View Full Version : Things to do in San Francisco?
06-26-2007, 01:08 PM
So my wife and I are gonna take a half-week trip up north to San Francisco. Neither of us have spent much time up there. Can any of you suggest some things to do?
Specifically, I'm looking for places with good food. Steak, sushi, Chinese, dim-sum, etc etc. Of course, we're going to do the tourist thing...Fisherman's Warf, Japanese Garden, Chinatown, etc but any other advice would be nice too.
Bonus points for anyone who can suggest good wineries to visit in Napa.
06-26-2007, 03:48 PM
1. Best for Cabernet: Joseph Phelps (St. Helena; 707.963.2745)
Their Insignia Cabernet blend routinely gets top ratings at blind tastings. The best part of a visit is it's only $10 to taste the Insignia compared to $25 or $30 for other wineries' benchmark Napa Valley Cabs. Phelps also offers educational seminars and two different types of tastings. Open by appointment only. www.jpvwines.com.
2. Best for Chardonnay: Vine Cliff (Oakville; 707.944.2388)
The Vine Cliff experience is everything visiting a winery should be. A quick turn off the picturesque Silverado Trail, it's a hillside haven with caves, a couple of dogs, a very casual and down-home tasting area, and most importantly a hospitable staff. Chardonnay lovers should not miss the Proprietress' Reserve. Open by appointment only. www.vinecliff.com.
3. Best Value: Sawyer Cellars (Rutherford; 707.963.1980)
Brad Warner, former Mondavi vice president in charge of production, is crafting high-quality wines at Sawyer that you just can't find outside the Napa Valley. The Merlot is always soft and supple, with loads of fruit. When the winery sells through the current vintage of wines on hand, instead of closing its barn doors they find library wines to sell at really reasonable prices. Appointment necessary for tours only.
4. Most Romantic: Domaine Chandon (Yountville; 707.944.2280)
From the moment you drive through the arc that announces Domaine Chandon you are immersed in serenity. Surrounded by leafy trees and bright flowers you'll follow a footbridge over a mossy pond to reach the glimmering winery. Yes, it literally glimmers because when the winery was built its exterior was finished with flecks of glass, meant to hearken Champagne doyen Dom Perignon's initial impression of sparkling wine-he likened it to "l'étoile" or the stars. Order a glass of sparkling wine and sit on the umbrella-shaded patio for the ultimate slice of Napa Valley life. No appointment necessary.
5. If You Want to Relax, Have a Glass of Wine, and Admire the Valley: Mumm Cuvée Napa (Rutherford; 707.942.3434)
With stunning valley views, table service, several wines to taste, and bubbles, it's hard to think of a better place to finish a day than at Mumm. Allow yourself plenty of time to take a peek at their perpetually changing photography exhibit. No appointment necessary. www.mummcuveenapa.com.
6. A Perfect Afternoon: Pride Mountain Vineyards (St. Helena; 707.963.4949)
Make an appointment (open every day but Tuesday), stop at one of the valley's best gourmet grocers (Oakville Grocery in Oakville or Dean & DeLuca in St. Helena) and get some charcuterie, artisan cheeses, a baguette, and some fruit. Then head to Pride Mountain. If you arrive in the morning you can take the great tour of the vineyards, production facilities, and caves. The wonderfully educational $5 tasting is offered all day. After tasting, buy a bottle of your favorite wine and have a picnic at one of the tables surrounded by shady trees on a grassy knoll, which is also home to the remains of a "ghost winery" built in 1890. This spot is a gem worth preserving; picnickers are asked to kindly take all refuse away. By appointment only. www.pridemountainvineyards.com.
7. If You Usually Drink French: Robert Sinskey Vineyards (Yountville; 707.944.9090)
Vintner Rob Sinskey and winemaker Jeff Virnig have a passion for wines that don't compete with food for attention at the dinner table. This is a good thing, since Rob's wife Maria is a well-respected chef. Her food can be tasted alongside Rob's wines several times throughout the year. I encourage all foodies to call for a special events calendar. But drop in anytime and you'll find Sinskey's friendly staff pouring several "old world" style wines in their comfortable tasting room. Their Pinot Blanc, only sold at the winery in the 375 milliliter bottle, is a great Chardonnay alternative. No appointment necessary. www.robertsinskey.com.
8. Educational: Sterling Vineyards (Calistoga; 707.942.3344)
Sterling Vineyards' quality resurgence over the past few years has put this winery back on my must-visit list. A visit to Sterling starts with a tram ride over the valley. The self-guided tour is great for people who are visual learners. The visit concludes with a tasting of high-quality wines and one of the valley's best views. No appointment necessary. www.sterlingvineyards.com.
9. If You Had To Pick Just One: Vintner's Collective (Napa; 707.255.7150)
Napa's new food, wine, and art museum Copia has attracted a host of new restaurants, wine shops and tasting rooms for boutique wineries to the downtown Napa area. But the greatest addition for people longing to taste the wines from small and unknown wineries is a tasting room on Main Street that houses the new Vintner's Collective. It's housed in a historic stone building and offers a range of outstanding wines. Don't miss the wines from Patz and Hall, Judd's Hill, Melka, and Mason and don't expect any frills or breathtaking valley views. It's all about great wine here. No appointment necessary.
10. Best Small and Undiscovered Winery: Barnett Vineyards (St. Helena; 707.963.7075)
With a new tasting facility, Barnett has become the buzz of the valley lately. They've always made great wines, but haven't been open to the public until now. The very limited availability and high quality of their wines makes a trip to the winery worthwhile and the friendly, relaxed atmosphere will keep you coming back. Their best wine, and a perennial favorite, is the Rattlesnake
06-26-2007, 04:43 PM
Alfred's is a good place for steak! Validated parking too!
06-26-2007, 06:09 PM
The bush guy?
My kids like the fisherman's wharf
06-26-2007, 06:28 PM
The bush guy is hysterical. I walked past him unknowing when I was probably 16.
We had an uncharacteristically good meal and experience at Cafe Claude, a little jazz club in an alley. I enjoyed it more than anywhere else we ate when we were there in March.
As for things we did... I'd already been to Muir Woods, but we went back and it was as unbelievable as always. The Flower Conservatory in Golden Gate Park had some beautiful orchids. The Exploratorium I'm pretty sure is intended for children but we twenty-somethings had a blast. The Sutro baths and the beach down below were so wonderful just to sit and watch the ocean.
If you're up for a walk, we took the Powell/Market street cable car to the end of the line, then walked down by the long pier, through the Aquatic Park/Fort Mason, through the Marina District to Crissy Field, past Fort Point, and then of course across the bridge. From there, we took a bus down to Golden Gate Park, walked through there (there's quite a bit to do -- we came back later again) and then through Haight-Ashbury. It's about 12 miles and our legs hurt but we had a blast :) One of these days the east coast will lose me to San Fran, I swear.
06-27-2007, 01:41 PM
You should try and catch a symphony or a musical there. The musical culture there is pretty top notch.
If you want a good place to eat, Max's Opera Cafe is a nice place with good food and decent prices. And a lot of times they have a good live jazz pianist or singer there.
And of course Pier 39 is a great place to walk around at.
I can't suggest wineries, but I can suggest resturaunts...This is going to be between the Napa and St Helena Area
1. Don Giovanni's - A bit pricy, but good stuff.
2. Guigni's - A sandwich place. Has great meats, cheeses and breads
3. Gillwoods - It's a nice breakfast place. They do serve lunch there, but all I've gone for is the breakfasts.
4. Mustards - A grill. They serve some great dishes there. I usually get my steak well done and it was still very juicy and tasty.
5. Compadres - A Mexican place. Their food is decent, but what I like is their desserts!
6. Culinary Institute - I've personally never been there, but my friends say it's awesome.
7. Pizzeria Trivingne - I think I just killed that spelling....but it's a fun little Italian resturant.
06-27-2007, 01:50 PM
For dim sum check out New Asia Restaurant (772 Pacific Avenue). Or Meriwa Restaurant. Both are in Chinatown. It's good dim sum at cheap prices and as a former local (plus I'm Asian!) I used to frequent both places.
Best Tapas: Cha Cha Cha in Haight/Ashbury. Don't forget to try the sangria or their yummy potatoes with sauce.
For a great evening dining experience check out The Slanted Door in the newly remodeled Ferry Building. That place was hopping when I went, very trendy but excellent hot pot food.
Best Breakfast: The Pork Store or Squat and Gobble Too in Haight/Ashbury. For the Pork Store get there early or you will wait forever in line.
Best Thai: Manora's in SOMA. The food is out of this world and the prices are very reasonable. Plus you can eat dinner before you hit the happening SOMA clubs and bars.
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