Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Meal Planning for San Francisco

Or the first 36 hours anyway...

It should come as no surprise that I've shifted my focus in recent days from cooking this week's family dinners to obsessively planning where and what I want to eat in the greater San Francisco area next week. I'll be cooking dinner 3 or 4 nights during the trip, but I am going to wait and plan most of those meals after I see what kind of great local ingredients I can find. So far, halibut is on the menu. Right now, its all about dining out.

My go-to for restaurant reviews has always been Zagat. But since I had the 2005 edition for San Francisco, I decided to order the 2011 Michelin Guide instead. This is my first Michelin guide. So far, I am not finding it particularly inspiring but I suppose I can't really judge it until I've eaten at some of their recommended restaurants. I've gotten accustomed to using my Urbanspoon App on the road and have been checking out the website as well. I am quite sure that Urbanspoon has saved me from making some really awful restaurant choices, but I've come to the conclusion that many of the people voting on Urbanspoon are not especially discerning diners. The 86-percent "like" vote at Boone Hall Farms Cafe would be a case in point. So, I defaulted to Zagat and paid for an annual subscription to Zagat Premium. At $19.95, it is less than the cost of most meals in San Francisco so if it saves me from even one sub-optimal dining experience, it is money well spent. Based on past dining experiences, I try not to pick restaurants with Zagat ratings of less than 23 or so. But I'm finding for the SF area, any place rated over 23 is likely to be in the plus-$50 a person (not including wine) range so I am considering more 21s and 22s than I would otherwise.

We'll be arriving mid-afternoon on Saturday in time for a late lunch. Our plan is to stay in the city for the afternoon before heading to the house we're renting in Tiburon. I am thinking that our first stop should be the Ferry Building Market Place: beaucoups of places to eat, a bakery, a cheese shop, several purveyors of local meats and seafood, and a wine shop. My kind of place! I'd love to try the Vietnamese food at Out the Door (Zagat rating 22), but the duck confit taco at the more family-friendly Gott's Roadside (Zagat rating 21) may win out. After we eat, DH can take the kids to ride the cable car and go checkout the Bay Model at the Exploratorium. I'll happily spend my afternoon shopping at the Ferry Building. We can have a light dinner from some of the goodies I find and go to bed early.

On Sunday, I will not have had a chance to grocery shop for the basics so I'm recommending we have breakfast out at Dave & Mike's. Not rated by Zagat, but a whopping 100% of Urbanspooners have voted "like" (hopefully not all of them are Dave and Mike's friends and family!). I love corned beef hash and they advertise theirs as being "famous" so I know what I'll be ordering. We'll be making a late morning trip to the airport to pick up one of W's teammates before heading to Point Reyes National Seashore for the afternoon (I would so love to see a seal with the kids!). A good lunch option in the area is the cash-only Pine Cone Diner (Zagat rating 22), although if I eat a big plate of corned beef hash for breakfast I'll be good until dinner. Maybe Dh will share their Wild Alaskan Salmon Burger With a Chipotle Chile Aioli with me because that is calling my name. We are hoping to have the time and energy to make it to the Muir Woods National Monument to see the redwoods that afternoon as well. We can sit down and have a nice dinner at Buckeye Road House (Zagat rating 23) or grab a burger on our way back to Tiburon at In-N-Out Burger (Zagat rating 22). The menu at Buckeye has several dishes that catch my eye and some that would make the boys happy. I can tell you right now what B would order to start: Crispy Onion Rings with Housemade Ketchup and Chilled Iceberg with Zoe's Bacon and Point Reyes Blue Cheese Vinaigrette. Beyond that, it would be a toss-up between the crab cakes and the chicken wings. B knows what he likes.

And that's just the first 3o hours.


Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

How fun to be planning a trip to San Fran and all of the places to eat. Thanks for the tip on the roux. I'll look into it. Sounds easy and I'm very much into easy lately.

Lisa said...

I live on the east coast... and I may never be lucky enough to see San Francisco... so this is very exciting to me!!! Thanks for sharing...I really look forward to reading more!
Have a wonderful day.