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WHERE to eat for my first visit to San Francisco

I am planning a trip in august (yes I'm looking ahead, but I know some of these hot spots book up way in advance).. and I want all of the San Fran chows reccos.
We will like some tasting menu/michelin star dinners, some good breakfast and lunch options that are likely more informal, and any other foodie-related things I need to see.
No budget, really, whatever you think I should see. No Indian, Thai, Chinese etc (unless its fusion and a must-try)...
We will also be likely there on a sun and mon night so I will need the best options that are open those evenings.
Thanks in advance everyone, I'm so excited!!

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      1. re: hungryabbey

        Alright.. some extra info for you
        We're visitng from Toronto, ON.
        We will likely stay at the four seasons between Third and Fourth st.
        Like I said above, anything other than indian, thai or chinese
        I would like your high end suggestions and some more casual spots that are do not misses
        I AM willing to travel for chow.. anywhere in san fran.. and I dont have the sight seeing picked out yet.. because I plan that AROUND the food..
        I dont have a budget
        I have sun and mon night to accomodate.

        Thanks again. Sorry if I was too vague before.

        1. re: hungryabbey

          Of the threads you've read, are there restaurants that sound good or not so good to you? You may want to searchfor the Mission District and North Beach (Mexican and Italian, along with other cuisines) Search for tasting menus if that appeals. Avoid Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 IMO. You have months to go so do some reading and try to ask some specific questions. You'll get tons of help.

          -----
          Pier 39
          , San Francisco, CA 94102

          1. re: hungryabbey

            I think Quince is an absolute must - one of the two best restaurants in SF proper. Ask the kitchen to cook for you and you'll be in for a real treat.

            A few casual places I like:
            Bar Jules, Contigo, Pizzetta 211. Incanto is also worth checking out - the cooking can be uneven but the restaurant is a reflection of one man's passion/obsession and the place is a unique SF institution.

            Did you have any places already in mind?

            -----
            Pizzetta 211
            211 23rd Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121

            Bar Jules
            609 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

            Contigo
            1320 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

      2. I guess being excited about visiting SF (never San Fran) made an excellent long-time poster like yourself lose your mind and post a classic request that most SF chowhounds wouldn't touch with a 10 foot sausage :-)

        Actually, few restaurants other than French Laundry require that much advance notice. You can always book ahead of time to be comfortable, but over the next few months places will open and close, so keep an eye on the boards

        This might be a good starting place

        Visitng SF. Eat like a local not a tourist.
        http://www.chow.com/lists/1591

        As far as top dining spots, the top of the top lists above is still pretty on spot. Of those The Dining Room and Coi might be the best options. All the breakfast options are solid choices.

        As the first link indicates, there is a SF digest. If you sign up for that you'll be aware of some of the GOOD new openings.

        You might also ... gasp ... sign up for the Zagat buzz. While the reviews are not much, the weekly newsletter does note openings. So if a particular place catches your attention, you can ask on the board if the restaurant is any good. It usually takes Chowhounds 2 - 3 weeks to post after a new place opens ... so a query might be the quickest way to go.

        The SF Chroicle restaurant section also has openings and closings and general food info
        http://www.sfgate.com/food/

        You might look at the posts for a fellow Canadian, grayelf (though from Vancouver). The query posts are good examples of how to get a response on this board. Grayelf follows the SF then posts a list of where to go. Also grayelf will post followups on trip reports. These would be good for you because they cover a lot of what you are looking for. I did a search on 'Canteen' for grayelf's id since that is a favorite place and will cover most of the trip reports and queries.
        http://search.chow.com/search?query=c...

        So, look at some of this stuff, then come up with a starting itinerary. It would help to know what day you arrive and what time ... as well as departure.

        Personally, I'd put Zuni on a first time visitor list especially since it is open Monday night.

        People will tell you to search the board. That is good too. However, as a visitor in other parts of the country and even when I returned to SF after living in SoCal for a while, from my experience that isn't really as easy as people who follow the boards closely think

        I believe I've given you some tools to search effectively. SF is a beautiful town with great food. I hope you enjoy your visit.

        BTW, other than the Ritz, the Four Seasons has some of the best service in SF. The cocktail lounge is great, but for the few days here, I wouldn't bother with the restaurant there.

        14 Replies
        1. re: rworange

          I was hoping you would weigh in here. I think by reading a few dozen (or more) SF threads one gets a sense of who knows their stuff and also whose taste (and budget) is similar to one's own. Then you read even more threads by particular CHs. Then you can go off-CH and see menus and other reviews. Oh, yeah, and scrolling to the bottom of this and other threads always helps me.

          1. re: c oliver

            For a good many restaurants, opentable is a good source of websites.
            http://www.opentable.com/start.aspx?m...

            For places that might not have menus, then menutable is a good source. Seasonal menus there might be outdated, but still a good place in general. I have also found them the most reliable in terms of hours
            http://sanfrancisco.menupages.com/

            Also, the Chow Restaurants and Bars database is a pretty good place to look. A number of Chowhounds keep it up. I was being really meticulous about adding hours, menus, websites, blogs, chowhound reports because I got tired of having to search for info in to many places and wanted a single source with everything.

            Unfortunately, the constant errors in the site software have just turned the burner to low in terms of my own continued participation in updating it. It just got too dificult and discouraging.

            Here's a good example tho for Nopa about how you can find lots of info about many restaurants in one convenient place
            http://www.chow.com/restaurants/2160/...

          2. re: rworange

            Except Zuni's NOT open on Monday nights. Sundays it is, though.

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

            1. re: Frosty Melon

              Duh. And I actually input the hours for that place record. Thanks

              Whoa ... Zuni actually ... finally ... has a website with menus.

              They seem to have cut back their hours slightly and are only open till midnight on Fri-Sat

              IMO, the sample dessert menu should have included the infamous nectarine

              Interesting history. By time I was patronizing Zuni, it was pretty much what it is today. Looks like they are serving brunch again. For a while they went back to thier roots and offtered steamed eggs and grilled toast. It was only in the bar area and quiet. This was one of my favorite light breakfast spots as it was very low key at that time. The current brunch menu is more extensive.

            2. re: rworange

              Thank you so much. Yes, I have done a lot of searching on this board.. but I cant seem to find what I want.. at all.
              I also have looked through all of the open table reviews and looked their list of michelin star restos, so once I go through those all a few more times, Ill start asking more questions about specifics..
              I think I do need a list of good casual spots for my list.. usually when I plan a trip, I get all of the names of these places, put them on a map and then when I plan the itinerary, I look for close by options.
              Also, this might sound like a rediculous question, but I've tried to look this up online and had no success... how long a drive is it from downtown san fran at the Four Seasons to somewhere like Sonoma wine county?
              I will look into all of the resources you provided.. and when I had some more specific questions about the more *high-end* options I am considering, I will ask. But like I said.. more casual lunch/breakfast options will be good.
              I think I will be arriving after lunch on Friday.. leaving tuesday morning.

              -----
              Four Seasons Restaurant
              1163 S De Anza Blvd, San Jose, CA 95129

              1. re: hungryabbey

                Driving distances; times are contingent on traffic:

                http://www.inetours.com/PagesWT/Wine_...

                See threads below for recs.

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  Definately plan on Ferry Plaza market for Saturday morning. If you go early you will usually see a lot of top chefs there. There are also cooking demos and other food events. Sign up for their newsletter to get a feel for what is coming up. Here's an example
                  http://www.cuesa.org/cuesa/e-letter/a...

                  A list of prepared food vendors
                  http://www.cuesa.org/markets/artisans/

                  Farmers ... at the height of summer there should be some good stuff.
                  http://www.cuesa.org/markets/farmers/

                  You could get up to the city of Sonoma in about an hour given good traffic conditions. That could give you a nice little taste of wine country without taking much time. Fremont Diner and La Bodega are two casual places with excellent food. The road where Fremont Diner is located is an attractive ride and will take you near the city of Napa ... probably the least attractive part of the Napa Valley. However, up the road is the pretty town of Yountville where French Laundry is located. There are lots of good restaurants in that general area. Once you leave the city of Napa and return to the city, the ride isn't that attractive, but you could always take a quick stop in Berkeley ... maybe plan on dinner at Chez Paniss ... which is another of the few places you would need major advanced reservations should you choose to dine downstairs.

                  -----
                  Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
                  One Ferry Building, 200 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      I was just in Napa/Sonoma last week and we're going there again just for the day tomorrow. Without traffic across Golden Gate Bridge it'll take prob. 45 mins. to downtown Sonoma - Girl and the Fig restaurant is good if you want to have lunch there. Two blocks down in a residential area is Vella cheese (behind the Sonoma Mission)... good stuff.

                      After Sonoma we're heading to the Oxbow Public Market in Napa. It's smaller than the Ferry Bldg. market in SF but it has all the tastings (food stalls) of good food - Model Bakery, Ritual Cafe, Pica Pica (great Venezuelan food). We're going to the cheese shop there for their dried berries of all things (good stuff) and to try the charcuterie there. http://www.oxbowpublicmarket.com/

                      After we're driving up to Yountville about 10 mins. away (going to try Bistro Jeanty for lunch) and stopping at Bouchon Bakery (sister to French Laundry) to load up on pastries... don't ask just do it because it's all good! Bouchon also serves lunch next door. While we're there we might even stop at a few wineries:) Enjoy!

                      -----
                      The French Laundry
                      6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                      Bouchon Bakery
                      6528 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599

                      Bistro Jeanty
                      6510 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                      Oxbow Public Market
                      610 First Street, Napa, CA 94559

                      Model Bakery
                      610 First Street, Napa, CA 94559

                      Bouchon
                      6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                      1. re: melcal

                        Good to hear girl and the fig is better these days. There have been a lot of downhill reports.

                        What do you suggest at Bouchon Bakery? I've ony found three things I ever liked there ... the donuts, the potato chips and the bread. Have you tried Sweetie Pies in Napa? I think they do a better job on baked goods than Bouchon Bakery.

                        The tomato soup is the thing to order at Bistro Jeanty, but be aware it is a Frenchh restaurant and if you have French restaurants at home it migh be something that isn't much different or specific to California ... ditto on Bouchon the restaurant.

                        -----
                        Bouchon Bakery
                        6528 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599

                        Bistro Jeanty
                        6510 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                        Sweetie Pies
                        520 Main St, Napa, CA 94559

                        Bouchon
                        6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                  1. re: hungryabbey

                    Re: driving times of SF to Sonoma-- very event-dependent. . . You might want to check the website for Infinium Raceway:

                    http://www.infineonraceway.com/schedu...

                    to avoid the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, etc.

                    1. re: Stephanie Wong

                      Hungryabbey:

                      My boss has a home in SF Pacific Hts. and another in St. Helena (Sonoma County). On Friday afternoons in the summer he leaves the office EARLY to be across the GG Bridge before 2 p.m. to avoid bumper to bumper traffic. I don't know about the Bay Bridge, but it seems that those in SF not staying in the city are going up to the Wine Country or Lake Tahoe or the Monterey Peninsula

                      Good luck getting past these two bottlenecks aka Golden Gate Bridge & SF Bay Bridge to make your Friday, 5:30 res at TFL.

                      1. re: Stephanie Wong

                        Ah- really is it honestly that bad?!?! My flight gets in at 10:30!!

                        1. re: Stephanie Wong

                          I agree with you. Does a big wreck occur every day? Of course not. But it can happen. And, yes, Friday afternoons esp. in the summer are the worst. If there's no problem, OP can relax, do some walking around. If there is a problem, they shouldn't miss their res. 'Course I get to airports early as I'd rather hang out there than get stuck in traffic and miss my flight. If one more meal is THAT important to OP, then that's certainly her choice.

                  2. Over the years first time visitors want to know where to find the quintessential SF meal. Over the years I have recommended Tadich or Sam's Grill for sand dabs. Always get raves. You can get elegant, often overpriced food in any big city...but plain, well cooked sand dabs are hard to find. And don't forget the ubiquitous boiled potato.

                    21 Replies
                    1. re: OldTimer

                      Alright.. so dont judge me.. what is a sand dab????

                      And.. I cant find a menu for Tadich, what type of food and atmosphere is it?

                      1. re: hungryabbey

                        Citharichthys sordidus It is a popular game fish in California, and is regarded as a delicacy,
                        Old school restaurant.
                        http://farm1.static.flickr.com/68/212...
                        http://sanfrancisco.menupages.com/res...

                        1. re: hungryabbey

                          Yeah, sand dabs, cioppino and strong drinks at Tadick ... don't waste your time on much else there. The appetizers are sort of meh. However, those two dishes star ... and it has the best version of SF sourdough bread in the Bay Area. This is how it was once made ... not the junk sold elsewhere these days.

                          There are always mixed reports on Tadich ... IMO ordering incorrectly. My first visit to Tadich ... long before there was a Chowhound ... made me write it off ... I remember ordering this seafood salad ... and don't remember what else ... but that app was such a dissapointment that I remember it to this day.

                          Then I read this wonderful CHowhound report that so captures the place that I was compelled to go back and I've been a major fan since. Not much as changed at SF's oldest restuarant so this is as true today as it was when it was originally written
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2043...

                          Even if you decide not to go to Tadich, it is a wonderful read

                          1. re: rworange

                            would it be inappropriate for a lunch? Not sure I'm willing to risk a dinner somewhere that has mixed reports.

                            1. re: hungryabbey

                              If you can find a restaurant on this board that doesn't have a mixed report please point it out and I may try it.

                              1. re: wolfe

                                Ha- good point.
                                I guess I just got the feeling that this restaurant was particularly spotty, I try to choose the *most* consistent ones I can. Last year I planned a trip to NYC and took a risk at WD 50 despite the board being 1/2 and 1/2 love it and hate it.. and I still hear from my b/f that it was "the worst meal ever".
                                Point being, I'm aiming for consistency I guess. But this Tadick seems to be a "must go" for authentic san fran chow, am I right?

                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                  Tadich is a favorite of mine for a late lunch (after 2 p.m.). I sit at the food bar, wear a blazer, drink martinis and ask my waiter for something good. I've never been disappointed. It's in the Financial District. Lots of regulars show up near the end of the mid day meal.

                                  1. re: steve h.

                                    Excellent. Has anyone done lunch there or just dinner?

                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                      Lunch at Taddich is bustling and fun, except that it gets packed quickly around noon with Financial District lunchers. I would suggest getting there either around 11:30 or after 2:00. Also, I've never been there for lunch on a weekend so I have no idea what it's like on Sunday.

                                      1. re: yehfromthebay

                                        Very quiet, no line, closed on Sunday.

                                        1. re: yehfromthebay

                                          Thanks, I will write this one down too!

                            2. re: hungryabbey

                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citharic...

                              I just googled that.

                              Tadich:

                              http://www.tadichgrill.com/

                              I think you might be having some computer problems if these aren't showing up for you.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                No no I did find the website, just not the menu. But Wolfe directed me to another site with it. Thanks.

                              2. re: hungryabbey

                                There is a difference in sand dabs between Tadich and Sam's. I much prefer Sam's...although my wife is not fond of them swimming in butter. Tadich has bigger fish, but preparation is similar. There seems to be occasional problems with "in season" (is that code for we forgot to order?) so you may want to call first. As with most seafood, it is best fresh, and places that do a record business are your best bet. If they are out of sand dabs, rex sole is the next best bet.

                                1. re: OldTimer

                                  So, how are sand dabs served in San Fran? fried? broiled? whole?

                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                    Grilled or pan fried. They're small, so they're served whole (deboned at the table).

                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                      If you're skilled, tell the waiter NOT to debone . . I've had a Tadich waiter botch the job so badly I ended up with cold fish with stray bones scattered amongst the sand dab flesh . . . ugh. Even though that is not the norm at this place, I prefer to "bone my fish" myself.

                                      As RWO said, the simpler preparations are what shine at Tadich.

                                2. re: OldTimer

                                  I love, love, love sand dabs! But are they in season in August?

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    From Cal Gov something or other.
                                    Pacific Sanddab and “Other Flatfish”3
                                    (see Section 28.48)
                                    OPEN year-round3
                                    Pacific sanddab: No limit
                                    I guess it's just if they are biting.

                                    1. re: wolfe

                                      I think I've only seen them in spring.

                                3. Ame is a must. Very SF, very good Michelin*

                                  Tasting? Coi is Michelin ** and excellent, but of the 11 dishes, you're bound to find a couple less than ideal.

                                  I like the relaxed atmosphere of La Folie. French, but not snooty at all. A Michelin *, but very close to deserving a second star, imo.

                                  -----
                                  La Folie
                                  2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: whiner

                                    Great. Theyre on the list.
                                    I am going to buy a map this week so I can start to plan this out better.

                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                      La Folie is pretty special: pricey but a bargain at the same time. It's a family-run shop. Incanto is a favorite of mine. I like taking mass transit there.
                                      Bar Crudo is flat-out fun.

                                      -----
                                      La Folie
                                      2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                      Bar Crudo
                                      655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                    2. re: whiner

                                      I had one of my best meals at La Folie. I would suggest Incanto, though, because it has all the qualities of a great SF meal: good representation of Italian with a strong emphasis on fresh, local produce and meats.

                                      -----
                                      La Folie
                                      2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                      1. re: yehfromthebay

                                        Great. The menus of both look nice, so I'll look into that further. Thanks!

                                    3. Okay..
                                      so now I got a map and am working out the logistics of the area..
                                      Two questions:
                                      1. If there wasnt much traffic.. like at night.. would it still be foolish to have a dinner at French Laundry (which is North in Yountville?) and then come back South to our hotel in SF at the Four Seasons? Is that a long cab ride? Should I stay in that area or should I rent a car? WHat do you propose? I'm assuming the meal there will be long.. and end.. late..
                                      2. I noticed French Laundry is open 7 days a week.. is Thomas Keller ever in the kitchen? If so, in your experience are there days of the week he is not there? Because.. if I'm going to spend that kind of money, I would rather try for a night when hes there if possible.

                                      Thanks again.

                                      -----
                                      The French Laundry
                                      6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                                      Four Seasons Restaurant
                                      1163 S De Anza Blvd, San Jose, CA 95129

                                      14 Replies
                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                        In my experience, a kitchen of this caliber does not depend on the presence of The Big Name. S/he has trained staff to execute the recipes to a high standard. At a great restaurant, you shouldn't know if the chef is in house, or not. Even if the chef is in house, s/he is preparing only a small percentage of the plates leaving the kitchen.

                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                          The French Laundry is about an hour drive from San Francisco without traffic, so that would be a very very expensive cab ride (even if you could get a cab to take you that route). You should either rent a car or stay in Yountville that night. Well, either way you should rent a car, because getting to TFL without a car is a long and arduous process).

                                          -----
                                          The French Laundry
                                          6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                            1) rent a car - if you don't drink wine or are willing to designate. Cab doesn't work - it's across multiple county lines. Unless your negotiating skills are very, very good. Your other option is some kind of hired car, there's lots of "wine car" things where you can get a town car at a reasonable price for the 4 or 5 hours. By "reasonable" I mean 20% of the cost of TFL for 2 - and don't quote me. I think it can be done. Also, take the east bay route on your way home. The Marin route, the section along there is called "blood alley", and rather unforgiving.

                                            2) coming back at night is only slightly foolish if you get an early table. If you get a 6:00 you'll be out around 9:30, but you'll be blissed out and happy. Not the best driving conditions, but manageable. If you get a 9:00 table, and get the extended tasting menu, you'd be an idiot to drive.

                                            3) Rushing it might be what you need to do, but my favorite part of Yountville is the smell. Between the grapes and the earth and the warm air. Do try to schedule some kind of stroll around, either in the morning or on either end of your visit.

                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                              Just wanted to make you know that you can't just decide to eat at French Laundry -- reservations are extremely difficult to get. Reservations for any given date are opened exactly two months before the date at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time; phone lines are jammed and the reservations are typically gone by 10:30. If you can go on a weekend, lunch reservations are slightly easier to get and many people actually prefer lunch (same menu), especially since, in your case, it would give you time to drive back to the city afterwards.

                                              -----
                                              The French Laundry
                                              6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                                In short, Thomas Keller is rarely in the kitchen anymore. Your chances are probably best if you go on a Friday or Saturday night, but he's been very busy recently with the opening of the new Bouchon in Beverly Hills.

                                                And in response to pikawicca, even if the chef is in house, they're probably not preparing any of the plates leaving the kitchen, they're likely tasting them.

                                                -----
                                                Bouchon
                                                6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                                  Wonderful thread on alternate ways to get to TFL with evidence of the warm hearted way some local chowhounders take visitors to their bosoms.
                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6283...

                                                  1. re: wolfe

                                                    Thank you to all for your replies.. I will consider all of this.. probably better to get a car or look into getting a driver.. I'll call the hotel and see what they think.
                                                    I think it would be smart to spend at least one night in Sonoma area.. so that way its not a far drive if we *do* manage a reservation.
                                                    Ill let you know when I have more questions. Thanks again.

                                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                                      Someone reported back that The French Laundry had a list of car services they recommended and the prices were reasonable. But really, until you know you can get a reservation, you're getting ahead of yourself.

                                                      -----
                                                      The French Laundry
                                                      6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                                        FYI, The French Laundry is in Yountville, which is in Napa County, and that's at least a 30-45 minute drive from a lot of places in the Sonoma area. If you go to TFL, you should either stay the night somewhere in the Napa area if you're going to stay up there.

                                                        -----
                                                        The French Laundry
                                                        6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                                                        1. re: JasmineG

                                                          Oh right, yes. I now have a map, but still have no concept of time... thank you for the heads up.

                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                            does google maps not offer you adequate time estimations for driving? depending on the time of day there will be more traffic or less, but for the most part it is accurate.

                                                            if you do manage a TFL reservation, be aware that lunch isn't any less an event than dinner. as one of the last reservations, we were leaving as dinner guests were arriving.

                                                            not sure if we were lucky but snagged an 8pm downstairs (i didn't realize there was an upstairs until we arrived) reservation at chez panisse the day before on open table.

                                                            one casual breakfast suggestion is a southern place that offers up po'boys, beignets, etc. the name escapes me at the moment but it is west of chinatown and gets a reasonable amount of love on these boards and so should be easily searchable. we have nothing like it in toronto and the crawfish beignets are a very beautiful few bites.

                                                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                              Brenda's French Soul Food?

                                                              -----
                                                              Brenda's French Soul Food
                                                              652 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                              1. re: wolfe

                                                                yes that's it. curious i didn't see all the negative reviews when i put it on my list. only had a po'boy and beignets (which were thinner than fluffy but i assumed that was because of the filling) and definitely did not have to wait in line on my weekday visit. it is still a more novel option considering what is available in toronto.

                                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                  Excellent. I need more of those inexpensive brunch/lunch spots for my list.

                                                  2. Snow Garden on Grant (in Chinatown) is the absolute best Chinese food. Inexpensive and never crowded (i.e. not a tourist trap). My husband and I went there several times on our recent trip to SF. The wontons are so fresh and unlike what you'd get with take-out and sweet and sour chicken is chicken stir-fried with veggies in sauce, not chicken tenders with dipping sauce. Their fried rice is excellent as well, and not overly greasy. If you order a dinner for two, you'll leave with leftovers. Highly recommended !

                                                    -----
                                                    Snow Garden
                                                    712 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: whiskeyhead

                                                      Please do yourself a favor and stay away from Chinese food in Chinatown, not only because you explicitly said you didn't want Chinese recommendations, but also because the food in general is very bad, by SF standards for Chinese food and more so by Toronto standards.

                                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                                          Actually, it's terrible advice. No doubt Chinatown has more than its share of abysmally bad food, but it also has some great options. As ML8000 notes, R&G Lounge and Yuet Lee are good if you know what to order. Bund Shanghai is decent. And Jai Yun is regarded by some as one of the best Chinese restaurants in the world. No, you can't just walk into any random restaurant and expect to be blown away, but really - do you expect that with foods other than Chinese?

                                                          -----
                                                          Jai Yun
                                                          680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                          Bund Shanghai
                                                          640 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA

                                                        2. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                          Actually I was at R&G Lounge the other week and it was more then fine...it was very good to excellent...on par with HK Flower Lounge, and w/i range of Koi Palace. It was also pricey but so it goes. The best things were deep fried dungeness crab, rock cod and fresh Monterey Spot prawns but everything was very well prepared. I was a little bit surprised. The crab was probably from WA but the spot prawns were local.

                                                          Likewise, at Yuet Lee if you stick to seafood, fresh in the tank, it's hard to beat and while you might get crab, spot prawns and rock cod in Toronto...it wouldn't be the same.

                                                          1. re: ML8000

                                                            Gotcha. Thank you for the additional comments.

                                                      1. Can someone explain to me what teh cafe is like at Chez Panisse? I looked on their website and see that they only list desserts on their cafe menu, but I believe they do offer some lunch items? Can anyone comment on the lunch offerings? Is it really just better to do dinner? I am worried about the fact that its a completely fixed menu and my SO has some allergies, so he might not like that.

                                                        -----
                                                        Chez Panisse
                                                        1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                                          I'd check the website in a day or so ... maybe next week at the latest. It looks like they have some temporary blip where only desserts are showing.

                                                          However teh upstairs menu services dishes in the same spirit of the downstairs restaurant

                                                          If you want to do downstairs, you can tell them about your husband's allergies and they can accomodate that. They can always pull dishes from upstairs or eliminate some iingrediant if possible.

                                                          Lunch is slightly more limited than dinner in the cafe but not by much.

                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                            Perfect. Thank you for the tip! I have been reading reviews of the cafe vs downstairs, and it seems that some people are really disapointed in their meals upstairs.. I think I will be better just trusting that the menu will be good downstairs the night we go.. it is very reasonably priced IMO especially on Mondays.

                                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                                              obviously i'm not the best source for this type of info, but when i got a tour of the upstairs it sounded much much more casual which might be the source of disappointment. think more in line with pizzas, pastas (they have some great wood burning ovens), and comfort food.

                                                              but now that i google to try to confirm my memories, the cafe dinner menu for tonight is up on the website! so you can check it out for yourself.

                                                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                The people who don't like the cafe don't like downstairs either. It is a matter of style.

                                                                Some people, like me, like top of the line ingredients perfectly prepared.

                                                                That is boring for some people and they are more of the type who want more elaborate preparations. The argument from these people is they can fix it at home themselves.

                                                                I don't feel that is true because I shop top of the line and prepare things well ... but for the vendors I go to, if Chez Panisse is one of their customers, CP will get the best of what they have. I don't have the ovens. People seem to think that CP has been replicated over and over and that type of cuisine is common these days. The style is similar, but, IMO, no one really has replicated the CP experience.

                                                                I don't think you will go wrong with either choice. The more extensive menus are on Friday and Saturday, so if choosing to go, those would be the days I'd eat downstairs.

                                                                -----
                                                                Chez Panisse
                                                                1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                  Thank you for your input. I like elaborate preparations and simply well prepared foods.. so I think its good to get a bit of both.. Its on my short list, thank you!

                                                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                    Ate at Chez Panisse cafe last Monday (memorial day) -- loved every fresh lettuce leaf and just-picked berry. Our family likes to taste/share/discuss our food so upstairs is much better for us. Essentially we all order something different and pass to the right. (not really but close). Can't do that downstairs because it is pretty much the same. (I remember more choices in the old days). There are differences between upstairs and downstairs: I had duck confit leg --downstairs, I believe, the menu had confit of duck breast. Cost upstairs for us was about the same as the downstairs prix fixe. Setting is more informal upstairs but still lovely. Service may be better downstairs but it was adequate upstairs. I'd like to eat at Chez Panisse Cafe every night.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Chez Panisse
                                                                    1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                    1. re: elizabeth2929

                                                                      My memory is getting fuzzy but I don't remember downstairs ever really having a choice, only a set menu. Perhaps there were allowances for food eccentricities.

                                                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                        hungreyabbey,

                                                                        Listen to rworange-a gem and always gives great advice on the SF board. I rank my Chez Panisse meal as one of the best in my life.

                                                              2. Alright everyone.. ready for an update!!
                                                                I got a reservation at TFL!!! Im already dying of excitement!
                                                                So, now I can finish planning (I was planning around that reservation, of course).
                                                                Here are my choices.. I need your help... I'm going to work on dinners first, then Ill figure out other meals.. I have a few options I need your advice on...
                                                                Friday: TFL
                                                                Saturday: Coi OR Fleur de Lys? Which one??
                                                                Sunday: Manresa. Is that a good choice? If not, maybe move Gary Danko to sunday?
                                                                Monday: Chez Panisse OR La Folie OR Gary Danko OR move Fleur de Lys to monday if Coi is to win for saturday?

                                                                HELP. I have too many options.. help me sort through this foodie mess!!!
                                                                Thanks friends!

                                                                -----
                                                                Manresa Restaurant
                                                                320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                La Folie
                                                                2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                                Chez Panisse
                                                                1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                Gary Danko
                                                                800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                                13 Replies
                                                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                  Hi abbey,
                                                                  Maybe dial things back a bit. Bar Crudo comes to mind, Incanto, too. Life after a Keller experience demands some measure of restraint.

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Bar Crudo
                                                                  655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                                                  1. re: steve h.

                                                                    Bar Crudo is on my must-go-to list for next trip to SF. I also think people are missing some of the true flavor of SF if they only do the really high-end places. There's a lot more breadth than that.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Bar Crudo
                                                                    655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      I think it depends on what high-end places we are talking about. There are some high-end places that are kind of unique, including Coi, Manresa, and Ame. But I agree that there is little point in traveling to San Francisco to have expensive traditional French that you can find in an major city when there are many less expensive restaurants that are more interesting.

                                                                      1. re: nocharge

                                                                        Okay I see what you're saying.. so then, what would you do? I guess my thinking was to try to less expensive hidden away spots for lunch/brunch, and the higher end for dinner...
                                                                        Can you give me a few more ideas other then those two? We are coming from TO and our "high end dining scene" is really.. not great right now.. I'd like to see menus that I haven't seen in TO.

                                                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                          As you know, those are all excellent choices, so in my mind the choice would be based on giving me a variety of dining experiences, which from that list would be Coi, Manresa and Chez Panisse. Gary Danko is kind of generic and La Folie is more traditional French and less unique to the Bay Area.

                                                                          I don't know if you realize Manresa is quite a trek from San Francico, probably as far as The French Laundry, but in the opposite direction. You might want to consider swapping in a restaurant that wouldn't require as much of a drive, like Ame or Commis. The menu at Chez Panisse on Mondays is much simpler than it is on the weekends (three courses instead of four or five), which is not necessarily a bad thing. You could get a feel for what it's all about without committing to a five-course meal after a week of excessive eating!

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Manresa Restaurant
                                                                          320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                          Chez Panisse
                                                                          1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                          Commis
                                                                          3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                  2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                    I'll be a little more blunt that others here. You're trying to do too much. That itinerary is at least three visits' worth of Michelin-starred dining. If you try to do it all you're likely to blow out your palate and won't be able to fully appreciate what the chefs have to offer.

                                                                    My wife and I make frequent visits to SF, and generally a single pull-the-stops-out dinner is all we can handle over a long weekend. Of course, you have to make your decisions based on your tastes and appetites. But IMO you'd be far better off shortening the list of "fine dining" restaurants and filling in the gaps with simpler alternatives.

                                                                    Of all the listed restaurants, the most I'd do would be TFL and either Coi or Manresa. Period. And not on consecutive nights. Okay, maybe Chez Panisse, but only on Monday, or in the Cafe.

                                                                    Others have made good suggestions for chef-y alternatives that aren't pull-the-stops-out meals; Canteen and Incanto spring immediately to mind. Bar Crudo is a great idea for Saturday night, especially if you're still recovering from Keller's ravages.

                                                                    Other options depend on what you have available in Toronto, but a cozy meal at L'Osteria del Forno or another casual Italian place is one of my wife's favorite things to do when we're in town. And let's not forget all the more "exotic" cuisines that are out there - do you have access to good Yucatecan or Burmese food?

                                                                    Seriously, four days isn't long enough to even scratch the surface of all the great dining options in the city. Instead of starting at the top and working your way down, I'd recommend taking a more eclectic approach. And coming back often.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Manresa Restaurant
                                                                    320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                    L'Osteria del Forno
                                                                    519 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                    Chez Panisse
                                                                    1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                    Bar Crudo
                                                                    655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                      Thanks, Alan. And even if OP can only come to SF once in her life, I'd still dine the way you recommend.

                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                        Thanks. Ha, I think Ive come to my senses.

                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                          Unless you are uhockey. His trip reports are legend.

                                                                            1. re: bbulkow

                                                                              True dat. Hence the caveat about individual tastes and appetites. But query whether the over-the-top approach has anything to do with the inability to appreciate a meal at Chez Panisse...

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Chez Panisse
                                                                              1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                Well, Alan, my approach is far from over the top, but I've never understood the allure of CP.

                                                                            2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                              This is very good advice. I will jump in and recommend Boulette's Larder for breakfast or lunch any day but Sat. - at the Ferry Building. Out the Door on Bush at Fillmore for Vietnamese breakfast or brunch, Pizzeria Delfina, Zuni and Hog Island Oysters.

                                                                              Also if you want to sample Coi you can eat a la carte in the bar. Less of a commitment than the full tasting menu but still excellent.

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

                                                                              Pizzeria Delfina
                                                                              2406 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                                                          1. Could anyone help me with a small list of restaurants in the 60-70 pp range not including tax and alcohol that are unique to SF?

                                                                            17 Replies
                                                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                              My list based on my experience has one entry, Aziza.
                                                                              http://www.aziza-sf.com/
                                                                              Sardinian are few and far between, La Ciccia.

                                                                              1. re: wolfe

                                                                                I second Aziza and Bar Crudo, both recommended by others.
                                                                                And I'll also add Nihon Whiskey Lounge to the list.
                                                                                Any of these would be good after TFL since they'll contrast with the previous night's meal. None of them is as grand, but. all are excellect and...
                                                                                Bar Crudo would contrast by being 'fresh and simple and clean'
                                                                                Nihon would contrast by being 'loungey, dark, japanese and umami'
                                                                                Aziza would be 'herbal and middle eastern' (make sure to get some of their cocktails which each features an herb)

                                                                                Also, I don't know where you're visiting from but if you like turkish/lebanese gyros and you are in the civic center area at lunchtime, check out Gyro King at 25 grove. Love this place.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Gyro King
                                                                                25 Grove St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                                Bar Crudo
                                                                                655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                                                              2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                That would be a very large list, as 60-70/pp for food only would be adequate at all but the high-end tasting menu places in the city. I'm not sure how those criteria are going to help you any more than the many recommendations you already have in this thread.

                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                  Ah but what about unique? Surely that should eliminate some.

                                                                                  1. re: wolfe

                                                                                    There are a lot of places that are unique *to* SF that are not necessarily unique *in* SF. Basically all the "Cal-" restaurants, starting with Aziza and ending with Zuni.

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

                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                      Fair enough..
                                                                                      so any other "favourites" then? Ill be more specific..
                                                                                      unique
                                                                                      60-70$ pp not incl drinks, tip
                                                                                      nice atmosphere
                                                                                      non-asian or indian or african (hes not really a fan)
                                                                                      if its italian, it would have to be *special*

                                                                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                        Well that eliminates Aziza and leaves La Ciccia which is unique *in* San Francisco although not in the USA. Sardinian restaurants googled in New York, Houston and Miami.

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

                                                                                        1. re: wolfe

                                                                                          Not really ... Aziza is more Californian than your typical Moroccan restaurant. Here's the menu.
                                                                                          http://www.aziza-sf.com/food.html

                                                                                          There are currently items such as

                                                                                          baby squash
                                                                                          bone marrow, green charmoula, zucchini blossom, brioche

                                                                                          wild salmon
                                                                                          steelhead roe, kale, castelvetrano olive, green almond

                                                                                          meatballs
                                                                                          jícama, grape, herb vinaigrette

                                                                                          white shrimp
                                                                                          green tomato, young shallot, espelette, ajo blanco

                                                                                          quail
                                                                                          celery, rhubarb, pine nut cereal, lovage, foie gras

                                                                                          wagyu beef
                                                                                          fava beans, marble potaotes, harissa

                                                                                          blackberry bavarian
                                                                                          preserved lemon, verbena ice cream, shortbread

                                                                                          Hardly your standard Morrocan menu ... in fact, it seems to be getting less and less Morroccan-influenced

                                                                                            1. re: wolfe

                                                                                              I was in the middle of editing my post to include menu items such as

                                                                                              chocolate sorbet
                                                                                              kumquat, ice cream sandwich, almond granita

                                                                                              goat yogurt panna cotta
                                                                                              rhubarb, rose gelée, hibiscus soup

                                                                                              Not exactly what one thinks of in terms of African food. It is more and more California cuisine with Moroccan influences For someone who wants hard-core Morocca there is sitll couscous and bastilla on the menu.

                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                What do you thikn about this line up:
                                                                                                Fri: TFL
                                                                                                Sat: Commis?
                                                                                                Sun: Quince?
                                                                                                Mon: Chez Panisse?

                                                                                                Are those good choices.. I've just been doing as much reading on here as possible.. and I like the menus there.
                                                                                                I personally like the menu at Aziza.. but I know my SO does not like couscous, so I'm not sure about the rest of it to be honest..

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                Chez Panisse
                                                                                                1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                                                Commis
                                                                                                3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                  There's only one couscous dish on the menu at Aziza. As I discussed in another thread recently, it's really more California-cuisine with Moroccan influences than Moroccan.

                                                                                                  However, the restaurant line-up you have looks good. I think you should stop worrying about whether Restaurant Very Good is better than Another Restaurant Very Good. There's isn't a huge difference in quality among all the restaurants you're considering, so it's really just a matter of what kind of experience you want to have, how much you want to spend, how far you want to travel, etc.

                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                    Yeah ... what Ruth said about Aziza ... and also about not stressing over it.

                                                                                                    The line up looks fine. Enjoy and report back.

                                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                                      I guess my comment would be that I wouldn't do TFL and Commis back-to-back. They're too similar in style, and Commis is going to suffer in comparison. It's Saturday night -- choose something more fun and casual.

                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                      Commis
                                                                                                      3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                        Agreed, the night after TFL I would do something totally different, like Mexican food or La Ciccia or maybe even Aziza then. I love Commis, so that might just be for Sunday night (especially since there are a lot of places not open on Sunday nights).

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

                                                                                                        Commis
                                                                                                        3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                                                  2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                    That would still blow me out - these are still all fancy places, though Chez Panisse on Monday is less so, and the cuisines seem too similar. I would definitely recommend one of San Francisco's better Italian places like La Ciccia or Incanto over Quince (great pastas but everything else disappointing) or a fine Mexican place like Nopalito. Since you're staying in San Francisco, maybe Zuni Cafe over a Monday at Chez Panisse. Zuni and La Ciccia are closed Monday, but Incanto and Nopalito are open.

                                                                                                    But whatever you choose I'm sure you'll have a great time. Especially since you're starting with TFL, diversity in cuisine would seem to make things even more enjoyable.

                                                                                                    Michael

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

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

                                                                                                    Chez Panisse
                                                                                                    1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                                                    1. re: mdg

                                                                                                      Good points. I will look these over again. Thanks.

                                                                                2. Alright everyone, thank you for all your help thus far. I have been trying to be a super good CH and do a lot of research.. which I have been. It is a huge challenge to try to do this without knowing the area well, and all of the maps I am using are not great.
                                                                                  So, I have a few choices for each of them with a basic outline of some of the things I am planning on doing (so the choices I made are to accomodate that). If you can tell me which you think are my best bests of my choices and if my choices are totally OFF, then what you would suggest instead.
                                                                                  Breakfasts for SUN, MON may have to change once I find out exactly which hotel Im staying in, but I know I'll be in Union Square area.

                                                                                  FRIDAY
                                                                                  Lunch: this one was too hard for me to do on my own. We will be arriving from SFO and driving to Yountville area.. So somewhere close to the airport on our way. Any ideas??
                                                                                  Dinner: TFL

                                                                                  SATURDAY
                                                                                  Breakfast: Bouchon Bakery? Any other suggestions?
                                                                                  Do some wine touring... heres where it gets complicated.. I dont have a wine route yet, so depending on where we are around lunch time, I have different options.
                                                                                  St Helena-> The Model Bakery
                                                                                  Yountville-> Mustards Grill
                                                                                  Napa-> Ubuntu (really appealed to me) OR BarbersQ, OR Boon Fly at Carneros Inn
                                                                                  Sonoma-> Sonoma Sunflower OR Elderado OR Doce luna OR Schellville Grille
                                                                                  Check into our hotel in Union Square
                                                                                  Dinner: Incanto

                                                                                  SUNDAY
                                                                                  Breakfast: Towns End OR Mamas on Washington Square OR Cafe Beans
                                                                                  Then my BF wanted to go for a cruise to Alcatraz which I understand is at the Fishermans Wharf and is a total tourist trap.. is this an awful idea???
                                                                                  Lunch: I dont want anything touristy to the max.. would Scomas be a good choice?? Or should I leave and go to Town Hall or Tadich Grill? I would prefer not to go too far because we would then be going to see the Aquarium of the Bay. I know my bf would LOVE that because hes a bit obsessed with fish and aquariums. So even if thats a tourist attraction, hes going to want to see it.
                                                                                  Dinner: Commis

                                                                                  MONDAY
                                                                                  Breakfast: Cafe Madelienes OR Emporio Rulli OR Tad Steaks
                                                                                  Then were going to go see the Jewish Museum and maybe another museum in the area
                                                                                  Lunch: Slow Club OR Cafe Claude OR Plouf OR Farmer Brown
                                                                                  Then we'll shop in the area
                                                                                  Dinner: Chez Panisse

                                                                                  TUESDAY
                                                                                  Breakfast: at the Ferry Building and stay there until we have to leave

                                                                                  Any advice you can give is great.. if Im on the wrong path let me know, if you have alternative suggestions Im open.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
                                                                                  1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

                                                                                  Tadich Grill
                                                                                  240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                                                  Bouchon Bakery
                                                                                  6528 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599

                                                                                  Chez Panisse
                                                                                  1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                                  Cafe Claude
                                                                                  7 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108

                                                                                  Town Hall Restaurant
                                                                                  342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                                                  Boon Fly Cafe
                                                                                  4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA 94559

                                                                                  Slow Club
                                                                                  2501 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                  Farmer Brown
                                                                                  25 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                                  Plouf
                                                                                  40 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

                                                                                  Emporio Rulli
                                                                                  464 Magnolia Ave, Larkspur, CA

                                                                                  Cafe Bean
                                                                                  800 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                                                  Model Bakery
                                                                                  1357 Main St St, Helena, CA

                                                                                  Commis
                                                                                  3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                                  Mustards Grill
                                                                                  7399 St. Helena Hwy, Yountville, CA 94558

                                                                                  174 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                    For Friday the best thing is get out of San Francisco as quickly as possible. Lunch in Berkeley. You may still have traffic but at least you have crossed the bridge bottleneck. Here is a similar thread and there is an opening for a Sea Salt report.
                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7052...
                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7158...

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Sea Salt
                                                                                    2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                      Just because tourists go to Alcatraz doesn't mean you shouldn't go. First of all, you're a tourist and that's not a dirty word and it's also a huge industry for SF. Also it's something pretty unique. I've gone once and wouldn't do it a second time but glad I went. Think of Statue of Liberty or Eiffel Tower.

                                                                                      ETA: There are certainly many interesting places in SF. I support Alcatraz simply cause BF wants to. He needs something, right? (Happy, wolfe?)

                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                        Good. I feel validated. Ha. So- any suggestions on the food options I cited?

                                                                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                          I don't live in SF any longer but do get to visit. I defer to the SF 'hounds for that advice cause that's what I do.

                                                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                            Alcatraz isn't touristy in the sense the Wharf is, that is, a lot of tacky souvenir shops, t-shirt shops, etc. It's a national park. I think there's one small gift shop, but otherwise it's really pretty cool. You should stay in the Wharf area for lunch if you're going to the Aquarium -- Town Hall and Tadich aren't even open on Sunday, and you don't want to go anyplace that would require reparking or taking public transit. Scoma's is good but expensive. There are a couple of other places that are okay and a bit less expensive -- I think rworange has a list.

                                                                                            You've worked so hard on coming up with a great dinner itinerary -- don't let them talk you into changing it. They're being silly about it being a big deal to cross the Bay. A quarter of a million people do it every day! If you were schlepping over there in the middle of the day and then heading back to do more stuff in the City, that would be a bigger deal. But driving over for dinner is not a big deal, especially if you don't have somewhere else to be and other stuff to do. Or you could take public transit, especially if you want to enjoy some wine. There's info on taking public transit to both Commis and CP in other threads.

                                                                                            Friday, I agree you should do something near the airport, since you want to eat as early as possible before your TFL dinner. How about dim sum? There are a whole bunch of good (let's please not argue about whether it's as good as the best dim sum in the world, it's good enough for a light lunch!) places in Millbrae just a couple of minutes from the airport. A few dumplings and some tea sounds like the perfect restorative lunch when you're planning TFL later. Hong Kong Flower Lounge is the easiest to find, as it's right at the intersection of El Camino (the main drag) and the street the freeway exits on to.

                                                                                            Do Ubuntu. The contrast between that and Incanto should be really interesting.

                                                                                            -----
                                                                                            Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
                                                                                            1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

                                                                                            Hong Kong Flower Lounge
                                                                                            51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

                                                                                            Commis
                                                                                            3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                              Just wanted to add that I agree that it's no big deal crossing the Bay and, like Ruth said, it seems silly to change your dinner itinerary after all the thought and discussion that went into it.

                                                                                              If anything, you might want to consider adding other things to do (food-related or otherwise) while you're in Oakland/Berkeley anyway. Lush Gelato, for example, is better than anything in San Francisco -- and its two locations happen to be within easy walking distance of Commis and Chez Panisse, respectively.

                                                                                              Also agree with whoever suggested doing lunch/shopping in the Mission on the Monday. That Valencia St. area is one of the most interesting shopping districts in the city (for both locals and tourists -- make sure you hit the pirate store and the taxidermy store), and places like Poc Chuc and Tartine Bakery are probably more highly regarded on this board than any of the other possibilities you mentioned for that day.

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

                                                                                              Chez Panisse
                                                                                              1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

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

                                                                                              Lush Gelato
                                                                                              4184 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

                                                                                              Commis
                                                                                              3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                                              Lush Gelato
                                                                                              1511 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                                              1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                                Thank you. Great suggestions. I think I will do Tartine then for monday shopping.
                                                                                                Scoma is I guess my top pick then for that lunch unless I get better reccos.

                                                                                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                  Just note that Tartine Bakery is more of a pastry type place (with sweet items like its coconut and banana cream tarts really shining), as opposed to a sit-down lunch. You order at the counter and grab a seat at one of several communal tables.

                                                                                                  They do have plenty of savory items (sandwiches, quiches, and such) as well, and I think it's a great option for a casual lunch (followed by a scoop at Bi-Rite Creamery), especially with all the big meals you've got planned.

                                                                                                  But if you're looking for more of a sit-down place with table service, there are plenty of other options (some mentioned already) in the Mission / Valencia St. area. Pizzeria Delfina would have been a good choice, but unfortunately they're closed for lunch on Mondays. (BTW, Zuni is also closed on Mondays; otherwise, that's not too far away either.)

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

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

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

                                                                                                  1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                                    Perfect. That was what I was thinking re: tartine. Light lunches and breakfasts so we can have room for dinner.

                                                                                                2. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                                  Valencia is great for eating and shopping. Here's one of my faves:

                                                                                                  http://www.goodvibes.com/content.jhtm...

                                                                                            2. re: c oliver

                                                                                              What CO is referring to is my message to her about going to Alcatraz.
                                                                                              Like if you were in Marseille you would have to go to Chateau d'If.
                                                                                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2...

                                                                                            3. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                              I'll let others weigh in on other choices, but given your non-food itinerary Scoma's is a perfect option for Sunday lunch, especially if you can go at a slightly off-peak time (they don't take reservations, and the line can get out of control). The side dishes tend to be mediocre at best, but they have their own fishing boats, so the catch of the day is almost always very good. I like the prix fixe lunch.

                                                                                              One other minor quibble. You're crossing the Bay a lot. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but it is a bit of a schlep. Chez Panisse Cafe is on the way to wine country for lunch on Friday. But then you have to find someplace that's open for dinner on Monday; maybe shift Incanto (are they still doing the cucina povera menu)? That leaves Saturday open, which is much easier to deal with.

                                                                                              All in all, it's a worthy itinerary; we're just gilding the lily. Bring stretchy pants.

                                                                                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                As someone who has eaten there, don't go to Tad's Steak. If your hotel is near Union Square, Canteen could be a good breakfast (or for that matter, dinner) option. There is no shopping near Slow Club. Lunch in the Mission might be better for shopping/foodie browsing (Poc Chuc, burritos, Tartine, Pizzeria Delfina, Birite Market, Bi-Rite Creamery, for ex).

                                                                                                For someone's first trip to SF, that is a lot of driving over the Bay Bridge in four days. You might want to consider grouping your East Bay eats together to minimize that. Alternatively, Zuni in SF serves No Cal food in a style similar to Chez Panisse.

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

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

                                                                                                Chez Panisse
                                                                                                1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                                                Slow Club
                                                                                                2501 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                                Pizzeria Delfina
                                                                                                2406 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                                                                                1. re: sfbing

                                                                                                  Okay I see the dilemma RE the bay traveling. I didnt even think about it.
                                                                                                  So how about FRIDAY lunch at chez panisse on our way to yountville.
                                                                                                  So then I have a monday dinner to fill. Whats open on MONDAY night IN SF for appox 60 pp not including wine? I can move Incanto if necessary, but I thought it would be nice for after TFL.

                                                                                                  zuni looks like a good choice

                                                                                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                    Can you fly into and out of Oakland instead of SFO? It's much easier for driving to Napa Valley and not any more difficult to leave the City than SFO. Fewer flight delays too.

                                                                                                    1. re: Alice Q

                                                                                                      ah- too late now. we booked without cancelation.

                                                                                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                        Alice thanks for this tip -- we've been wondering about coming in via Oakland and now that you've said fewer flight delays we're in for our next trip! I think our flight has been delayed four of the seven times we've come into SFO. Also landing in Oakland, maybe we could deke somewhere in the East Bay for dinner on the way in :-).

                                                                                                        1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                          I highly recommend it. I lived in the Bay Area for a few years, and now that I'm back in San Diego I always fly in and out through Oakland.

                                                                                                          Re: the ongoing debate about where to stop on your way to TFL from the airport - you said you get in at 10:30, you are renting a car - you should be out of the airport by noon... I might still suggest crossing the bridge and going up through the E. Bay. It's a bit more direct route, Van Ness will be a stop and go nightmare, and personally I don't think the drive to Napa from the City on 37 is all that scenic. You can come back to the City via the Golden Gate, which is a much better view in any event. ;)

                                                                                                          If you cross the Bay Bridge and go up 80 you can stop by Alice Waters' Cafe Fanny, http://www.cafefanny.com/ for a light bite on your way up. It's not close to Chez Panisse, it's way over on the West Side of Berkeley.

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          Cafe Fanny
                                                                                                          1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                                                                          1. re: Alice Q

                                                                                                            Yeah, this is a good point -- the drive through SF and over the Golden Gate bridge is prettier, but if I were you, I'd want to just get to Napa as soon as possible so I could have time to settle in, relax a little, and shower and change before going to TFL. The drive through the East Bay is faster, and if you stop somewhere in Berkeley to eat parking is a lot easier than most places in SF (on the middle of the day on Friday). If your flight is at all delayed, I would definitely go this way, just so that you're not running late and anxious. If you do go the East Bay way, Cafe Fanny is a nice stop, as is the Cheeseboard for pizza.

                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                            Cafe Fanny
                                                                                                            1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                                                                            1. re: Alice Q

                                                                                                              No need to meander on Van Ness. From SFO, get onto 380, then take 280North and it's practically a straight shot to the GG...

                                                                                                              1. re: Sarah

                                                                                                                I already gave her that route (google map and all), but other people seem to think that it's just as fast (doubtful) and more scenic (somewhat) to drive through the city. I think driving through the city is a PITA and somewhat confusing, but whatever.

                                                                                                                Uh, food related, there are other places to stop in the Sunset/Richmond district if she decides to take that route. Someone suggested there's a Crepevine branch along that way, for example.

                                                                                                  2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                    Sunday: Town Hall doesn't serve lunch on Sunday; Tadich is closed.
                                                                                                    Monday: Farmer Brown is dinner only.

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    Town Hall Restaurant
                                                                                                    342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                                                                    Farmer Brown
                                                                                                    25 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                                                    1. re: Sarah

                                                                                                      No, Farmer Brown has lunch now, but I wouldn't particularly recommend it -- it's fine, but nothing for one of your few lunches in the area. Of your choices, I like Plouf the best, but I don't love it. I'd go to Town Hall or Tadich on Monday instead.

                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                      Farmer Brown
                                                                                                      25 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                                                      Plouf
                                                                                                      40 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

                                                                                                    2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                      FRIDAY

                                                                                                      Berkeley has some good restaurants, but it is a mostly ugly ride to Napa that way. You want to go over the Golden Gate Bridge. Depending on how tired you and how long you can hold out to eat

                                                                                                      Ferry Plaza or CoCO500 or Fish

                                                                                                      Ferry Plaza has a lot of good food stands, but after a long flight I might not be up for it. Coco500 has California Cuisine and is right off the 4th Street exit into SF. There is lots of parking nearby and they are open all day so you dn't have to worry about what time your plane arrives. Fish in Sausalito is a nice place to hang out on the dock and have good seafood.

                                                                                                      Dinner: TFL

                                                                                                      SATURDAY
                                                                                                      Breakfast: Bouchon Bakery?
                                                                                                      Bouchon doesn't do a full breakfast. It is mainly pastries. I assume you have a hotel in Yountville? If you are staying elsewhere, I could offer other breakfast suggestions. In Yountville, Barndesso is a restaurant in a resort spa hotel. I had some minor quibbles for dinner. However, I always thought it might be really swell to stay there overnight and have breakfast in bed. E'toile has a nice brunch ... when they have it ... but sometimes they have brunch, sometimes they dont
                                                                                                      Do some wine touring... heres where it gets complicated.. I dont have a wine route yet, so depending on where we are around lunch time, I have different options.
                                                                                                      St Helena-> The Model Bakery (no opinion)
                                                                                                      Yountville-> Brix
                                                                                                      Napa-> Ubuntu

                                                                                                      BarbersQ is in an ugly shopping mall and except for a few dishes, not worth the bother, IMO. Boon Fly at Carneros Inn ... ok ... more of a breakfast place to me ... and if you are going that far, I'd go to Fremont Diner instead which is on the same road a few miles down on the edge of Sonoma
                                                                                                      Sonoma-> Sonoma Sunflower OR Elderado OR Doce luna OR Schellville Grille
                                                                                                      None of those. Go to Fremont Diner.

                                                                                                      Check into our hotel in Union Square
                                                                                                      Dinner: Incanto

                                                                                                      SUNDAY
                                                                                                      Breakfast: Canteen

                                                                                                      Then my BF wanted to go for a cruise to Alcatraz which I understand is at the Fishermans Wharf and is a total tourist trap. I liked the Alcatrez tour. One of the few useful things to do on the wharf. The maritime museum where you board ocol boats is worht it as well.

                                                                                                      Lunch: I like Scomas for lunch. The have a nice prix-fixe until 3:30 pm and the fish is stellar, sides ok.

                                                                                                      Haven't been to the Aquarium of the Bay. Do see the Pier 39 sea lions where the aquarium is located. You might look at the Aquarium in Golden Gate Park which is legit and probably better. There are some good restaurans nearby.
                                                                                                      Dinner: Commis

                                                                                                      MONDAY
                                                                                                      Breakfast: Cafe Madelienes (eh) OR Emporio Rulli (pastries only and rude staff) OR Tad Steaks (Lord no)
                                                                                                      This is the day to go to Mamas on Washington Square
                                                                                                      Then were going to go see the Jewish Museum and maybe another museum in the area
                                                                                                      Lunch: Slow Club OR Cafe Claude OR Plouf OR Farmer Brown
                                                                                                      If you go to MOMA, the cafe has had some positive mentins. Slow Club is out of the way. Plouf is really out of the way, I'd go to Zuni instead if you are going that far.
                                                                                                      Dinner: Chez Panisse

                                                                                                      Don't know what time your CP reservation is for. Rush hour across the bridge is about 5 - 7 pm and can be a drag.

                                                                                                      TUESDAY
                                                                                                      Breakfast: at the Ferry Building and stay there until we have to leave. Or you could consider Town's End for this day and then go to the Ferry Building.

                                                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                                                        Wow you are amazing.
                                                                                                        So if I go the Golden Gate way.. we will be leavign the airport somewhere between 11:30-12 ish.. will it be a nightmare? We want to eat around 12 or 12;30 to be hungry for our 5:30 dinner

                                                                                                        Saturday- I am just going to be going over the hotel options this weekend with my bf so it could be Yountville or it could be closer to Napa or Sonoma.So any options that are between those sites would be great. I dont particularly want a HUGE breakfast b/c hes not a breakfast person and I probably wont wake up particularly starved after the previous nights meal.
                                                                                                        On Sunday- is canteen going to be a big breakfast? Thats my concern if we're going to be going to Scomas for lunch I want to keep it light for breakfast. Their website doesnt show breakfast. If its too much, maybe I could do towns end here? and mamas on monday?

                                                                                                        Monday- Lunch now may have changed.. after everyones suggestion to shop in the Mission area so we could probably have lunch there so I was thinking Tartine for a simple sandwich? Any other suggestions?
                                                                                                        I havent made the CP it yet bc its too early but I was thinking at 7:30.. how bad a nightmare will that be? How long do you think it will take from union square? Would 8 be better?

                                                                                                        Thank you so much, everyone. You are all so helpful.

                                                                                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                          Canteen makes a great breakfast, but "light" is not its defining quality. The big pancake, the house-made corned beef hash, or the Chupacabra - any of them is enough to see you through to an early dinner.

                                                                                                          For a lighter option in the vicinity, consider pastries from Dottie's. The wait for a table can be ridiculous, though. Get there early or get it to go.

                                                                                                          An option you may want to consider on Monday evening is to avoid the traffic on the bridge altogether and take BART to the Downtown Berkeley station. It's about a 15-minute stroll from there to Chez Panisse.

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          Chez Panisse
                                                                                                          1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                            Links

                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                            Canteen
                                                                                                            817 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                                                                            Dottie's True Blue Cafe
                                                                                                            522 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                              I w\as thinking about the BART. I looked into it and it doesnt seem too hard.
                                                                                                              I would rather avoid a restaurant with a long wait. My bf will NOT see it as worth it and will just settle for the next place in sight so Id rather come with a plan.

                                                                                                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                Hey abbey, we've taken BART to the East Bay as visitors and it is great. It took us 20 minutes to get to Fruitvale and lots of great Mexican food, for example, in the daytime. The other time we took it was to Commis, another of your destinations. It doesn't stop super near there but a quick cab ride on the other side and voila. Definitely worth considering to save your brain from being scrambled trying to figure out routes and maybe hitting traffic too.

                                                                                                                We tried to go to Dottie's a few times and there was always a lineup. We finally decided to bite the bullet and waited 25 mins one weekday morning v. early and were underwhelmed. Mama's is also famous for its lineups -- we still haven't made it in there :-). Canteen we've been to four times for brekky with no line ups before 9:30 FWIW. And it sounds like they might be doing resos early too now.

                                                                                                                1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                  I totally agree that waiting in line for Dottie's is a waste of time that could be better spent on other activities. (Same for Mama's, but at least Washington Square Park is in an attractive setting.) Apparently the key is to arrive at 7:30, when the wait is minimal to non-existent. And when there is a wait it's just for a table; a to-go order (especially if it's just for baked goods) can be processed fairly quickly.

                                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                    Bah we cant have long lines. He just WILL NOT wait, guarenteed. Is there anywhere else in the union square area- we will be staying at the fairmont, that we can grab a simple NOT HUGE breaky? w/o crazy lines.

                                                                                                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                      First off, the Fairmont is a great choice; it's one of my favorite places to stay in town. But it's on Nob Hill, not in the Union Square area. The horizontal distance is only a few blocks, but the vertical distance is substantial. If you're headed to Fisherman's Wharf from the hotel, Union Square is in the opposite direction.

                                                                                                                      And there just isn't much chow on Nob Hill. Youre best bet is probably the cafe in the hotel, down a level from the lobby. It's just coffee and pastries, but the coffee's okay, and the baked goods are surprisingly good. Get a window seat and watch the cable cars go by.

                                                                                                                      Speaking of cable cars, consider getting rid of your rental once you return from Napa. My experience is that cars are more hindrance than help in the city, and the hotel will charge $50++ per day for the privilege of not being able to find a parking spot any time you leave the garage.

                                                                                                                      The Muni is one of the better public transit systems in North America, and your hotel is on the corner where all three cable car routes converge. A 3-day Muni passport will get you unlimited rides on the cable cars, subway, streetcars, and buses, which will take you wherever you need to go.

                                                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                        Agreed. The Fairmont is just a short roll/walk down the hill to Chinatown. But do I remember that SO is anti-Chinese food. Silly SO. But yeah, way easier to get to North Beach.

                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                          This might be the time for Delise, which IIRC is a short walk from the cable car terminus nearest Fisherman's Wharf. Quality pastries and Four Barrel coffee, as I mentioned already.

                                                                                                                        2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                          Yes we plan to get rid of the car after we get into SF. I am pretty sure well be at the Fairmont. We are going to solidify that today. So if the breakfast isnt great in Nob Hill perhaps we should always do our best to make it to our destination before eating. Yah- my bf is definitely not going to want to go to Chinatown. I live quite close to Chinatown here and he has never wanted to go.

                                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                            Okay another update. We are going to be at the Four Seasons as ORIGINALLY planned b/c they gave us a much better price/suite. This hopefully makes things somewhat easier re: breakfast.
                                                                                                                            I will make another tentative UPDATED schedule and post it today b/c I feel a little lost in the weeds.

                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                            Four Seasons Restaurant
                                                                                                                            1163 S De Anza Blvd, San Jose, CA 95129

                                                                                                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                              A block or two down from The Four Seasons, the owner of Canteen has a little pastry and light sandwich shop. It is right across the street from the Palace Hotel. I am blanking on the name right now, but I'm sure someone will fill you in. It is only open during the week, but it sounds exactly what you might want in terms of breakfast items.

                                                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                It is called the Sentinel and it usually has freshly baked muffins, coffee and a tasty chai tea. We loved it for lunch (excellent sandwiches) but I like a savoury pastry for brekky and they don't seem to carry those, so for me that is a drawback. Also for the OP, there is no seating there so you need to find a little nook to sit nearby. We've seen chef Denis Leary there every time we've been, which is a little bonus for me and my Chow crush :-).

                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                The Sentinel
                                                                                                                                55 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                                                                                          2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                            Farm:Table on Sutter and Jones makes a lovely breakfast and STELLAR espresso drinks. Really, hands down the best lattes I've had in the neighborhood, and sometimes the best in the city (depending who's pulling).

                                                                                                                            Prices are a little steep for portion size, but everything's homemade so it's perfect if you're not in the mood for a big sit down breakfast like at Canteen or Mama's.

                                                                                                                  2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                    Hi habbey. As a twice-a-year visitor to SF, I thought I'd ramble on a while FWIW, though you are of course getting the best advice from locals.

                                                                                                                    Canteen is NOT a light breakfast, though you might be able to make it one by exercising restraint (I couldn't, because I have none). It is a very good repast, however, and the resto happens to be my favourite in SF so far. They have both savoury and sweet items, with a few intriguing options (google chupacabra and Canteen and see what you get!). If you do go there on Sunday and eat too much, you could dial back your Scoma's lunch and get a couple of empanadas near the Wharf instead. Tanguito 2850 Jones btwn Beach and Jefferson (415) 577 4223 Tues-Sun, 10:30am to 4:30pm Closed Mondays Parked across the street from the F-line’s final stop at the wharf coming from the Ferry Building, this truck’s husband-and-wife team own and operate; two picnic tables in an enclosed area; empanadas includes humita, filled with corn, parmesan and cream sauce; beef $3.50, served hot and fresh out of the oven. Filled with well-seasoned picadillo (ground Angus beef, onion, red pepper, olives), the flaky-crusted and golden empanada was quite delectable. Even more so with a little bit of excellent chimichurri on the side that I requested. avoid the tortilla 5.25 Melanie Wong Aug 2009 other customers recco’d chicken with saffron rice and hamburger with chimichurri Everything’s under $10, and most are $5 or less. The owner said that they’re trying to offer good food at prices for the working people at the Wharf. Judging from the Muni drivers who patronize this little piece of Argentina, Tanguito has hit this mark.

                                                                                                                    Totally different experience, of course, but might be worth it to try these tasty pies and save room for dinner. We really enjoyed them (had the beef with extra chimichurri on the side) but do be warned they sell out so it's a good idea to go around noon if you can.

                                                                                                                    If you want to stick with Scoma's you could try DeLise for a light pastry or two and some Four Barrel coffee to get you going. It is on an otherwise desolate stretch of Bay Street with tasty homemade pastries from the husband-and-wife team of engineers-turned-pastry chefs who used to work at Bong Su. 327 Bay Street, between Powell and Mason; (415) 399-9694; website 4 blocks from Pier 39; 5 blks from Pier 45; 8.5 blocks from Hyde St Pier; 13.5 from Municipal Pier

                                                                                                                    We went to Alcatraz on our first trip as a couple in 2003 and it was worthwhile. Not cheesy at all, and I understand they've improved the tours in the interim with the new self-guided technology that is available. We almost went again in March but ran out of time.

                                                                                                                    The other thing I thought worth reinforcing that rworange mentioned is how fantastic the aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences is. I haven't been in the Aquarium of the Bay but it has a much smaller footprint, only has the aquarium and is quite expensive for that IIRC ($15??). CAS also has a planetarium (with an open shark and manta ray exhibit that you walk over top of), a natural history museum (with penguins!) and the stunning rainforest exhibit for around $25 (with a discount if you take transit there). And to keep things on topic re food the restos inside get a fair bit of love here, plus there is Charles Phan's place across the way and lots of interesting options nearby on Irving.

                                                                                                                    I liked Tartine Bakery the one time I was able to get in (the lineups are pretty daunting all the day I've found) but if I was in the Mission for lunch and looking for a sandwich I'd go for a torta (unless I am misremembering, you haven't ruled out Mexican, right?). And it really is worth it to do an amble around one or two of the Mission sub-'hoods -- someone mentioned the Pirate Shop and Paxton Gate on Valencia for shopping (thumbs up) but there are good restos and cafes around here too.

                                                                                                                    Have an awesome time (it will be hard not to with your itinerary).

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

                                                                                                                    1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                      You can actually eat lightly for breakfast at Canteen. For ex, I've had brioche and a salad. Or an app of sauteed scallops and soup. And they always have the standard American breakfast of "two eggs done any way you like with some sort of meat option." Plus, they are experimenting with early reservations for Open Table if you are an early riser.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sfbing

                                                                                                                        Thanks for the intell on the early resos at Canteen, sfbing. I've had the two eggs option at Canteen and didn't find it particularly light what with the spuds and toast and all :-). The brioche, however, is a great idea as it is to die for at dinnertime. I've never been able to eat only one though (see "no restraint" in my post above!).

                                                                                                                        1. re: sfbing

                                                                                                                          Just want to chime in to agree on Canteen for a "light" breakfast.. I think it's a perfect choice for just that. In fact, I often go elsewhere when I'm on the hungrier side because while the food is delicious, I don't think it's overly substantial or filling. (Most other breakfast places will serve potatoes and toast/English muffin with your eggs & meat option.)

                                                                                                                          1. re: Frosty Melon

                                                                                                                            This is a good point. Okay its on my list.

                                                                                                                        2. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                          So if Tartine is a nightmare.. what are some other good options in the neighbourhood as backup??

                                                                                                                          1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                            Im not good with the restraint issue either. Can someone tell me what the brunch prices are like at canteen?

                                                                                                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                              It's been a couple of months since I was in, but IIRC most brunch dishes are between $10 and $15.

                                                                                                                          2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                            If driving, I would make it an 8:00 reservation at CP and leave SF by 7:00--better to get there early than late. But I agree that it would be less of a headache to just BART it over.

                                                                                                                            I don't how big an eater you are, but generally speaking, if I'm going to do a full sit-down lunch (not to mention a big dinner), then a pastry and a cup of coffee is about all I can manage for breakfast. If you're into coffee at all, there are some great options in SF--you'll find lots of threads on Blue Bottle, Ritual, Four Barrel, etc. Most of those cafes have decent pastries too.

                                                                                                                            For Sunday, I think I would just decide which one you'd rather do, Canteen or Scoma's. Doing both might be overkill.

                                                                                                                            It also depends, of course, on how early a start you're planning for your days. A full breakfast might be a better idea if you're heading out by 7:00 every morning.

                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                            Blue Bottle Cafe
                                                                                                                            66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                                                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                              Canteen is much better than Scomas, so if you were going to save stomach space for one meal, I'd have a big breakfast at Canteen and do your lighter meal at Scomas.

                                                                                                                              1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                                This is a really good tip. Maybe we can do canteen breakfast and then just go for some oysters or apps at scomas. My bf will inevitably do that anyways. Does anyone know the prices at canteen?

                                                                                                                              2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                I'm not sure what "it" is referring to when you ask if "it will be a nightmare." If you mean the drive, then no, it shouldn't be bad at all in the middle of the day. I"m going to reiterate my suggestion of dim sum near the airport. If dim sum isn't your thing, then there are other options near the airport. Then you can take the 380/280/1 route to the Golden Gate Bridge and avoid downtown SF all together.
                                                                                                                                http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&s...

                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                  Dim sum is not my bfs thing. Unless its sushi (and we eat enough of that here, so Id rather avoid that) hes not much for asian. Any other good suggestions with a nice atmosphere near the airport?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                    This all sounds great. Although I love Tartine, maybe you should consider a taqueria for Monday's lunch. We really like the carnitas tacos and burritos at La Taqueria on Mission nr. 25th. Don't miss the agua frescas as well. You can always stop off at Tartine and pick up pastries for a later snack.

                                                                                                                                    My problem with this kind of agenda is having insufficient stomach space to fit all the food I'd like to try on a given day.

                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                    La Taqueria
                                                                                                                                    2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Steve Green

                                                                                                                                      I'd hate for anyone to completely avoid the Mission. OP should check out some greyelf's posts on the subject. Making me hungry for a litle menudo this morning. Mmmm.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                        Thanks, coliver, I am obviously a big fan of the Mission. The one thing that is helpful to remember (I still get confused sometimes on this) is that there are different areas of the Mission. They're not super far apart but it's worth studying a good map online to see that the 24th Street stuff is a bit of a hump from for example the Valencia area we've been talking about. I tend to sort of "do" one or the other, but not both, on a given day.

                                                                                                                                        If the OP is near 24th and Mission, I liked Torta Loca and Los Picudos, both of which would work for a lighter lunch (the carnitas torta at Los Picudos would be the perfect shared sandwich, por ejemplo). Torta Loca has a nicer interior with tables and an old-fashioned counter to sit at, not to mention a very fine baño which might come in handy :-). I also enjoyed the tacos at La Taqueria as mentioned by Steve Green above though I understand this is a somewhat controversial pick.

                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                        La Taqueria
                                                                                                                                        2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                                                                        1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                                          We used to live in Noe Valley near 24th and Church so,when on foot, we tended towards 24th and Mission and the envinrons. But our daughter and SIL are now living at 16th and Valencia and we love that.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                      Other than Asian, there's not much really, really good near the airport. It is a quick enough drive into SF, especially that time of day.

                                                                                                                                      Even tho you rejected dim sum, a comment that the 380/280/1 route, sucks scenery-wise.

                                                                                                                                      I'll repeat that I'd take the 4th Street exit and stop at Coco500 for all the reasons I mentioned before. Here's the menu. They are doing twitter now so the daily stuff seems to go there.

                                                                                                                                      http://www.coco500.com/food.html

                                                                                                                                      Their signature dishes are the green beans, beef cheeks (tho not a lunch) and fabulous vacherin for dessert (which is shareable). Then you can hook onto the Golden Gate Bridge by driving along the Embarcadero with fabulous water views, and I'd even drive along Fisherman's Wharf and the Marina, following the Bay and hook onto the Bridge there.

                                                                                                                                      One other bakery/breakfast option in Napa is Sweetie Pie's which I consider better than Bouchon or Model Bakery. Again, when you figure out where you will be roosting for that night, I'll post other stuff.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                        I really think a hearty sit-down lunch and a leisurely drive through San Francisco and then the long route to Napa isn't feasible for someone with 5:30 reservations at The French Laundry (presumably before that they need to get settled in their hotel, rest and freshen up, too).

                                                                                                                                        They have approximately three hours to eat lunch and drive to their hotel, so they need something quick and light and then on their way. They can enjoy downtown and the waterfront when they get back to the city.

                                                                                                                                        Okay, no Asian, so what do you think of taking the route I suggested (the scenery doesn't suck, although it's kinda boring until you get to the park) and making a short detour to Pizzetta 211? http://www.pizzetta211.com/page4.html

                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                        Pizzetta 211
                                                                                                                                        211 23rd Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                          Always tactful, aren't I?

                                                                                                                                          Dunno, the reason why I suggested Ferry Plaza and Coco500 is because you can get small plates at the latter or pick and choose among the various vendors at FP.

                                                                                                                                          To me the route 1 path isn't any shorter than the Embarcadero .. .you can always skip the Fisherman's Wharf, Marina segment and go right down Lombard.

                                                                                                                                          A thought should the plane be late is that the airport has a number of SF restaurants, so they could pick up something to go there ... and depending on how late ... maybe take the more boring Bay Bridge route if they encounter traffic.

                                                                                                                                          Quite frankly I wouldn't be flying in on the day I had FL reservations. I'd be too freaked out about late arrivals and too many things going wrong on the way. Not to mention being tired from the flight and drive up there. I personally think it will detract from the experience. Any other restaurnat ok ... but when laying out all those bucks, I wouldn't do it. Any chance of flying in on Thursday?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                            But the other route is a straight shot, instead of navigating through an unfamiliar city when you don't have time to stop and enjoy it. There are some ocean views, the rather unique architecture of the Sunset, Golden Gate Park, and Park Presidio through the Richmond. In a lot of places that would be the scenic route.

                                                                                                                                            I like Jasmine's idea of Crepevine, but what we really need is abbey's thoughts on what kind of meal she'd want five hours before eating at French Laundry.

                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                            The French Laundry
                                                                                                                                            6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                                                                                                                                        2. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                          So an update here. While I still like the sandwich/soup/salad option, my Bf has told me he would be up to trying some dim sum for lunch on our way to Napa IF its a NICE atmosphere, clean, etc.
                                                                                                                                          So maybe if there is a dim sum option NEAR the airport that doesnt require going backwards, I can add it as an option. and I will let him choose which he feels like.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                            Hong Kong Flower Lounge is very nice and clean. It's about five minutes from the airport. It might feel like going backwards (I'm not sure where the car rental pick-up is relative to the terminals), but not by much.

                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                            Hong Kong Flower Lounge
                                                                                                                                            51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

                                                                                                                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                              I'm sure others will fill you in as Dim Sum is not my major thing. However, if you go thru SF. Yank Sing is right on the Embarcadero and has validated parking. If you are running late they have a to-go option.

                                                                                                                                              It is in a beautiful building, a restored 1930's WPA post office with a large open court and a fountain area that rains from the ceiling. There are mixed reactions on Yank Sing. Some people really, really into dim sum feel it is pricy and the Burlingame options are better.

                                                                                                                                              YS is very accessible to non Chinese though when I am there it is mainly Chinese diners. I was introduced to dim sum through YS and I have introduced quite a few people, friends and business associates to dim sum here. It always worked for me. Everyone was happy.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                Hm this looks nice. How "pricy" is it??
                                                                                                                                                I still feel that we would want something closer to the airport.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                  Here's their to-go menu which gives a little bit of an idea
                                                                                                                                                  http://www.yanksing.com/to-order/inde...

                                                                                                                                                  The problem with YS is they have some special pricy dim sum dishes.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                    If you do dim sum, I'd definitely stick closer to the airport: way less chance of traffic, easy and cheap metered street parking, and a good value. Yank Sing is great, but you'll have to find and pay for expensive downtown parking, and the food will not be cheap. And then you have to navigate downtown San Francisco, whereas if you stay closer to the airport many of the dim sum places are just off the freeway and easy to find.

                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                    Yank Sing
                                                                                                                                                    49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                                                        I hope she gets specific recs, but a note that Yank Sing validates parking

                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                        Yank Sing
                                                                                                                                                        49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                          Dim sum near airport: Hong Kong Flower Lounge is right off the freeway near the airport (less than 5 minutes). Other nice options that are close to Hong Kong Flower Lounge are: the Kitchen, Zen Peninsula, and Asian Pearl (the one in Millbrae-I hate this autolink thing). All of the above places are fairly upscale, and I would go with HKFL for sheer convenience.

                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                          Hong Kong Flower Lounge
                                                                                                                                                          51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

                                                                                                                                                          Zen Peninsula
                                                                                                                                                          1180 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sfbing

                                                                                                                                                            Great. Its on the list.
                                                                                                                                                            Is there any chance of any good sushi options? I know I said we didnt want sushi b/c we have alot of it here, but it would be fine for that particular lunch where I just think ordering a few small a la carte dishes would be best.
                                                                                                                                                            Though I am still hooked on the idea of a sandwich/soup/salad place on that route.
                                                                                                                                                            Is it hard to park at HKFL?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                              HKFL has a lot. I have never bothered, since there is usually plenty of street parking.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sfbing

                                                                                                                                                                  This is confusing to me.. look at mapquest re: from SFO to HKFL. It says you basically have to go north then back south?
                                                                                                                                                                  http://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=en&...

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                    It's been a while since I was there, but isn't HKFL on Millbrae Ave? That map shows it on El Camino Real on the same block as Asian Pearl.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                      Yeah, I don't think that address is right. The HK Flower Lounge that I've been to (and like) is at 51 Millbrae Ave., right near the intersection of Millbrae Ave. and El Camino Real.

                                                                                                                                                                      Anyway, it's super close to the airport; it's just one exit down. Technically, "backwards" from where you're going, but you'll be at the restaurant from the airport in like 5 minutes, as others have said.

                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                      Hong Kong Flower Lounge
                                                                                                                                                                      51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                                                                                                        It might depend on the car rental company. Many of them are NW of the airport towards San Bruno. If it's one located in the SFO Car Rental Center, the drive to HKFL would be more like 10 minutes in the wrong direction according to Google Maps.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                          Apparently the car rental company is at the car rental center so it seems the HKFL is backwards.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                            It's only a mile, and both the car rental center and the restaurant are right off the 101. Seriously, you're talking about extending your trip by sixty seconds each way.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                              Going 60 miles an hour in that minute?

                                                                                                                                                                              You know, I personally wouldn't eat near the airport unless doing takeout. That stretch of 101 can get backed up for no reason any time of the day .. .maybe there's a ball game, they are doing construction, there is an accident.

                                                                                                                                                                              If dying of hunger when getting off the plane, just pick up a pastry at the airport and get safely into SF or over the Bay Bridge depending on the route. There are so many potential bottlenecks on the way to Healdsburg, that initial stretch of 101 being the first of them. I'm someone who always underestimates drive times ... unless it is something like this when I give myself LOTS of error time.

                                                                                                                                                                              I'll never forget being an hour late to a dinner in Sonoma on THANKSGIVING DAY because for no apparant reason ... really none ... there wasn't an accident or event ... it was THANKSGIVING ... everybody should have been home ... but the route you will travel to get to Healdsburg was bumper to bumper.

                                                                                                                                                                              There's weird traffic mojo along certain stretches of road in the North and East Bay.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                Okay this is good advice.
                                                                                                                                                                                I think we will try to zip out of there and get to cafe fanny or cheese board or has anyone been to Sauls Deli (any good?)
                                                                                                                                                                                I like having a few options so my bf has SOME choice in all the food he is going to eat and pay for.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                  Saul's sort of stinks. They have a few items that are decent, but very few.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Another option on the East Bay route is T-Rex. It is straight off the Gillman Street exit So you don't have to make turns like for Cafe Fanny or drive as far as Cheeseboard.
                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.t-rex-bbq.com/Lunch.html

                                                                                                                                                                                  Looking at the current lunch menu, they seem to be on the heavy side, but there are salads and they are always changing the menu with the seasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                                                  Cafe Fanny
                                                                                                                                                                                  1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, I love dim sum, but if I were you I would want to get over the bridge and on my way as soon as possible. You can always go to Yank Sing instead of Tadich etc. on your Union Square shopping day (it's about a 2 minute BART stop or 15 minute walk from Union Square, and you can make a reservation there).

                                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                                    Yank Sing
                                                                                                                                                                                    49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                      Cheeseboard and Cafe Fanny are both much farther from the freeway than the dim sum places in Millbrae. If you take the route several of us have recommended you'll be on and off 101 in a couple of miles. Random traffic can happen anytime, anywhere -- rworange's suggestions are no more or less prone to some traffic snafu than any others. My concern is that you eat as early as possible and get on the road, rather than mess around in various downtown areas.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Hong Kong Flower Lounge: get off at Millbrae Ave., turn right, go a couple of blocks to El Camino and it's on the corner on the other side of El Camino to the left. Parking behind the restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                      If you want a sandwich and don't want to backtrack as much as a mile, then you might want to check out Darby Dan's. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/26082

                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                      Hong Kong Flower Lounge
                                                                                                                                                                                      51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

                                                                                                                                                                                      Darby Dan's
                                                                                                                                                                                      733 Airport Blvd, South San Francisco, CA 94080

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanksgiving is actually one of the worst driving days of the year. Everyone is on the freeway trying to get somewhere for dinner, just like you were.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                      Google Maps says 10 minutes and that the distance is 4.1 miles if you take 101. For comparison, according to the same source, you can get to Yank Sing in downtown SF in 19 minutes in good traffic. Or to the Golden Gate Bridge in 27 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                        Google Maps is wrong. It has the restaurant on El Camino Real, when it's actually at 51 Millbrae Ave. http://www.mayflower-seafood.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                        It's 1.0 miles on 101 from the airport exit to the Millbrae Ave. exit. There's a little driving on the surface streets, but less than you'd expect to do looking for a parking spot in the city. And yes, in the middle of the day in the middle of the week, it's a fair bet that traffic on the freeway will be moving at or near 60 miles per hour. If not, it's just as likely to be backed up at 12:01 as at 12:00.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                          Go to Google Maps and get directions from
                                                                                                                                                                                          780 McDonnell Road, San Francisco, CA
                                                                                                                                                                                          to
                                                                                                                                                                                          51 Millbrae Avenue Millbrae, CA
                                                                                                                                                                                          and see what it says for yourself.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                                                                                            Ah, there's the rub. I was looking at the trip from the airport parking garage. It's another 1.2 miles on the freeway from the McDonnell Road location. So change "sixty seconds" to "one hundred fifty seconds."

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                              Okay everyone, before this goes on anymore. I am not officially paranoid about getting to Napa.
                                                                                                                                                                                              My flight gets in at 10:30. I should be all ready to go (hopefully, I dont know your airport) by 11:30... that technically gives me 6 hours before my TFL reservation. Is there ANY *likely* way that I could miss this? I know you all said before to fly into Oakland, but they dont fly from TO. There also was no way we could fly on thursday due to scheduling conflicts so all I can do is hope my flights not delayed.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Regardless, Ive decided I want to just get out of the city ASAP so we will perhaps just pick up a snack in the airport, and another small lunch/snack once we cross the bridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                Good grief. You need TWO snacks/lunch before dinner at TFL ???? :) Why not just pack something to bring with you. I've done that many times when flight departure/arrival times don't coincide with regular meal times. Flights in SFO are frequently delayed, traffic can be bad. Without any big hangups, I could see it being 3 before you get there. Wouldn't you rather just relax? That's a special meal. I think you're making a good decision.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                  HA. when I said a snack.. I guess I really meant like 100 calories worth.. apple/banana and ONLY if starved. I will just bring some accessible emergency snacks to hold the boy over till we can get out of town. Thats what I always do for him anyways.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Don't Be Paranoid.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  All of this traffic talk is crazy if your flight gets in at 10:30. You'll be in your car by 11:30, maybe sooner as flights get in early these days, and a worst case is to be in napa by 1 if you drove immediately. TFL's garden isn't *that* nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pick a SF neighborhood you'd like to walk and poke around in for a few hours, and I'd target crossing a bridge by about 3:00. The mission's nice - murals, taco snacks, some high end ice cream, a little historical interlude. If you wanted to do the GG bridge (walk half way across), midday on a weekday is good (which puts you on the marin path and having a light lunch at Fish or something).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  You've got a few hours that are perfect for some touring, make the most of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Certainly true that you don't want to cross at 4 then feel rushed and stuck in the grind that's 80 east, but even 3:30 should be fine. Target 3 and relax.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                                    When I lived in San Pablo, I was up in wine country, if not once a week, at minimum two times a month. About half those trips involved some sort of stupid traffic problem at some point along the route ... and the time of day was often irrelevant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    If the plane gets in as scheduled at 10:30 and there's only a one hour wait at the airport, even then I'd get across the bridges asap. On either route there are two more bottlenecks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Abbey should just be aware of it. FL is not like another restaurant where they will just change your reservation time. Lingering in SF until 3 or 3:30 would be extremely unwise. I guarantee she would not make her reservation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Driving across the GGB at 3 might be fine, but by time you get to San Rafael, there is that traffic bottle neck. Then there is the bottleneck across 37 ... god help you if the racetrack has an event that day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    On the other route acrross the Bay Bridge, once you clear Berkeley there is an occasional backup near 37. There is always the backup on the stretch between Napa and Yountville.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    No, she doesn't need to be paranoid, but aware. For me, this would be beyond my personal comfort zone. If I had to do this, I'd mentally prepare that something could go wrong and have backup dinner plans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                      A 10:30 am arrival is much better than the 12:30 arrival I had in mind for my previous posting above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hungreyabbey: I don't know what August dates you're coming, but here's a link to the Infinium Raceway schedule:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.infineonraceway.com/schedu...

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Indy Grand Prix is scheduled for 8/20-22, but even so, Friday traffic should still be okay -- As RWO said, just be aware and don't linger in SF -- there's plenty of opportunity to unwind, refresh, and relax at your destination and when you return to SF.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Have a grand time and please report back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Alright everyone. I feel- somewhat better.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I called the airport today to see if the flight was delayed (8 am is the one I took).Ha, you can make fun of me, but Im going to keep tabs on how often its delayed. Im trying to mentally prepare myself.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I asked my bf if we could charter a flight if worst comes to worst- he gave me the look, HA.. so I guess I have to just cross my fingers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Im coming before the 20-22 so thats good that we will miss the races.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        And Im going to do the Easy Bay route.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        We're going to get a GPS for us in case we can wiggle around any minor hiccups.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Please note that the eastbay requires three passengers to ride in the carpool lanes, while the northbay only requires two. Also, the stretch of Hwy 80 from the bay bridge to Richmond is probably as bad as any in the world. Double that on a Friday afternoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                                                                                                            +1. It once took me over four hours to get from a meeting in the Financial District to the far side of Vallejo. And yes, it was on a Friday afternoon. Why I didn't take Amtrak is something I'm still not sure of.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Four hours is really, really rare. I think leaving 2.5 hours for a 1 hour 10 minute drive is reasonable, but you current commuters would know best. Saying 2:30 still gives a couple of hours to loiter by the water. Loitering at a nice winery isn't a bad thing, either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Regarding carpool lanes - consider renting a two-seater! "two in a two" gets you in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Also, the statement about TFL "not just moving your reservation" makes it sound worse than it is. The reality is also true they're not going to give your table to someone else if you're 10 minutes late - and they don't do walk-ins. Of course you want to be on time, but in some sense they'll be more forgiving - just call to say you're on your way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                So what is the Amtrak??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                So which is worst? which is faster??
                                                                                                                                                                                                                We got a Jeep I think? will that allow me in the "commuter lane"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Amtrak. Train. choo-choo. Not worth it for you.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Jeep has > 2 seats, so you'd need 3 people to hit the carpool lane.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    At this point, I think people are stressing you out a little too much about this. If your flight isn't delayed (or even if it is a little delayed) you should have no problem getting to Yountville on time. Unless there is a major accident, you will be okay. The big news stations where they have every 10 minutes traffic reports are 740 and 810, turn one of those on in the car when you get it, and listen for the ride on 80 and 29, and the Bay Bridge. Grab sushi in the airport if you're hungry then, if not wait until you get to Berkeley and get something quick at some of the places listed, and you won't have a problem. And make sure you already have cash on hand for the toll!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Forget Amtrak, Alan was kidding. It is a train that won't help you at all. Take the Bay Bridge route, straight up the freeway to the East Bay. When you are there, hopefully at noon, make a left and go straight to Napa. The car pool lane is not in effect at noon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I was going to Sacramento, not Napa. Amtrak (the US national passenger rail service) is not a viable option for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is getting a little crazy! Don't try to go through the City - just cross the Bay Bridge and head up to the Valley via 80 - no worries about the raceway, no worries about City traffic, etc. You will be FINE. Just don't try to stop anywhere for longer than an hour or so - you could swing by 4th St. in Berkeley or Cafe Fanny, both are close to the fwy and there's nothing worth checking out between there and Napa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  not to mention that fresh off a flight i doubt you're dressed and ready to stroll into TFL, which is keen on jackets for men.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i'm sure they can find a way to occupy themselves. i recall a really fun shop just up the street full of amazing industrial and vintage furniture and also served as the shop/tasting location for a winery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    According to their site, jackets are required. So more than keen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i was just trying to soften the tone a little.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      we had a last minute reservation and they kindly loaned a jacket to my dining companion. they measured him up perfectly, i'd almost choose to forget a jacket if we go again just to see how well they sized him up next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Good point. Although a blazer could be the jacket that the bf is going to need if SF is its usual cold and foggy. (which BTW we love.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As a guy that commutes from Marin to SF 5 days a week, I can honestly say 101 is no longer the nightmare it used to be now that they have added lanes in San Rafael. That is except on Friday afternoons. If I am by myself and wait to 3PM to leave work I am too late. Anything after 2 is trouble.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The good news is that I typically carpool, and the OP is travelling with her hubby, which means car pool lane privileges from south of Mill Valley all the way to the 37 interchange in Novato. Traffic will likely be sluggish getting to the GGB through the City (add 15 min to your calculations), but you will have smooth sailing once you hit the bridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just to add info...going up I-80 to to 29 on a Friday afternoon can be just as crazy with the Tahoe and Wine Country traffic. Same deal, if you're not on the road by 1 p.m...expect hell. Once made the mistake of leaving Berkeley at 3 p.m. to get to Truckee on a summer Friday...bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For Friday the best thing is get out of San Francisco as quickly as possible. .... You may still have traffic but at least you have crossed the bridge bottleneck.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      wolfe Jun 25, 2010 04:32PM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I meant what I said and I said what I meant and a wolfe is truthful 100%.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Get the heck out of Dodge(SF) and if you get to Napa early find some thing to do until dinner, Oxbow,sparkling wine tasting at Domaine Chandon, window shop at Vintage 1870, whatever you're there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ah- I apologise, I'm so confused with all of these different names of highways. I'm trying hard to keep track.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So are you saying traffic is worst on east bridge?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think we have a jeep if that makes a difference for commuter lanes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The eastbay route (80 to 29) is more direct and more congested). The northbay route (101 to 37 to 121) is more scenic with less traffic provided you are at the Golden Gate Bridge by 2:00PM. The one drawback to the northbay route (if you see it that way) is that you will need to drive through San Francisco to get to the bridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.bestinsonoma.com/sonoma_to...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Here's the route via 19th Avenue to GGB which I consider a much better alternative than going through "downtown" SF to 80. Much better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Very helpful thank you.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Call me obsessed and crazy.. but I have been using http://www.traffic.com/controller/rou... to track the traffic trends. hahahaha.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Okay, you're obsessed and crazy :) I will speak only for myself and say if I were having as special a dinner as you are, I'd just get up there. You have plenty of time but what if? If you go straight there, it's not going to matter which route you take. I'm 63 (!!!) and I obsess about getting somewhere in time to prop my feet up and relax. And you will have just finished a long flight with a three hour time change. Pamper yourself. Hard to believe, but there really are times that there are things more important than our next meal :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for the advice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That is my plan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So If I take this route.. and hold off on lunch.. any recos for a spot ON that route once we cross the bridge? Ill be happy to have a relaxing lunch once we cross that bridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's not just getting across the bridge. You can hit snags all the way up. Forget the relaxing lunch; eat the granola bars :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sushi. At. The. Airport. Really.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As we've been trying to explain, there's one route - I-80 - to all the vacation houses in the Sierra mountains. The east bay route to napa congests like crazy all the way up on Friday. So hoof over to the international terminal (centrally located), find Ebizu, get a bowl of noodles or some sushi, then grab the train to the rental cars.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In the 4th Street shopping district in Berkeley, which is right off 80 and on your route, there's Tacubuya, a slightly upscale but casual Mexican place. You could also get takeout from The Pasta Shop (they have good bread and cheese and salumi there, and also lots of freshly made salads). You could also make a stop at Berkeley Bowl (great grocery store well known for their produce), it's right off the Ashby exit off 80, and get some fruit, stop at their deli, get a salad and something to drink, and then you have nibbles for your drive.

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think thats only on my route if I go the east bay.. But according to my travel checks so far, GGB is better at the time Im going. So I want to have options both ways so I can decide once I check the traffic when we land.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Berkeley will only be if I take east bridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have been trying to read other posts, and have seen recos for Pier 15 and Chalet Basquemarin in San Rafael. Am I at all somewhat safe at that point of the journey?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pier 15
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      15 Harbor St, San Rafael, CA 94901

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Just after the Richardson Bay Bridge which is on the flats after descending from the tunnel after the GGB there is an In and Out, Seminary Dr. exit. Very quick on and off the freeway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: wolfe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yay. In and Out would be great. I may have kind of poo pooed the idea in the first place, but now I am craving it. ha.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a Good Idea if you can hold out that long. I had the legendary NYC "Shakeshake" burgers, and I like in-n-out better. Same style, but in-n-out's tastier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Regarding that route: you're allocating 5 hours for a 1.5 hour trip, so for god's sake spend 15 minutes at the GG bridge. Stop at the *far side*, the north side, because the parking's always better, and you get a view of the city. If you're feeling like you have an extra 15 minutes, and the day is clear, drive up to the headlands (10 minutes round-trip drive, straight up, just stop at the first turn-out) for that picture postcard view with the GGBR spread out beneath your feet and the city in the background. For a city with a lot of good views, the headlands view stands out and is very freeway accessible. (Actually, foggy days are slightly better if the headlands are above the fog deck, but that doesn't happen at the hour we're discussing)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My favorite place in San Rafael is a little gas station that got converted into a puerto rican place. Sol Food, 4th and Lincoln. Quirky and fun, one block off downtown, but it looks like they moved into a larger place a few blocks away. Still good?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            San Rafael should have great mexican food, because there's a *lot* of mexicans there. Like a great taco truck. Don't have a specific rec though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Marin Brewing Co makes very, very good beer and a fine burger. Close to the freeway. Very american though, I wouldn't call it worth a trip, unless you're huge into beer. It's probably in the top 5 of west coast breweries, but closer to 5 than 1.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We randomly stopped at Sol Food on our way home from Sonoma, drawn to the lime green paint. I especially loved that they framed a long, nasty letter that they received from a neighbor objecting to the paint color, and put that framed letter by the front door. My kind of attitude. I'd never heard of it before despite my constant monitoring of this board, but decided to give it a go. It was satisfying and fairly priced. The limeade was really great. We now stop there on the way home from Sonoma wineries sometimes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh yeah, Sol Food is a brilliant idea ... Cal-Pureto Rican. And it is such an easy on and off of the freeway. That is about where the San Rafael bottleneck breaks as well. Also there are dishes that are not too heavy for a FL day.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.solfoodrestaurant.com/menu...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That looks so good. Unfortunetly its probably the big heavy cuban sandwiches I am drawn to. Its on my list. I also am not sure if the bf would comply. He said "no Mexican!!" and while I KNOW its not Mexican, he might think otherwise. Ill ask him. Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you ever want to return to SF with this guy, he better get over his reluctance to eat Mexican and Chinese food. They are quite represented in SF. And if he confuses Puerto Rican and Mexican food, I'm not sure there's much hope for him :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Being ankle-deep in a family of picky eaters, and having trired for years, they don't get over stuff usually and it is frustrating to try.. Heck, where I'm currently living, the whole damn country won't eat much except the same food they have eaten for genreations. Anyone trying creativity had better be located in a tourist area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Just a note about the standwiches ... this is Cal-Puerto Rican which means they are not huge and leaden. We are talking the lighter, healthier, organic side of Puerto Rican. Anything here would be way less filling than the mediocre In-N-Out ... and it is only a few highway exits away from the Sausalito In-N-Out

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Also, there's Mexican and there is Mexican. There's the bland Mexican-American many of us grew up with. There's Mexican that covers the basic traditional dishes, burritos, tacos, etc. Then there's contemporary or Cal-Mexican with places like Nopito and Tacubaya ... sort of the Mexican American for the current generation ... where they they use organic ingredients, throw in a few lesser-known dishes and serve smaller portions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Just a note on the little Cubano. This post sent me to Sol Food and as noted it was a generous sandwich.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3727...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: wolfe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          While I realize the OP isn't going to go to Sol Food, my own experience is that it was the smallest Cubano I've ever had and certainly not as fatty or leaden as the burger at IN-N-Out. I'm just saying it ain't the size of something like the Cuban sandwich truck or a real cuban sandwich place. The first two joints listed in that link ... well ... not really Cuban, ya know ... just places that threw a Cuban sandwich on the menu ... though the first one ... since departed ... pretended to have Cuban aspirations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        this is the kind of opportunity I'd use to get people over their mexican thing. "I know you said no mexican ... this is Puerto Rican! We're here anyway, you going to starve?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I also remember the first time I got my dad to eat a burrito. He's generally a good eater, but had a serious attitude about mexican. Not after the first bite, and now claims it never happened and he's always liked mexican.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't like tex-mex much, and I don't like mexican plates (even in mexico), but I love a good DF-style torta, which is close to what these are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And yes, it's a very good idea, and yes, the OP almost certainly won't go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ha- are you guys taunting me? Is this reverse psychology?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I am now MORE motivated to go! HA. I am personally drueling at the sight of those sandwiches... I am putting it at the top of my personal list.. and we will see what happens.. He might be dying and need to do the sushi route.. or he might kick up a fuss in which case I have to surrender.. because, hes paying for this outrageous food trip I have planned.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But I'll have you know, if I get my way.. youll get a report on El Sol. Ha.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          El Sol
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          224 Pacific Ave, Rodeo, CA 94572

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There's a piroshki place around the corner from Sol Foods. Not that that is light food, but one might be enough for your bf if he is a piroshki fan.. These are more like fat fried to-order donuts. The usual and some unusual fillings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you mean Golden Orb I'm afraid folks in Guatemala are among the last to know.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7178...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The more I think about it, I would recommend Sol as a first choice as well. The only reason I did not before is because it is a few block off the freeway as opposed to just off the exit. But the food is good and light, and they do a great job of getting you in & out quickly - even if there is a line.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As for the hubby, stay away from the rice & beans and and there is no way he could confuse it for Mexican. Sol does not serve burritos, tacos, or anything of that sort.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Right. I think it should be okay, as long as we can last that long and dont end up grabbing at the airport.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This place sounds fantastic. I've already forwarded the link to a number of people. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thomas Keller: "Celebrated The French Laundry’s anniversary with what else? In-N-Out burgers!"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://twitter.com/chef_keller

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I haven't been to Chalet Basque, but my understanding is it is qute the haul to get there and the food is mereley ok and they don't do Basque at lunch. Pier 15 has some good breakfast items, the owner once had something to do with Mama's in SF. However, the rest is kind of meh, the parking is a horror, even though it is NEAR the freeway, the maze you have to go to is a real bear ... and you want to get beyond San Rafael ... where there's not much till you hit Sonoma.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you are early and traffic is looking good, stick with Fish or the Sushi joint. If for some reason you are running late, there are two more bottlenecks beyond San Rafael and I'd just try to get to Yountville.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh no, NOT Chalet Basque. I was there recently and for me it was a curiosity I was happy to experience once, but would never recommend to a tourist. Plus, it's out of the way. I think sitting outside at Fish and having a light, quick lunch is a great idea. You have time, really. And it would be fun. Isn't fun the point?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chalet Basque
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      405 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael, CA 94903

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If going the GGB route I would suggest either wolfe's recommendation for In&out in Mill Valley (just note that it is cooked to order and therefore much slower than your typical fast-food place), or hit up Schellville Grill located right on Hwy 121. It's a pretty funky looking place with great food that was recently featured in Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives. By then you will know what kind of time you will be making and if you have time to stop for lunch. I have a feeling you will be way ahead of schedule...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.schellvillegrill.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Schellville Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        22900 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If going as far as Shellville, you might as well just go a mile up the road to Fremont Diner which has a pretty outdoor area set in the vineyards and really good food using locally sourced ingredients from some very good farms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't know, If I were going to go the chain route, instead of In-N-Out at the Strawberry Maill, I'd pick La Boulangerie ... and it would probably be quicker. I really like their quiche lorraine and many people are fans of the cannele.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Fremont Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I love Schellville Grill and Fremont Diner. SG has an ever nicer, IMO, outdoor seating area in the back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fremont Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Schellville Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            22900 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476

                                                                                                                                                                                                                4. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  if you're really interested in a sandwich, I think one of the better ones in the Bay Area is in (adjacent to SFO) Burlingame, at Little Lucca. One of those sum-of-its-parts things, the 'wiches have unexceptional fillings, but really come together with their garlic sauce, on a dutch crunch roll (my preference, anyway). Fast and inexpensive. http://www.littlelucca.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Little Lucca
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  724 El Camino Real, South San Francisco, CA 94080

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Steve Green

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hm that might be okay. Pretty heavy though?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I will look into where the car rental is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    there's a lot of crap sushi options "here". i think you're really discounting the experience of having sushi in california considering they've got ocean shoreline and a lot of what is fished along that coast is shipped off to japan and graded among the highest quality. the best uni i've had was from california and somehow just being that much more south than BC makes it much much tastier. if you're going to be back then perhaps its not necessary to do this trip but just because there's a lot of sushi in toronto does not mean it's any good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fair enough. Thats a good point. If anyone has specific recs for sushi on the way out of town then I would be up for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Honestly, if you have a 5:30 dinner at The French Laundry, I would just stop and grab a salad somewhere not far from the airport and reserve stomach space. I've had and enjoyed the salads at Crepevine in Burlingame, which is an easy ride from the airport -- it's casual, the salads are probably $7-10, and it will be tasty and not filling before you head up to The French Laundry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                      The French Laundry
                                                                                                                                                                                                      6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                                                                                                        This might be a good idea. Ah rworange dont scare me, we couldnt get down on thursday so everyone will just have to pray for me. We get in at 1030 so hopefully even if were a bit delayed, well be okay.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I will look over all of these suggestions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                          There's plenty of decent food at SFO these days, at least in the international terminal and Terminal C (haven't been to Terminal A lately). Since you're coming from the east coast, getting a light lunch when you arrive at the airport should work out OK, and then you'll have plenty of time to drive to Napa. That would be way better than the highly mediocre In-n-Out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think taking 101 straight through the city to the Golden Gate is easier to navigate from SFO - just follow 101 signs through the city - and just as fast. But either way should be fine given that it's mid-day mid-week in summer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Michael

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I just looked at the website of crepevine, which is pretty much what we would be looking for food wise.. the only thing i dont like is that its kind of going backwards 10 minutes.. is there anything within 10-15 minutes that is going north towards the bridge.. something light like that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                            There is a Crepevine in the inner sunset--if you take 280 from the airport (which I find faster than 101 anyway), you'll end up on 19th ave about 10 blocks away. There is also Beautifull!
                                                                                                                                                                                                            (http://www.beautifull.com/ ) nearby which serves similar food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sfbing

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Great suggestions. Ill look into this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                          And now for a suggestion from WAYYYYY out in left field...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          My kids' favorite place to stop for a quick bite after landing at SFO (and one of my guilty pleasures) is the In-n-Out burger on Millbrae Ave. It's right next to the exit from the airport, so you'll be on your way before you know it. Not a gourmet experience by any stretch of the imagination, and the atmosphere is non-existent, but the place **is** a California institution. And the counterpoint of a cheap fast food lunch before dinner at The French Laundry is sort of appealing in a post-ironic kind of way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Honestly, I would have already suggested In n Out except for the early dinner reservation at TFL -- it just feels like it would be too filling, unless they are very hearty eaters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I would probably do In-n-Out myself in this case. If you just get a regular burger or cheeseburger (and not the double-double) and share one order of fries between the two of you, I don't think it's too heavy a meal. And QUICK, which I think should be the very top priority.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              If it's your first time at In-n-Out, make sure you read up online about the "secret" menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              And for what it's worth, I think In-n-Out is far from mediocre if you're comparing it to other fast food chains. Compared to an upscale burger joint, sure. But I'd much rather do In-n-Out as an out-of-state visitor than eat inside the airport (where you'd pay airport-restaurant jacked up prices). And I find the Millbrae location to be pretty reliable, compared to some of the others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've never found In n' Out to be particularly quick. Sometimes you get out fast but 20-25 minutes waits aren't uncommon at lunch or dinner. The cooked to order factor slows things down if there's a line. Given the price it's still worth it a trip but you could wait.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There is sometimes a wait, but I think that for lunch on a weekday, and at that location, you'd be finished eating and out the door w/i half an hour or so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I cant say Im thrilled by the idea of in and out burger.. I dont think I really want a burger and fries meal even if it is several hours before my big meal at TFL.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Even if I have to drive a few extra minutes toward the golden gate bridge, is there anything on route that is typical "light lunch" fare ? aka. sandwiches and salads and soups? I liked the Crepevine reco but again I dont like that I have to travel backwards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you drive along the Embarcadero in SF to get to the GGB, you could hook onto Chestnut Street where there are lots of restaurants and I believe there is another chain similar to Crepevien there. Maybe someone can provide the name.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There's also good food on Chestnut ... am I being less than tactful again? Pluto's Fresh food is a small local chain. Never been but they seem to get positive mentions. I like Grove, but it has been eons since I've been there. I've been meaning to try Acre Cafe based on positive mentions.Lucca Deli has good Italian sandwiches but that might be on 1he heavy side. Lot's more in the Marina District which hugs Chestnut Street.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://search.chow.com/search?board_i...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Should you decide on the Bay Bridge route, if you take the University Ave exit, that will put you near Fourth Street, a quick on and off to the highway. There is Betty's to go (or something like that), the Pasta Shop with a deli, Tacubaya a Mexican restaurant geared to the organic crowd.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you followed University to Shattuck, there is another Crepefine. However, that is almost the equivalent of doubling back to the one near the airport time-wise. Also, that area has much better than that. Should you travel that far, I'd get a slice of California Pizza from Cheeseboard and some baked goods..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Again, I don't think it's feasible to be wandering around the Marina (and looking for parking) when you're on a tight schedule.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          No, I dont really want to be bothered with a hectic parking situation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think In-N-Out or that genre is what makes sense. Dinner at TFL is at 530 for goodness sake. I'd grab a burger and a small drink, eat in the car and get thee to the hotel. As others have mentioned, whether 101 or 80, you have NO idea when there's going to be an accident and you're major delayed. After traveling from Toronto, I think OP would just want to get there, relax a smidge,shower, press out any wrinklesin BF's jacket, etc. Not every meal has to be Chow-worthy. Sometimes it's just fuel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I like this idea a lot for a first timer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I know more than one East Coaster who demands In N' Out upon landing anywhere in California, so it is chow-worthy in its own way. Have a burger each or share a double double, and you'll be good do go at 5:30. Eat while you drive and have more time to rest or explore when you get where you're going.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Pei

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Importantly, there are well-located in-n-outs on 80 north of berkeley.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My picks: a sandwitch at Hazel's in SF. *HALF* sandwitch. Tacos at La Bamba on the El Cerrito/Richmond border, Local 123 if I was a coffee nut, a slice and a pint at lanesplitter, or maybe a skewer at Zataki(?), or maybe a bahn mi in EC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But I really like the grab-at-airport-and-tough-it-out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Basically, anywhere on San Pablo in the east bay is fair game.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    La Bamba
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    12345 San Pablo Ave, Richmond, CA 94805

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Local 123
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2049 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Okay this is good idea. Fast as possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sushi at international terminal at SFO. quick, easy, light and good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Agreed. Ebisu in the international terminal is actually decent food, not just "decent airport food." It's my first choice when stuck at SFO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ebisu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1283 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: artemis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, the key being "when stuck at SFO." When not stuck, get the heck out of there! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Okay everyone, this is becoming a really incredible thread. I am honoured to have been shown so much CH hospitality with all of this assistance. I hope I can return the favour if you come to TO.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Heres the updated agenda.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      FRIDAY
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lunch: I think I would like to go the East Bay route.. It may be less scenic, but if its faster (and thats what mapquest says) then thats the route for me. BTW I'm staying over night at the Rancho Caymus which is in Yountville (even though their address says Napa. It is closer to Yountville).
                                                                                                                                                                                                      So if we can make it over the bridge before lunch I like the idea of Cafe Fanny.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      But I would love some more suggestions re: CLOSE to the airport, easy parking, dim sum is now okay as long as its clean and nice. Or anything else easy to get to on the way to the East Bay bridge.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dinner: TFL (dont freak me out re: the same day flight. We had no other choice adn they didnt fly into Oakland that day from TO. We will all pray).

                                                                                                                                                                                                      SATURDAY
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Breakfast: The only options I have so far are Bouchon Bakery possibly or Bardessono. Both are the same-ish distance and are in Napa. I think I would PREFER however to go from Yountville SOUTH towards Sonoma.. breakfast on the way?? Any ideas?
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Then see some things there before heading to NAPA for lunch . Otherwise Ill be in Napa for breakfast and lunch and Im not sure if theres enough to see in that time frame??

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lunch: Ubuntu (or Sweetie Pie if necessary as a second choice)
                                                                                                                                                                                                      If we do have to be in Sonoma for lunch we could do the Fremont Diner but again, Id really prefer Napa for lunch and something on the way to Sonoma for breakfast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Check into Four Seasons
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dinner: Incanto

                                                                                                                                                                                                      SUNDAY
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Breakfast: Canteen (while trying to restrain oneself.. eek)
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Alcatraz tour
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lunch: Light lunch (oysters) at Scoma. If too busy, then the Tin Fish.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Aquarium and Pier 39 Sea Horses
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dinner: Commis

                                                                                                                                                                                                      MONDAY
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Breakfast: Farm Table. Looks very cute. Unless theres another suggestion thats closer to my hotel at the Four Seasons
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Then were going to go see the Jewish Museum and maybe another museum in the area
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lunch: If we are still shopping in Union first (clothing/higher end stuff) we can do Town Hall or Tadich Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                      If we have already headed to Mission, then Tartine is my first option. HOWEVER, I am concerned re: huge lines. Any alternatives in the area? I asked the bf and he said NO mexican, so although California mexican sounds perfect to me, its not going to happen for the one with the credit card.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dinner: Chez Panisse

                                                                                                                                                                                                      TUESDAY
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Breakfast: Towns End.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Go to Ferry Plaza.. shop around. Pick up a sandwich for lunch to go.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Head to the airport for our 3:30 flight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Tadich Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                      240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bouchon Bakery
                                                                                                                                                                                                      6528 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chez Panisse
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Town Hall Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                      342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cafe Fanny
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Four Seasons Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1163 S De Anza Blvd, San Jose, CA 95129

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sweetie Pies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      520 Main St, Napa, CA 94559

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bardessono
                                                                                                                                                                                                      6526 Yount Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Farm Table
                                                                                                                                                                                                      754 Post St, San Francisco, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fremont Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                      2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Commis
                                                                                                                                                                                                      3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pier 39
                                                                                                                                                                                                      , San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                                                                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Saturday breakfast, the Boon Fly Cafe is just the spot you're looking for -- it's on Highway 12, on the way to Sonoma from Napa (if you're going that way, I'm sure people will chip in with other ways to go), and the food is great. Afterwards you could stop at some of the Carneros wineries (Domaine Carneros is right near there and has a nice tasting and tour, and there are others along that road).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Boon Fly Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                        4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA 94559

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Can't help with breakfast, (I'd prob. just grab a pastry at Bouchon Bakery) but def. recommmend a stop at Domaine Carneros!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bouchon Bakery
                                                                                                                                                                                                          6528 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Domaine Carneros
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1240 Duhig Rd, Napa, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is so complicated that I not sure what and what hasn't been answered so I will only refer to Saturday morning. Rancho Caymus is in the Napa Valley but is in Rutherford 5 miles north of Yountville, home of Bouchon and Bardesso. 12 miles further along with a short jog to the right is Boon Fly. Leave Boon Fly, turn left and go back to the light then left on 29 to Trancas/Redwood Road. Take Redwood Road west to the Hess Collection and see the modern art. and perhaps taste. Back on Redwood road to Soscal Road and south to Oxbow. Check it out then only a few blocks to Ubuntu. Your directions appear confused. If you do lunch at Fremont you are in Sonoma south and west and on a line to 101 and the Golden Gate approach. It took so long to write that Jasmine had a chance to semi agree with me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: wolfe

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Beautiful. This is great advice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well I guess I was thinking Id do Sonoma.. then Napa.. then take the East Gate bridge into town.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Boon Fly it is. I had that on my original list at one point anyways.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            And I appologise for the confusion.. I feel like I am slowly but surely solving this rubix cube.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Boon Fly Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                            4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA 94559

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                              So your geography is a little off: Yountville is north of Napa, Sonoma is well to the west, and San Francisco is south. So if you're staying in Yountville, a better plan than trying to have breakfast in Sonoma (which is about an hour away from Yountville), it would be better to stay in Yountville for breakfast, or go up to Calistoga, and then go to wineries in that area and head south from Calistoga, stopping along the way, until you get to Ubuntu in Napa for your lunch reservation. I love BoonFly, but to go south to go there, then north to Ubuntu, then south again to SF doesn't make much sense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Okay. Then any suggestions for breakfast in Yountville?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  JG, Rancho Caymus is in Rutherford 5 Miles north of Yountville. Maybe a quick stop at Oakville Grocery for some breakfast pastries and coffee in anticipation of Ubuntu for lunch and Incanto for dinner. Distance from hotel 2 miles to grocery. After 10 perhaps a tour at Mondavi .3 miles away then to Oxbow and then Ubuntu then across to 101 and the GGBridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oakville Grocery
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  124 Matheson St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Cafe Fanny is fine, but if it were me, I'd rather grab a ham and cheese croissant from Acme Bread right next door, and then just get a cafe au lait from Cafe Fanny to go with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Note that you can sit down to eat at Cafe Fanny (and most people do), but the seating is mostly outside and faces the small parking lot. Prices are highish for what you get. Again, if your main priority is for this to be quick, I think it's a perfectly fine option.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Acme Bread
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1601 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Cafe Fanny
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you are still looking for a sandwich in the Mission, Tablehopper reports a new deli open at 17th and Guerrero called Clare's: "The menu of sandwiches ranges from a meatball grinder to pastrami to a $3 bologna and cheese on white bread, served 11am-11pm daily." 3505 B 17th St. at Guerrero, 415-621-3505.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Gee whiz, 206 replies...I hope the report back is decent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No, just 206. But way more than I would have anticipated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As I said before, I am truly grateful for all of this help. I hope it can become a resource for future travels.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The best route to take and neighborhood safety are almost as lively topics as the best pizza. It helps though to solicit more suggestions usually.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As to sushi, the best place is supposed to be in Sausalito ... but that means waitigg until you cross the bridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And that bridge cross is BEYOND worth it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh you Canucks are too nice...it must be the health care.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            go to sushi in the international wing of the airport - Ebisu sushi is there and it is very good, fresh sushi, and it's RIGHT THERE so you don't have to drive anywhere, and can just start heading up to wine country after. No atmosphere, but you have the rest of your stay for that. you just want fast, convenient, and light at this point, but good, before your TFL experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            edit: the link below only shows the Ebisu at 19th Street, which is not the one I mean. There is actually one in the International Terminal at SFO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ebisu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1283 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And there are plenty of other non-sushi options in the international terminal food court too, including a very nice won ton noodle soup at Fung Lum. SFO is full of local restaurants, much better than the national chain fare found at most US airports.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Michael

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Great. Thank you. This may be what happens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I live about 3 hours away from SF and go every chance I get! My favorite places include:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Kokkari (Wonderful Greek food, and this is coming from a Greek girl who grew up on homemade spanikopita and baklava.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Boudin Bakery (stop for lunch and get a rustic bread bowl of chowder, and walk off all those delicious calories with a stroll down Fisherman's Wharf or by hitting the stores on Market Street! You have to go here, it's like getting a taste of San Fran itself.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Le Charm (French food, great prix fixe menu, nice and romantic)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Alioto's (Italian seafood. This is the first restaurant I ever at at during my first San Francisco trip as a young girl. It remains a family favorite, because everything is so fresh and the pasta is always excellent.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I will also echo Zuni's, Incanto, and Cafe Madeliene. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I also eat at a lot of Chinese places, but you're not interested in any of that - hit me up if you change your mind!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Alioto's Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        8 Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Since too-much-info is long passed, I'll add my two bits.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Traffic DOES matter. That said, for anywhere West of Napa, I would take 101 via the GGB. In fact, consider the Great Hwy, Ocean Beach, to the Golden Gate via Lincoln Park and Presidio, pause at the Marin Headlands for a picture, then scoot to Sonoma. If you had taken 80 this last Friday, it would have taken you well over 2 hrs to get to Napa. Your current itinerary takes you across the Bay Bridge 3 times, and no GGB! If you do cross the Bay Bridge, do so by 3PM. There's nothing like an out-of-towner to get stuck in the wrong lane while trying to get on the bridge from city streets.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          August heat and crowds in Napa with a heavy cab? I do Napa in winter. Sonoma and Russian River valley is less crowded in summer, and whites and pinot is their thing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Plus, you can hit the very best bakery, Wildflour in Freestone.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ubunto, very nice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yountville and St. Helena, yes, many choices
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chez Panis, very nice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Commis? Rather than cross the bay again, I would hit Spruce, or La Folie, or Quince. All as good or better, IMO.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Coffee? Must try a Philz or Blue Bottle. Both unique, local, and beyond compare.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It all sounds a little ambitious for the allotted time. Taste bud fatigue?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          La Folie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Blue Bottle Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Commis
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sniffage

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Great. Thanks for your suggestions!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Okay my friends.. a MILLION thank yous (or 306 to be exact, wow).. here is my plan. Ha, I have everything premapped with directions to every possible route and descriptions of each option so I dont forget. I have a few different options at times when I dont need a reservation depending on where we end up when we're hungry (and my bfs preferences at the time).. Ha, trying to work on my spontaneity. I am SO excited now and am really as prepared as I possibly can be. Heres the plan. Final hopefully.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            FRIDAY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Lunch:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If at the airport and rushed- >Ebisu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If GGB route-> Sol food, In and out, Schellville grill or fremont diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If East Bridge route-> Cafe Fanny, Cheeseboard, Pasta Shop, Berkely Bowl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Check into Hotel
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Dinner: TFL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            SATURDAY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Breakfast: Model Bakery
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pack up at hotel and go wine touring
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Lunch: Ubuntu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Drive into town
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Dinner: Incanto

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            SUNDAY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Breakfast: Canteen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fishermans Wharf Alcatraz etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Lunch: Scoma and if too busy, Tin Fish
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pier 39 Sea Lions and Aquarium of the Bay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Dinner: Quince

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            MONDAY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Breakfast: Farm Table or Cafe de la Presse
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Jewish Museum and MOMA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Lunch:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If still in Union shopping when hungry-> Town hall or Tadich
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If in Sacremento/ Presidio shopping area-> Curbside Cafe, La Terrasse or Spruce
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If in Mission for shopping-> Tartine Bakery or Clares
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Dinner: Chez Panisse

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            TUESDAY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Breakfast: Towns End
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ferry Plaza shop around.. pick up snacks for the plane ride home

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tartine Bakery
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chez Panisse
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            La Terrasse
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Lincoln Blvd and Graham St, San Francisco, CA 94129

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Cafe Fanny
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Model Bakery
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            610 First Street, Napa, CA 94559

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sea Lion Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            39 Pier, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Farm Table
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            754 Post St, San Francisco, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pier 39
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            , San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              abbey, don't you wish at this point, YOU could lock this thread? LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh ... seriously NOT Tin Fish. At one time this was great ... honest food at good prices. it was a SF landmark called the Eagle Cafe. Then it was bought by a chain. The prices rose and the food is crap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A better choice on Pier 39 is The Crab House which has gotten a number of good reports on Chowhound. It is part of a local chain that also includes the nearby Franciscan. While I haven't eaten at The Crab House, I have eaten at three of their other restaurants. The menus are quite similar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                On the good side ... they serve Acme bread. The mussels are good. I didn't have as much luck with the crab, but I was at their restaurant in Rodeo called The Dead Fish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                On the bad side ... it has its real Olive Garden chain touches. The veggies are a horror. The fish itself can be bad. There are no chefs here, only cooks. So the quality of how the fish is prepared is at the mercy of whatever hired wonk is at the stove .. could be good ... could be bad ... fish roulette. Avoid anything creative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chowders on Pier 39 has had a few positive 'chowder in a sourdough bowl' reports .. the classic tourist dish ... we don't eat that and clams ain't local. However, unlike the nearby Boudin, at least the chowder is made daily and doesn't come from a can.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You do realize that for your Monday lunch you are covering a huge area. Curbside in the Fillmore area is fine but nothing special. There are better restaurants just around the corner though the names are escaping me now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                La Terrace ... I should love it more since I love Chez Spencer so much by the same owner. However, it is French food and the customers are often older rich people from the Presidio with more money than good taste. It is a ladies who lunch type of joint. There is lots of parking and somewhat of a view ... though it is accross the parking lot. I think you can get better Presidio recs ... and this is quite a long way from Curbside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Other than that ... looks good. Bon Provencho

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ha- okay scratch tin fish. Are there any other acceptable oysters in the fishermans wharf area? we probably will have a light lunch of oysters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes I know the monday lunch is a huge area.. it just depends where we are when.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Any other Presidio recs are welcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hopefully someone else can give you some ideas. If I'm In the Presidio area, I'm more likely to head to nearby Chestnut Street in the Marina.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thinking it over, La Terrasse might be the best option in the actual Presidio. Here's a list of restaurants in the park
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.presidio.gov/experiences/r...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Some people like Acre Cafe, but it was a little too healthy, wheat-germy, whole grain bread for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The warming hut is fine but nothing special if you are out near Fort Point

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think the Crissy Point field center is under renovation. The restaurant wasn't much and had something to do with Warming Hut.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Presidio Social Cllub doesn't serve lunch. I haven't been to DIsh which replaced one of my favorite joints that closed years ago. The Presido Bowling Center has been on my to-try list for the burgers, but I don't think a bowling alley is your thing. Don't know anything about Presidio Cafe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The problem in some of these areas is that no one local actually eats there much. So I'd go to Hog Island for Oysters because to be it is nearby.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That being said, in Fisherman's Wharf there is McCormick & Kuleto's, a national chain. It is a business meal sort of place to me where you take clients to stun them with the view. They do have oysters on the menu from Hog Island and other places. so if you stick with that ...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.mccormickandschmicks.com/m...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    They are a bit pricy and you are paying for the view. They do have a good happy hour. They, like The Crab House, are upscale wanna be's. So they try to mimic what is on the menus at good restaurants. I mean, look at that menu ... Raspberry chicken salad with goat cheese ... that just screams some corporate wonk who has no clue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Okay well I put mccormicks on the back up plan in case Scomas is slammed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you so much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This all seems so strange to me. Back in the day, we ate at the Presdio Officers' Club. We went to Crissy Field to see the Fleet come in. I got all of my travel-abroad immunizations at the old, colonial-style Letterman Hospital. How things change.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Dinners at The French Laundry, Incanto, Quince and Chez Panisse sound pretty good to me.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Give yourself some wiggle room on the breakfasts and lunches and things will work out just fine. Off-the-cuff discovery and experimentation can sometimes trump prior planning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The French Laundry
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chez Panisse
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I guess my concern with off the cuff discovery.. is that we will "discover" a tourist trap.. they are positioned just for this type of "discovery". So I have different options for break and lunch to allow that wiggle room (ie. location, timing, hunger, preferences etc).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've mentioned this on other threads and perhaps I did here also several years ago :) There's nothing wrong with a "tourist" place. You're a tourist. Anytime any of us travel, we're tourists. Why do you think it became popular with tourists? One reason is because it's damn good! We went to Babbo a couple of years ago while in NYC. Were there tons of tourists there? I'm sure there were. Was it one of our best meals ever? ABSOLUTELY. In places like SF and NYC, the line is very blurred. Have a great time but, really, try to step into something totally unplanned and maybe even a little scary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well, I sort of agree with that ... but

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Being a tourist in Gautemala, so to speak, the reason I go to a lot of restaurants is because they get written up as wonderful because all the tourists go there and they write it up as wonderful and on and on .. it is the zagut syndrome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So far I'm 1 for 10 in eating at a really good place because I am so out of my element. The locals give me a look of pity every time we eat out and then take me someplace really good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm so tired of tourist food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Just a quick detail tweak.. which would you suggest: Quince or La Folie?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      La Folie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Quince ... and I've been to neither. It is just what I would do. You can get French food anywhere. In California go with more Californnian cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        From the current menu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        squash blossoms
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        dungeness crab, zucchini, fava bean and prosecco sauce

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        liberty farm duck roasted with fresh lavender
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        cranberry bean, sweet pepper salad, artichoke and castelvetrano olive

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        RHUBARB CONCERTO
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        valencia orange, meyer lemon and sicilian pistachio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm starting to tear up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have not been to Quince but La Folie was spectacular. While I agree with rworange that you should stick with Californian cuisine (which it looks like you are already doing), La Folie is a special place in San Francisco. Its a 2 brother family-run operation and has been there since the early 80's. Its rich food though, so not a place for a "lighter" eater-I know you tend to enjoy lighter foods such as salads and fish hungryabbey, so Quince may be a better option afterall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          SWS

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          La Folie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well, not necessary.. I actually am a biggish eater.. my bf is not a big eater though.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am only asking for lighter options for the day time meals so that my special dinner meals can be more thoroughly enjoyed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But I think since we are in California, I will stick with Quince.. the menu is a bit more "interesting" anyways. I just needed reassurance. Ha, I feel like a bride who bought her dress WAY too early and now goes into the shop every week, just to make sure its still right.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We might be having some french-style lunches in there so I guess we will get our fix then.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks everyone again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            La Folie is one of my top 5 restaurants in the city.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Go there!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            La Folie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. So when does the eating in SF actually begin?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              OP said August, no specific date that I could ascertain (but I'm not reading all 325 posts again!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Im sorry. Ha. Aug 13 (yes- I am going to TFL on friday the 13th).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Man, after all that discussion of what could go wrong on the way to the FL, when I read the date I laughed out loud. Here's to a lucky Friday the 13th.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Have you read the latest Fremont Diner posts. Some raves from really reliable chowhounds. Even if you don't eat there, maybe stop by and take a look. If they have fresh fruit popsicles they are always spectacular

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    wow, nice idea. ill look into it.