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Sep 18, 2012 02:31 PM

SF/Napa trip - would love opinions on my restaurant/vineyard choices

In mid-November I'm going to San Francisco for six nights (three for business) and Napa for two nights. My boyfriend is coming with me. We want the three non-business nights in San Francisco to be romantic and same for Napa. I want ridiculously delicious but not ridiculously expensive.

We get in on a Saturday at 2 p.m. We'll be on east coast time, so already getting close-ish to dinner time in our minds. Of course we'll push it to about 6 p.m. west coast time, but no later than that. I have been to San Francisco about 15 times, but not since 2001. He's only been once, and that was for business, he only did a couple of touristy things. So I want him to be impressed.

What would be the best restaurant to go to give him a feel of San Francisco, and a view of something spectacular, on our first evening for that early dinner? I was thinking Greens. We're not vegetarians, but a local friend recommended it and the menu and location sound outstanding.

The other restaurants I'm considering are Frances, Nopalito, Flour + Water, Foreign Cinema, Local Mission Eatery and Millenium.

really love the idea of Foreign Cinema. Sounds so charming.

I'd also like to visit Chinatown at lunchtime, just for the fun/funky vibe since we live in a non-urban area of the country. Are there any restaurants in Chinatown that you can recommend? I saw a couple mentioned but it's impossible to tell online if they're really any good. I saw Utopia Cafe and Ton Kiang and wondered about them.

We are driving down the coast one day, to the Monterey area. Probably no farther south than Carmel, at the most. Any particular restaurants for lunch and dinner that are recommended?

And then, in Napa, I'm trying not to spend a fortune. We're staying in downtown Napa. I'm looking at Bistro Don Giovanni and Celadon for our two dinners. Haven't picked lunch spots. Want to kind of play that by ear.

As for wineries, considering Darioush, Bremer Family Winery. V. Sattui for a picnic maybe and Duckhorn. Not sure where else to go...

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  1. Wow, board search is seriously broken again. Many of these have been discussed in the last week or two but they're not showing up at all. .

    Romantic with a view:

    1. Not familiar with Bremer. Darioush, V Sattui, and Duckhorn are the more touristy wineries of Napa Valley. Darioush and Duckhorn back it up with having good wine, but V. Sattui is kind of a mess with lots of buses pulling in and out (though in November it will be less so).

      I would advise picking a different winery than V. Sattui. Also, be prepared that it may be raining when you go.

      Are there types of wine you like? Or a type of experience you want to have? That can help us come up with recommendations for a replacement.

      1. was in SF/Napa a couple weeks ago, food was decent, nothing blew me away sadly, with the exception of Goose & Gander. That was fantastic, don't miss that. The cocktails are some of the best I've had, get the one with the beet pickled cucumbers and such in it. Also the burger with bone marrow is really something.

        Ad Hoc was really good too, Bouchon was good but stuffy, and Bouchon Bakery was great for breakfast.

        Stop every chance you get at a taqueria and get some awesome authentic tacos.

        Oh and don't drive after drinking, the cops are a bunch of douchebags.

        1. We're coming into town the week before you, woot! Re Chinatown options, we went to Utopia on our first couple of trips for their "snacks" menu and really enjoyed it but it is not at all romantic if that matters (really just a small cafe), and they don't do classic Canto dim sum service AFAIK.

          Ton Kiang has the distinction of serving me the best and the most expensive dim sum I have ever had. It is, however, nowhere near Chinatown but rather far out on Geary.

          Never been to Greens but have read a number of downhill reports here recently which you might want to peruse if the search function behaves itself.

          On our last visit, we went to Local Mission Eatery for our date-night dinner and it was lovely, quite SF-ey I thought, though no view (apart from the lightning storm that we got to witness through the picture window). The seating/layout at Frances seemed awkward to me when we were there, and my main was a dud so would not be rushing back. Also not romantic, and neither is Nopalito. Romantic, good food and view together is a tall order -- best of luck and have a great trip!

          1. Greens is VERY old and is not living up the hype it developed a decade ago - while the view is spectacular, the food is far from memorable. Ton Kiang's specialty is Dim Sum which is not served after 2:00 - can't say I've ever eaten dinner there...

            Unfortunately, the better meals don't necessarily come with better views. I'd go for a cocktail at the Cliff House and then head to better restaurant for dinner, heartily suggesting Aziza to wow the BF and while their cocktails will knock Cliff House's out of the water, it is not far from that originating location.

            In Napa, I would suggest avoid Celadon at all costs. They got caught up in the Asian-fusion concept several years ago and never quite got right. There are so many better options here in the valley including Angele (next to Celadon and a GREAT view of the river), Zuzu (upstairs has a view and lovely tapas), or Morimoto (pretty pricey, also has a view if you sit outside, and very memorable).

            For lunch, definitely hit Oxbow Market - you can decide from there if you want Peruvian, Hog Island, wood-fired Pizza, or something like Duck Tacos.

            2 Replies
            1. re: CarrieWas218

              While I'm not recommending it, Ton Kiang is known for serving dim sum all day, until 10pm.

              1. re: CarrieWas218

                Greens got its reputation in the late 70s and early 80s, when Deborah Madison was chef.