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I have finalized my Napa / San Fran Itinenary

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Lots of research, thanks to everyone on here. I really appreciate the advice.

June 5: Staying at Embassy Suites - Napa. Arriving around 4, so just Dinner at Morimoto.
June 6 Breakfast: Alexis Baking Company
Drive up to Meadowood and check in
Lunch: Picking up items at a local Calistoga deli and having a picnic lunch in the olive tree
orchard at Ehlers Estate Winery
Dinner: The French Laundry
June 7: Breakfast: At Meadowood
Lunch: At Oxbow Marketplace - Anything to "Not to Miss" here
Dinner: Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen
June 8: Breakfast: At Meadowood
Lunch: Picnic at a TBD winery
Cocktails: Auberge du Soleli
Dinner: Restaurant at Meadowood
June 9: Leave Meadowood early and head back to SF
Breakfast: Walk around the Ferry Farmers Market and enjoy
Late Lunch: Swan Oyster Depot
Check into Hilton - Union Square
Dinner: Farallon
After Dinner Drinks: Wilson and Wilson

Any comments/last minute suggestions?

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  1. I live here and that looks like a very nice itinerary...

    For "not to miss" at Oxbow; it is a small establishment so best to just walk the entire property first before deciding on what to eat. Honestly, nothing here really thrills me but my BF loves it and we usually end up at Kitchen Door because their specials are more interesting than everyone's standard menu.

    I really do like Hog Island Oysters' clam chowder though...

    1. To avoid having to drive back into Napa, I'd pick up picnic supplies at Oxbow / Fatted Calf on Wednesday and have lunch somewhere in the valley on Thursday. Though actually if it were me, the day after a four-hour tasting menu dinner I wouldn't be hungry until evening anyway

      2 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Yes, you could pick up items at Oxbow in Napa before making the drive up to check into Meadowood.

        But remember, eat and drink very lightly before going to the FL that evening. Just a snack. Your stomachs need to be quite empty and gnawing for the FL experience!

        Were it me, since Meadowood is in St. Helena, and since gourmet provisions are everywhere in the sweet small town of St. Helena (my former hometown), I'd get a few small snacks there and no more. Here are some of my favorites: piadine from PIzzeria Tra Vigne, the carnitas burrito with enchilada sauce from Villa Corona (too heavy before FL), artisan salumi and cheese from Dean & Deluca or Sunshine Market. Sunshine Market has everything for any type of picnic and a great deli section with salads -- perfect for some excellent snackage. Once provisioned, you can take the very short drive north to Ehler's Grove, since it's also in St. Helena.

        Sounds like a great weekend. Enjoy the wine tutor at Meadowood if you can.

        1. re: maria lorraine

          >Once provisioned, you can take the very short drive north to Ehler's Grove<

          Does Ehler's Grove have a place to picnic, or?

      2. farallon seems somewhat of an odd choice alongside meadowwood and french laundry -- but maybe it is exactly what you want?

        1. Alexis is just OK. If you're used to Tartine in SF, you'll be disappointed. If you find a good bakery in Napa let me know,
          RE: Oxbow Market: You can get Ritual Roasters coffee at the coffee counter in the center of the market.
          The barristas and the equipment. Neither seem to be as polished as at one of their own cafes in SF, but it's still darned good coffee. Napa Valley Roasting in St. Helena serves very good coffee, is mostly full of locals, and has free wi-fi.
          Best reason to go to Oxbow: The spice man! he's just behind the coffee place. He has the best selection of North African and Middle Eastern chilis of anywhere I know. His Moroccan harissa is TDF. Worth the trip to Napa.
          I've been to Cindy's a few times. Always solid. Good. Never "wow." Very nice, though, and the staff is great.
          Ubuntu, a vegetarian restaurant in Napa, is, or was fabulous. They changed chefs over a year ago. I haven't been since, but my Napa friends say that it's as good as ever, which would make it very very good. One of those rare vegetarian restaurants where you won't miss not having meat, and the food doesn't taste like hippie chow.
          Not on the radar yet, as far as I know: In Yountville, the chef from REDD opened a wood-fired pizza joint towards the north end of town (just past the FL and across the street). I ate there once, about a month ago, and it was damned good, and affordable, for Yountville!

          2 Replies
          1. re: mr_morcilla

            Note: Ubuntu closed for a winter sabbatical but is still closed - and the owner is not picking up her phone so none of us know if she is going to reopen since the last chef (Aaron) departed before the holidays...

            The fact that she hasn't reopened the restaurant by Memorial Weekend is very telling to me and very sad. It was my favorite restaurant in the 'hood.

            1. re: mr_morcilla

              We ate at Redd Wood earlier this year and agree that the food was good and affordable, although the service was somewhat spotty (but not so spotty that I'd not go back).

            2. Lunch: At Oxbow Marketplace - Anything to "Not to Miss" here, The Fatted Calf & Three Twins ice cream as well as a nice cheese market.

              There will be a wait at Swan Oyster Depot. Why are Farallon? There are other places I would pick over Farallon.

              17 Replies
              1. re: tjinsf

                I decided on Farrallon based on:
                1) I thought that a nice fish dinner would be a great way to end a trip in California and would break away from the FL/Meadowood experience.
                2) The close proximity to our hotel and to Wilson and Wilson would allow us to drop of the car at the airport the night before, there by allowing us some additional time to sleep. We are able to walk to both Farallon and Wilson and Wilson. We depart at 7:30am.

                Is there a different restaurant you would recommend?

                1. re: BillLumberg

                  Why not find a car rental that lets you drop off near your hotel?

                  1. re: BillLumberg

                    I think it's a good strategy and would leave as is. Yes, it may not be the absolutest, best-est SF restaurant in the city, but frankly there are not tons of seafood restaurants total, and Farallon (though I've only eaten there once) completely satisfies that craving in an interesting atmosphere.

                    I hope you thoroughly enjoy Wilson & Wilson! We had an issue with the line when we went. We arrived 5 minutes before our reservation. There was a line. We went to the front of the line, and when the door opened we said we had a reservation. She said to get in line. After waiting in line for fifteen minutes, we walk in the door to find they had given our table away. (luckily they were able to get us another within 10 minutes - but they did not let us stay past our appointment time)

                    This is all to say. When you see the line, get to the front. Knock on the door. When it opens, explain clearly that you have a spot at Wilson & Wilson NOT Bourbon and Branch. We thought we had said that, but I guess we didn't . . .

                    The drinks were excellent FYI, but the confusion in the beginning, plus no apologies (and not giving us more time in our reservation slot due to the delay) left a sour taste.

                    1. re: BillLumberg

                      you might consider replacing farallon with tadich -- i think it would be worth the extra walk.

                      1. re: Dustin_E

                        I would take Farallon over Tadich any day...

                        Tadich is good for what it is - a San Francisco institution that always has a wait and has 80-year old atmosphere and recipes. When I crave that, I head to Sam's instead. Farallon is far more innovative in its fish preparations and unquestionably has a finer atmosphere than Tadich.

                        1. re: Dustin_E

                          I would not pick Tadich over Farallon unless I was with an elderly auntie that like boiled potatoes and overcooked food. Farallon isn't the most up to date or innovative but it's light years ahead of Tadich in terms of taste of food.

                          1. re: tjinsf

                            Tadich has some old school charm, similar to Swan's.

                            I think after having the fish preparations at Morimoto, TFL, and Meadowwood, Farallon will just feel tacky.

                        2. re: BillLumberg

                          If you want something casual I would go to Woodhouse Fish Company, it's on the F line. You don't need a car to get around many neighborhoods in SF. take a taxi or uber if you don't do public transit.

                          I like Farallon especially for a group dinner or business meeting but I don't find it exceptional.

                          1. re: BillLumberg

                            A couple of other seafood restaurants that would be memorable for a SF visit include Waterbar (updated classic) or LaMar (Peruvian), both with a view and not very far from Union Sq.

                            Though after having a late lunch at Swan, you might want something besides seafood. For something completely different, consider Thai at Lers Ros or Burmese Kitchen or Azziza for Cal.Morrocan.

                            1. re: foodeye

                              Aziza is nowhere near Union Square/Wilson & Wilson.

                              Lers Ros, Burmese Kitchen - are in a bad neighborhood. It's not a pleasant walk.

                              Waterbar and LaMar are doable if the weather is nice, they are a little over a mile away. While the ambiance on the water is nicer, the food isn't so much remarkably better than Farallon.

                              1. re: goldangl95

                                Weeknights the area can be dead and creepy, but on Saturday nights, Post, Geary, and the part of Larkin north of Lers Ros are filled with people going to restaurants and shows and bar-hopping.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Somewhat agree. Though it is a city comfort level thing (FYI to the OP, you are going to run into this a little walking to Burbon Branch/Wilson & Wilson depending how you get there).

                                  Not the same area, but we met some friends who had a hotel by Union Square, down at AQ. They decided to walk. It was light outside, and they still said they felt uncomfortable walking there.

                                  1. re: goldangl95

                                    AQ isn't by Union Square, it's at Mission and 7th. The walk up Jones from there to Bourbon and Branch is seriously sleazy most times of the day. There are some good Vietnamese dives, though.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Someone upthread suggested taking a cab to the Tenderloin (Lers Ros, Burmese Kitchen). That is what we do when we are visiting and have a reservation at LR in the evening. It's only a few dollars from Union Square and avoids the issue entirely. I've never felt uncomfortable walking in the area or near Civic Centre in the daytime with my SO, but it can be unpleasant. I was a bit freaked out walking by myself from Canteen to Blue Bottle Mint Plaza one Sunday morning, and I still recall feeling on edge walking to the Vietnamese place below Mission that was quite famous (Julia Child liked it) the first time we went to SF. At any rate, Lers Ros' appetizers are worth getting there somehow!

                                      1. re: grayelf

                                        the issue being people that live there. All feelings of not being safe have everything to do with the people having them and nothing to do with the neighborhood. Homeless people and sex workers do not equal going to kill/rob me.
                                        Seriously if you are that afraid of the Mission, Soma or the tenderloin just stick to Fisherman's Wharf and the Marina. (fun note highest rate of robbery of tourists, those two places).

                                        1. re: tjinsf

                                          I don't think robbery (e.g. pickpockets/grabbing purses) is what most people are afraid of. The must uncharitable thing to say, is people don't want to have to talk to or associate with people so noticeably down on their luck. The more charitable thing to say, is people don't want to deal with a potential verbal or physical confrontation with someone who is drunk or high.

                                          Anyways, it is something to make a note of/warn visitors about if they're planning to walk to a restaurant. It's definitely not the same walk as walking from Union Square to Waterbar.

                                          1. re: tjinsf

                                            Or take a cab or transit rather than walking, as suggested. I often do that at home as well when I am going through the worst bits of town to get to good eats. Agree most folks in those areas are not bent on evil, but collateral damage is more probable under the circs. A little caution, especially when you are on holidays and unfamiliar with the nabe, can make for an event-free trip.

                          2. Hmmm... Morimoto, French Laundry, Meadowood. "Any comments/last minute suggestions?"

                            Yes: "burp". I've been to all three, several times, but not so closely spaced. I hope you'll provide commentary after your food tour, with your take on the three. (I'll hold my opinions until after you've tried them, to avoid undue influence.)

                            Mike