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Champagne tastes with beer money from Boston

Planning a first time visit to the San Francisco area with my husband starting May 14th for 9 nights.
We're an adventurous, budget minded couple in our forties who've travelled and eaten a lot!!
We try to keep our meals and lodging bills to a minimum (dinners averaging $50 including dessert for 2 people, and lodging averaging $100/night)
We LOVE to eat tasty, fairly priced food...We don't drink alcohol...we NEED good bakeries/desserts and coffee...we prefer independents over corporate chains...we love ethnic food...we love to eat the local cuisine...we like big portions...we love good diners and home style places with history...
We don't like "fancy" places, bar/lounge type scenes, paying for the view, tiny portions even if it's "amazing", or any long waits...
We especially love French, Asian (no Thai or Sushi), Soul, Low Country, BBQ, Cuban, Indian, Middle Eastern, Italian, Vegetarian, and SEAFOOD!!
With all that said............
Your expert local feedback would be MOST appreciated!!
I've come up with the "plan" below...but would really like to know from the SF chowhounds if I've made good choices...based on our interests/budget/itinerary.

Day 1 Friday:
Arrive SF at 10PM from Boston
Lorries Shuttle to Fort Mason
Check into Hostel near Fisherman's Wharf for first 3 nights: $80/night for private room with shared bath

Day 2 Saturday:
Breakfast/lunch: Walk embarcadero from Aquatic Park to Ferry Building/Farmer's Market (Kimchi fried rice and Korean tacos from Namu, sausage rolls from Ryan Farr's place, pancetta panino from Roli Rolti, pear frangipane from Frog Hollow's, garlic fries from Taylor's Refreshers, pork tamales from Primavera, oysters from Hog Island, Acme walnut and olive breads, pain au chocolat from Della Fattoria)
1PM Giants Game
Independent walking tour of glass elevators/hotel lobbies near Union Square
Cable Car ride on Powell Hyde line back down to Fisherman's Wharf
Dinner: Takeout from Chaac Mool: Yucataen food from a stand in the Fort Mason parking lot (cochinita tamale, sope, pork torta, watermelon agua fresca) About $20.00 inclusive

Day 3 Sunday:
9AM service at Glide Memorial Church
Biking from Fisherman's Wharf
Snacks/coffee at Warming Hut to get going
Ride over GGB and explore Sausalito
Continue ride to Mill Valley and around North Bay to Tiburon
Need suggestions for lunch in Tiburon?? (a great sandwich/soup, cheap takeout would be fine)
Ferry back to San Fran
Dinner: Gamine French Bistro (steak tartare & escargots appetizers, 2 burgers/frites, 2 chocolate mousse) About $80.00 inclusive

Day 4 Monday:
7AM check out of hostel, pick up car at Dollar Rental Fisherman's Wharf
On the road to Muir Woods
Lunch at Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station
Afternoon 5 mile hike at Point Reyes National Seashore: Laguna Loop
Check in to Point Reyes Hostel for 1 night: $44.00/night for dorm accommodations with shared bath
Dinner: Station House Cafe (warm popovers, fresh oysters, good desserts, etc) About $70.00 inclusive

Day 5 Tuesday:
Breakfast at Bovine Bakery or Station House Cafe
10 mile hike at Point Reyes National Seashore: Sky/Bear Valley loop trail
Back to San Fran late afternoon, drop car at O'Farrell St location, no drop off fee
Check into Rex Hotel Union Square for next 3 nights: $104/night travelzoo deal
Dinner: Tadich Grill (2 Seafood Cioppino's and split an appetizer, no dessert) About $80.00 inclusive: "wow" it better be good!

Day 6 Wednesday:
Breakfast: Papa Beards cream puffs takeoput and good coffee
Free admission California Academy of Sciences (3rd Wed of the month)
Visit free parts of De Young
Picnic lunch and goof around Golden Gate Park/Japanese tea garden, etc.
Dinner: Anh Hong (7 courses of beef for 2 and maybe a little something else) About $50.00 inclusive

Day 7 Thursday:
Breakfast at Dottie's??
Any other good bakery/coffee suggestions in Rex Hotel/Union Square area?
Telegraph Hill, 377 Steps
Coit Tower
Chinatown
Big late lunch at R&G Lounge (salt & pepper live crab, whole abalone with mustard greens appetizer, 1/2 Peking Duck, wild mushroom chow mein) About $90.00 inclusive, depending on market prices
Alcatraz Night Tour
Suggestions for late night dessert near Fisherman's Wharf or back at Union Square? How's the hot fudge sundae at Ghiradelli Square?

Day 8 Friday:
7AM check out of hotel and pick up rental car at Dollar O'Farrell Street
Tartine Bakery for breakfast/road treats (coconut cream tarts...)
On the road to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz
11AM historic steam train trip to Bear Mountain at Roaring Camp
Lunch in Santa Cruz at Malabar Cafe (Sri Lankan fusion: mango almond curry, spinach kofta, grilled bread and brown rice) $50.00 inclusive
Walk Santa Cruz boardwalk
Check in to Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel in Pescadero for 1 night: $56.00/night for dorm accommodations with shared bath
Dinner: Duarte's Tavern (artichoke soup, Pacific Snapper and Crab Cioppino with homemeade pie for dessert sounds great) PRICES??
Is this place all that? I've read mixed reviews and want to order the right thing!

Day 9 Saturday:
Early AM bird watching/walking at Pescadero Marsh
Possible visit to Harley farms to see the goats and buy some cheese for lunch
Ano Nuevo Reserve and/or Waddell Beach?
Check in to Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel in Montara for 1 night: $71.00/night for private room with shared bath
Visit Half Moon Bay/Moss Beach
Dinner: Cafe Gibraltar (Mediterranean fusion: braised pork cheeks over polenta and oysters 3 ways for the appetizers, Moroccan Lamb and Catalan roasted rabbit for the main dishes, banana coconut cream pie for dessert) About $100 plus...inclusive...last night in Cally!!
I hope this place doesn't disappoint!!

Day 10 Sunday:
Depart Hostel by 6AM
Return car to Dollar without a drop off fee
9AM flight back to Boston, full and happy...........

-----
Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Della Fattoria
141 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma, CA 94952

Tadich Grill
240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

Duarte's Tavern
202 Stage Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060

Namu
439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

Cafe Gibraltar
425 Ave. Alhambra, El Granada, CA 94018

Warming Hut
983 Marine Drive, San Francisco, CA

Bovine Bakery
11315 Shoreline Hwy, Point Reyes Station, CA

Station House Cafe
11180 State Route 1 N, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

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  1. Regarding Pt. Reyes, we had an okay dinner there last Spring but the service was very poor. Negligent, aloof, didn't seem like the staff cared if they had any paying customers. Would not return. Osteria Stellina has favorable reviews, but maybe beyond your price point. Have read about Pine Cone Diner for breakfast and good reviews. For a casual snack/meal, there is a Mexican-type grocery tacqueria w/pizza that looked and smelled delicious. Cowgirl Creamery and other tenants could provide great supplies for a tasty meal.

    -----
    Pine Cone Diner
    60 4th St, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

    Cowgirl Creamery - Petaluma Facility
    105 H St, Petaluma, CA 94952

    Osteria Stellina
    11285 Highway 1, Point Reyes Station, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: macadam

      Pt Reyes, I would expect that cafe in Bolinas to be good.

      1. re: macadam

        Osterina Stellina is doable for just over $50; get a pizza, two apps, a dessert, maybe around $60.

        and totally worth it.

        i enjoy tadich grill, but don't set your expectations too high, and i wouldn't consider it a splurgeworthy meal

      2. Station House was the restaurant in Pt. Reyes was the dinner experience I was referring to; sorry!

        -----
        Station House Cafe
        11180 State Route 1 N, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

        1. Or email me (see my profile) for the hotel we stay in every trip for less than $80 per night in shoulder seasons. Just a couple blocks from Union Square, and no shared bathroom
          :-).

          Also don't forget about the Muni pass ($24 for 7 days) -- well worth it if you plan to use public transit, especially the cable cars, at all.

          And to keep this on food, even though I am not local, if you do stay in F'man's Wharf (shudder) then be sure to check out Tanguito for some tasty empanadas. It's a stand with a few tables and the empanadas are made fresh there. Just go early as they sell out.

          -----
          Tanguito
          2850 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94133

          2 Replies
          1. re: grayelf

            I think the 7-day Muni visitor pass is now $26. Still, at $5/ride, with no transfers, for the cable cars, it's well worth it.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Right you are Ruth! And since the mods deleted my post on Poc Chuc I guess because it talked about the neighbourhood, let me just say that is a great rec for the OPs. A sit down Yucatecan meal to compare to their planned Chac Mool takeaway would be fun I think.

              -----
              Poc Chuc
              2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

          2. I wouldn't go to Beard Papa -- it's a chain, and you say that you like independents, but even more importantly, I don't really like their creampuffs. There are lots of other great bakeries around SF, you could go to the Sentinel, to Thorough Bakery, or to any of the La Boulange outlets (small local chain, good baked goods).

            You could get better food, and better French food at that price than at Gamine. SF excels at mid priced Cal/Italian, and it's missing from your list; I'd replace Gamine with La Ciccia, A16 or Incanto, all of which you can get out of for $80 or less with no alcohol.

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

            A16
            2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

            1. We paid over $60 for a mediocre lunch at Duarte's and didn't even get the cioppino, which I've heard is good but will run you at least $30 by itself.

              That said, if you stick to the cioppino, the soups, and the pie (which is decent but not great, IMO) -- and stay far away from the fried stuff on the menu -- you should be able to have a pretty good, if not inexpensive, meal.

              I'd recommend getting either the green chili soup or half chili / half artichoke, rather than the artichoke soup by itself, which when I ordered it was so thick and viscous that it barely qualified as a soup.

              I'm also not sure R&G Lounge is the best choice for your one Chinese meal if your goal is to keep to a tight budget. As I don't eat in the SF Chinatown too often myself, maybe other hounds will have more to offer in terms of suggestions, but I believe there are definitely better options for Peking duck specifically (though maybe not in Chinatown proper). Or if eating crab is your focus, I really like PPQ Dungeness Island, where they serve excellent Vietnamese-style roast crab -- and where you should definitely be able to get out for well less than $90 for two people, though it's still a moderate splurge. Not in Chinatown, though, and maybe a bit out of the way for you, given your itinerary. (We went after a day trip out to the nearby Sutro Bath ruins, which are worth visiting if you like that type of thing).

              Definitely agree w/ JasmineG that mid-range Cal/Italian is a must-do in SF.

              Another suggestion is Zuni Cafe -- a quintessential SF spot -- where you can definitely get out for less than $80 if you go during lunch or late night, when their excellent burger (the best I've had in the Bay Area -- much better, I'd wager, than Gamine's, which I haven't tried) is available.

              -----
              Zuni Cafe
              1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

              PPQ Dungeness Island
              2332 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121

              1. I like Duarte's but it's better for lunch or brunch/breakfast. I think it's worth going either way, just order as noted, soup, local seafood.

                If you're still in Pescadero, the taqueria inside the gas station (across from Duarte's) is excellent, Taqueria De Amigos. I'm sure you get decent Mexican food in Boston but probably not at this price or quality. Inexpensive yet very good by California standards.

                1. For the dinner at Tadich, (which I love) I think the cioppinno portion is big enough that you could split a starter app or salad and the cioppino and be satisfied. If you ordered the fried calamari, you could try the great tartar sauce. Or since you mentioned splitting an app already, split a green salad or chowder as well and save. I have never finished a full order of cioppino and it doesn't look like you are looking to tote around leftovers.

                  1. I am from around Boston and moved out here a few years ago. I still travel back to Boston for all my favorites. I enjoy this place in Santa Cruz
                    Lillian's
                    1116 Soquel Ave
                    Santa Cruz, CA 95062
                    (831) 425-2288
                    It is a really tiny Italian place and you can wait a long time if you don't go there early. It is reasonably priced.

                    Do not be lured by the garlic fries on the boardwalk. While these are a regional specialty, the boardwalk ones drown your tastebuds in overkill garlic. If you haven't been to SC before, the water is very cold and most people will swim in wetsuits. Northern Cal will vary in temp all over the place. You might want a hat and layers for the evenings.

                    I really like the Ferry Building and the Farmer's Markets in CA. The Berkeley Bowl (supermarket) is incredible -- you could buy picnic supplies/ car snacks there.

                    Have fun!

                    -----
                    Berkeley Bowl
                    2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

                    1. Tadich, second on splitting on cioppino. Try the sand dabs or Rex sole instead of a second.

                      Beard Papa's shells (not really cream puffs) are made in a factory in Japan and imported frozen. They don't taste as bad as they smell.

                      1. You didn't mention any ice cream. If you are into ice cream at all you need to go to Humphry Slocombe & Bi-Rite Creamery. Bi-Rite is on the other end of the block from Tartine, very handy...

                        -----
                        Bi-Rite Creamery
                        3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                        Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
                        2790 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                        1. I thought of myself as a great planner when I travel but compared to you, I'm quite the amateur!!

                          I and all my friends LOVE Beard Papa's vanilla creampuffs. Take a chance on one!!

                          Duarte's: Get the 1/2 and 1/2 soup, split a cioppino, get the ollaiberry pie!! (Sorry, I don't like the gas station taqueria across the street, at all.)

                          Love the crab at R & G. I think one to share would be enough.

                          Good advice here about sharing one cioppino at Tadich. If you arrive before 7pm, wait should not be too bad.

                          For lunch, any day except Sunday, I rec. Swan on Polk near Calif. If you go for early or late lunch, wait should not be too bad. VERY FRESH crab or prawn salads and cocktails, oysters, beer or wine. Very casual, counter service or take out, good price considering it's fresh and delicious crab.

                          1. I'm with almost everyone that Beard Papa is a waste of stomach. They have them in NYC and I'm guessing that you get down that way every now and then.

                            You are a lot more ambitious than I, but I see no reason to walk from FW to Ferry Plaza on Saturday whien a streetcar line runs up that way. There is nothing particularily fabulous about the walk after Pier 39 most of it blocked by buildings

                            At the Saturday market, I hope you stop by Andante cheese. I also really like Hayes St Grill for breakfast items and Downtown bakery for baked goods. There will be lots to sample, so I hope you leave yourself open to more than is on your list.

                            Also, The Warming Hut isn't all that. It is fine if you are out that way, but no destination. I'd take a detour up Chestnut Street and pick something up there. Or even better, bike a few blocks to North Beach and pick up pastries and coffee to go from Mama's and some fresh foccacia from linguria bakery across the street. You seem to be biking around thw world, so a couple of block detour in this case would be well worth your while compared to what you would get at Warming Hut.

                            Tiburon
                            If you don't care about a view, Foodnicks and Sweet Things restaurant are a good choice
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6775...
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6769...

                            On the water Sam's is nice but not necessarily a Chowhound type of joint. Not far away, but no view is Casa Manana which has had some good reports. There is a new joint going in where a Swedish Bakery once was. The place had a great view. I am not turning up anything on Goggle so maybe they still haven't opened. The pizza place on the water downtown is suppoased to be good but I haven't tried it.

                            Here's my recent report on the Ghirardelli hot fudge sundae. If you go, get the dark chocolate, the milk chocolate tastes like nothing.
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6609...

                            How late is late? I love the creme brullee and espresso at Alioto's. I love sitting in the bar ordering this and having a view of the bay. There are a few dessert places in North Beach that are open late.

                            Also, not only at Tadich, but elsewhere you seem to order two of the same dish. That seems a shame. Why not get different dishes and share. Frankly, I like Tadich, but their strength is not appetisers. You will be vastly disappointed. Go with an order of cioppino and sand dabs if they have it and skip the rest.

                            With the attitude you have, Duarte's will disappoint you. Don't expect a lot of it, but there are certain things that are good. I'm from Connecticut and Boston, I I wasn't particularily blown away by the pie. I don't like the crust.

                            One final note, some of your itinerary sounds very, very ambitious. Some of the bike routes and times I would have trouble meeting if using a car. Even some of the drive times might bite you. I hope you have alternate plans if you can't meet your schedule.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: rworange

                              apologies if this has already been posted in this thread, but pacific puffs on union is even better than beard papa

                              1. re: vulber

                                Anyplace that makes real cream puffs from scratch is better than Beard Papa, which despite its "all natural" claim uses margarine instead of butter.

                                1. re: vulber

                                  I liked Beard Papa in Taiwan, but have heard that the quality at the US locations is not up to the same standard as in Asia. Haven't bothered trying it yet.

                              2. I would suggest a couple of changes to your itinerary too.

                                Definitely try to put in Bi-Rite, Tartine, Pizzeria Delfina in there (perhaps day 6 or 7). One of my favorite meals is Delfina's panna piazza with sausage and the tricolore salad, lunch or dinner
                                .
                                If you can't make it to Humphrey Slocombe, the Blue Bottle stand at the Ferry building makes a great affogato using their Secret Breakfast flavor (jack and cornflakes), sumptuous and big enough to share.

                                In Marin, I wouldn't bother with Tiburon restaurants, but would head a bit farther north to Fish in Sausalito for a water-side lunch. Fresh and sustainable. Pricey (cash only), but order judiciously and you'll bake it out wallet intact. I am particularly fond of their fishsticks (off the children's menu) and a side order of the chile-lime coleslaw.

                                On your way back from Marin, depending on how long it takes you to hike, you might want to stop at Om in San Rafael for their small but tasty Indian buffet.

                                Duarte's is only so-so. I'd suggest stopping at Ristorante Avanti for an early dinner on your way of of SC. Unpretentious, excellent Cal-Ital, been sourcing locally for ages, make the most addictive house herb-infused olive oil fro bread dipping ever.

                                In Half Moon Bay, get a shrimp burrito at 3 Amigos and head down Kelly Street to eat looking at the Pacific.

                                -----
                                Pizzeria Delfina
                                3611 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                3 Amigos
                                270 Cabrillo Hwy S, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

                                Fish
                                350 Harbor Dr, Sausalito, CA 94965

                                OM South Indian Cuisine
                                1518 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94901

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: YSZ

                                  Don't know what the crab harvest is like in Half Moon Bay this year, but what I would do for lunch in that area is go to the main wharf and buy two large crabs straight off the boat, then head across the square to Princeton Fish Market, where they'll steam/clean/crack them for you for a nominal fee and even give you some lemons and butter if you ask. You can pay extra to eat inside the restaurant there, but what we do is just sit at the tables they have outside--dress warmly; it gets windy!

                                  Prices will obviously vary, but in the past I've paid $4.50 a pound for the largest, freshest crab I've ever eaten. Nothing makes me happier.

                                  Bill Webb's the fisherman I buy from -- his boat is called The Cricket. If you call like a day or two ahead, he'll save some big ones for you. Nice guy, and he'll give you a fair price. 925-813-1591.

                                  -----
                                  Princeton Seafood Restaurant & Fish Market
                                  300 Capistrano Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA

                                  1. re: abstractpoet

                                    Is the commercial crab season still open around HMB?

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Not sure--was hoping someone in the area could should some light on that. I think it was closed by this time last year, but that was a particularly weak season if I recall correctly. I think in previous years it had run into May...

                                      1. re: abstractpoet

                                        I can't find the info now, but IIRC the commercial crab season technically runs to the end of June in this area. But the catch yields are so low in the spring that for most commercial fishermen it doesn't make economic sense. I think there may be some that still bring in a few that they sell either to high-end restaurant accounts or direct to consumer, where they can get retail, rather than wholesale prices to make up for the small volume.

                                        1. re: abstractpoet

                                          Some recent reports from sports boats say their customers caught their limits, but that's a different business.

                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          There was a report that the crab fishermen in HMB packed it up for the season already. Not enough crabs caught to warrant going out.

                                      2. re: YSZ

                                        Fish is south of Tiburon ... and don't forget they are on bikes.

                                        The only reason I didn't mention fish is because of the original requirements of large, low cost meals. However, I think it would be interesting to them in terms of a West Coast fish shack. Not to mention it is lovely sitting on the water. Both chowders are excellent and wouldn't set them back big bucks.

                                        Having lunch at Fish, a sort of half way point, then maybe picking up desserts at Sweet Things might be a good plan. There's a cafe right next to the ferry in Tiburon. The have good enough baked items but it would be a place to pick up a coffee to go while sitting and waiting for the ferry and munching on what the bought at Sweet Things.

                                        -----
                                        Sweet Things
                                        1 Blackfield Dr, Tiburon, CA 94920

                                        West Coast Cafe
                                        466 San Mateo Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          Yeah, I do think it is a long bike ride, but since they mentioned swinging through Sausalito, they could break for lunch early, a half-way point as you say.

                                          After reading the other posts, now I want to go to HMB and get some crab off the boats. Next year. Thanks for the info abstractpoet.

                                          Lunch in GG Park, I think the cafe at the Academy of Science is seriously tasty (an especially nice alternative if the weather is bad) and you'll be there already. A little pho, a bao, a cup of tea, yum.

                                          When I read the original posters' itinerary, I realize that my ability to survive fully scheduled days and long stints between food has seriously deteriorated with the addition of two little 'hounds to my life. There's no way I could sustain that pace.

                                      3. I think you plan for biking accross the bridge and on to Tiburon is excellent. The Warming Hut is not a destination, but given your itinerary and budget, it would be a useful connector. Assuming you are strong bikers, you might want to take a side trip up to the headlands on the Marin side of the gate. They are doing some road construction Conzelman Road that you should check on, but if you are strong riders and the road is open, the views are killer. And the ride back downhill is your reward. With your morning plans, I'm thinking you could take lunch at Fish in Sausalito and continue from there through MV and back out to the ferry at Tiburon. Its a great ride. Agree about subbing for Gamine. Plouf has a nice affordable prix fixe dinner option and their mussels are really good. If its a balmy night, Belden Alley is a nice vibe.

                                        For lunch near GG Park on Day 6, consider Outerlands. I love it, and think it fits your tastes perfectly. It would be a long walk unless you're already planning to explore the west end of GG Park. I'd take the N streetcar. But I can't recommend it enough.

                                        Take the picnic idea and move it to Day 8 dinner. If its not a cold, foggy evening, a nice, lavish picnic while catching the sunset at Pigeon Pt. coud be really special. (Or if it is cold and foggy, I think there is a room in the lighthouse where you can find shelter.)

                                        -----
                                        Plouf
                                        40 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

                                        1. Just a friendly reminder, Folks, we have removed any posts that do not focus on finding great food and drink, lodging or general tourism topics are out of scope for this board.

                                          Thanks.

                                          1. I heartily second abstractpoet's suggestion of including Zuni in your schedule. Not only is it a very dependable restaurant, it usually seems to wow out-of-town visitors. Your Day 2 Saturday Ferry Building farmer's market plan sounds great.
                                            I would add, if I may, mods, to make sure you leave plenty (and I mean plenty) of time on Day 6 to stand in line at the Academy of Sciences. Be sure to get there well before opening time and be prepared to wait in line. Out of all the museums/attractions, this is notorious for the longest wait on free admission day. It is well worth it, however.

                                            -----
                                            Zuni Cafe
                                            1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                            1. Definitely do Harley Farms, and also stop into Phipps Country, which has an amazing selection of heirloom beans (doesn't sound like a tourist attraction, but it is!). If you want to check out Duarte's, I'd get a bowl of their famous artichoke soup mixed with their famous green chile soup (don't worry, they do this all the time, I'm surprised they don't put it on the menu) -- it's big enough to share if you add another dish. The artichoke bread at Norm's/Archangeli bakery is good, and you can take a partial baked loaf home.

                                              I volunteer at Ano Nuevo, and mid-May is a great time to go. But the only reason to choose it over other beaches without a parking/entrance fee is to see the elephant seals, which is a 2+ hour roundtrip hike, so take that into consideration when budgeting your time and money. Otherwise, save your gas money and don't go any farther south than Bean Hollow Beach. Check out Pigeon Point Hostel rather than Montara (Pigeon Point has a hot tub on the cliffs -- reserve a half hour around sunset, worth the few extra $$).

                                              -----
                                              Harley Farms
                                              205 North St, Pescadero, CA

                                              1. Re: your day 6: It'll be especially crowded on "free day." If you can switch days, on Thurs. it closes at 5 and reopens from 6-10 pm for adults over 21 ONLY and the charge is only $10. I'd get there just before it opens at 6pm and it would be more enjoyable.

                                                Someone else has posted that they loved the hot fudge sundae at Balboa Cafe (Greenich/Fillmore) -- hot fudge stayed warm in a separate container.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: walker

                                                  Yes, but the Ghirardelli was more about late night dessert near Fisherman's Wharf after an Alcatraz tour. The OP hasn't yet said what late night means and Balboa would be out of the way for these people who will be going back to a Union Square hotel after the tour

                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THESE IDEAS AND RESPONSES!!
                                                    I'm such an idiot I haven't been able to figure out how to reply and/or if I'm supposed to reply to each post or exactly how this board works....I'm very new to this board and learning as I go.
                                                    What I meant by "late" for dessert was after the Alcatraz tour I guess around 10PM...which is really late for us!

                                                    1. re: danagirl

                                                      Nah, you don't need to reply to everyone ... only if someone asks a question so you can get a better suggestion ... or if you have a question about a suggestion. The one thing that helps is to report back after your trip. That way people get a feeling for your tastes and preferences and can make better suggestions in the future. It also helps keep the board info fresh.

                                                      Unfortunately 10am is late for SF, for the most part. This is just not an all-night town. Restaurants at the Wharf are open late, so Alioto's would be open. Lots of bakeries and ice cream shops are open late in North Beach.

                                                      Ghirardeli is open to midnight, but coming from Boston, a great ice cream town, it might be disappointing. Too bad you don't drink. An Irish Coffee from Buena Vista would be just the thing.

                                                      Unfortunately that is also the case with North Beach. Most Italian in SF doesn't measure up to Boston. Mara's Italian pastry is open till m idnight but it is sort of average. Rose Pistola is a nice restaurant that has its ups and downs, but might be a good choice.

                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                        Yes, I think you were the one who was mentioning Brighams...and a mocha frappe from Brighams is one of my favorite things! Or a bowl of mocha chip ice cream with jimmies. Unfortunately a lot of them have closed in the area....but we still have a few!
                                                        Anyways, I'm going to stay away from pizza, italian, and ice cream in San Fran, just cause we get so much of that here in Boston...as you pointed out...

                                                        1. re: danagirl

                                                          To be fair, I think that restaurants like Incanto or La Ciccia or Pizzeria Delfina are a completely different animal from the kind of Italian and/or pizza that are typical in the greater Boston area, if memory serves me right. But the Italian places in North Beach or Fisherman's Wharf--yeah, those probably aren't worth bothering for someone coming from New England.

                                                          And FWIW, I think the ice cream at, say, Bi-Rite Creamery is, according to my purely unscientific calculations, at least TWICE as good as what I had at Toscanini's--I'm still puzzling over how the New York Times could have dubbed that "the best ice cream in the world." No out-of-town visitor I've brought to Bi-Rite has ever been disappointed.

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

                                                          Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
                                                          1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                                                          Bi-Rite Creamery
                                                          3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                          Pizzeria Delfina
                                                          3611 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                          Pizzeria Delfina
                                                          2406 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                                          1. re: abstractpoet

                                                            Ditto on the Bi-Rite ice cream. I tried Toscanini's last October and didn't "get" it.

                                                            (The line last Fri/Sat nights looked at least 30 minutes long. Better to go in the day time on weekdays if you don't want such a line.)

                                                  2. re: walker

                                                    I was going to suggest the Thursday night thing at the Academy of Sciences as well. I went last month and it was really fun. You do have to get there early if you want passes to the planetarium show or any special lectures, as they are handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis. You can buy tickets in advance online to save time standing in line when you get there, too.

                                                    To keep this food-related, the cafeteria and restaurants inside are open, and the food is pretty good and not insanely expensive. I had a Moroccan chicken dish that was tasty, and the fries were good and big enough to share.