – Ubuntu (late or optional)

                                                          Monday, August 25
                                                          Joseph Phelps, Pride, Spring Mountain, and maybe Cain/Barnett
                                                          LUNCH – Picnic (maybe at Pride?)
                                                          DINNER – Ad Hoc

                                                          Tuesday, August 26
                                                          Hess Collection then back to SF for “touristy” stuff (*cue eyerolls*)
                                                          LUNCH – In-N-Out
                                                          DINNER – Bar Tartine

                                                          Wednesday, August 27
                                                          Alcatraz/harbor tour, Muir Woods, perhaps a museum
                                                          LUNCH – Yank Sing
                                                          DINNER – Aziza

                                                          Thursday, August 28
                                                          Early drive to Monterey Bay Aquarium, back to SF for dinner
                                                          LUNCH – MB Aquarium cafeteria <-- you never know, it could be the best of the trip!
                                                          DINNER – Slanted Door

                                                          Friday, August 29
                                                          Open/flexible day, TBD
                                                          LUNCH – Zuni Cafe
                                                          DINNER – Café @ Chez Panisse

                                                          We’re wine country novices, so I think hitting a couple big, popular wineries (Mondavi, Hess) would be nice, even if locals don’t particularly like them for being constantly swamped. Joseph Phelps, Nickel & Nickel, and the Spring Mountain wineries should be a nice change of pace from them. Any additional suggestions are welcomed.

                                                          14 Replies
                                                          1. re: hcbk0702
                                                            Piperdown RE: hcbk0702 Jul 10, 2008 12:45 PM

                                                            Mondavi is a great winery to visit if you're a novice. There tour, is probably the most detailed in explaining the wine making process. It's a bit long, but worth it to learn about what goes into the wine bottle. It's will help to appreciate the next one's you see.

                                                            1. re: Piperdown
                                                              brownhound RE: Piperdown Jul 11, 2008 12:21 PM

                                                              No reason to start a new thread when I can pile onto this one...

                                                              My own honeymoon Napa/SF itinerary for the following week:

                                                              Monday, Sept. 1
                                                              DINNER - The Farm at Carneros Inn (we're staying there)

                                                              Tuesday, Sept. 2
                                                              LUNCH - At Carneros Inn (Boonfly or at pool)
                                                              DINNER - Either Go Fish or Martini Ranch. I know Martini Ranch has better reviews, but I like the idea of cutting into the California cuisine...

                                                              Wednesday, Sept. 3
                                                              LUNCH - Taylor's Refresher (I know, but I'm overruled on this one)
                                                              DINNER - Redd

                                                              Thursday, Sept. 4
                                                              LUNCH - ?
                                                              DINNER - Ubutu

                                                              Friday, Sept. 5
                                                              LUNCH - Slanted Door
                                                              DINNER - Somewhere in the Mission. Any sugestions? We've been to Taqueria, and I'm thinking somewhere casual and fun but decent. Does Foreign Cinema fit the bill?

                                                              Saturday, Sept. 6
                                                              LUNCH - ?
                                                              DINNER - Coi

                                                              Monday, Sept. 7
                                                              LUNCH - ?
                                                              DINNER - Quince

                                                              Suggestions for lunch are appreciated, and Zuni Cafe may easily slot into one of those requirements.

                                                              1. re: brownhound
                                                                JasmineG RE: brownhound Jul 11, 2008 02:16 PM

                                                                For your Friday dinner, I'd suggest Bar Tartine over Foreign Cinema. For Saturday lunch, defintely go to the Ferry Building Farmer's Market, walk around, graze, get picnic stuff from bakeries, cheese places, Fatted Calf, produce and have a picnic, or get prepared food from some of the good stands there. For Monday the 7th, Zuni at lunch is a great idea.

                                                                1. re: brownhound
                                                                  susancinsf RE: brownhound Jul 11, 2008 04:43 PM

                                                                  I had a disappointing meal at Coi the other day. We ate in the bar, but ended up tasting most if not all of the dishes on the dining room menu (thanks to running into some friends of my dining companion who each had the entire tasting menu and were in a mood to share)...I hope to have time to post a full review in the next few days (or perhaps my dining companion will), but bottom line, I'd urge you reconsider that one. One aspect to keep in mind: the dining room is very dark, has no windows, and I found it to be claustrophobic even though a.) I just peeked in and b) I am not prone to claustrophobia! Moreover, because you can order anything off of the dining room menu in the (much more pleasant, though certainly not glamorous) bar, and tasting servings (same size as on the tasting menu) are $12 a plate, you can pick and choose the items you want to try and get plenty of food for quite a bit less (as much as 50% less depending on what you order) in the bar than if you order the full tasting menu (which is the only option if you choose the dining room).

                                                                  Service was mediocre at best, in addition (actually, inconsistent might be a better description). Definitely not somewhere I'd go for a honeymoon meal, but if I did go, I'd eat in the bar.

                                                                  I guess Foreign Cinema fits your casual and fun but decent bill (I find it very hard to judge what others would find fun) but I'd much rather go to La Ciccia, which will be the same price or a little less for dinner than FC. (In SF most restaurants are casual, but few are cheap. Heck, we were in jeans in COI and felt perfectly comfortable.) Range in the Mission is also casual, and food is better than FC, imo, but it isn't cheap either. Bar Tartine is also a good suggestion.

                                                                  I agree that Zuni would be a good lunch option Monday, and that you should go to the FB on Saturday.

                                                                  Zuni Cafe
                                                                  1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                  373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                  842 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                  Quince Restaurant
                                                                  470 Pacific Av, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                  1. re: susancinsf
                                                                    rworange RE: susancinsf Jul 11, 2008 08:00 PM

                                                                    If the OP clicks on the COI link you provided, there are other reviews. People either seem to love it or hate it. After reading some of those very detailed reports you might consider if it is for you.

                                                                    Thursday, Sept. 4

                                                                    I'd have lunch at Oxbow Market in Napa. There are a number of restaurants there (including a Taylor's Refresher). There's a Venezuelan arepa place, Rotiserio which has killer chicken and porchetta, Fatted Calf which has some mighty fine porchetta also, The Cheese and Wine Merchant which has some nice dishes and very good wine. There are tables scattered around Oxbow including on an outdoor patio so you could order at various places and have a combination lunch.

                                                                    I agree about going to the Ferry Plaza farmers market and eating at the various vendors in addition of the bonus of seeing a great farmers market.

                                                                    You mean Sunday, Sept. 7, not Monday ... right?

                                                                    That would be a nice time for Zuni.

                                                                    1. re: rworange
                                                                      susancinsf RE: rworange Jul 11, 2008 09:10 PM

                                                                      FWIW, I can't say I hated COI.(though I might have if I had been forced to sit in that awful dining room for a three hour tasting menu!) In fact there were one or two dishes I really liked (the poached pheasant egg with morels was delicious, and the chocolate dessert was very good as well). Overall, however, I'd say it was underwhelming...

                                                                      Lunch at Oxbow on the 4th is a good suggestion. (especially at Rotiserio)

                                                                  2. re: brownhound
                                                                    daveena RE: brownhound Jul 11, 2008 06:40 PM

                                                                    Agree with both Bar Tartine and La Ciccia as dinner options, and Saturday Ferry Building Farmer's Market and Zuni for lunch. Unfortunatley, Zuni's not open for lunch on Monday (Monday's a tough day for lunch in SF), but Slanted Door is, so maybe you can do SD on Monday, and Zuni on Friday. Or see if you can score a Saturday lunch reservation at SD, if you decide to go to the Farmer's Market (and you really should).

                                                                    I know Taylor's has a lot of naysayers, but as someone who doesn't like to break too long from wine tasting to have a full sit-down lunch, I quite like being able to get an ahi burger, eat it outside, and head off to my next destination without losing too much time.

                                                                    Along the same lines, I'd consider stopping in at Oxbow Public Market on your other Napa day - the porchetta sandwich at Rotiserie is a good way to prep your stomach for an afternoon of tasting. There's a Fatted Calf there as well (and a branch of Taylor's although I don't really see the point in eating anywhere besides the original).

                                                                2. re: hcbk0702
                                                                  FoodWine RE: hcbk0702 Jul 11, 2008 01:16 PM

                                                                  Robert Sinskey winery on Silverado (6320 Silverado) (just below the Yountville Cross Road) is really nice. Good wine, friendly people. They even allowed us to eat our picnic stuff on their wonderful patio (that has a great view).

                                                                  1. re: hcbk0702
                                                                    susancinsf RE: hcbk0702 Jul 11, 2008 04:26 PM

                                                                    hmm...Are you an early riser>

                                                                    Do you like or at least can tolerate big crowds?

                                                                    The itinerary you picked is very heavy on places that will have crowds, and will require early starts on more than Thursday, to work. Keep in mind that you will be here the week before labor day weekend, which tends to a busy one for tourists...(and August in general should be quite busy in SF this year, since thanks to the dollar there are lots of European tourists this summer). Tourists do want to do tourists things, of course, so to some extent crowds are unavoidable, but you mention wanting to 'explore' and you aren't going to have very much time for that!

                                                                    Its not chow related, but you might want to do more research on Muir Woods. The parking lot fills up very early every day of the week in summer, so you will need to take a shuttle unless you get a VERY early start and put it first on your list that day, which will add to the time to get there and see it. I don't see how, particularly given that, that you will be able to do an Alcatraz/Harbor Tour, Muir woods, and Yank Sing in one day and still have time and energy left to go to Aziza. (forget the museum). I am assuming you plan to disembark at Alcatraz (since just taking a tour that circles around it won't show you a heck of a lot more than you will have seen from the GG Bridge earlier in the week)., Alcatraz is definitely worth the actual visit (I think more so than Muir Woods, personally), but the visit takes several hours minimum and involves a fair amount of walking.

                                                                    You will probably be able to take advantage of car pool lanes on Thursday, but you should still count on heavy traffic, sometimes very heavy traffic, and slow going both in and around Monterey and on your drive down and back from San Francisco, and a long wait to get into the Aquarium unless you buy tickets in advance, become a member, or go quite early (If I was going for the day to go to the Aquarium and had to be back for a dinner reservation, I'd leave SF at seven am at the *very* latest on a weekday). Also be aware that unless you eat at an off hour there will be a crowd and quite possibly a wait/line at the Cafeteria. I think(?) you can make a reservation at the full restaurant if it is open for lunch, you might want to look into that. Food is better anyway, though neither is great or terrible. However, unless I had a very late reservation at Slanted Door I am not sure I'd be in any rush to hurry back from Monterey to go there. Have you considered having dinner somewhere on the peninsula on your way home, or is your heart set on Slanted Door?

                                                                    In that regard, keep in mind that many of the food shops in the Ferry Building close early (I was there yesterday and at seven pm most were closed or closing), so if you want to see them you'd need to leave Monterey early in order to have time to check them out before dinner at Slanted Door. (or go some other day).

                                                                    Along the same lines, two wineries before French Laundry sounds like too much to me, especially since you have to factor in the time to drive up from SF....After the FL, if everything I've heard is true, you will probably just want to collapse and take a long, nice nap...

                                                                    1. re: susancinsf
                                                                      JasmineG RE: susancinsf Jul 11, 2008 05:03 PM

                                                                      These are all really really good points -- You may not have time for the wineries after lunch at French Laundry (which will probably last until 3pm), and if you do, it will be one winery at the most. You are absolutely not going to have time for your itenerary on Wednesday, that is way way too much to fit in in one day, especially since none of the destinations are particularly near each other (and none are near any of the restaurants on your list). I would pick one of those things to focus on, otherwise you absolutely won't be able to fit in all of the food that you have planned. You could also schedule your In N Out lunch for Wednesday instead and eat that at the wharf before you leave for Alcatraz (you have to get tickets in advance, fyi) so that will make scheduling easier, and have Yank Sing on Tuesday late when you get back from Napa.

                                                                      1. re: susancinsf
                                                                        rworange RE: susancinsf Jul 11, 2008 07:46 PM

                                                                        I don't know ... I went out to dinner at Bizou after my French Laundry lunch ... but tha t was mainly because I needed to eat something that actually tasted good.

                                                                        If you do the Alcatraz tour do that. As Susan mentioned, the tour itself is worthwhile.PLEASE do not take the Bay cruises ... it is amazing how they can make a trip on the bay unenjoyable ... corny jokes, misinformation, and every hokey San Francisco song BLARING ... San Francisco, open your Golden Gate ... California here I come ...

                                                                        If you want to just cruise the bay take one of the commuter ferries to Sausalito or Tiburon. I'd go for Tiburon since it is a nicer Ferry and there are some cute shops and better restaurants in Tiburon. They are MUCH less expensive too.

                                                                        I still ask you to consider In-N-Out on your drive to Monterrey. There is one not too far from Monterrey and right off a highway exit. Maybe instead of lunch at the Aquarium. It's up to you, but you are really wasting a good opportunity to have a good lunch in SF in exchange for marginally better than McDonald's fast food.

                                                                        Susan is right about that drive to and from Monterrey. I hope if you do that your reservation at Slanted Door is late. I'd probably take route 1 back home as that traffic on 101 is brutal at rush hour. THere are three points where you just sit... and sit ... and sit.

                                                                        1. re: rworange
                                                                          susancinsf RE: rworange Jul 11, 2008 09:20 PM

                                                                          Unfortunately, traffic through Santa Cruz makes 1 almost as bad as 101 in places (and with two of them they will be able to use a car pool lane if it is 3 to 7 pm)....but basically, you and I are on the same page: if it were me, I'd consider driving up 1 for the drive, perhaps timing it to be somewhere near one of the San Mateo beaches at sunset (waayyyy prettier than the view from Slanted Door), and have dinner at Duarte's, (no view at Duarte's, just to be clear) and do Slanted Door some other time, or skip it all together. Or, if wanted Vietnamese food, take 101 and check out one of the options on the Peninsula....

                                                                          I can't remember where the In N Out near Monterey is, but I do know that it is no where near the Aquarium, which means that it wouldn't be a good lunch option that day (because of cost and difficult parking, one is NOT going to want to drive somewhere for lunch). I actually think having lunch at the Aquarium makes sense, particularly for someone on a schedule, as long as one is realistic about the crowds. If OP has doubts, there are several fairly recent threads on the CA board about places to have lunch near the Aquarium.

                                                                          1. re: susancinsf
                                                                            rworange RE: susancinsf Jul 11, 2008 10:02 PM

                                                                            Didn't mean near the Aquarium ... but in that southern area. There's one in Salinas off 101

                                                                            Not as near-ish but on 101

                                                                            Morgan Hill


                                                                            And then from San Jose upward there are a zillion if you check the map

                                                                            Hmmm ... either I gave this info to another poster with similar plans, the software ate my post, I forgot to hit the post button or I got deleted. These days I just chalk it up to the software eating it. Makes me more zen.

                                                                      2. re: hcbk0702
                                                                        fdb RE: hcbk0702 Jul 11, 2008 04:56 PM

                                                                        hcbk0702--I do hope you get to eat at Ubuntu. It's very unique and very delicious!

                                                                      3. hcbk0702 RE: hcbk0702 Jul 13, 2008 08:27 PM

                                                                        Thanks for all the advice, it's immensely helpful! =)

                                                                        Here's what I have right now:

                                                                        Saturday, August 23
                                                                        Arrive in San Francisco in the afternoon
                                                                        Golden Gate Bridge area and SF Chinatown
                                                                        Dinner – Jai Yun

                                                                        Sunday, August 24
                                                                        Drive up to Napa Valley in the morning
                                                                        Lunch – The French Laundry @ 11 AM
                                                                        Robert Mondavi Winery, Kalon tour and tasting @ 4 PM
                                                                        Dinner – Ubuntu @ 8:30 PM

                                                                        Monday, August 25
                                                                        Pick up picnic supplies in the morning from local markets
                                                                        Pride Mountain Vineyard tour and tasting @ 10 AM
                                                                        Lunch – A picnic @ Pride
                                                                        Spring Mountain Vineyard tour and tasting @ 2 PM
                                                                        Joseph Phelps seminar (possibly)
                                                                        Dinner – Ad Hoc @ 6 PM or past 8 PM

                                                                        Tuesday, August 26
                                                                        Hess Collection @ 10 AM
                                                                        Lunch – In-N-Out or ZuZu or something else
                                                                        Drive back to San Francisco, general sightseeing
                                                                        Dinner – Bar Tartine @ 6:15 PM

                                                                        Wednesday, August 27
                                                                        Muir Woods in the early morning
                                                                        Lunch – Yank Sing
                                                                        Alcatraz cruise @ 2:50 PM (purchasing tickets online soon)
                                                                        Dinner – Aziza @ 7:15 PM

                                                                        Thursday, August 28
                                                                        Very early drive to Monterey Bay Aquarium (also online tickets)
                                                                        Lunch – Monterey Bay Aquarium cafeteria (most likely)
                                                                        Drive back to San Francisco in the afternoon
                                                                        Dinner – Slanted Door @ 8:30 PM (or perhaps somewhere in Monterey)

                                                                        Friday, August 29
                                                                        Open day, TBD
                                                                        Lunch – Zuni Café
                                                                        Dinner – Chez Panisse, Café

                                                                        I already have reservations set for most of the restaurants (Zuni Cafe and Chez Panisse don't let you reserve more than a month in advance) and all the wineries we're definitely visiting. The only thing left is purchasing online tickets for the Alcatraz cruise and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I didn't plan on doing a cruise that just goes around the SF harbor. There are countless boat tours around Manhattan too, and they seem to be pretty dreadful.

                                                                        There's no issue with getting started early in the morning; we can easily be out the door before 7 AM or earlier if we need to.

                                                                        Of all the restaurants I’ve picked, Slanted Door is probably the least interesting to me, which is why I’ve scheduled it on the aquarium day. If getting back to SF will be too hectic, we’ll probably just eat dinner somewhere in Monterey. Hopefully there won’t be TOO much traffic. =X


                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                        1. re: hcbk0702
                                                                          walker RE: hcbk0702 Jul 13, 2008 09:47 PM

                                                                          Most people like Slanted Door A LOT and often make return visits. I've enjoyed it every time I've been. Their fish is very fresh and I love the shaking beef (cubes of fillet) I always have to order the fried Imperial Rolls, others prefer the summer rolls. (not fried)

                                                                          1. re: hcbk0702
                                                                            JasmineG RE: hcbk0702 Jul 13, 2008 11:24 PM

                                                                            If you really want to go to Yank Sking, I'd schedule it for a different day, because going from Muir Woods in the morning to an Alcatraz tour in the afternoon will give you very little time for Yank Sing, and you'll likely feel pretty rushed. Or you could move Alcatraz to Friday after Zuni.

                                                                            1. re: JasmineG
                                                                              walker RE: JasmineG Jul 14, 2008 12:11 AM

                                                                              I agree Wed 27th has too much going on. But, if driving a car, Friday to lunch at Zuni, then Alcatraz, then driving in Friday rush to Berkeley is stressful. What I would do Wed is skip Muir Woods and do Alcatraz first trip of the morning, lunch and dinner as planned. In between lunch and dinner you can go to DeYoung Museum (in Golden Gate Park) or Legion of Honor (my preference) and a walk behind along ocean and golf course and you're already in the Richmond district which is where Aziza is.
                                                                              If you REALLY want to do Muir Woods, go Friday morning early, lunch at Zuni then drive straight to Berkeley and walk around there until your dinner at Chez Panisse Cafe. The Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley is a great place to visit.

                                                                              1. re: walker
                                                                                susancinsf RE: walker Jul 14, 2008 08:28 AM

                                                                                One of these options makes so much more sense. I think part of the problem is that Yank Sing is in the wrong part of town for that day, and isn't a sort of place you want to rush as was pointed out. You are basically all over town and beyond on Wednesday. Another option if you have time before Aziza (because you went to Alcatraz earlier in the day) is to explore the Richmond (a great chow neighborhood), or, if you like Tequila, spend a bit of time at Tommy's across the street and up a block from Aziza (don't think of eating there, but the tequila selection is probably world class. Only problem is that Aziza's cocktails are also wonderful and you will have a car....but a good option if only one of you likes to drink and the other is willing to drive! :-)).

                                                                                Another option is to skip Zuni and do Yank Sing the morning before Chez Panisse. I realize that Zuni is considered very SF, but it is also similar in style to CP Cafe (in my opinion)...or, since you say the Slanted Door is of less interest, do Zuni late the Monterey night. (say around nine pm).

                                                                                My concern when people try and cram everything in to one trip is that they will just wear themselves out, as a result the food won't taste as good, and they wont be in as big a hurry to come back and will wonder what the big deal is.... One of San Francisco's biggest charms is the fact that it is a great town for walking and exploring some of the more off beat spots (including some great Chow spots) and you have very little time for that. But that's just me, and then I wouldn't even consider a schedule that included a winery tasting and tour within two hours of finishing a meal at French Laundry. So, hopefully you are into crowds, not prone to stress when driving around a strange city, and in shape for this marathon. Have fun and do report back!

                                                                                1. re: susancinsf
                                                                                  walker RE: susancinsf Jul 14, 2008 11:00 AM

                                                                                  The last time I went to Tommy's (I was taking friends who'd never been), it was only like a Tues. night and it was so packed and LOUD. We pushed our way in, got to the bar area (we were only going to have Margaritas and then go eat tacos at La Taqueria) and it was several people deep. We just looked at each other and knew we had to leave, no way could we have had any kind of conversation there, no place to sit. (We went for tacos, then had the Margaritas at Tres Agaves -- I'll never again try for Tommy's.)

                                                                                  1. re: walker
                                                                                    susancinsf RE: walker Jul 14, 2008 01:35 PM

                                                                                    last time I went, I took an out of town visitor (before dinner at Aziza), and it was one of the highlights of the visit for her. She liked the tequila tasting waayyy more than the ferry building! :-) When we first got there it was packed, but they encouraged us to sit at a table in the restaurant at the edge of the bar, even though we told them we only wanted to drink. Then, the server promised to hold bar seats for us so we could move as soon as they became available, and he was true to his word!

                                                                                    It seemed to empty out towards the end of our time there, so maybe it varies.

                                                                            2. re: hcbk0702
                                                                              Ruth Lafler RE: hcbk0702 Jul 14, 2008 01:54 PM

                                                                              I agree (1) that's a lot of driving, (2) don't do Zuni and Chez Panisse on the same day. I like the idea of Muir Woods early in the morning, though -- you'll be going against the commute, and if you get there when it opens at 8 a.m. it probably won't be as hideously crowded, especially if you can beat the tour buses. Grab some nice pastries and have breakfast among the (probably fog-shrouded) redwoods.

                                                                              Although I agree with a lot of the other suggestions (Clement St., Lawrence Hall of Science, etc.), if you're tired of tweaking your itinerary, the simplest change I'd make would be to swap Zuni and Yank Sing. Come back from Muir Woods, have an early lunch at Zuni, park your car somewhere in that area (or at your hotel) and then take public transit (the F line street car) if you have time, or a cab if you don't, to the wharf for Alacatraz. Alternatively, stop for lunch in Sausalito (Fish. maybe?) and take the ferry over (and back) to the wharf to catch your Alcatraz trip. That's a lot of ferry rides, but I personally never get tired of the views on the Bay.

                                                                              Oh, and a winery tour after French Laundry? You're crazy! If you must schedule one for that day, schedule your lowest priority one so you won't mind cancelling if you change your mind.

                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                grayelf RE: Ruth Lafler Jul 18, 2008 10:23 PM

                                                                                FWIW, weighing in as a repeat visitor to San Francisco who LOVES a packed schedule and is a slave driver to the mellower SO (poor devil) -- the posters above are not exaggerating. Even your revised itinerary would be challenging for me :-). If you can build in a bit more flex time, you will be able to take in the experience that is SF, rather than taking pictures to look at when you're back at home, which is a bit what we did the first time we came. Odds are you will return again and again to catch the places you don't have room for this time -- we sure did, and are already looking forward to our next trip in late fall! Best of luck and have a wonderful time; I'm green with envy.

                                                                                1. re: grayelf
                                                                                  thach RE: grayelf Jul 19, 2008 11:12 AM

                                                                                  Very good point. bobpantzer, take this advice seriously. The SF Bay Area is not big but its crowded and traffic crossing and up-down the bay is quite daunting for the locals and could be absolute pain for visitors. Plan your trip based on time and distance to-from locations can provide your better touring experience and fun.

                                                                              2. re: hcbk0702
                                                                                gtpeach RE: hcbk0702 Aug 13, 2008 11:15 AM

                                                                                Hi there! I'm so sorry that I am replying late, but I just joined, and really enjoyed this thread!
                                                                                I love all of your mad foodie planning skills, and you are going to have a fabulous time here in SF!
                                                                                Just a few thoughts from what I've seen so far:
                                                                                In-N-Out is definitely different from Shake Shack. I love both, but for different reasons. Be sure to read up on the "secret menu" items from InNOut.
                                                                                You will be cutting it close to get from Fisherman's Wharf area to Aziza on Wednesday, but it will be worth it! Have the lavender infused cocktail...yummy!
                                                                                My favorite quick place to eat in Monterey is the Turtle Bay. It is nothing fancy, but has decent seafood/rice bowls.
                                                                                If you have an open day on the 29th, you should definitely check out some of the Slow Food events, especially since you will be going to Chez Panisse later in the evening! http://slowfoodnation.org/

                                                                                Enjoy your time here!!!

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