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Please critique my itinerary for 5 night trip to San Francisco (DID LOTS OF RESEARCH)

I'd like to thank you San Francisco Hounds for making such great posts - I had lots to choose from for posts to help me pick restaurants, as well as a few tips for sightseeing as well.

We are visiting in March for 5 nights from Toronto. Below is our itinerary which is followed by a list of other restaurants that I was interested in, but could not fit in. We like all types of food except Indian.

We will be using BART and public transit (taxis when necessary). For our day out of the city we will be renting a car.

As you can tell from the restaurants chosen below, our price range is moderate for the most-part. I looked for a restaurant for a really expensive meal for one of the nights, however when looking at menus, found that I preferred the ones listed below.

Please let me know your thoughts. Is anything missing? Should I swap anything for the restaurants in the list at the end? All advice is appreciated! Thanks for your time!

Day 1 (Sat.) – arrive late (9:30 pm - flight arrives), taxi to hotel (Holiday Inn Golden Gateway)

"Dinner" - Late night snack near hotel at Grubstake or Lers Ros(delivery until midnight) or Thai House Express (delivery until 11 pm) or Ozone Thai (my husband has his heart set on visiting a triple D restaurant, so may end up going to Grubstake)

Day 2 (Sun.)

Breakfast –Mama’s (1701 Stockton Street) - get there early

Sightseeing – Fisherman’s Wharf/Ghiradelli Square/Pier 39 (sea lions)/The Embarcadero (grab some take-out dim sum from Yank Sing for the hubby - Is there another place I can get take-out of something that is not dim sum or Indian so that we can "picnic" together?)

Late Lunch/Sightseeing – Mission District - Poc Chuc (Mexican) then walk along Valencia and stop at Tartine bakery and get ice-cream at Bi-rite Creamery

Sightseeing – North Beach – head to the roof (5th floor) of the Vallejo St. garage in North Beach, day or night, for a great view

Dinner – Sotto Mare or Café BaoNecci

Day 3 (Mon.)

Breakfast – Café Bean (open 7 am, closed Sundays)

Sightseeing – Golden Gate Park (and Haight district?)

Sightseeing – Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito (bike or bus over and take ferry back)

Late Lunch – Le Garage or FISH or The Spinnaker or Horizons or Kitti’s Place

Sightseeing - Sausalito (need idea of where to get a snack before Alcatraz, either in Sausalito or near ferry departure for Alcatraz)

Sightseeing – Alcatraz Night Tour (boarding at 5:40 pm)

Late Dinner – Nopa or Globe or Scala’s

Day 4 (Tues.)

Breakfast – Zazie’s

Sightseeing – Ferry building Farmer’s Market (Roli Roti – porchetta sandwich, or Boccalone – Miss Piggy sandwich)

Late Lunch – Boudin Bakery (Market Street)

Sightseeing – Chinatown (Golden Gate Bakery – pork buns and custard tart)/Coit Tower/Filbert Stairs all the way to Sansome, and back up the Greenwich steps

Dinner - Tadich Grill or Delfina or Foreign Cinema

Day 5 (Weds.)

Leave early! (May need to pick up rental car the night before)

Day out of the city – Monterey/Carmel - restaurant ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner needed

Take scenic route (route 1) along the coast to get there and take highways to get back.

Breakfast - in city or on the way to Monterey (is there anywhere along route 1 with a good breakfast and maybe a good view as well?)

Sightseeing - Carmel

Lunch -

Sightseeing - Monterey (and Aquarium)

Dinner - ? (could be in monterey or area, or in san jose, or anywhere along route back to the city)

Return rental car

Day 6 (Thurs.)

Breakfast – Dottie’s

Sightseeing - Union Square? Walk down Lombard Street?

Lunch – Delfina Pizzaria and dessert at Humphrey Slocumbe

Return to hotel to collect bags and leave for airport.

Flight leaves at 4:00 pm

OTHERS (I could not fit these in - just too many good choices)!

Mr and Mrs Miscellaneous (ice cream)
Greens (lunch or breakfast)
Mamacita (Mexican)
Early morning stop to Liguria Bakery (Foccaccia)
Gorilla BBQ
R and G/Yum’s Bistro (Cantonese)
Zuni (Roasted Chicken)
Gialina (pizza)
Nopalito or Don Pisto’s or Tacolicious (Mexican)
Burma Superstar (Burmese)
Out The Door or Slanted Door (Vietnamese)
La Taqueira (Mexican)
La Boulange
HRD (Korean)
Dynamo Donuts

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  1. For your Monterey/Carmel day: In Carmel, Casanova is a charming little place for lunch (or dinner). The restaurant (not the cafeteria style one, but the white table cloth restaurant) in the aquarium itself is excellent and has ocean view dining. You can (and probably should) make a reservation there but you can only enter after paying the aquarium entrance fee. Management of the restaurant was recently taken over by Cindy Pawlcyn who owns several Napa Valley restaurants of renown (Mustards Grill, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen and the one that was recently renamed ??after she closed Go Fish).

    Your San Francisco itinerary sounds great and testifies to your excellent research. Have a great time.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bobpantzer

      Thank you - I added your suggestions to a list I started for Monterey/Carmel. I will post what I decide once I have had a chance to do some more research.

    2. Just a couple of comments.

      For your husband at the Grubstake, Portuguese style pork chops, a DDD type of dish.

      Breakfast at Mama's is pretty filling, so maybe either a take out dim sum snack or lunch would probably be sufficient rather both.

      If you drive to Carmel via Half Moon Bay, Linda's Seabreeze Cafe in Santa Cruz has a pretty good breakfast. Haven't been recently but enjoyed the food and coffee last time there. Plus the drive down Highway 1 is pretty nice.

      You've done a lot of research, looks like you and your husband will eat very well on this trip. Enjoy your visit!

      http://www.yelp.com/biz/lindas-seabre...

      1 Reply
      1. re: curiousgeo

        Thank you. Portuguese pork chops noted. Great suggestions!

      2. Welcome from Toronto! This looks like a very good itinerary. A few notes:

        Day 2:
        While one of you is waiting in line at Mama's, have the other get some focaccia at Liguria Bakery across the street

        Any day of the week, picnic items can be obtained at the SF Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. Acme bread, Boccalone meats, Cowgirl creamery cheese, etc.

        Poc-chuc is closed on Sundays (much to my devastation when I first went there!)

        Day 3
        Sounds really busy, but doable. I'm not sure you'll have time to see much of the Haight--- most of the interesting stores in the Haight aren't open too early, and the more interesting architecture is further from GG Park (e.g., the row houses on Central b/w Haight & Page, and the Victorians on Waller b/w Masonic and Delmar).

        Day 4
        I wouldn't shlep all the way to Zazie in Cole Valley if you're going right back to the Ferry Building for Lunch. On the other hand, you can get to Zazie, walk the North side of South Side of Haight as far as you want, return on the North side of Haight, head back toward Zazie and stop at the awesome new Ice Cream Bar in Cole Valley (opens at noon), and then take the Muni N car to Montgomery and walk up to Chinatown. In that case, skip the Ferry Building and boudin, and have more Chinatown snacks or dine at R&G http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/822325

        edit: Making the Coit tower walk on an engorged stomach from Chinatown isn't a great idea, so use more judgment than I recently did :-) The egg custard tart and pork bun you suggested would be fine.

        Besides, Roli Roti only serves their porchetta on Thurs & Saturday http://roliroti.com/markets/intro

        Day 5
        Check out the California board for Monterey/Carmel. I've only eaten there once, but liked Fishwife's fried calamari for lunch (I think it's actually cuttlefish) and everything we ate at Passionfish for dinner.

        Day 6
        Delfina is a 1.3 mile walk to Humphrey Slocumbe, but it can be a pretty one. If you haven't during an earlier day, don't miss Clarion Alley and Balmy Alley for murals and Paxton Gate & 826 Valencia for bizarre shopping. Melanie Wong has a nice mural and snack tour that'll be erased from Chowhound soon, so check it out soon: http://www.chow.com/lists/465

        3 Replies
        1. re: hyperbowler

          I had read somewhere on the board that the best days to visit the Ferry Building was on Tuesdays and Saturdays. If I switch to Thursday, will it be a mistake?

          1. re: TeacherFoodie

            I've never been to the FB on Tuesdays, but in terms of the things I bring people to on the Saturday, all those things are there on Thursday. They have several good vendors (Namu and even Tacolicious, which you mentioned in your OP) and produce outside, and all the regular stuff inside.

            1. re: hyperbowler

              Thanks. I've changed it to Thursday. Your suggestions were great!

        2. Day 5:

          I'd consider reversing your plan and taking the coast route back. You can enjoy the sunset and maybe stop at Costanera for drinks/small plates/dinner.
          http://www.lacostanerarestaurant.com/...

          Also, Day 2 -- Yank Sing isn't very close to the rest of the places you've listed, and personally I wouldn't go there for take out, as the delicate dumplings they're known for won't hold up well. If you do go to Yank Sing, you can stop in the Ferry Building right across the street for non-dim-sum munchies (and a spot to picnic).

          6 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Thank you for your suggestions! La Costanera looks nice.

            1. re: TeacherFoodie

              At La Costanera, avoid the octopus - WAY over-salted! It is a cute place, but the food has left me wanting... I'd suggest Cafe Gibraltar in El Granada over La Costanera; less atmosphere, but way better food.

              1. re: CarrieWas218

                The thing to do at Costanera is eat outside by the firepits at the bar. They have a great happy hour, it's on a beautiful beach, and the bar snacks especially fried chicken are very good. The restaurant upstairs is considerably more expensive.

                1. re: CarrieWas218

                  I agree that the food at La Costanera is just not very good. The view and the fire pits are charming though. But I don't much like Cafe Gibraltar either. I think I would have a drink and a small nibble at La Costanera and then head to dinner at either MoonRaker in Pacifica-killer views and very good food or Barolo in Pacifica no views but great Italian food and equally great service.

              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                i've gotten take-out from yank sing many times -- even trucked it all the way over to golden gate park

                their combination plate for $8 is a real bargain, and i think it holds up pretty well. the dining room is better, but not worth the 3x price increase.

                if you want something else, get a sandwich from boccalone, or a breakfast sandwich from golden gate meat company.

                1. re: Dustin_E

                  There are many past threads on where to get food near the wharf.

                  I highly recommend both the Tanguito truck (empanadas, burgers, paella aka saffron rice) and Delise dessert cafe (sweets, cookies, coffee, tea, and snack-sized sandwiches). Nearby Cafe Capriccio has very good sandwiches and superb espresso drinks.

                  -----
                  Caffe' Capriccio
                  2200 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  DeLise dessert cafe
                  327 Bay St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  Tanguito
                  2850 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94133

              3. Day 1 (Sat.) – arrive late (9:30 pm - flight arrives), taxi to hotel (Holiday Inn Golden Gateway)

                "Dinner" - Late night snack near hotel at Grubstake or Lers Ros(delivery until midnight) or Thai House Express (delivery until 11 pm) or Ozone Thai (my husband has his heart set on visiting a triple D restaurant, so may end up going to Grubstake)

                Day 2 (Sun.)

                Breakfast –Mama’s (1701 Stockton Street) - get there early and while one of us is in line here, the other will be in line at Liguria Bakery (Foccaccia) for onion foccaccia
                Sightseeing – Fisherman’s Wharf/Ghiradelli Square/Pier 39 (sea lions)/The Embarcadero

                Late Lunch/Sightseeing – Mission District - Delfina Pizzaria (share something because we’ve just pigged out at mama’s, and on foccaccia) then walk along Valencia and stop at Tartine bakery and get ice-cream at Bi-rite Creamery

                Sightseeing – North Beach – head to the roof (5th floor) of the Vallejo St. garage in North Beach, day or night, for a great view

                Dinner – Sotto Mare or Café BaoNecci

                Day 3 (Mon.)

                Breakfast – Café Bean (open 7 am, closed Sundays)

                Sightseeing – Golden Gate Park

                Sightseeing – Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito (bike or bus over and take ferry back)

                Late Lunch – Le Garage or FISH or The Spinnaker or Horizons or Kitti’s Place

                Sightseeing - Sausalito (need idea of where to get a snack before Alcatraz, either in Sausalito or near ferry departure for Alcatraz)

                Sightseeing – Alcatraz Night Tour (boarding at 5:40 pm)

                Late Dinner – Nopa or Globe or Scala’s

                Day 4 (Tues.)

                Breakfast – Zazie

                Sightseeing – Visit the Haight district - walk the North side of South Side of Haight as far as you want, return on the North side of Haight, head back toward Zazie and stop at the awesome new Ice Cream
                Bar in Cole Valley

                Lunch Poc Chuc (Mexican) and dessert at Humphrey Slocumbe

                Sightseeing – Chinatown (Golden Gate Bakery – pork buns and custard tart)/Coit Tower/Filbert Stairs all the way to Sansome, and back up the Greenwich steps

                Dinner - Tadich Grill or Delfina or Foreign Cinema

                Day 5 (Weds.)

                Leave early! (May need to pick up rental car the night before)

                Day out of the city – Monterey/Carmel - restaurant ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner needed

                Take scenic route (route 1) along the coast to get there and take highways to get back.

                Breakfast - in city or on the way to Monterey (is there anywhere along route 1 with a good breakfast and maybe a good view as well?)

                Sightseeing - Carmel

                Lunch -

                Sightseeing - Monterey (and Aquarium)

                Dinner - ? (could be in monterey or area, or in san jose, or anywhere along route back to the city)

                Return rental car

                Day 6 (Thurs.)

                Breakfast – Dottie’s

                Sightseeing – Ferry building Farmer’s Market (Roli Roti – porchetta sandwich, or Boccalone – Miss Piggy sandwich)

                Lunch – Yank Sing/Boudin Bakery (Market Street)

                2 Replies
                1. re: TeacherFoodie

                  If you're doing fisherman's wharf etc, which locals hate, me included, there are two high points. One, _make sure_ you take a cable car to get there. If you really want to hoof it, walk all the way around Ft Mason to St Francis to the Water Harmonica. Second, do your picknick supplies in the area by looking for the seafood houses that steam crab curbside. Pick your crabs, watch them get steamed, cracked, cleaned (say "cracked and cleaned"), they'll get wrapped in paper. The people there will try to sell you these measly sad excuses for crab in plastic wrappings, tell them you want the whole crab. Only go to a place where you can watch the crab being steamed and pick the individual crab. It will not be cheap - upward of $20 per crab. Dungeness is famous for a reason and is 100% best unadulterated right out of the shell, it's sweeter than blue crab, and this actually gives you a mission - finding the real seafood places. If you like alcohol, add the famous Irish Coffee place; it's kind of worth it. I think when I did this last I found real crabs at Alioto's. Of the tourist attractions, look for the Hyde Street Pier and the O'Brien.

                  This also frees up the ferry building from giving you too many picknics. The hit is exactly as stated: Acme, Bocolonne (sp), Cowgirl. And get a little box of Rettuchi, too. There is nothing more san francisco than some salumi, a bit of sonoma cheese, and an acme sourdough batard - add a really good bottle of red wine if you'd like. Alcatraz is fun, really, but the local thing is the ferry to Angel island, where the hiking is better, they have the new museum, and an awesome view from the top. Regrettably, it's an either/or proposition.

                  There "was" a branch of Pancho Villa next to the ferry building, where one could reliably get an al pastor burrito and take with. According to Google, it's closed now. Sorry. The mexican place in the ferry building is OK.

                  Late dinner monday - sadly, there have been downhill reports at Globe. This is _VERY SAD_ because they were my favorite late night option - very san francisco in a new way. Unless someone says otherwise, try somewhere else.

                  Dinner - the dining options in Monterey are slim (not non-existant, but slim). If you're coming back up the coast the whole way, consider Pasta Moon in Half Moon Bay. You'll be tempted by the fish roadhouses, but Pasta Moon is pretty good.

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    I could eat Pasta Moon's artichoke and arugula pizza once a week and be very happy about it.