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Need SFO to Healdsburg route/restaurant and winery ideas/feedback

My bf and I are both foodies/wine lovers in our 40's from Chicago and will be arriving at SFO at 11:30 AM on Wednesday, October 27th.

I have a vision of driving north up the coast and having lunch either in/near SF or within an hour or so further north. Ideally, I'd like a place with an ocean view but know that usually means the food will be sub par. 2 options that sounded interesting - Duck Club and River's Edge - are not open for lunch on Wednesday. Any ideas? Is the drive so beautiful that it is worth the extra travel time even if there are not any good lunch options? Also, after lunch, it would be nice to stop at a winery before we arrive at the Irish Rose B&B outside Healdsburg.

The other option is to take a route from SFO that would go through the town of Sonoma since we may not get there otherwise and have lunch there or along that route and stop at maybe 2 wineries on the way to Healdsburg. We are especially fond of Pinot Noir but enjoy a variety of dry well-made wines. (We have identified several to visit on the rest of our trip.)

If we take the inland route then I'd like to plan a partial day itinerary from Healdsburg to see the coast and redwoods with wineries and lunch on the agenda and would appreciate thoughts on this. (Although, it's now supposed to rain both days we'll be in Sonoma...)

Beyond my original inquiry... We will be in Sonoma for 2 nights before moving to Napa RustRidge Ranch and Winery in the Chiles Valley outside St. Helena for another 2 nights and then returning to SF for 2 days. We have reservations at Botega for Saturday night but are working on the rest of our dining itinerary, too! I've seen so much disagreement among Chowhounds for both Sonoma and Napa that I don't know what to think anymore! Just FYI, we're the type of foodies who would appreciate TFL or Cyrus and have done somewhat the equivalent in other locales but think we can find less obvious and expensive excellent dining options on this trip. More money to spend on wine!

Thank you for reading this long post. Any thoughts will be most appreciated!

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Duck Club Restaurant
3287 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549

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  1. If it is the Duck Club,Lafayette, of which you speak it is out of your direct line to Healdsburg. Better to take the Golden Gate Bridge, perhaps stop in Sausalito for Le Garage and then back on the freeway north. 2 good Pinot Noir places just off the freeway a few miles west and quite close together are Merry Edwards and Dutton-Goldfield.
    http://www.bunrab.com/dailyfeed/daily...

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

    4 Replies
    1. re: wolfe

      Thanks for your suggestions for the direct route! I actually looked at La Garage as well as Cliff House (for non-cuisine appeal!) but thought there might be something on the ocean above SF. I know that taking the Coast Hwy is not a direct route but I thought it would be a beautiful drive after arriving in SF... But, is there anywhere good to eat on the coast drive and is it worth it to take the extra time for the views? Or, should I plan a day trip to the coast from Healdsburg which will cut into winery time?

      1. re: rv60610

        It is rumored that you can see the Pacific Ocean from the Golden Gate Bridge. It is also rumored that the San Francisco Bay was not discovered by Sir Francis Drake because he couldn't see it through the fog. Make a day trip to Bodega Bay from Healdsburg with a stop at Occidental for a meal.

        1. re: wolfe

          I haven't been there but what about Murray Circle at Cavallo Point? View and food. However rain and/or fog could kill that.

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          Murray Circle
          601 Murray Circle, Sausalito, CA 94965

          Cavallo Point
          601 Murray Circle, Sausalito, CA

      2. re: wolfe

        There's a Duck Club in Bodega Bay, as well, although that's quite a detour from the route to Healdsburg for food that isn't as good as places along the direct road.

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        Duck Club Restaurant
        103 Highway 1, Bodega Bay, CA

      3. Keep in mind wed is the first game of the world series , you most probably will experience a delay at airport and youd be best to avoid SF on way to Sonoma.
        In Healdsburg you might enjoy
        http://www.madronamanor.com/
        http://www.h2hotel.com/spoonbar/

        more casual Bistro Ralph
        Enjoy your trip

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        Bistro Ralph
        109 Plaza St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

        9 Replies
        1. re: celeryroot

          I seriously doubt the 5PM game will affect traffic in SF in the early afternoon. Certainly not enough to warrant crossing to the east bay just to go around it. If anything there should be less traffic in the streets.

          1. re: Civil Bear

            Not sure if the 101 would be busier than usual that day, but I'd suggest 380 to 280 and taking 19th through the park to the Golden Gate. In any case, an 11:30 arrival time (with baggage and car rental time) puts the OP over the bridge pushing 1PM. A quick but good lunch in Sausalito might be a good and scenic call. Any suggestions on where?

            In my opinion, taking the coast route, through Bodega Bay, to Sonoma would be pretty much the best way to see some of the most beautiful coastline in the US and would take less time than a separate day trip. Taking Highway 12 back toward Sebastopol and turning North on the Gravenstein Highway might allow quick late stops at Merry Edwards and/or Dutton-Goldfield if the timing works (though they both close at 4:30, so that may not be possible).

            Just my 2ยข

            1. re: Midlife

              Thank you for your 2 cents! The coastal route through Bodega Bay is what I had in mind and hearing that it is so beautiful does reinforce my desire to take the extra time that first day. So, I guess I'm back to the question of where to have lunch on Wednesday! Is there anywhere in Sausalito or Botega Bay other than La Garage that is recommended for lunch? (My bf isn't a fan of sushi or oysters.)

              Also, is Zin a good choice for a casual dinner in Healdsburg? I've read very mixed reviews of it, Ralph's and Barn Diva...

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              Duck Club Restaurant
              103 Highway 1, Bodega Bay, CA

              1. re: rv60610

                Zin would be fine for a casual dinner as would be Scopa , Bistro Ralph and Dry Creek. Wed is neighbors nite and many of restaurants in Healdsburg have specials and free corkage , check web sites.
                Where you will probably run into trouble is the airport as there are a bunch of charters coming in that will tie up airport. The suggestion to take 280 is a good one. Regardless of 5 starting time it will be bedlocked in the stadium area starting early morning as it was in 2002.
                If the weather holds up the BB ride is great , if raining go straight up 101. Ive lived in Healdsburg for the last 5 years ,and we had 4 inches of rain over last 30 hours and there are branches and trees down all over ....which way were you thinking of going over to BB?

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                Bistro Ralph
                109 Plaza St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

                Scopa
                109 Plaza St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

                1. re: celeryroot

                  Thank you for the heads up about the airport and about Wednesday specials.

                  Google seems to give me the route recommended above - 380 to 280 to 19th to 101/Golden Gate to Hwy 1. Will this avoid the possible stadium traffic at that time of day?

                  October isn't supposed to be a rainy month there!!! I can't believe how much rain you've already had and that more is forecast. Obviously, our plans will just have to roll with whatever weather arrives...

                  I would love to visit Dutton-Goldfield and Merry Edwards but probably won't make both that day. Any strong feelings on one over the other as our first winery visit? In either case, I'm starting to think lunch should be more of a quick stop than I had originally thought so we can get up there earlier.

                  1. re: rv60610

                    Yes go that way....... wouldnt go by Marin woods ,the road can be really bad if foggy and windy. http://www.bodegabayandbeyond.com/res... or Lucas valley road. Others might suggest as I go over from Healdsburg.
                    You are sooooooo right abt rain...... very late grape harvest and many winerys are in big trouble rushing to finish before Thursdays predicted storm. The only good thing is we have bearly needed heat. Havent had fireplace going yet.
                    I love Merry Edwards , not familiar with other so no comment. Im not sure if you need an appointment you might give a call.
                    If you go Petaluma way lots of places for a quick lunch. The place at the stock yards is great....not fancy......quick sandwich etc. Others will know name ...only place there. I havent been for abt 6 months.
                    If you go to Zin get fried green beans for app.
                    If running late , there are abt 10 tasting rooms in Healdsburg. Just park car arn the plaza and walk......all nearby. On your way to B&B you will make a left turn off of Healdsburg ave onto Dry Creek . At that corner is a large grocery Big Johns , if you need any provisions ......cheese wine etc stop there . Great store.

                    Im sure you will have a great time regardless of weather.

                    1. re: celeryroot

                      Dutton-Goldfield comes highly recommended and is only down the block from Merry Edwards.
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6856...
                      http://www.duttongoldfield.com/

                    2. re: rv60610

                      >>"Google seems to give me the route recommended above - 380 to 280 to 19th to 101/Golden Gate to Hwy 1. Will this avoid the possible stadium traffic at that time of day?"
                      100% Yes. You will likely witness the usual backup getting on to 19th Ave, and the annoying stoplight every third block or so, but the ballgame will have zero impact along that route.

                      >>"I'm starting to think lunch should be more of a quick stop than I had originally thought so we can get up there earlier."
                      Know that any stop in Sausalito will not be quick, as the restaurant part of town is not adjacent to the freeway.

                      You may want to consider having lunch off of 19th, as you will be rolling through a couple of SF's more chow-worthy neighborhoods (Irving in the Inner Sunset and Clement in the Inner Richmond) just in time for lunch. There are tons of non-touristy options in these areas, so you should get plenty of recommendations if you provide you preferences. One of my favorite lunch spots is PPQ for cheap & quick Vietnamese.

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                      PPQ Vietnamese Cuisine
                      1816 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                  2. re: rv60610

                    If you're in Healdsburg now, Andrea Immer Robinson MS has put out a casting call for extras for her filming today at Zin Restaurant, 11:30 to 1pm. Lunch special and Russian River Valley wines. I mention it not so much that you'd want to be on camera but that it could be interesting to observe and/or a spot you might want to avoid for lunch during shooting.

            2. In the Somoma area, Vineyards Inn and Fremont Diner.

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              Fremont Diner
              2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA

              Vineyards Inn
              8445 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA 95452

              1. Marshall might be a good lunch stop for you if you're taking the coast route. For a quick stop, the Marshall Store is fast, reasonably priced and delicious. (Hurrah for retail for beer and wine!) Though oysters are the big draw there, they do have a limited menu of other stuff . (Their clam chowder is pretty good). If you want more variety in the menu, Nick's Cove (also in Marshall) has a great view and though I haven't been, I hear that it is good.

                http://www.themarshallstore.com/\

                http://www.nickscove.com/

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                Marshall Store
                19225 Hwy 1, Marshall, CA 94940

                Nick's Cove
                23240 Hwy 1, Marshall, CA 95450

                1. If you do take the coast route up, and it's not raining, stop at Spud Point Crab Shack in Bodega Bay, for the absolute best clam chowder EVER! However, it's really just a crab shack with a few tables out front, so if it's raining it won't work. We had a quite decent, but not outstanding, lunch recently at the Sandpiper in Bodega Bay. (We went to Spud Point for chowder but it was closed, but it's back open now.) There is a nice ocean view, service was friendly and very good, and the food was fine. Neither of these places is at all expensive, if that helps.