San Francisco/Glen Ellen/Sonoma
New Orleans Chowhounds visiting San Francisco. We will be traveling in April to the area. We want to experience good, interesting and tasty cuisine. We are pretty open- interesting ethnic cuisine, local hole in the walls and more. We will be in San Fran, Sausolito, and Glen Ellen and anywhere in between. I'd love some suggestions on places to eat as well as any great farms/specialty food stores and great places to picnic.
We will do one expensive dinner, the rest more average priced meals.
I look forward to your response!
We are open to food carts, mobile restaurants and any local farms who have tours and meals too.
This seems like a good spot to report on my brunch last weekend at the Fig Cafe in Glen Ellen; my second time there for brunch and we enjoyed it very much. They don't take reservations, but at eleven thirty or so we had no trouble getting a prime booth for four (indeed, I would have been happier to see them a bit busier).
I was thrilled to see a frisee salad with lardons and a poached egg on the menu, since I have been craving one foreover. It was delicious and the egg was perfectly poached. Hubby had an omelet that was also perfectly made....my father had mussels and frites; I enjoy their thin, crispy fries, and it was a huge serving; plenty of fries for the table. Stepmom had corned beef hash, Since it was her birthday, she enjoyed a fig mimosa; and since the Fig Cafe has free corkage we all enjoyed a bottle from stepmom and father's cellar. Service was good and we had a lovely time. I like the Fig Cafe better than Girl and the Fig in Sonoma, btw; it is much quieter and lower key (I think it is cheaper as well though I haven't been to Girl and The Fig in a while. In any case, brunch for four, including the mimosa, dishes mentioned above, plus a fig and arugula salad, a cheese plate, and coffee all around, plus tax and generous tip, was about $104.)
Despite the fact that my father lives in Glen Ellen and I visit often, stepmom is a good enough cook that I can't give you a personal rundown on all of the little restaurants there. I can tell you that the Village Market in Glen Ellen would be great for picnic supplies. Unfortunately, Raymond and Company Cheese shop is no longer in Glen Ellen.
Don't forget, also, that the town of Sonoma is only about a twenty minute drive from Glen Ellen. (and the route takes you right past the Paleteria La Michoacana, which is a must stop). Here is a good fairly recent thread with Sonoma suggestions:
(though sadly, the chef at Ubuntu has left, so I would no longer drive over to Napa from Sonoma just to eat there. There is plenty in Sonoma to keep you happy, however).
Paleteria La Michoacana is a great suggestion.
Normally I'd recommend Fremont Diner in Sonoma, but since it is Southern Food (using local ingredients) you probably want to skip something you get a lot at home.
Vineyards Inn, Kennsington (near Glen Ellen) is something you won't find in the guidebooks.
On the second Thursday of each month there is a $40 six-course Basque dinner with unlimited wine that is served family-style. The rotating recipes are from Chef Esteban’s family
They grow all their own produce and it really is the greenest business in the Bay Area.
April isn't a month shy of many of the farms and farmers starting. Sonoma Farm trails is a good resource for farms in that area.
My favorite in that area, Hardin Gardens, doesn't open till May.
What days do you plan to be in each location. On Saturday the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market should not be missed. If you are in the Sausalito area or on the way to Glen Ellen then the Sunday San Rafel farmers market is great.
There are other places dependant on day of the week.
Yeti in Glen Ellen serves great Nepalase/Indian food. Next door is Blue Grass Restaurant with BBQ and down the road is Jack London Wolf House Restaurant, great local bar serving good pub food. Across the street from Wolf House is the Village Market - a place for picnic supplies. You can go up Jack London Ranch Road to the Jack London State Park for a picnic. You will pass Benzinger winery on the way, they also have picnic faciities, but it is often crowded.
Further South in Sonoma, there's Bartholomew Peak Winery that has picinic grounds near vineyards and hiking trails. Wines are very tasty.
Good suggestions from everyone.
You might also want to check Oak Hill Farm's Red Barn which re-opens in April
Or catch them at Sonoma's Friday morning farmer's market
In Sonoma are some good supply places like:
Sonoma Market (same owners as Glen Ellen Village Market, larger selection in Sonoma
El Dorado Kitchenette
Picnic in April - it's been a wet winter - but check out (in Glen Ellen unless noted)
Quarryhill Botanical Gardens is always beautiful & will be stunning in April & May - http://www.quarryhillbg.org/
Sonoma Valley Regional Park (free parking on Arnold Drive
)Jack London State Park
Bouverie Preserve is open to public only for guided nature walks
on 4/17 http://www.egret.org/bouverie_gnw.html
Sugarloaf State Park in Kenwood
Enjoy your visit!
I meant to mention - Benziger has a biodynamic (better than organic) garden.
To find out what's happening in the Sonoma culinary world, check out columns in the two local papers:
The Sonoma Sun's Patti William's writes the Epi Curious column and includes what's available at each booth in the Friday morning farmers market
The Sonoma Index Tribune's Kathleen Hill writes for the food & wine section
Also, if you're thinking of food to take home, be sure to check out the olive oil options. And don't miss the Meyer lemons, they should still be in season, though they took a hit in the frost.
Oh, April should bring carpets of wild flowers to the parks - lupine, poppies, popcorn flowers, baby blue eyes, Sonoma sunshine and buttercups feed the eyes and soul.
re: Mick Ruthven
Hi for a nice picnic spot, we love Gundlach-Bundschu in Sonoma. There is a small lake there and lots of picnic tables around the grounds. For a nice dinner, consider Cafe La Haye or girl and the fig in Sonoma. I have also heard great things about Estate, housed where General's Daughter was for years which was one of our faves in the area. For a nice, casual lunch in Kenwood, Doce Lunas is very good, they do a wonderful Wok-Seared Calamari salad there and have a great selection of local wines. :)
I had dinner at Estate and at Doce Lunas this past weekend.
Estate was for a group of 24, and we had a limited pre-set menu (limited to 4 choices from the regular menu for each course). I thought the food was very good. Service wasn't bad for a group of that size. 4 courses, each was good, nothing was stellar.
Doce Lunas - 3 of us went. Cozy and comfortable. Service was really nice. Food was abundant and tasty. The starter soup (we got the "family style" option, which adds soup, salad and dessert to whatever mains you might order) was great. The salad was simple (and good), and desserts were anything from the menu. The sticky toffee pudding was delicious. I couldn't finish it. My main was pork schnitzel w/spaetzle. My only real criticism of this place was in the heart of the Valley of the Moon, with decent (but not over the top) wines, that the wine service was in cheap thick-lipped "stemware." I'd definitely go back if I was staying in that area.
8910 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA
My favorite place in Sopnoma happens to be in Glen Ellen-the Glen Ellen Inn! I had the most fantastic Eggs Benedict there, and my friend had the Mammy Pleasant, which is like a Croque-Madame! So good! And the Martini's as so good-try the Crazy Mary Martini-perfect fopr brucnh or lunch! We went back fo dinner as well, and had the best Filet Mignon ever-amazingly delicious! A great and surprisingly affordable place!
Glen Ellen Inn
13670 Arnold Dr, Glen Ellen, CA 95442