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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.

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  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. I need to know when/where I can fit a cable car ride in.

          2 Replies
          1. re: TeacherFoodie

            good itinerary, TF! Have a great time!

            Cablecar on Monday - after North Beach/Coit Tower?
            or Tuesday - after views of Lombard Street

          2. 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...

            1 Reply
            1. re: CarrieWas218

              Only going to Brenda;s on day 2 now. Not having breakfast in San Fran on morning that we leave for Monterey. Will just grab something quick to save time.

            2. What passes should we be buying for BART/bus/streetcar based on the itinerary?

              1 Reply
              1. re: TeacherFoodie

                You need a MUNI passport for buses, streetcars and even includes the cable cars.


                BART is a separate system and you can purchase tickets as needed from the ticket machines at each station.

              2. You've done an outstanding job at research. One nitpick I'd make is that I'm not sure you have the geography of Monday right: Perbacco/Tadich Grill/Sam’s Grill are not in North Beach, they're in the Financial District. They're not far, but they're the opposite direction of the other places you mentioned and your ultimate destination. In the same vein, despite its name, the Ferry Building is not very near the pier where you board the ferry to Alcatraz. From Filbert steps you walk *south* on the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building, and then it's at least a mile *north* on the Embarcadero to the Wharf (or to put it another way, the Ferry Building is Pier 1, and the Alacatraz boats leave from Pier 43). The F line street car does go along the Embarcadero, but be sure to leave plenty of time.

                Basically, if you choose the Perbacco/Tadich/Sam's option you'll be making a zigzag north through Chinatown, south to the Financial District, north to Coit Tower, south to the Ferry Building and north again to the wharf. Doable, but make sure (a) you want to do that, and (b) you leave enough time to do that.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Should it be Chinatown, then Coit Tower, then lunch (is l'osteria in North Beach?), then the Ferrb building, and then Alcatraz? Maybe we should just go to the Ferry Building for lunch?

                  1. re: TeacherFoodie

                    If you're not going to double back, it would be Chinatown, North Beach, lunch somewhere in North Beach, Coit Tower, the Filbert steps, and the Ferry Building, then jump on the streetcar to Pier 33.

                    Or if you want to do both "real" and tourist Chinatown, you could walk up Stockton to Broadway and back on Grant (or vice-versa), lunch in the Financial District (where Perbacco and Tadich are) and/or at the Ferry Building, up the Filbert steps to Coit Tower, North Beach, and Pier 33.

                2. Sounds great.

                  I don't think Bob's or Dynamo are worth the appetite. Why eat cold doughnuts when you can get hot beignets?

                  You might to map out your day 3, the itinerary doesn't make much sense to me.

                  Your hotel is close to the California St. cable car line. You could take it to Chinatown or all the way to the end of the line to the Ferry Building, or take the Powell / Mason line and change to the California to get from the wharf to Lers Ros.

                  Muni's three-day "passport" seems like what you want.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    If you go to Dynamo when they open, the doughnuts are still warm...

                    And SO worth it!

                    1. re: CarrieWas218

                      Bob's right out of the fryer are fantastic too, I live a block from there, and am slowly learning their schedule

                  2. Should I consider Devil's Teeth Bakery for breakfast on Day 2? It's on Noreiga street so could go here and then to GG Park. I would move Brenda's to Day 3. It's a Sunday... I couldn't seem to find other breakfast options on the way so that is why I chose Brenda's for Sunday.


                    1. Of the breakfast places you've mentioned for Monterey, I've only been to Katy's. If the other two's offerings are anything like Katy's, you will not be hungry for quite some time; unless, you share or keep yourself from scarfing down the whole order! Love the eggs benedict & dh always gets the corned beef hash. Breakfast here is not a rushed affair; and for us, it is usually followed by a long walk on Carmel Beach (weather is usually better in mornings).

                      Highway traffic should not be an issue on the return to SFO. Just be aware that lunch time parking in downtown San Mateo or Burlingame may pose a challenge (not impossible, but time consuming). Personally, I would prefer to linger in Carmel/Monterey than rush back to Peninsula for lunch which may or may not be leisurely.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ceekskat

                        traffic could indeed be an issue, particularly between Gilroy and to north of San Jose in the am on a weekday, though if one has to make a plane I'd assume that it is a real possibility anywhere and anytime along that route. I do agree that other than the pastries option, breakfast at one of mentioned places won't leave the OP very hungry for an early lunch before heading to the airport.

                        1. re: susancinsf

                          Only need 2 people for carpool lane from Morgan Hill (just north of Gilroy) to Redwood City on 101 until 10am. My mom and I do this frequently on Friday mornings and it's usually a breeze. Keep alternate routes on 85 and 280 at the ready in case of delays on the way to San Mateo.

                      2. I changed my breakfast on Day 2 to Canteen (made a reservation) and Brenda's on day 3. What is good at canteen (egg and non-egg options)?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: TeacherFoodie

                          If you are eating dinner in the Mission another place to consider is Mission Chinese. MC is an adventure for sure. It's experimetal Sichuan. If you like bold and spicy I think you will like it. Given the experimental nature of the place some dishes don't soar as much as others. But the dishes that soar are amazing. The Kung Pao pastrami is one of my favorite dishes in SF.

                          1. re: TeacherFoodie

                            I am a Canteen-a-holic (even went on my own one visit when the SO wanted to sleep in instead of eat, silly boy!) and in my several breakfasts there have been very impressed with the sweet pancakey things they are putting out. I usually prefer savoury in the a.m. so that is saying something. Chef Leary and co are dab hands with quenelles of whipped dairy based goodness on top of a flapjack. I did enjoy the Chupacabra though I found it a bit "wet" and there are many fans of the eggs benedict though I find the hollandaise a tad too lemony. These are nitpicks however. Note that the breakfasts are not gargantuan the way they are at a lot of places, and that the coffee is not of the third-wave variety. I enjoy it but others less so. It is I believe from Mr Espresso in Oakland. And they have been consistent in every way whether chef is in the house or not, which also impresses me.

                            1. re: grayelf

                              The big pancake for breakfast at Canteen is a delight. I do love the lemony hollandaise on the eggs benedict and the house made corned beef.

                              I also like Frisée aux lardons and eggs benedict at Bistro Central Parc on Sat/Sun 9am - 3 pm
                              560 Central Ave
                              (between Hayes St & Grove St)
                              San Francisco, CA 94117
                              Neighborhood: Western Addition/NOPA

                              Bistro Central Parc
                              560 Central Ave, San Francisco, CA 94117

                          2. We had an amazing trip. I will post a detailed report soon. Thanks for all the recs!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: TeacherFoodie

                              Looking forward to it. It might be a good idea to post it as a new thread and then add links to your two planning threads.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                That is the plan. Thanks for the suggestion. My computer has a virus right now and there is no way I can type all I want to say on an IPhone. Hopefully will be virus-free soon so I can finish typing my report!

                                1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/840126

                                  Day 1 and 2 reports are now posted (Canteen, Mandalay, Cliff House, Aziza, Brenda's French Soul Food, Ferry Building, and Lers Ros).