The Almost Finalized 5 night SF and Monterey/Carmel Itinerary - Researched and re-researched!
I have to say thank you to everyone who has offered advice for this itinerary. I truly appreciate you took time to offer suggestions.
Here is the almost final itinerary (a couple more decisions to make and perhaps a little tweaking).
Your thoughts are welcome! I have starred a few areas that are still undecided.
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
Day 2 (Sun.) – Golden Gate Park
Breakfast – Brenda’s (crawfish beignet)(opens 8 am)
Sightseeing –Golden Gate Park (stop at the deYoung museum and take the elevator to the Tower for stunning views)
Lunch – Mandalay
Sightseeing - Ocean Beach and Sutro Baths
Late Dinner – Aziza (reservation 7:45) (plan to try at least 4 or 5 starters, and order flatbread and the basteeya)
Day 3 (Mon.) –
**Breakfast – Café Bean – then Bob’s donuts OR Café de la presse (Has anyone tried the Vanilla French Toast here? - The breakfast menu is small and not a lot of non-egg options for my husband.) Sears is also on the way from the hotel to Chinatown (or could be).
Sightseeing – Chinatown
Lunch and Sightseeing – North Beach (lunch at l’osteria del forno or Perbacco – Truffle Egg Yolk Ravioli?) Tadich Grill or Sam’s Grill
Coit Tower/Filbert Stairs
Visit Ferry building (have a bite to eat before ferry to Alcatraz)
5:40 – Boarding for Alcatraz
Dinner – Cab to Lers Ros
Day 4 (Tues.)
Breakfast –Mama’s (closed Mondays) (1701 Stockton Street) - get there early and while one of us is in line here, the other will be in line at Liguria Bakery for foccaccia
Sightseeing – Twisty Lombard (take cable car down the hill to Bart and head to the Mission)
Lunch – Mission District - Poc Chuc (salpicon de res) (and dessert at one or two of Humphrey Slocumbe/Bi-Rite creamery/Tartine/Dynamo Donuts)
Sightseeing – Mission District - walk along Valencia and stop at Tartine bakery (pick up breakfast/snacks for drive to Monterey)
** Dinner – Mission District - Delfina Pizzeria or Inka’s (and dessert at one or two of Humphrey Slocumbe/Bi-Rite creamery/Tartine/Dynamo Donuts)
Day 5 (Weds.) – Monterey/Carmel
Have breakfast at Brendas French Soul Food or Grubstake on way to get rental car (Dollar Rent-A-Car at 364 O’Farrell Street) OR get breakfast on the road (or eat pastries from Tartine and grab a coffee)
8:30 am - Leave for Monterey/Carmel
Take scenic route (route 1) along the coast to get there and take highways (or scenic route again, depending on weather) to get back. (If weather is not nice, go to Gilroy for shopping)
Lunch – If weather is nice go to Campagno’s and then eat at Asilomar Beach across the street. If not too windy, walk the trail on the bluff. (Other lunch option - PassionFish)
Sightseeing – 17 mile drive, Carmel beach, Monterey Bay Recreation Trail, Monterey Aquarium (will depend on time/weather what we do)
Go to Parker Lusseau at some point for pastries.
Check in at hotel and change for dinner.
Dinner – 1833 (8 pm reservation)
Day 6 (Thurs.) – Drive back from Monterey
Breakfast – in Monterey area (at Katy’s or First Awakenings) Toastie’s Café? (Or eat pastries from Parker Lusseau and grab a coffee)
** Lunch Options – Mingalaba, or Astaria in San Mateo, Central Park Bistro, also in SM (lamb chops and lamb-pesto pizza) or Vietnamese in San Jose (food court at Grand Century)
Arrive at SFO by 1:30 pm for flight home.
Inka's is great, but I'd go for Limon Rotisserie if you can get a reservation. It's more central to where you'll be beforehand and on the way to Humphrey Slocumbe.
Expect a 30 minute line at tartine at any given hour, and reserve bread 3 days in advance for an evening-only pickup if you want to guarantee a loaf for your trip to Monterey. Alternatively, I liked the idea someone suggested in a previous thread. If you want some good pastries on your way to Monterey without a ridiculous wait, drive to Knead Pastisserie on 24th. You can also get Dynamo Doughnuts a few blocks away.
This is a great itinerary.
I think Brenda's strengths are her grits (which are perfect) and her french toast - her beignets are very tasty but they are not Cafe du Monde by a long mile. Very different style, so adjust your expectations to properly appreciate them for what they are instead of what they are not.
I'd vote Osteria Coppa over Astaria or CPB for San Mateo options. At Osteria Coppa, we usually get a pizza to split (add a farm egg for extra yum) - I forget if it's wood fired or fancy brick oven, but it's one of those. We usually start with the fritto misto to share, and maybe add a salad or soup if we're feeling very hungry. Never had a bad meal here.
At Mingalaba, I like the roti appetizer, the asparagus chicken, and most importantly, the House Special Noodles. Those noodles are really awesome.
The Monterey area stuff belongs on the California Board, and could get moved, but since you have it here: Passionfish is not open for lunch. For that matter, particularly if you take Highway One, there is no way you will have time to do a full breakfast in the City, do the drive, have a full lunch, walk on the bluff, and then do all that sightseeing. I'd recommend just walking at Asilomar and the Aquarium, with lunch at the Aquarium. Or possibly spending the day at Point Lobos with picnic items..
Given possible traffic, I'd chose one of the San Mateo spots for a relatively early lunch rather than Vietnamese in San Jose. (and the pastries over First Awakenings, which has been slow when I've been there, although granted that has been on weekends). I am a fan of Minglaba.
A couple of thoughts... Wondering why you have Brenda's for breakfast twice; for beignets on Day 2 and again on Day 5? Consider some other options including Dottie's, Canteen (if weekend), or elsewhere?
Also, Bob's Donuts is good but not great and not worthy of a separate trip. Consider hitting Dynamo in the Mission during your crawl - much more interesting and "gourmet" flavors worthy of a trip when they first open and the doughnuts are fresh. But Bob's? It is just regular doughnuts...