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Jul 21, 2010 09:11 AM

Comments for our San Fran & Napa Itinerary

I have thoroughly enjoyed using Chowhound as a resource to plan our family's trip to San Fran & Napa. We are traveling there from Charleston, SC for a cousin's wedding. I would love any comments or suggestions for the itinerary I've planned!

Thursday - we'll arrive, and we have the rehearsal dinner at Caminos in Oakland

Friday - Day trip in San Fran, we're thinking of touring Chinatown (eating lunch at R&G Lounge, and ordering the S&P crab) and then making our way around North Beach areas.

Saturday - Morning trip to the Ferry Building for the Farmer's Market, and an early lunch at Hog Island Oyster Bar. Wedding takes place Sat. night.

Sunday - heading up to Napa! We are staying at the Inn @ Southbridge in St. Helena. I'm trying to decide between stopping along the way up at Domaine Carneros, Jessup Cellars and grabbing a quick lunch (suggestions welcome) or picking up our lunch at Sunshine Market and going to Pride Mountain for a picnic. We have to be at Schramsberg at 1:30 for our tour. Then we need to be at Frank Family Vineyards by 3:45. I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to drive up to Pride Mtn, or be able to stop at a few more. Any other suggestions in the Calistoga/St.Helena region that we could fit in after Frank Family? I know that's getting late.

Dinner Sunday night at Go Fish

Monday - Gillwoods for breakfast, then to Frog's Leap, Mumm Napa, Lunch somewhere (again suggestions welcome), Cakebread, Robert Mondavi (my brother-in-law really wants to go here), then hoping to have time to visit Peju and Cliff Lede.

Dinner Monday - something more casual. We may try to go have appetizers and drinks for sunset at Auberge du Soleil bar??

Tuesday - Back to San Fran! We're doing the Blazing Saddles bike ride over to Sausalito's, and I think we're going to have lunch at either Horizons, Scoma's or try to go up to Fish or Le Garage. We still need to decide about dinner that night too - we've heard Frances, Nopa, Zarzuela, Foreign Cinema, or even just going to Delfina's Pizza and then to Bi-Rite for some ice cream!

Wednesday - GoCars (I know, very touristy) and doing the Urban Parks Tour to see the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, Twin Peaks, Alamo Square, etc. I feel like it's a good way to get to see all of that.

I'm not sure about lunch - I would LOVE to go to Swan Oyster Depot - but I know that might be challenging with 6 people.

The three guys with us are doing an Alcatraz tour, while the girls shop around. Then we're having dinner at Zuni Cafe that night.

Sorry! I know this is a long post, but I just wanted to get some feedback before we leave! Thank you so much for any suggestions!!!

Zuni Cafe
1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Delfina Restaurant
3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Swan Oyster Depot
1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Foreign Cinema
2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

Frank Family Vineyards
1091 Larkmead Ln, Calistoga, CA

Domaine Carneros
1240 Duhig Rd, Napa, CA

Le Garage
85 Liberty Ship Way Ste 109, Sausalito, CA

Go Fish
641 Main St, St. Helena, CA 94574

Gillwoods Cafe
1320 Napa Town Ctr, Napa, CA 94559

Soleil Restaurant
625 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

Alamo Square Cafe
711 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94117

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  1. Owned by the same folks as Auberge du Soleil, you might check out the Michelin starred SolBar at Solage. A little further north, just south of downtown calistoga. great food, outdoor dining and a nice view. you can do a meal for the price of apps at Auberge.

    I really wasn't impressed with Domaine Carneros. Some other southerly recommendations, Robert Sinskey or Stag's leap.

    Peju is almost across the street from Mondavi so that should be easy.

    Instead of heading up to Pride, which IMO has gone WAY downhill since Foley left, explore Howell Mountain. MUCH better wine of late and some interesting characters. Outpost is a drive to Angwin but one of my favorites. Not quite on HM, but Anderson's conn valley is highly recommended. They do their tasting deep in their caves now and you'll likely taste with one of the owners. Both require an appt.

    Domaine Carneros
    1240 Duhig Rd, Napa, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: openhelix

      Thank you! That might be better to have drinks/apps at Solbar than Auberge.

      I checked about Anderson's Conn and they are actually closed on Sunday. I will look into the others as well.

      1. re: mcrae1021

        I like Solbar . . . however you will be forfeiting an amazing view/ambiance at Auberge

    2. I concur in skipping Domaine Carneros, way too touristy for me. A much better bet and right across the street is Cuvaison's new tasting room. Beautiful views from an outdoor patio that is right in the middle of the vineyards, plus a totally green and very modern building. If you can do lunch in Carneros, I really like the Boon Fly Cafe. Another place I like for lunch off Route 29 is Brixx - they grow all of their own produce and herbs there and you can walk around the gardens all while enjoying your lunch on the patio and taking in the surrounding vineyards (sigh). Maybe for your casual dinner on Monday, Bounty Hunter in Napa (one of my faves) - a wine bar/restaurant/wine shop with hard to find, unique wines and their signature dish is beer can chicken. Oh it is fantastic even if it is cooked over a can of Tecate! A must do for your casual night in my book.

      I also second the recommendation on Robert Sinskey - great wine and food pairing. Maybe a look into Paraduxx is worthwhile? Again a beautiful setting and great wines - they serve you under the oak trees (I think that is what they are) in the Reidel tumblers with some cheese to pair with the wines.

      As for a winery to work in, I have to promote Heitz Cellars in St. Helena. Incredible wines - all 100% varietal and 100% Napa Valley - they are famous for their single vineyard cabs that can age 20 -30 years. I've recently had a couple of their 1999 single vineyards and they are fabulous. Small very chill tasting room and there is no tasting fee so you can spend your money on wine instead.

      As for some others, I have been to Go Fish in St. Helena - awesome. I was also just at Fish in Sausilito - very enjoyable - gosh their fish is fresh! A few of my favorite SF dinner spots are 1550 Hyde, Town Hall and Slow Club (definitely off the beaten path with this one) - Foreign Cinema and Zuni are also top spots in SF. I need to still try a couple on your lsit. If you can work in oyster happy hour ($1 oysters until 6PM) at Waterbar on the Embarcadero, you will be very happy indeed - just down the street from Hog Island, which is also good but no happy oyster hour and the view of the Bay Bridge and bay is sweet at Waterbar (can you tell I like places with nice views)?

      Okay, I really could go on and on, but I guess I should get back to work now:(

      Zuni Cafe
      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

      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

      1550 Hyde
      1550 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      Foreign Cinema
      2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

      Domaine Carneros
      1240 Duhig Rd, Napa, CA

      Go Fish
      641 Main St, St. Helena, CA 94574

      9 Replies
      1. re: bellemdm

        Oh thank you so much!!! I think I just got even more excited - if that's even possible!! :)

        I had looked into Cuvaison, so that's great to hear a positive review! I'll also look into Boon Fly Cafe and Brixx. I've also heard great things about the beer can chicken at Bounty Hunter, so we may have to check that!!

        I'll also look into Robert Sinskey & Parduxx. Might be a good idea to be able to do a food/winery combination instead of making a separate stop for lunch! I really like the sounds o Heitz as well - especially being right in St. Helena.

        I love a good view as well, so thank you for the San Fran suggestions - I'm sure I can find a way to work in a $1 Oyster Happy Hour!!

        Oh! I'm also excited because I just got a reservation at Bourbon & Branch for some drinks!

        Boon Fly Cafe
        4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA 94559

        Bourbon & Branch
        501 Jones St, San Francisco, CA

        1. re: mcrae1021

          When you are heading up to Napa, where will you be heading up from? You seem to be East Bay based.

          There are a lot better places to pick up a picnic lunch than Sunshhine Market on the trip up. It just happens to be one of the better of some pretty sad options in that area.

          So where will you be driving from and about what time? I am guessing you are leaving relatively early in the morning. That would be a consideration in making recommendations.

          Brix has a WONDERFUL Sunday brunch buffet, but it may be out of you way on that day. Not sure if they still have their happy hour weekdays, but it was a fabulous bargain with some terrific food and drinks from their menu at half price.

          I would not skip DRINKS at sunset at Auberge. There are a million places with nice patios and views. But that sunset view at Auberge is at the top of the list. As the sun sets the view goes all Monet with different shades coloring the vista. Can't say what the current food is like, but they have had major ups and downs over the years.

          If you are in the area of Boon Fly, about 20 minutes down the road is Fremont Diner which is way superior, IMO. There are some recent very positive reports.

          Fremont Diner
          2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA

          1. re: rworange

            We will be leaving from Berkeley (that's where we're staying for the wedding). Hopefully, we'll leave around 9 or 10am.

            We are definitely not stuck on Sunshine - just heard it was a good option. The only thing we have to do is get to Schramsberg by 1:30 for our appointment there. The rest of the morning is wide open. I went ahead and canceled Pride Mountain because I thought it was too far with our short amount of time.

            I will look at Brix and Fremont Diner to see about them - thanks for the suggestion!

            I like the idea of doing drinks at Auberge for sunset too (I can pretend I'm staying there!) and maybe one appetizer or something. Definitely not trying to have a meal there.

            Thanks again!!

            7377 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA 94558

            Fremont Diner
            2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA

            1. re: mcrae1021

              Honestly, if you're leaving from Berkeley, you can get a lot better picnic options in Berkeley -- stop at Acme and get bread, Cheeseboard for cheese and olives, and either Pasta Shop or elsewhere for meats and salads. Or if you have access to refrigeration, you can get most of your picnic supplies at the Ferry Plaza the day before, and then just pick up your bread on Sunday morning.

              1. re: JasmineG

                Thank you! I didn't even think about that - I'm sure I'll want to take the whole Farmer's Market home with me - great idea!

                1. re: mcrae1021

                  Acme Bakery on Cedar opens at 8:30 Sunday. Same parking lot al fresco breakfast at Cafe Fanny and then short hop to freeway.

                  Cafe Fanny
                  1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                  1. re: mcrae1021

                    I forgot that Cheeseboard was closed on Sundays, but if you can use a fridge, definitely pick up cheese there on Saturday, or at Cowgirl at the Ferry Plaza (or some of the other great cheesemakers at the market). The prices at Cheeseboard will be the best, though, and they have an amazing selection.

                  2. re: JasmineG

                    Yes, even if you don't have a fridge, there are lots of fabulous fruit and veggies you can buy at Ferry Plaza to take with you on Sunday. It is really your best fruit option.

                    Unfortunately, Cheeseboard is closed on Sunday. Even if it were open, at that hour you would be limited to pre-cut cheese.

                    If you don't leave until 10, one option would be to stop by The Pasta Shop on Fourth St which opens at 10am. They have a nice cheese selection that you can get cut fresh. I'm not in love with everything in their deli. Some looks better than it tastes. Still there is some good stuff and many artisan cold cuts. They will give you a sample of anything, so you can try it out. Then you could hook onto San Pablo Ave and get some bread from Acme. If you are a little early, you could stop at Acme first which opens at 8:30

                    Another option is driving through the city of Napa on the way up and stopping at the Oxbow Public Market. This would be my first choice.

                    I sort of consider this a mini Ferry Plaza north. There are shops like the cheese store, wine store and Hog Island that also are at Oxbow. Model Bakery has some nice bread, baked goods and salads. Next door Fatted Calf has some great artisan cold cuts. They have a really nice porchetta sandwich you could bring as picnic fare. As mentioned, the Cheese Shop is owned by Cowgirl. IMO, they have a better selection than the SF location and a more knowledgable staff. There is a wine shop in the same room.

                    There are fans of Sunshine on the board who don't seem to get Oxbow. On the other hand, I just don't understand the allure of Sunshine other than being in the immediate area with limited options. Then again, my home base was closer to SF and I'm used to better options food-wise in markets.

                    Some other stops to consider

                    You are leaving a little early for La Bedaine in Berkeley which opens at 10:30 on Sunday. However, if you get a late start or have a fridge, you might consider stopping by. They make amazing French pastriy at amazingly reasnable prices.

                    They also have fabulous house-made pates and sandiches. Fatted Calf is good, but what La Bedaine does, far surpasses what any other artisan food purveyor is doing .. and at half the price

                    I am not a fan of Thomas Keller or Bouchon Bakery. Hoevever, they do a few things well. I like the breads. I think the other baked goods are a rip-off and not that great tasting .. except the donuts. Lots of people like the fois gras, but I don't eat that, so can't say. The other prepared food is pricy and, IMO, you can get better elsewhere. Good potato chips, but they have an outside vendor make them. Still, if you need bread for your picnic, not a bad stop in Yountville on your ay up.

                  3. re: mcrae1021

                    If you're leaving from Berkeley, I would get picnic supplies from the Market Hall branch of the The Pasta Shop which I think has a larger selection than the 4th Street one. They open at 10. I commute between Berkeley and St Helena often, door to door, it takes me about an hour and a half. I take the Silverardo Trail not 29 which can be very slow.

                    I'm not too much of a fan of Oxbow just because I think their selections are limited and more expensive than what is ib Berkeley.

                    For Monday dinner, there is a Pizzeria Tra Vigna right next to the Inn at Southbridge which had good casual food. Market further up the street has good solid American classics, Vercelli's has good Italian standards. They do not charge corkage, so if you end up buying buying wine on your visits, you can bring them along.

                    The view is great at Auberge, but the service can be snooty.

                    I second, Stag's Leap, Sinskey and Heitz.