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Bay Area driving destinations (or within 1hr of region)

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OliverB Jul 23, 2012 02:55 PM

I have a car rental tonight and am in the mood for some fun with my girlfriend... I'm not looking for anything super fancy (no $$$$ michelin dining) and it doesn't necessarily have to be dinner either; an old bar or swanky dinner lounge, alpine style lodge to nurse cocktails somewhere in Marin County amongst the old redwoods, perhaps some historic coastal hotel perched on the bluffs where we could have dinner overlooking the sea or fireside and good strong drinks on the porch afterword? Would also be interested in any roadfood-worthy destinations with hopefully other sites of interest nearby. '60s style mini-putt and burger stand type of thing, or tiki related attraction. Basically anything FUN and interesting and not from the usual list of places around the Bay Area! Food is secondary to atmosphere. Bars and cocktail lounges are just as good! I'd like to stay within approx. 1hr of the city proper, unless it's really worth our time to venture further... We don't want to head out to Santa Cruz for instance. Any ideas?

Old bars or restaurants, road stands, seafood shacks, distilleries, historic sites... anywhere out of the ordinary where we can get something to chew on and preferably a strong mixed drink.

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    macdog RE: OliverB Jul 23, 2012 03:08 PM

    Nick's Cove on Tomales bay is a nice spot and great drive to get there. To the south, Half Moon Bay might fit the bill. Haven't eated there in awhile, so here is link to some restaurants.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/777034

    Barbara's Fish sounds good and Duarte's in Pescadero is an institution.

    1 Reply
    1. re: macdog
      Robert Lauriston RE: macdog Jul 23, 2012 03:43 PM

      Heading north this time of day you'll hit rush hour traffic.

    2. Robert Lauriston RE: OliverB Jul 23, 2012 03:08 PM

      Duarte's in Pescadero

      1. CarrieWas218 RE: OliverB Jul 23, 2012 03:25 PM

        I'd head down to Half Moon Bay for Pasta Moon or La Granada for Cafe Gibraltar.

        3 Replies
        1. re: CarrieWas218
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          OliverB RE: CarrieWas218 Jul 23, 2012 03:48 PM

          Those all look like good restaurants... but there are plenty of good if not better Italian, etc. in SF.

          I'm looking for atmosphere and something different; not just restaurant recommendations outside of the city. Is there no place with history and ambiance to spare nearby? Again, an old fashioned cocktail bar is just as good as a restaurant. A burger stand by a mini-putt or drive-in would also be the kind of thing I'm after. Not just a place to sit and eat...

          Harley Farm in Pescadero would be the kind of suggestion I'm looking for, if they were offering one of their barn dinners tonight. Good cheap fun would be best though. An old speakeasy type of place or rat pack era steakhouse maybe. A roadstand that serves the most killer Mexican or whatever that's worth driving all the way out for. Not just good restaurants outside of San Francisco though please.

          Thanks for all the recs so far!

          1. re: OliverB
            Robert Lauriston RE: OliverB Jul 23, 2012 04:00 PM

            The Vans in San Mateo.

            http://www.thevansrestaurant.com

            Bertolucci's in South SF.

            http://www.sodinisbertoluccis.com/

            1. re: OliverB
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              ML8000 RE: OliverB Jul 23, 2012 04:55 PM

              There's a taqueria in the only corner gas station in Pescadero. It's good by Bay Area and California standards...but it is inside a gas station.

          2. o
            OliverB RE: OliverB Jul 23, 2012 03:33 PM

            Thanks!

            Barbara's looks great and isn't too much of a haul, seems to only be approx. 30 mins outside of the city and would be nice to eat on the coast.

            Is Duarte's destination worthy? It looks great if you're hanging out in Pescadero, but what else is there to do besides eating? The restaurant looks neat but not enough that it'd be worth the drive without a fun bar or something to do afterword.

            I'd be eager to drive an hour in any direction of the city, but the destination should offer something other than just dinner... unless it offers an atmosphere that's interesting/unique enough to spend several (2-3) hours of the night nearby - think Harley Farms barn dinners. Is there anything to do in Pescadero on a Monday night to merit the drive?

            4 Replies
            1. re: OliverB
              wolfe RE: OliverB Jul 23, 2012 03:35 PM

              Duarte's no. How about La Costanera?
              http://lacostanerarestaurant.com/inde...

              1. re: OliverB
                Robert Lauriston RE: OliverB Jul 23, 2012 03:43 PM

                Duarte's is not just a restaurant, it's also a 100-year-old bar that's the town hangout.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  wolfe RE: Robert Lauriston Jul 23, 2012 03:58 PM

                  Check out the glowing recommendations for Duarte's including RL's "Some of the food is good."
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/604804

                  1. re: wolfe
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                    ML8000 RE: wolfe Jul 23, 2012 04:53 PM

                    The food quality at Duarte's seems to have dropped off in the past couple of years. If the prices were on par, no biggie but prices have creeped up. I'd much rather go to the taco joint in the gas station.

              2. d
                DavidT RE: OliverB Jul 23, 2012 03:34 PM

                If you are in the mood for a hearty meal, you might want to try Le Chalet Basque (on North San Pedro Road in San Rafael). It is an old-school, family-style place that has been open for decades. The drinks are stiff and it also a nice patio if you would like to dine outside. The drive out North San Pedro Road that takes you thru China Camp and into the back side of San Rafael is very scenic.

                1. wolfe RE: OliverB Jul 23, 2012 04:17 PM

                  See if you can find out if the Basque Cultural center has jai alai(pelota).
                  http://www.basqueculturalcenter.com/

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                    FoodTrippin RE: OliverB Jul 23, 2012 04:27 PM

                    Watch the sunset with a drink on the patio of the Moss Beach Distillery. Can't vouch for the food (have not eaten there in years), but sure the ocean view will still be spectacular.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: FoodTrippin
                      CarrieWas218 RE: FoodTrippin Jul 23, 2012 04:53 PM

                      Meh - if you want to go for a Sunset, you are better off at La Costanara in Montara

                      1. re: CarrieWas218
                        Robert Lauriston RE: CarrieWas218 Jul 23, 2012 05:51 PM

                        Costanera has a Michelin star and is kind of expensive.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          CarrieWas218 RE: Robert Lauriston Jul 24, 2012 08:22 AM

                          And I'm wondering who they paid off to get their Michelin star.... The last three dishes I had there were laughable and one was sent back for being inedible (the manager agreed).

                          1. re: CarrieWas218
                            Robert Lauriston RE: CarrieWas218 Jul 24, 2012 08:34 AM

                            Deserved or not, it is that kind of place.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              CarrieWas218 RE: Robert Lauriston Jul 24, 2012 08:07 PM

                              Out of curiosity, I went this evening. Tuesday is Happy Hour all night so I wasn't too put out by the money...

                              BF ordered a sangria (warm, no ice) and I ordered a Pisco sour which, for some reason I have yet to understand, was garnished with slivered red onions. Ick.

                              We had two appetizers; the ceviche and skewered beef heart "with crispy potato and green sauce. I found the ceviche fish to be quite fresh, but (again) overly salted and spiced for my taste. The garnish of large hominy and corn nuts is interesting.

                              The beef heart was more fun for me; well-marinated and sliced thin to be tender, it was the best dish of the evening but the "crispy" potato was nothing other than a really large, single potato on a bed of green sauce that was mostly unnecessary.

                              I know I'll be back because it is walking distance from where my BF lives and he likes the proximity, but I'm still shocked it has a Michelin star. Maybe the entrees on the menu are better than the tapas.

                    2. s
                      Sharuf RE: OliverB Jul 24, 2012 09:16 AM

                      The Pelican Inn at Muir Beach ("20 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge") beats all for ambience. It is a re-creation of a 16th century English pub, and the scenery driving to and from is very nice in a West Marin hillside and coastline sort of way. The beach itself at Muir Beach has a clothing-optional section if you want to come early and catch some rays.

                      Dinner prices are $16 - $34. They also have reasonably priced lunch and weekend brunch.

                      http://pelicaninn.com/

                      1. CarrieWas218 RE: OliverB Jul 24, 2012 09:32 AM

                        Oliver - where did you end up going?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: CarrieWas218
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                          OliverB RE: CarrieWas218 Jul 24, 2012 04:24 PM

                          Thanks for all the great tips everyone!

                          We were all set to drive to Barbara's for fish on the piers followed by sunset cocktails at Moss Beach, just because my girlfriend really wanted to go there. I got too tired and hungry and flaked out, so we ended up at 54 Mint Vineria, haha. To be fair, we did drive over the GG Bridge to Point Bonita afterword, but it was too dark to see anything.

                          The Pelican Inn looks amazing though; I'm definitely adding that to next week's itinerary!

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