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SF/Napa Itinerary

Wife and I will be visiting San Francisco and Napa in early August for a wedding. We are from New York but have visited both areas five years ago. Will be staying in Nob Hill and Yountville respectively but will only have a car for the Napa portion of the trip. Interested in hearing comments from fellow hounds regarding our preliminary itinerary. Thanks in advance for your comments and look forward to reporting back.

San Francisco

Wednesday
- Arrive ~ 10:30 AM, check in at hotel and get settled.
Lunch - Cotogna or Pizzeria Delphina
- Preferences between these two popular casual Italian spots? Currently leaning towards Cotogna as a) they take reservations and b) we will order more than just pizza at either restaurant and Tusk's pastas sound very good.

Dinner - Bar Tartine
- Looking for another mid-priced casual restaurant serving excellent food. People's opinions re this restaurant seem varied but many people I trust seem enthusiastic about the ingredient quality and modern approach of Eastern European cuisine.

Thursday
Lunch - Roli Roti and/or 4505 Meats
- Plan on arriving early to the Ferry Terminal building and grabbing a porchetta sandwich and a burger from both vendors.

Dinner - Saison
- Our only splurge for the trip. Have an 8:45 reservation and plan on ordering the extended Discovery menu. Question for those have been, does anyone know if they would accommodate splitting one of the premium pairings?

Friday
Lunch - Kin Khao/Turtle Tower/Tadich/Chez Panisse?
- Unsure where to go for our final meal before heading up to Napa. Admittedly pretty diverse choices, I'm leaning towards the cafe at Chez Panisse since we will have a car. Open to hear other suggestions but visited Swan's and Zuni on our previous trip.

For breakfast we planned on visiting as many of the following bakeries: Tartine Bakery, Craftmans & Wolves, b.Patisserie, Knead Patisserie and Boulette's Larder for a canalé. I know many of the popular items tend to sell out early but am interested in hearing people's suggestions.

Coffee includes: Blue Bottle, Ritual, Four Barrel, Philz, Sightglass. Suggestions appreciated.

We also like ice cream and plan on trying both Humphrey Slocombe and Bi-Rite.

Napa

Friday & Saturday plan on being tied up with the wedding. Will be staying at a B&B but might try to get to Oxbow for an espresso at Ritual or some oyster at Hog Island as a snack.

Sunday
Lunch - Ad Hoc Addendum
Fried chicken lunches.

Dinner - Bouchon/Bottega/Mustards?
- Suggestions for a casual dinner for Sunday night. Have been to both Bouchon and Bottega and enjoyed each but open for other suggestions.

Monday
- Fly out of San Francisco on Monday afternoon.

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  1. I'd take Cotogna over Pizzeria Delfina, but good luck getting a reservation.

    When I went to Saison, Mark Bright, the co-owner / sommelier, kept topping off my glass, so there was no set amount to get half of. If you don't drink much he could probably work something out, give him a call.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Cotogna is a personal fave as a visitor, and I actually prefer it for lunch. There are plenty of resos available now on Open Table for Friday, August 1, Saturday, August 2 and Monday August 4 between 11:30 and 2 pm (they're closed Sundays) but I wouldn't dawdle too much. I wasn't a fan of Pizzeria Delfina the one time we went to the California St location and as you note they don't take reservations so you're pretty much guaranteed a wait. FWIW we weren't blown away by the pizza at Cotogna the one time we had it. Their sformatos, on the other hand...

      RoliRoti porchetta, the breakfast of champions! Absolutely recommend getting it early and avoiding the crazy long lineup (there will still be a lineup even at opening but it will be shorter).

      1. re: grayelf

        Agree re. pizza at Cotogna, if that's your prime motivation for lunch then I'd go elsewhere. The 24th Street Delfina unquestionably does better pizza than Cotogna. But you can do even better at BaoNecci or Tony's in North Beach, among other places. For a more sophisticated sit-down lunch with focus on other menu items, Cotogna wins hands down. Their sformatos are indeed exceptional, and the ravioli di ricotta is out of this world. Much more interesting than pizza at Delfina.

        1. re: grayelf

          Thanks for your comments. Re Cotogna we are much more interested in the non-pizza options. No offense towards pizza in San Francisco but the only one that interested me was the Neopolitan pies from Una Pizzeria Neopolitana. Unfortunately they are open for dinner only.

          Thanks for the heads up about the lines for Roli Roti. Their porchetta sandwiches look amazing. Between grabbing a New Orleans cold brew from Blue Bottle, a canalé from Boulette's Larder, a porchetta sandwich from Roli Roti, burger from 4505 Meats and ice cream from Humphrey Slocombe we hoped to eat well around the Ferry building.

          1. re: TheDegustationAsian

            My pleasure. Glad you got a 1 pm reso. I just really like the room at Cotogna in the daytime with the way the light comes in. Hope you agree!

            The best pizza I've had in SFBA was the nettle one I mentioned upthread at Chez Panisse Café -- second fave is BaoNecci but that's going to be fraught for your travel plans. I think the locals have it nailed when they are telling you to get out of Dodge for lunch on your heading-to-Napa day and it looks like eating at CP might work in that department.

            Your coffee plans all look good. Do be warned that the lineups are epic at the BB outlets in Ferry Plaza pretty much all the time, and there is no real seating at either (assuming the outside stand will be open as well on a Thursday). I went at 4 pm to the inside one on a weekday and the lineup was 45 minutes (I didn't stay). Good strategy is to have one of you line up for RoliRoti and one for BB, then one each again for Boulette's and 4505 if you can manage it.

            And this prolly goes without saying but you want to be sure to split the porchetta. I ate a whole one to myself once and was full till dinner, and I'm kind of a glutton. Be sure to ask them to mop up the cutting board with the inside of the bun for you -- they call it European style or something like that, and they usually ask but it is extra good that way so don't miss it.

            1. re: grayelf

              Yeah, I imagine the lines at many of the popular vendors are always pretty long at the Ferry building. Considering we want to visit some bakeries in Mission for breakfast anyways would you suggest visiting the Blue Bottle location instead of the Ferry building location?

              We were planning on splitting a porchetta sandwich as well as a burger but I appreciate the warning, especially if we wanted to stop at Humphrey Slocombe afterwards.

            2. re: TheDegustationAsian

              Why only Una?

              Frankly, SF has excellent pizza and I don't understand why it's not rated higher as a pizza city. I personally enjoy Caffe BaoNecci more than Una so if that's what you're after, it's an easy walk-in.

              1. re: OliverB

                Just personal preference. As I said upthread, I meant no offense and it wasn't meant as a slight to San Francisco as a pizza city.

                I also missed Mangieri when he was in NYC and have heard that his pies are only getting better. Even though NYC may be overrated as a pizza city we still have lots of very good options and considering the limited amount of meals I have on this trip I'd just prefer his pies due to his craftsmanship and excellent ingredients.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            Thanks Robert. Already booked a 1 PM lunch reservation at Cotogna. It was my understanding that lunch is much easier to book than dinner, perhaps even more so now that Tusk will close Quince for the revamp.

            From his twitter account it seems Bright is in Europe but I'll most likely reach out to the restaurant directly about beverage pairing options. I know certain restaurants in NYC (Jean Georges) offer half pours which is very nice.

          3. If you will be at the Ferry Buildling, you can knock out some of your Ice Cream, Bakery, Coffee items while there (excellent choices both inside the building and at the farmer's market stalls)

            Whatever you decide for lunch on Friday, be warned traffic gets really bad in the Bay Area Fridays during the summer after 2 pm. Eating in Berkeley would give you a bit of a head start (though warning unless you are very low key you'll want to be out of Berkeley and well on your way by 2 p.m. if possible).

            6 Replies
            1. re: goldangl95

              Getting across either bridge by then is a good thing :)

              1. re: goldangl95

                Thanks for the heads up about Friday traffic. Still looking for any other good early lunch alternatives for Friday before heading up to Napa.

                1. re: TheDegustationAsian

                  Chez Panisse is great for lunch.

                  My favorite Friday lunch spot is Fusebox.

                  1. re: TheDegustationAsian

                    How do you feel about Indian food? vik's is right off the freeway in Berkeley. Very casual cafeteria style food but some really good options the chaat is really good and the dosas are well done as well,

                      1. re: goldangl95

                        goldangI95 thanks for the suggestion. We like Indian food, especially chaat, but I don't think it is a priority for this visit. However, we will give it consideration for our next visit.

                        Btw, saw you discussing Indian food or the lack thereof in NYC. Not totally arguing with you but if you want chaat, make a trip to Floral Park at Mumbai Xpress.

                        http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/1...

                  2. Cotogna definitely.

                    Friday lunch, I love Tadich so I'm biased. It's old fashioned San Francisco with character to spare, which you're not really experiencing with any of your other dining choices. Turtle Tower is overrated imo. It's a good consistent local option for people in the neighborhood, but nothing more. I've never been to Kin Khao so I can't comment but for atmosphere alone, I'd chose Tadich for a cioppino, sourdough, and martini. Others will probably disagree. I'm not really a fan of Chez Panisse, but if I were going to visit, I'd rather do lunch than dinner.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: OliverB

                      Thanks for the comments. I think Tadich was a great option for the exact same reasons that you mentioned. Unfortunately, it looks as if I'm going to have to pass this time around and heed the advice of the other hounds regarding Friday traffic.

                      Looks like I'll try to get to Chez Panisse for a early lunch at the Cafe.

                    2. Re splitting a tasting menu at Saison, each course is roughly 2 bites, so you each would only get about 1 bite per course

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: barleywino

                        Hi barleywino, hope I wasn't confusing but re Saison my question was about whether a party of two could split a beverage pairing, not the menu.

                      2. If you're in Yountville Friday and Saturday, I'd never backtrack to Napa. Explore Yountville, Rutherford and charming St. Helena. The valley doesn't even open up to its full agricultural lushness till Yountville. Explore Yountville or head north. Go to Oakville Grocery or Sunshine Market in St. Helena for picnic fixings or snacks, hit the restos in Yountville or St. Helena. I wouldn't go to Bouchon, Bottega or Mustards -- all are weak options, IMO -- instead Archetype, Ciccio, Redd, Bistro Jeanty, Redd Wood, etc. P.S.: I live in Yountville.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          I'd agree with Redd, Redd Wood and Bistro Jeanty above Botegga and maybe Mustards. Bouchon is probably with those as well. We were at Redd adn Jeanty two weeks ago.

                          We were at Brix for lunch, too, and it was very good. Not great but certainly good.

                          Lunch at Chez Panisse (same trip) was outstanding. Highly recommend it.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Thanks for the advice, especially from a local. Archetype looks good and I was unaware that chef Zetts had left Solbar.

                            Additionally, I was wondering if anyone had heard much about Press in St. Helena. Trevor Kunk formally of Blue Hill in Manhattan left to Napa and I was wondering if anyone had recent experiences about the menu.

                            1. re: TheDegustationAsian

                              I like Press. Love the interior also. Haven't been since Kunk arrived, but his Blue Hill background bodes well for Press. BTW, the restaurant is owned by very knowledgeable pro food people.

                          2. Lunch Fri @Tadich might be wonderful but you will not be able to get on the road in time unless you eat right when they open and hurry through eating. I won't even touch I-80 northbound traffic from the Bridge through Berkeley after 3p.

                            Why not just have lunch at Oxbow? You can reserve a table at Ca' Momi (try to get a patio table, but it's tough in summer). Their food is excellent, the pastries are magnificent. Their coffee bigne is the best we've ever had, like a shot of espresso in whipped cream form.

                            I agree with Marie L., I'd skip all three of your list for Sun dinner. We've eaten Ryder Zetts' cooking at Solbar and apparently he's doing even better at Archetype. Both are in St. Helena. Solbar's more modern in architectural style, but their location in the vineyards gives their outdoor patio a real plus. Only Brix and Auberge have a prettier setup for patio dining, but Brix's chef is new (May 2014) so no reports yet, and Auberge is not really casual except at lunch (plus their patio is tiny - four tables).