Was only there for 2 nights, but these were our experiences:
Frenchie's Saltwater Cafe - Followed the recommendations on this board and went there first night. It was just okay. Menu is mostly fried seafood items, but my husband was happy with his grilled mahi sandwich. My crab cakes and daughter's chicken fingers weren't very good. The fish spread and the coleslaw were quite yummy though.
Columbia Restaurant - This is a chain that we usually like, but the service was quite bad. Food was okay, except my fish had a rather strong fishy taste. At the end, the management sincerely apologized for the behavior of our waiter and made things right. We appreciate the manager's recognition of the problem and his effort to resolve the issue.
Otherwise, breakfasts and lunches were at our hotel, the Marriott Sand Key. Food and service was fine there.
I relied on the advice from this board for my recent trip to the SF area, so I thought I'd share my experiences.
Cafe Fanny (Berkeley) - Had lunch here twice and really enjoyed it booth times. The weather was great and though the tables are overlooking a parking lot, it's a good spot for a quick lunch.
Tomate (Berkeley) - Had a late breakfast here one day. Very good! Especially the potato cake they make.
Chez Panisse Restaurant (Berkeley) - Despite some of the negative views here, my daughter really wanted to go here for dinner and I'm glad we did. First of all, the service was excellent. Very attentive, but not overly so. My daughter is a vegetarian and they accommodated her needs without making her feel like she was missing out on anything. We even got to tour the kitchen and meet the chef following dinner...very interesting! Most amazing was the dessert, a berry souffle. Perfect.
Mayo Family Winery Reserve Room (Sonoma) - Did the tasting menu with wine pairings lunch. It was fun and the food was excellent. Chef Clayton Lewis gave interesting descriptions of how the food pairings complimented the wines. We really enjoyed our experience here.
Rutherford Ranch Winery (St. Helena) - Went to chocolate and wine tasting here (had a groupon). It was nice, but wines and chocolate servings were a bit skimpy.
Bourban & Branch (SF) - I know it's a touristy thing to do, but we wanted to go. Had lots of fun and the drinks were excellent. I had the Runway and my daughter had the Gin Cucumber Gimlet.
Papalote Mexican Grill (Mission District) - Inexpensive counter service Mexican food. My Chicken Mole Quesadillas was good, but my daughter thought her bean burrito was just okay.
The Boxing Room (SF) - Found this place by chance when I was hungry. I understand that this Cajun fare restaurant is fairly new. I really enjoyed the beef brisket special and liked the modern vibe of the place. The service was excellent.
Burma Superstar (SF) - We enjoyed the interesting food here. We had several vegetarian dishes and everything was good, especially the fried bread.
Since the weather was so beautiful, we enjoyed a few picnics and didn't get to as many restaurants as I had planned, but I feel like we had a good sampling of the area cuisine on a budget in the company of a vegetarian.
Papalote Mexican Grill
Mayo Family Winery
I'm so glad I read all the way through this thread...great suggestions! We will be traveling to Berlin with 2 college age daughters (one a vegetarian) and will be staying in the Tiergarten area. We are all foodies, but prefer to keep how much we spend on food to a minimum.
Will be traveling to Strasbourg later this month with my college age daughters...Chez Yvonne looks like the perfect thing for us!
We'll be driving down through the Alsace region. Any suggestions for good places that are budget friendly for wine tasting, lunch and must sees?