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Jan 28, 2013 05:32 PM

Critique Our San Francisco/Mill Valley/Napa Itinerary!

My wife & I live in Austin, Texas (I'm from Boston, she's from DFW and we recently moved from Seattle, for reference) where we are avid foodies/beverage snobs. We've both been to San Francisco a couple times, but never to Napa or Sonoma.

In a couple weeks we are headed up to San Francisco and to Napa and are really excited for our trip, especially all of the gastronomic possibilities. We would appreciate it if you critiqued our itinerary.

Flying into SFO at around 10am on Friday picking up rental car, thinking about stopping at Koi Palace for Dim Sum on the way into the city. Check into our hotel near Union Square isn't until 3pm so we were hoping to head to Golden Gate Park to either Academy of Science or the Japanese Gardens or maybe to Baker Beach if it's nice out. Perhaps stop for a coffee at Blue Bottle, 4 Barrels or Sightglass before checking into Parc 55 Wyndham. Dinner that night at Fleur de Lys before heading to the Great American Music Hall. Are there any decent beer bars close to GAMH?

Saturday: Grab coffee and a pastry for breakfast at Tout Patisserie before jumping on a cable car towards the Ferry Terminal to check out the Farmers Market and market stalls. Maybe grab fixings for a picnic and heading to Golden Gate Park or Alamo Square or Twin Peaks or perhaps heading to Fisherman's Wharf for lunch or to the Mission for a burrito, depending on mood and energy level. Dinner at Incanto before a show at Brick & Mortar Music Hall. Again, any bars worth stopping at before the show?

Sunday: Wake up, check out of hotel and head to Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley for brunch before heading to Muir Woods. Check into Acqua Hotel, hit Mill Valley BeerWorks for beers and an early dinner before another show at Terrapin Crossroads.

Monday: Leisurely morning in Mill Valley, any coffee/bakery/light breakfast recs? Pack up and head up to Russian River Brewing for samplers ( hopefully some Pliny the Younger!!!) and lunch before heading to Yountville to check into Villagio Resort. Dinner at Bottega at resort that night.

Tuesday: Pastries and coffee at Bouchon Bakery before massages back at hotel. Lunch at Morimoto for Bento Boxes and on to Francisan Estate Winery for a 3pm Art of The Blend Seminar. Hopefully hit another winery or tasting room or two (any recs?) before dinner at Redd.

Wednesday: Pastries at Bouchon again or perhaps head right to Oxbow Market for grazing. Stop back in San Francisco for lunch and more sightseeing if we have time before heading to SFO for our 5pm flight back to Texas.

I'm exhausted just writing this all down, but think this will be an epic trip that will replenish our spirits and give us plenty of inspiration.

Anything that you think we are missing or suggestions of alternatives is greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much!

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  1. Beth's Community Kitchen is a new-last-year great bakery in downtown Mill Valley with wonderful breakfast and other pastries. Also coffee and espresso. There's a small amount of seating inside and outside.

    1. Near GAMH (warning the neighborhood is on the rough side). For liquor/cocktails try Bourbon & Branch (res needed), Wilson & Wilson (res needed) or Rye. In terms of beer I'm not familiar with them but try Edinburgh Castle Pub or Amsterdam Cafe.

      Near Brick & Mortar: For beer: Monk's Kettle; For cocktails the bar at Zuni is pretty good.

      As to winery recs. There's so many it's hard to pick just a few. But right in the same area as Franciscan is Corison (appt only); Hall, Flora Springs, Round Pond (appt only); Alpha Omega, Inglenook (appt only) and many many more

      1. I understand wanting to eat in Yountville when you arrive, but Bottega just just doesn't thrill me. I find the food
        heavy and over wrought.

        I would skip a second day of Bouchon pastries; those found at Model Bakery at far more interesting for breakfast. I'm a huge fan of their breakfast tartine...

        1 Reply
        1. re: CarrieWas218

          Truly. You'll be in Yountville, one of the food meccas of the US, and Bottega is rather far down on the list of good options. Redd, the new Ciccio, Bistro Jeanty are all better, and there are many more to choose from.

          I'm confused by Tuesday. Traveling all the way down to Napa for Morimoto Bento Boxes, and then all the way up to Rutherford to Franciscan doesn't make sense. It's a lot of driving. Shift the Morimoto Bento Boxes (I love Morimoto!) to Wednesday as you head out of town. Have lunch Tuesday somewhere else, in Yountville or St. Helena.

          Here's a link to Yountville winery recs. Use the concierge at Villagio to help you book appointments or to get free tasting passes.

        2. Sounds like you've already done some decent planning. I can only speak on beer near the Mission. It depends what you are looking for in a beer bar. Very close to Brick and Mortar is Zeitgeist, which is very popular with an outdoor seating area. The crowd skews a bit younger, but all types are represented, thought it will likely be busy on a nice Saturday. They serve a decent selection of local brews, though nothing out of the ordinary. Same goes for Bender's. Neither are worth going out of your way for for beer, but if you are from out of area they offer a variety of the good microbrews and a hipsterish atmosphere. Shotwell's is a quieter version of this genre, though further away.
          For beer in particular I would go to the Toronado. They offer a huge variety of beer, mostly Bay Area focused. It is within walking distance to Brick and Mortar, though not super close. Monk's Kettle is good if you are interested in a more expensive restaurant environment. The bar has a reasonable amount of room, but they specialize in beer and food pairings and skew towards restaurant. They specialize in Belgians, but offer an interesting selection of other beers too.

          1. If "a couple weeks" means literally 2, you'll be here for the tail end of SF Beer Week (Feb 8-17, There will be a great many special events at various bars during this week.