San Francisco/Napa Itinerary for Your Perusal/Approval
My girlfriend and I are going to San Francisco and Napa/Yountville for a week in mid-August. We're both from New York and go to law school there, but she's been working in South America all summer, so when she comes back to the States, we are going to meet up in Cali for a week before interview week starts. We've been apart for like three months, so suffice it to say we're both really looking forward to this trip.
More than anything else, we're looking for great food, with a good variety between cuisines, though with more Californian than anything else, and with most places ranking in the "moderately priced" to "somewhat expensive" range (no TFL this time around, unfortunately). We're trying to do lunch and dinner every day, and are also looking to dine at a variety of places, but I think we both tend towards enjoying places that are a little on the loud and bustling side, which seems to be what a lot of SF restaurants are known for -- that being said, a quiet, romantic meal or two would be lovely.
Any comments on the places we have lined up so far, or any recs for other places, would be greatly, greatly appreciated.
L: Cliff House (mostly for the views, not sure what to think about the food...)
Tuesday (I'm particularly on the fence with the three restaurants on this day)
L: One Market
D: Canteen or Zuni Cafe
Wednesday (Driving to Sausalito in the morning/afternoon, Berkeley in the afternoon/evening)
L: Sushi Ran (I've never tried sushi and my girlfriend is obsessed with it, so I said I'd try it for the first time with her here)
D: Chez Panisse
L: The Slanted Door
D: Gary Danko
Friday (first day in Napa)
*breakfast from Tartine Bakery for the drive
L: Bistro Jeanty
D: ad hoc or Bouchon
*maybe Taylor's Automatic Refresher for breakfast
L: Barber's Q (I NEED to go to one great barbecue place on this trip, and am thinking this is it)
Places we were considering but then opted against:
Especially given your particular interests in dining, I would strongly reccomend Laiola for dinner on Tuesday. I would eat at Martini House over ad hoc or Bouchon.
If you reorganize your trip, eat at Laiola on a Friday or Saturday night -- that will give you as much of a taste of young SF dining scene as you are going to get.
Overall, I really like your choices, though.
Looks like a great trip. Just a few comments:
Monday - Cliff House is not worth it for the view. If you really want a view of Ocean Beach while dining, try Beach Chalet - it's less expensive and IMO a more pleasant experience than Cliff House.
Friday - Sit outdoors at Bistro Jeanty. The food is good, but nothing special. It's the ambience outdoors that makes the place. For dinner, I agree with Maria Lorraine - Martini House or Terra will give you a better Napa experience.
Saturday - Try Boon Fly Cafe at Carneros Inn for breakfast instead of Taylor's.
1345 Railroad Ave., St. Helena, CA 94574
Boon Fly Cafe
4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA 94559
1245 Spring St., St. Helena, CA 94574
Well, gosh...again, I would stay away from Bouchon while they're renovating the kitchen.
I love the tomato soup with puff pastry at Bistro Jeanty, and the mussels with the red wine sauce, and grilled bread is really amazing. Order a side of Bearnaise. Eat on the patio. I like the pulled pork sandwich at BarbersQ (really like it) but am not all that wild about the restaurant. But I do love Busters BBQ in Calistoga right at the flashing red light as you enter town. I like Redd a lot, but also like Martini House (excellent food and patio in summer) and Terra (my favoriet overall). Don't believe Taylor's is open for breakfast, but Sunshine Market in St. Helena 1/2 block away can set you up for breakfast in terms of pastry, coffee, quiche, etc. Great grocery deli, butcher, cheese and bread selection.
For Tuesday, I would have lunch at Zuni and dinner at Canteen (or the reverse), and leave out One Market. For your Wednesday, come straight to Berkeley from Sausalito via the Richmond San Rafael bridge, and then you'll have some time to explore Berkeley; if you get in early enough, you can stop by the Cheeseboard, Ici ice cream, and other fun spots in Berkeley.
There is no reason to apologize for wanting BBQ and going to Barber's Q; I ate there as little as a week and continue to be impressed by their food. No, it is not "classic" BBQ (like when you think about the South), but it is very, very good. I have had both the tri-tip and pulled pork sandwiches which I both really, really like as well as the ribs which are ample. Make sure to get some corn bread muffins, regardless.
I vote for Zuni (you can make a res., too)
Is Sushi Ran open for lunch Monday? I think it'd be better to do Sausalito/SF than Sausalito/Berk. Berkeley has wonderful places to eat and stroll around. How about Eccolo for lunch on 4th Street? Are you going to Chez Panisse Cafe? Less expensive than downstairs and very good. Choice of food, unlike downstairs' set menu.
(I love Slanted Door -- get the Imperial Rolls.)
Ad Hoc is great. Make a res. in advance and then call the day of to see if you like what they are serving that day. They do fried chicken (fantastic) every other Monday. (coming up June 30)
Have you considered Yank Sing (101 Spear at Mission) for dim sum lunch?
I have not been to Range but hear many good comments on it.
The views around the Cliff House are free. Eat somewhere else. Otherwise the SF choices sound fine to me.
I suggest you reorganize the trip and stay in SF Friday night. That way you could have breakfast at the Ferry Plaza market in the morning, and you'd avoid the weekend wine-country traffic and crowds.