Napa & Sonoma
My sister- in- law lives in the heart of San Francisco. While we are sad that she lives so far away, we get the benefit of visiting one of our favorite cities. The rolling hills, european architecture, breath taking views, skyline, golden gate bridge, coast line, and so much more make it hands down the most gorgeous city in the US. SF is also close by to some of the finest vineyards in the world, with Napa Valley and Sonoma about an hour drive away. It is also a dining mecca and definitely hosts one of the top dining scenes in the US (if not the best). You will never run out of things to do in SF. Much like NY, you can find a new venue every day.
What to do in the city:
• Union Square- Walk around for some high end shopping, great eats, and you might even catch a festival.
• Embarcadero- This is the gorgeous waterfront drive that runs through several neighborhoods. The walk itself is so peaceful and scenic. Take a camera!
• Ferry Building- This is a great little marketplace on the Embarcadero. They have some great little shops, markets, and eateries inside. You can get wonderful wines, cheeses, oils, crafts, etc. There’s a wonderful dessert shop inside called , “Miette”. The ferry building also hosts a farmers market on select days.
• The Union Square Mall- Yes, of all places, the mall! This mall has the most amazing food court I have ever seen. You can get fresh crepes, sushi, barbeque, thai, fresh pastas, gelato, éclairs…and the list goes on. Everything’s served in real dishware too. This isn’t your typical mall food.
• Fisherman’s Warf- Historic waterfront, with fresh seafood, aquarium, and a wide array of things to do. Get your clam chowder in sourdough bowl and fresh dungeness crab here! Definitely a heavy tourist spot.
• Alcatraz- Not really my thing, but Neil loves it. It’s a former federal maximum security prison open for touring. Need tickets for this one.
• Sausalito- Quaint, charming pedestrian area along the water. It’s very serene and has some great restaurants. Check out the houses there too!
• Napa Valley- Hit the major wineries if it’s your first visit. We’ve been to Coppola, Sterling, St. Supery, Beringer, Mondavi, and a few others. Coppola was probably my favorite. Napa is a bit commercialized. Go to V. Sattui midday as they sell a ton of gourmet food and have great picnic grounds. It’s a nice place to unwind and have a glass of wine and cheese. Check out the highly acclaimed “Ubuntu” restaurant for dinner. There’s always “French Laundry” as well, but good luck with reservations.
• Sonoma- I really liked Sonoma much more than Napa. I only visited 3 wineries, but each one gave such personalized service and really took their time with us. Sonoma has a more quaint, and homey feel. We went to Ledson (gorgeous castle winery), B.R. Cohn, and Chateu St. Jean. All had excellent wines…I was partial to the reds at all. B.R. Cohn makes an exceptional extra virgin olive oil. Next time, we’ll head over to the Healdsburg area of Sonoma. I hear that their wines are amongst the best in all of Sonoma.
As far as where to eat, the possibilities are endless. The general SF areas to stick to for good eats are North Beach, Mission District, the Marina, and Sausalito. My experiences are .01 % of what the city has to offer, but here are some places I’ve enjoyed.
• Mall Food Court- You absolutely have to check this out for lunch
• Mijita- in the Ferry Building. Fast food Mexican. It has great fish tacos.
• Miette- in the Ferry Building. You must get a dessert from here. They are all beautifully presented and taste even better than they look. They have the best macaroons ever.
• Townsend- Go there for a yummy brunch.
• Yank Sing- A must go if you are into dim sum. They have this down to a science. Just don’t let your eyes take over your stomach, because you’ll end up grabbing a hell of a lot more food from the carts than you can finish.
• Slanted Door- Excellent modern asian food.
• Kokkari- Delish, and very authentic greek food. The dining room is absolutely beautiful too. Go with a group so you can share all the mezze. Didn’t particularly enjoy the grilled whole fish, but the lamb chops and all of our mezzes were wonderful. Ask for the table near the fireplace.
• Pre Sa Vi- Ecclectic, fun food having different ethnic flairs. Really pretty dining room as well. Get the lamb burger sliders off the bar menu!
• Medjool- Really fun Mediterranean tapas restaurant with a lively atmosphere. Great place to go with a group.
• Foreign Cinema- You’ll feel like you are in the “in crowd” here. It is an absolutely gorgeous restaurant with major flair. The food is great for brunch and dinner. It was actually featured on “Giada’s wkd Getaways”.
• Azuma- I’ve had some of the best sushi here. Although, I don’t think SF can have bad sushi. It’s on the water! Try Blowfish and Sushi Ra as well
We also went to some fun venues for evening drinks. Try the Redwood Room, W Hotel, Ducca Bar, Bin 38 wine bar, bar at the Clift, and Americana
We’ll be heading back to San Fran soon, so I’ll definitely update this.