One week (dinners and some lunches) in San Francisco downtown area + driving a bit of PCH
Got some GREAT pointers on where to eat when i last posted here, so here I am trying again! Me and a colleague will be working in San Francisco for a week (San Mateo for work, San Francisco Union Square for living). After that, we'll spend a week touring up to Napa, down towards Carmel and to Santa Barbara (plus wasting time on the road, plus perhaps a drive to Yosemite...). We will actually hang out in Palo Alto for two days as well (meeting an old colleague).
What can't we miss in San Francisco? We are not out and about flashing the business credit card, so we need to think about the budget (somewhat). We like seafood, asian, bbq, fine french, pig-out... Just looking for those places you would not want two Scandinavian gentlemen to miss out while in CA.
We want to drink local beer, feel CA and soak in the atmosphere - as well as significantly increase our BMI's.
What do you think foodies? One tip - and I will be happy!
Check road conditions for Monterey and Big Sur. A big chunk of Hwy 1/PCH was been closed due to washed out road. It's suppose to be fixed in 3 weeks or so...so might not effect your plans.
Thanks wolfe. I understand how you got that impression. I am, as you say, probably not a regular in the Chowhound universe - mostly because it is not very practical where i travel most: In Scandinavia... It is pretty frustrating to check in and see how you US (and around)-based guys are indulging yourself with everything you have to choose between :-) I am stuck with (at least on my budget) pretty basic, not very foodie-pleasing, cr@p on my per diem allowance, to say the least. But when i'm in the US...
Will read up on your link. Thanks again.
COI lounge (if/while it still exists)
373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133
2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109
When I travel I know I want to try and focus on what food I can't find at home. I've not been to Scandinavia, but I would bet that you cannot find good Mexican, Latin, or South American food (I had Mexican food twice in Europe... it was gross and not even similar to actual Mexican food). So if I were you, I would definitely explore those cuisines. For lunch you should drive a short way down from San Mateo to Redwood City (which is taco central for the whole Bay Area) and try some Tacos. I recommend Tacos El Grullense #1, El Grullense Grill, or Los Gemelos (although this part of town may be a bit off putting for foreigners). For Mexican in SF I would not miss Nopalito; it is fantastic. Also, there are many "hole in the walls" like El Delfin that are very good. There are also a lot of Peruvian restaurants. There is El Hueco in Redwood City and in SF there is Inkas, Limon, and Limon Rotisserie.
When you say Asian, what kind of Asian food? There are so many kinds... There are at least a half dozen different kinds of Chinese food and a half dozen different kinds of Japanese food in San Mateo alone. Of course then there are Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Burmese, Indonesian, etc....
Also for BBQ, are you looking for US style Southern BBQ? As a ex-southerner, I can say that SF is not a great place for that; however, I recently tried Mack's BBQ in San Carlos (not far from San Mateo). I tried their pulled pork and ribs and found them quite acceptable (which is very high praise from me for BBQ out west).
As for meeting your friend in Palo Alto, you may want them to come meet you further North, as the food options in Palo Alto are not great ( see this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/778725 ). The Refuge (they mainly have Belgium beers but they always have a few local ones as well) or Martin's West may be fun places to meet....
If you are looking for lunch places, here is a recent thread that has a lot of recommendations for around where you will be working: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781722
Some great places in SF that I think will give you a good taste of the city are Aziza, Foreign Cinema, Slanted Door, and Bar Crudo (seafood).
Also Little Star's deep dish pizza with a local beer would be a good taste of SF style Americana.
Can you give us an idea of your budget? I think you'll find restaurants are relatively slightly less expensive in the Bay Area than in New York and, I'm guessing, in Scandinavia. \
At any rate, I think while you're in the Palo Alto area you should blow the budget a bit and check out Manresa, which I think is the epitome of high-end California farm-to-table style. There's is also a lot of good Asian food on the peninsula without having to go all the way into San Francisco proper, and as lrealml said, Mexican in Redwood City.
As people have noted, you need to check the road conditions on PCH before making firm plans. Adding Yosemite would mean a lot of driving (it's a longer drive than it looks, because the roads into the valley are long and winding). Since you're interested in Napa, then I might suggest instead of going south on PCH spending some time in Sonoma and going north along the coast (Mendocino) then cutting over into the redwood country. It's just as (more?) beautiful and slightly less traveled.
There's a separate board for discussion of places outside San Francisco, LA and San Diego, which would include Monterey/Carmel, Mendocino, Santa Barbara, etc.: http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/3
320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030