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Jul 12, 2012 07:04 AM

4 Hour Layover in San Fran

Is it worth it to try to get into the city from the airport with a 4 hour layover for some great food? I'm thinking yes; here's my problem: My layover is from 2-6pm on a Friday. Are there any good places that serve straight through lunch to dinner? It seems like everything closes around 2 and reopens at 5 or 6.

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  1. Wow - really tough call... I would normally say yes except that you are going to be fighting hellacious Friday night traffic to try and get back to the airport at a time which the freeways could be gridlocked.

    You might want to search the boards for Millbrae or Burlingame and settle on the fact that it will probably be a Taqueria or Dim Sum restaurant.

    5 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      Asian Pearl would work, Hong Kong Flower Lounge(closed 2:30-5).
      How is dim sum in NOLA?

      1. re: wolfe

        Thanks guys, the traffic thing has me a little freaked, but I'd be down with trying San Mateo, Milbrae, or Burlingame. Good dim sum is tough to find in New Orleans. There are two places, both outside of the city center that are pretty good. Royal China in the suburb of Gretna is probably the best.

        1. re: NolaNick

          If you get in at 2:00, dim sum's probably out.

      2. re: CarrieWas218

        I would be more cautious with only 4 hours. It will take you time to get to your destination, then make sure you get back to the airport at least an hour before your next flight to get through security (unless you have premier status). Friday evenings are very busy at most airports.

        Millbrae or Burlingame (search on this board there is a lot of prior discussion) are adjacent to the airport and both offer some good options. BART into the city takes at least 30 min each way. A cab direct to Millbrae or Burlingame is only about 10 minutes.

        If your flight is delayed getting into SFO, then you will have even less time. On the bright side, however, the food options in the airport are better than many cities. A lot of local SF restaurants have franchises in the airport. There are options both inside and outside security.

        1. re: pamf

          Wow, PiQ is at terminal 1. Can anyone comment on how it compares to their Berkeley location?

      3. I would take BART to the Mission District in SF. Any type of cuisine you are looking for?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Civil Bear

          It would make me nervous to do this with only 4 hours. It takes awhile to get on a BART train from the airport, and not every BART train on the way back goes all the way to the airport (some of them stop short). Plus you'll walk out and be disoriented etc... and take awhile to walk around.

          I would allocate an hour for getting into the city and an hour for getting back. Plus 30 minutes to an hour getting through security (again unless you have premier status).

        2. If you cab to Burlingame you could eat at Mingalaba - a Burmese place that we really like a lot - their pumpkin curry and parathas are excellent.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cyssf

            As a visitor who Barts into town each trip, concur with the cautions being offered re possible delays and trains not leaving super often that go all the way in. I love the idea of Mingalaba in Burlingame by cab to minimize travel time if the OP is interested in Burmese. 2-6 doesn't seem like a good window for dimsum as I presume most places stop serving at 2 and even if open would switch to "regular" menu items.

          2. I think it's feasible, and I would personally do it, although it would be cutting it a little close. The Mission is the easiest, and by my estimate, it takes 60-90 minutes with BART to get from the airport to the 16th St station, including the airport airtrain and all that, and depending how lucky you are. According to the BART website, a train arrives in SFO every fifteen minutes or so.

            The easiest non-worthless thing to do would be to get a Mission burrito. So you would get off at 24th St BART, and El Farolito is right there; La Taqueria is perhaps a block away. Grab your burrito (get tacos if you're at La Taqueria, and make sure you get the melted cheese), enjoy, and get right back on the BART. That is definitely feasible. (There are a number of Mexican eateries in the area, and "best taqueria in SF" inspires debate on par with "best slice in NY," so I'll not get into that here.)

            A more elegant option would be to go to Limon, which is a nice Peruvian place about a block away from the 16th St stop. They are open during the afternoon, so that won't be a problem. However, it's a sit-down place that would personally have me looking at my watch the entire meal, and I probably wouldn't chance it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: dunstable

              I applaud the ambition, but don't do it! 90 minutes "door-to-door" is a reasonable maximum estimate timed from the moment you step off the plane to the moment you step into the restaurant, but that plus the ride back is 3 hours. Add one hour and one minute in the TSA line at the busiest time of the week and you miss your flight...

              None of it holds a candle to the real thing, but there have been plenty of travel articles written about the (relative) quality of the dining options at SFO. Just grab a burrito at Andale if there's one in your terminal. Or, have lunch at the Lark Creek Grill in T2 or maybe some dim sum and noodles at one of the Fung Lums followed by a stop at the Buena Vista Cafe in T3...where you can warm yourself with both the Irish coffee and the certainty that you will not miss your flight home.

              Safe travels.

              1. re: Omniverous

                Four hours might be pushing it to get into SF, but it's plenty of time to get to Millbrae or Burlingame.

            2. If it's too dicey to leave, you can still get decent eats in SFO.


              1 Reply