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Afternoon drive from San Francisco to Reno

Lenox637 May 19, 2013 02:08 PM

Hi all, my SO and the kids (5,8) and I are driving from San Francisco Int Airport to the Reno area. We will be driving in the afternoon and would love to get a good bite to eat on the way. we will be traveling the 80....... any suggestions?

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  1. Melanie Wong RE: Lenox637 May 19, 2013 02:17 PM

    What time does your flight arrive and what time do you want to eat?

    From SFO to the City of San Francisco to pick up 80 and then eastward, you'll be outside the territory covered on this board in less than an hour and a half, if the traffic gods smile on you. So unless you wanted to stop very early in your journey to eat in San Francisco or maybe the East Bay (e.g., Berkeley) and risk getting stuck in rush hour traffic, most of your road trip will be outside the Bay Area and off-topic for this board.

    Here's a thread on the California board that covers places to eat near Hwy 80 exits that might fit your bill.

    ETA: Here's a list of the exits off 80 and mileage markers. You'll be driving over 200 miles.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong
      Lenox637 RE: Melanie Wong May 19, 2013 03:08 PM

      We get into Frisco at about 3pm on a Tuesday. Planning to head right out.

      1. re: Lenox637
        Melanie Wong RE: Lenox637 May 19, 2013 03:16 PM

        It can take an hour or so after you land to get your group together and into a rental car. You'll want to get over the Bay Bridge before 4pm, earlier if at all possible. At that time on a week day, I'd suggest to continue driving and not stopping until you get to Davis or beyond to avoid traffic. And that puts you outside the scope of this board. You should take a look at the thread on the California board I linked above. Either that or stop somewhere in the central Bay Area for a three-hour meal break and not get back on the road until after 7pm when the traffic clears and then arrive very late into Reno.

        P.S. And please drop the "Frisco".

        1. re: Melanie Wong
          Lenox637 RE: Melanie Wong May 19, 2013 03:40 PM

          Thanks for the info..... and sorry to say, coming from the right coast it will always be Frisco ;)

          1. re: Lenox637
            c oliver RE: Lenox637 May 20, 2013 12:20 PM

            We also don't say "the 80" :)

            On the California board you can see where Alan Barnes and I rave about Golden Dragon in Rocklin which is east of Sacramento.

          2. re: Melanie Wong
            little big al RE: Melanie Wong May 19, 2013 03:52 PM

            As appalling as "Frisco" is, what really sets my teeth on edge is "San Fran". Where the hell did that come from? I think it should be discouraged in the "read this first" section.

      2. CarrieWas218 RE: Lenox637 May 19, 2013 05:28 PM

        Your best stop will be Fairfield/Suisun.

        Chez Soul has KICK ASS fried chicken, but I am a huge fan of Yo Sushi for incredibly inexpensive and the most diverse selection of maki rolls in California.

        Other Fairfield/Suisun favorites include:
        Cast Iron Grill & Bar (Suisun)
        Main Street Bar & Grill (Suisun)
        Athenian Grill (Suisun)
        Babs Delta Diner (Suisun)
        Coyote Sam's BBQ (Fairfield)
        Blue Frog & Grog Grill (Fairfield)
        Omadake Japanese (Fairfield)

        Based on the timing of your arrival and the evening traffic you will be hitting, you will get to the Fairfield area just about at dinner time... I wouldn't wait until the Davis area - not as many good eats and a bit further to drive.

        3 Replies
        1. re: CarrieWas218
          Melanie Wong RE: CarrieWas218 May 19, 2013 05:36 PM

          Note that Babs Delta Diner is breakfast and lunch only. Both Coyote Sam's and Omadaka have closed, don't know about the others.

          Babs Delta Diner in Suisun City

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            CarrieWas218 RE: Melanie Wong May 19, 2013 07:02 PM

            Wow - thanks, Melanie!

            I forgot that I only eat at Babs for breakfast and didn't know that about Coyote Sams (which I *loved*).

            I was, however, at Yo this very afternoon and it continues to stand up perfectly!

          2. re: CarrieWas218
            SLRossi RE: CarrieWas218 Jun 16, 2014 08:53 AM

            Blue Frog & Grog Grill no longer exists, it has been converted to a Fuddruckers.

          3. Robert Lauriston RE: Lenox637 May 20, 2013 08:34 AM

            Best food town I know of along that route is Truckee.


            You might be in Sacramento right around rush hour, in which case that might be a sensible place to stop:


            If you'll have a place to cook in Reno, you might want to stop at Corti Bros.:


            1 Reply
            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              c oliver RE: Robert Lauriston May 20, 2013 12:21 PM

              Truckee's so close to Reno, I'd not stop. Go to Campo on the river in Reno. But that's going to be pretty late for the kiddos.

            2. smatbrat RE: Lenox637 May 20, 2013 11:55 AM


              1. c
                calumin RE: Lenox637 May 20, 2013 01:14 PM

                A logistical note for you -- with two kids and traveling in the afternoon, the most important thing will be to time your food stop to stay out of traffic. You'll hit traffic through San Francisco and for 5-10 miles out, then again around Sacramento. The drive should be about 3.5 hours but if you get stuck in traffic (esp. if it's Friday) it could be up to double that.

                Most people usually stop either in Fairfield area, or Auburn. You could also stop in Sacramento, but it's a few minutes out of the way of the main thoroughfare. Fairfield suggestions are already listed. If you want to make more progress before stopping to eat, Auburn is about 2/3 of the way there. Ikeda's is popular in Auburn -- it has a market and is good if you like pie. I've never bothered to try anything else there, but I've heard mixed reviews.

                Truckee does probably have the best restaurants on the way to Reno (except maybe Sacramento) -- but you'll be so close to Reno you'll probably just want to stay in the car and finish the drive.

                3 Replies
                1. re: calumin
                  c oliver RE: calumin May 20, 2013 02:01 PM

                  We make the drive regularly and haven't done it in under four hours in many years. And, as you say, it can be a lot longer. The only time we've found it to be really, really long is when there's snow in the Sierra.

                  1. re: calumin
                    jsaimd RE: calumin Jun 16, 2014 10:12 PM

                    We make a similar drive (to the south lake side of Tahoe) every weekend for four months during ski team season. It can be brutal if you leave after 3 PM. However, before that it can go fast, especially using the Waze app. But 3.5 is optimistic.

                    As far as restaurant suggestions I admit that our dining selections are mostly based on kids starvation following practice. We usually hit fast chains, but a few non-chains or local chains my kids like are: Dos Coyotes in Davis, or Murder Burger in Davis (I don't think the latter is that great, but others love it), Fenton's in Vacaville (this one is a local diner and ice cream place, that is an institution in Oakland. It is OK, the salads are decent, but my kids LOVE it).

                    If you aren't in a hurry or want to kill time to let traffic in Sacramento subside, hit the Jelly Belly factory tour. Kids love it.

                    1. re: jsaimd
                      Robert Lauriston RE: jsaimd Jun 17, 2014 08:21 AM

                      Fenton's in Oakland aspires to OK from the bottom of its dank hole.

                  2. e
                    essvee RE: Lenox637 Jun 16, 2014 05:08 PM

                    i like Mr. Taco in Dixon. Good authentic Mexican food. Right off the highway too.


                    1. bbulkow RE: Lenox637 Jun 16, 2014 11:29 PM

                      If I were you, I would pick out a couple of spots in Davis, and a couple spots in Auburn.

                      Davis is where I stop when I'm feeling relaxed, it's always so warm and friendly. Auburn is where I stop when I'm rolling fast and want to keep truckin' but need some fuel.

                      My old standards from my driving to tahoe days seem kaput, and besides, it's a topic for the california board.

                      1. f
                        flavorenhancer RE: Lenox637 Jun 17, 2014 09:41 AM

                        Assuming a 3pm arrival, with the need to get luggage at baggage claim and a vehicle at car rental center, departing the airport area will be about 5pm. Diving to Reno will take 3-4 hours, so ETA 9-10pm. Add a meal stop and you add another hour or so. A quick and tasty destination, not too far along the journey would seem best.
                        How about Brennan's in Berkeley? They are right off the freeway, in the old Berkeley train station, serving kid friendly American fare, buffet style, with trains rolling past the windows and, if timing works out, Giants/A's baseball on the TVs. A turkey dinner would put the youngsters in nap mode for the not too scenic trip (after dark) to Reno.
                        Alternately, In-n-out burger in Richmond is a mile or three further down I-80 (No definite articles used in freeway names) for something even quicker yet still fun for all concerned.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: flavorenhancer
                          c oliver RE: flavorenhancer Jun 17, 2014 11:20 AM

                          Granted, this thread is over a year old but can be helpful for others so I think you're overestimating how long to get out of SFO. I'd say generally speaking not more than an hour. So one hour there, four to get to reno, total of five hours. Based on a 3PM arrival, I'd say they'd be in Reno by 8, possibly a little later.

                          1. re: c oliver
                            Robert Lauriston RE: c oliver Jun 17, 2014 12:02 PM

                            SFO to Reno is almost four hours without traffic. Leaving at 4 or 5 on a weekday is rush hour.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              c oliver RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 17, 2014 12:08 PM

                              Yep, that's what I said.

                              1. re: c oliver
                                Robert Lauriston RE: c oliver Jun 17, 2014 12:33 PM

                                I don't see that you factored in rush hour.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  c oliver RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 17, 2014 12:42 PM

                                  Without traffic, we've made it in 3-1/2+. And leaving from SFO, we've found Golden Gate Bridge to be better than Bay Bridge. Regardless it's a long haul.

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