Early Peninsula Dinner - Cupertino to the Airport
my all-time favorite before flying (or after, if it's not too late) is Fiddler's Green Irish Pub and Restaurant in Millbrae...on El Camino, never too crowded, perfect pint of Guiness, Irish comfort food like shephard's pie, fish and chips, lamb chops, fantastic Irish Breakfast...never, ever disappoints.
I beg to differ. You absolutely have time to dawdle.
4:00 close -> 4:30 to woodside. Backtrack: arrive at the airport at 7:00, return car, in terminal at 7:30, and you've got plenty of time. Woodside is 30 minutes from SFO (thanks to the straight shot on 280), thus giving you a full two hours, far more than is necessary to dine at the bar. Given the level of service there, you could tell them exactly when you'd want the check placed, and they'd make it happen. The only problem being the fact that they don't open until 5:00. So you could just give yourself the extra half hour and walk in at 5 on the dot, or dawdle at Roberts Market, recently noted for a good wine selection - or my Madrona rec, which is the same general direction (upscale michelin one-star).
280 never has traffic on a saturday. The google timings will be correct.
Millbrea is a 1 hour drive, so you arrive directly at 5pm, with only a 10 minute drive to the airport. Two hours for a healthy chinese meal; pretty sweet. Stay off 101.
For god's sake, no max's. There's a max's in the airport itself if you end up desperate. I like Max's now and then, but it's not a destination.
Personally, I wouldn't go to everyday beijing without firm recommendations and/or a large group, or a very specific interest in regional chinese. I usually end up with a huge plate of dumplings and its a monotonic meal. I'd go millbrea dim sum or sichuan, much more accessible.
3015 Woodside Rd, Woodside, CA
You don't have time for detours. Depending on where you are are starting from in the Santa Cruz Mountains and traffic, it's more than an hour's drive. Are you planning on returning a rental car too?
Suggest you get to Millbrae/Burlingame before deciding how much time you have to eat. You can always eat at the airport if necessary (best options in the international terminal foodcourts).
Near the airport: there's a Max's on the airport side in Burlingame; there's a lot of good Chinese in Millbrae.
After wine tasting in the santa cruz mountains, I'd say Village Pub at Woodside, eat at the bar (or if you have more than two people, one of the bar tables). Food's pretty quick at that hour, atmosphere is upscale but more "telluride chic" than suits - fleece to three piece - and the place is a kick. Michelin star. Not cheap or ethnic. Expansive wine tome. About 5 minutes, max, off 280, and you can stay 280->380->airport. Hard to find (have a GPS, or call). My favorite dish is the sweetbreads, but their hamburger with fois gras ain't bad either. If you drive north from santa cruz along 9/Skyline, you could come down on Woodside road and it would be on the way. Opens at 5, bar fills up around 6, 6:30 this time of year.
Right near Village Pub is Buck's, which sort of like Millionaire's Dennys. *very* good food for causal roadside food, expansive menu, wacky silicon valley memorbillia. Enterpreneurs & investors do lots of morning meetings there.
An interesting second choice would be the Rosewood hotel at Sand Hill and 280, which has a great view of the mountains - and you can sit on the patio. Would be a great "unwind" that keeps you in spirit. They'll be open throughout the afternoon so the hour doesn't matter. Michelin star also, but can't vouch for them personally.
If you like Sushi, that's a perfect time for Sushi Sam's in san mateo. Not too far off the freeway (10 mins with parking?), and there is sometimes a line. Rough and tumble Formica tables and the best whiteboard this side of tokyo, no fooling. Downtown San Mateo has a couple of noteworthy spots, so if SS was full, you could fail over to Sichuan Delight or one of the Ramen places or the wine bar.
There's a bunch of good chinese choices up and down the peninsula. Spices foster city is fun,the millbrea spots, little shanghai in san mateo.
Another option is to take the long way - drive out to Santa Cruz and up the coast, eat near Half Moon Bay. There's the big fish place at Princeton-by-the-sea overlooking the crab peir, there's Duarte's in Pescadero, a couple of fish places that get mentioned. Don't go to the restaurant at the four seasons. There's a few things in Half Moon Bay proper but they're not as atmospheric as the few mentioned. If you're not doing that stretch of road some other time in your trip (SC -> HMB), that's one of the most gorgeous bits of asphalt on the california coast.
Really depends on the kind of experience you want. There's thousands and thousands of restaurants between hither and yon.
Looking at your posts, I think you should go Sichuan. Go poke around the millbrea chinese postings - something like The Kichen. By the time you get up to Millbrea it'll be late enough for dinner. You get enough seafood and local produce in Portland.
218 E 3rd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401
2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062
A stone throw from SFO (right off 380) is Russian Family Restaurant which serves golubtsi , dumplings, borsch etc...
Also near SFO:
Basque Cultural Center
Don Pico's Mexican Bistro
Kuya's Asian Cuisine (pretty good Filipino eats)
Basque Cultural Center
599 Railroad Ave, South San Francisco, CA 94080
Russian Family Restaurant
719 Camino Plz, San Bruno, CA 94066
460 San Mateo Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066
Don Pico's Restaurant
461 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066