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Jan 11, 2012 02:50 PM

Where to eat lunch between Oakland Airport & Napa?

I'm looking for a lunch recommendation to kick off our long weekend. Our plane lands in Oakland at 1:15 p.m. on a Thursday, then we'll rent a car & drive to Napa Valley (Yountville). We'd prefer something in Oakland, since we'll probably be hungry, plus we have dinner reservations in Napa so we don't want to eat lunch too late. Also, we don't want too venture TOO far out of our way and add on alot of drive time, so I'm hoping someone can help me with that since we don't know the area. Thanks in advance!

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  1. wait until you get to napa

    1. Depending on what kind of food you are in the mood for, it might be fun to get off the freeway at the Fruitvale exit, and eat at one of the Mexican restaurants like El Huarache Azteca or Otaez or even taco trucks. If you do a search for Fruitvale you'll get lots of specific ideas.

      You could also get off the freeway in Berkeley, and eat at Sea Salt, Rouge, 900 Grayson, or other restaurants near the freeway.

      1. What day of the week?

        I think hitting a taco truck for a light meal and getting back on the road is probably better then going for a sitdown when you have dinner plans in Napa.

        1. Picante, right off the freeway on I-80, Gilman St. You can eat in or take your burrito to go if you're running behind.

          2 Replies
          1. re: rubadubgdub

            I live in Napa and go to Oakland every week or so to visit family. My go to place is Wood Tavern on College Ave. in the Rockridge area. Very popular place with locals who return and return for the fresh American bistro fare. No reservation necessary if you sit at the bar. Full bar service with an interesting and moderately priced wine list. If its jammed, try its sister restaurant next door, Southie. More casual but similarly delicious home cooked food.

            A slightly bigger deal requiring a reservation is Chez Panisse Cafe on Shattuck in Berkeley. No bar seats or bar at all. But, it's still featuring pristine ingredients simply done and expertly served. Can't miss.

            Have fun.

            1. re: cortez

              Much as I love Wood Tavern, there's frequently a line and no seats even at the bar, and it's quite a ways out of the way for someone driving from OAK to Yountville.

              For an upscale sit-down lunch with easy freeway access, Sea Salt.

              Sea Salt
              2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

              Wood Tavern
              6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

          2. Quick off and back on the freeway, Vik's for Indian, Smoke for BBQ, Lanesplitter for slice pizza, Casa Latina for tacos / burritos / etc.,, Ba Le for banh mi.

            Banh Mi Ba Le
            10174 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530

            Lanesplitter Berkeley
            2033 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

            Lanesplitter Delivery & To Go
            1051 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

            Casa Latina
            1805 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA

            Smoke Berkeley
            2434 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

            12 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Looking at the poster's location on their profile, it is Houston. I wouldn't send anyone from Texas to a California bbq joint like Smoke.

              Did you meant the Oakland Banh Mi Bah Li? The El Cerrito location has exactly two tables inside and two outside. When i was there last week at lunch at that time all tables were occupied and there was a line out the door. This is a $3 bahn mi sandwhich joint.

              If I was going to direct anyone to take the Central Avenue exit, Daimo might be a good choice or any of the restaurants in that Chinese mall.

              I agree that while i recently fell in love with Wood Tavern, all the reasons you mentioned make it a bad choice in this case ... too far off the freeway and too busy.

              1. re: rworange

                Yeah, forget Smoke if you're coming from Texas.

                I meant the El Cerrito Ba Le. If they're leaving OAK at 1:15, it's not likely to be too busy.

                Daimo or anyplace in the adjacent mall that's currently good are also great options.

                Little Star's not far from the freeway either.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  How long is the wait for preparation of the deep dish pizza at Little Star?

                  1. re: wolfe

                    They say 25 minutes, but our last time (dinner) was 45. You can preorder.

                    1. re: drewskiSF

                      Just suggesting that it was not an ideal stop for OP heading for dinner in Napa. It is helpful for planning purposes for those who have more time. Thank you.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    They're arriving at 1:15. Assuming the plane is on time, they still have to get out of the airport and deal with the car rental, so closer to 2:00 by the time they hit the road. Combining that with the fact that they have dinner reservations in "Napa" I think getting something quick as soon as possible is the best idea.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Yeah, that's my thought.

                      Lunch slices at Little Star come out fast. If you wanted a whole pie, you could call from the airport.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        I second this. You're going to want to get through I-80 traffic as early as possible. There's nothing worse than starting off a vacation in stand-still traffic.

                        1. re: HungryDonkey

                          I know this question is an offshoot, but mapquest is giving me three options to drive to Napa from Oakland Airport: (1) I-80 & CA -29 N, (2) CA-29 N, & (3) I-580 W. It shows the first option as being the fastest. Is that right?

                          1. re: mimi777

                            1st should be fastest. you might check to see if there's any traffic snags on the route.

                            2) i'm guessing is CA-24, not 29 (29 is up by Napa). this will loop you around Walnut Creek & Concord before rejoining I-80 before hitting 37 in Vallejo.

                            1. re: mimi777

                              80E > 37W > 29N is the fastest and shortest route.

                              1. re: mimi777

                                You've left out some numbers so I can't tell exactly what the options are, but for number three, the only reason I can think of to list I580W is that Mapquest doesn't know that I80 E and I580 W are actually the same highway for several miles as they run through Emeryville and Berkeley (yeah, I know that's weird). Drewski and Robert have given you the two actual options, and which one is better depends on the time of day and the traffic conditions.