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Feb 1, 2012 03:12 AM

Culinary Road Trip! - Bay Area Recommendations (From Vancouver)

I'm going on a road trip from Vancouver down the coast to San Fransisco for 1 week from Feb 16 - 23. I'll be in the bay area probably Feb 17-20.

More than willing to zig zag for significant food stops.

I'm looking for a mixed bag of experiences, from fine dining to street food, though my budget is not enormous so i'll likely do 2 evenings of fine dining, and the rest on a shoestring.

I don't mind cliche's (Salumi & Chez Panisse are both on my list)
If there are any destinations that are significant to the food culture of a place, i'm into that.

I love craft beer, wine does not excite me (Hoppy, floral smelling beer is my fav)
I'd love to try a barrel aged cocktail
I'm into head to tail eating
I like foraged food
I like novelty. Something i've never tried and could not replicate.


Tastes I like:
Hearty bread with a drizzle of portugeues olive oil and a sprinkling of grey salt
Old Fashioned Bitters
Buckwheat Honey
Scallop Sashimi
Chewing fennel seeds


My list so far:
Tartine Bakery (SF)
Chez Panisse (Berkley)
Chowder in a Bread Bowl (Fisherman's Warf)
Dynamo Doughnuts (SF)
The Herb Farm (Seattle)
Pok Pok (Portland)
Considering Bouchon (Napa Valley)

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  1. Just a suggestion. Post on these other boards also. This board is only for the Bay Area.

    1. Re SF list: I'd erase Chowder in a Bread Bowl (and Fisherman's Wharf)--bad, tourist-y fare.

      1. Incanto for head to tail. Go early, sit at the bar, look at the chalkboard.

        Adesso for salumi. Around 45 kinds, all house-made.

        The Trappist for beer.

        Chowder in a bread bowl is a recent invention and strictly for tourists. The real local specialty is cioppino in a ceramic bowl.

        The Vietnamese food courts in San Jose are worth a trip.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I like trappist, but i prefer monks kettle

          1. re: chuckl

            I've not gone into Monk's Kettle in years-- the wait for seating last Wednesday @8:30PM was 90 minutes for 2 people, and the bar area was pretty packed. It might be worth dropping in your name, wandering around, and coming back.

            If you want Tartine's bread fresh from the oven, you'll have to order it online 3 days in advance and pick it up after 5PM. Not a problem if you're in the Mission District anyway, and you could pair with with a quick and early stop into Monk's Kettle.

            Cocktail suggestions:

            For a dinner made mostly of foraged ingredients, sign up for this mailing list. Their dinners might coincide with your trip:

            Hitting the Ferry Building Farmer's Market on Saturday morning is an essential stop. Lots of good eats from cheap to pricey.

            Her Majesty's Secret Beekeeper is a fun stop in the Mission.

            Humphrey Slocumbe in the Mission and the Ice Cream Bar in Cole Valley have the most novel variations of dairy beverages in the city. If you're watching your waistline, I'd stick to these rather than Dynamo Doughnuts (novel, yes, but IMHO nowhere near as good as what you'll find in Seattle or NY, and what I've heard in Portland)

            1. re: hyperbowler

              If you are at Tartine at 4:30, you can usually buy the bread without the prepaid reservation.

              1. re: hyperbowler

                i keep myself pretty fit so no concerns on the waistline :) bring on the doughnuts!

                do I understand correctly, that if I dont order my bread at tartine 3 days in advance, I will not be able to get any? or is that strictly for fresh out the oven?

                1. re: jkhdsf

                  It comes out of the oven and is gone often within 15 minutes, unless you order.

                  1. re: wally

                    haha oh my. ok thanks for the tip! you've certainly saved me some disappointment:)

            2. re: Robert Lauriston

              ya the chowder in bread down is totally touristy but I do it every time I come to SF! it's gotta be done!
              if I were to put a gun to your head and tell you you're got to get it somewhere, where would you go?

              any place you recommend for cioppino?

              1. re: jkhdsf

                Boudin invented the chowder in a bread bowl, so any of their outlets. You could get it at SFO while waiting for your flight home.


                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Or you can buy a can of Boudin's clam chowder and bring it home. That's where it is coming from anyway at Boudin. i've heard Chowders on pier 39 makes their own clam chowder and it is pretty good. Still seems like a wasted meal though I can sort of understand having to try what seems like an iconic dish.

                  Have an Irish coffee at Buena Vista cafe as long as you are at the wharf.

                  if you are in Berkeley for Chez Panisse, you might drive down Solano Avenue and stop at La Bedaine, a small French bakery. They sell an excellent fig jam.

                2. re: jkhdsf

                  Sotto Mare in North Beach for cioppino. No reservations, very informal, very little non-fish/shellfish on the menu. An order (@ $32) will serve 2 people.

              2. i think lers ros thai in san francisco is quite a bit better than pok pok in portland. but the chicken wings at pok pok were the best item we tried, by a margin, and quite a bit better than the very popular chicken wings we have in sf at san tung.

                swan's oyster depot has fantastic scallops -- they will sell them to go for ~$2 a piece and they are good enough to eat as sashimi (had them last weekend -- amazing). there is never a line for to-go orders there.

                castagna in portland is supposed to be good for foraged ingredients... but i've never been. coi has some foraged ingredients, but is very expensive.

                given your tastes, you might look into commonwealth, plum, or commis.

                jai yun (shanghaiese mostly vegetables) or sawa (sashimi with a touch of korean style) are unique enough that you won't find anything like them anywhere else on the west coast (i think). but i don't think jai yun will serve a single diner anymore. if you like sashimi, sawa would be a great place to allocate one of your fine-dining meals. his first course is always scallop sashimi, but then serves 5-10 other sashimi courses in very generous portions -- if you like scallop sashimi a lot, you might like this place.

                1. If you opt for the Redwood Highway you could hit:

                  Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka
                  Eel River Brewing in Fortuna
                  North Coast Brewery -Fort Bragg

                  then head inland on 128 to
                  Anderson Valley Brewery
                  then off 101:
                  Beer Republic in Healdsburg
                  Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa (hoppy! floral! piney!)
                  Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma
                  Iron Springs in Fairfax
                  and arrive for the last three days of SF Beer Week.

                  The food-if any- at most of these places is just a vehicle for some pretty good beer...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: tranewreck

                    awesome suggestions, thanks! i'm gonna hit up russian river brewery for sure. can you recommend a shop with the best craft brew selection in SF?

                    1. re: jkhdsf

                      Speakeasy Ales and Lagers has an open house/bbq at 4:00pm on Fridays that might be fun to hit. You would probably need a car as it's in a pretty industrial part of town:


                      1. re: jkhdsf

                        Berkeley Bowl West has a pretty extensive beer selection.