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A little help needed to fill in some gaps on my Napa trip

CIA is okay, but I have had lots of better dinners elsewhere. Bouchon? Mustard's Grill? Bistro Don Giovanni? These are all classic Napa eateries....I used to live there, and we never got sick of these restaurants, even though they are also popular with tourists.

DEFINITELY check out the di Rosa. Call them to find out when tours are available - this is the way to really see the wonderful collection. Maybe a morning visit?

Have a wonderful time!

Bistro Don Giovanni
4110 Howard Ln, Napa, CA

6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

Mustard's Grill
7399 Saint Helena Hwy, Napa, CA 94558

DAT - Scott Howard

Thanks! I have been waiting to try Scott Howard...sounds like DAT is a good way to do it!

Napa Review - Fume, Boon Fly, Don Giovanni, Zuzu, Taylors Refresher

Sounds like a great trip! You hit all my favorite Napa spots. Happy New Year! :-)

best cafe` in or around union square?

Cafe Espresso at the Sir Francis Drake is pretty good.

Maya -- festive for a weekday birthday lunch?

Maya is nice, but usually pretty quiet at lunch. You might try Town Hall instead (same neighborhood).

Yountville for dinner

Bouchon is always super slow. If you need it to be fast, I wouldn't recommend it, although the food is great.

I'd recommend Ad Hoc - still Thomas Keller, but much faster and more casual. Only caveat is that it's not great for picky eaters - only *one* prix fix menu is served.

S.F., fairly new, under $30 w/o drinks

I ADORE Antica. Highly highly recommend it. The prix fixe is really reasonable, and if I'm not mistaken they give you a decent amount of flexibility in ordering. I've never been disappointed there - the service is great, the food is really delicious Northern Italian, and it's got a great comfy neighborhood vibe. We used to be regulars when we lived in the city, and we really miss it.

Indian Restaurant in SF?

Agree that it is authentic and tasty.

"Nice" is not the first word I'd use to describe it, though! :-)

Dining near Jazz at Pearls

Don't bother with Zoetrope. It's just Francis Ford Coppolla's little tourist trap. The food is very mediocre and overpriced, and you can get similar Italian food at just about any place in North Beach.

House is great. Asian fusion, delicious fish and noodles.

Steps of Rome can be fun if you're in the mood for a boisterous atmosphere - the food's solid and pretty cheap.


To walk to Betelnut and/or A16 would be a realllllllly long walk - I used to live a block from the Fairmont, and I'm a runner, and that walk would take me at least half an hour moving at a good clip. There are some hefty hills to contend with.

You could catch the 41 as it goes down Union street, but this would involve climbing a huge San Francisco hill at Mason or Taylor to get to the intersection.

Unfortunately, public transit is sorely lacking in that particular corner of San Francisco - the cable cars will take you up or down the hill (at $5 a pop, no transfers) but otherwise you'll have to walk at least half a mile to reach any of the major bus routes or to get to BART/Muni.

That said, I LOVE that area...the park in front of the Fairmont is beautiful, and it is easy to get to Union Square or the Ferry building (all downhill - key in San Francisco!)

Sausalito near the ferry? Any dining suggestions?

Sushi Ran is not right next to the ferry, but it's _awesome_ if you like Japanese food. It's about a 15-20 minute walk through the picturesque town, and I'm pretty sure it's open for lunch. The sushi is extremely fresh and everything is perfectly prepared - it's one of my favorite restaurants.

ISO lunch and dinner recommendations in Napa

I also recommend ad hoc, Thomas Keller's temporary restuarant in Yountville. The food is quite different from the bistro fare at Bouchon - it's basically upscale comfort food. The deal is that they do *one* four course tasting menu for the entire table - usually a salad or vegetable, a hearty meat dish, a well-chosen and beautifully presented cheese, and a dessert. We have eaten there twice, and it was great on both occasions. The portions are quite large and the food is extremely flavorful and satisfying. The decor and ambiance aren't anything to write home about - it's supposed to be a temporary restaurant, after all - but the simplicity and tastiness of the food makes it worthwhile.

The only cavaet is that it's not a great place for picky eaters, because your meal is all in the chef's hands. I'm not picky at all, but the one thing I do dislike is ribs - and once when we went there, the main course was pork ribs. I was actually extremely satisfied eating all of the other dishes, and the meat course always comes with a bean or veggie side, so there was plenty of food. I even tried the ribs and liked them (as much as I could possibly like ribs - I know, it's weird, but it's just my little idiosyncracy).

I definitely agree with the recommendation for Mustard's. I'm a local, and this is one of the few tourist-heavy places that I really, truly enjoy. The pork chop is the best!

Bar that serves appetizers and maybe does some catering?

Thirsty Bear is good for events like this, and I think their food has improved lately. They do Spanish tapas and regular bar food type apps. They also have a loft area that they rent out for parties.


Did you mean Venticello?

Your Favorite Chocolates Available in SF.

Up in Napa we have Woodhouse chocolates...I'm not sure if they are carried in SF, but they are GORGEOUS and taste divine.

Range Report

I agree about the Michelin star - I do like Range quite a bit, but I am a bit perplexed about why it was one of the very few SF restaurants to garner this honor.

Visiting San Fran for 1st time

I like Range (California comfort food, great cocktails, hip crowd) in the Mission District, and I've always enjoyed Frascati, a comfy Nob Hill neighborhood place with great lamb, duck, and pasta dishes.

I also highly recommend Delfina, but as others have mentioned, it can be tough to score a reservation there.

Enjoy your trip!

Belden Taverna

I miss Cafe 52! The people were so nice there, the food was good, and it was inexpensive (comparatively...) It was one of my favorite downtown spots, and I was really sorry to see it go.

Overrated disappointments

really? what didn't you like? it's one of my favorite places...solid food, nice atmosphere, decent prices...just wondering what they did to bug you.

Overrated disappointments

I have never experienced snooty service at Gary Danko. The waitstaff has always been attentive and friendly, very helpful in answering questions and meeting our needs.

If you hate over the top service, avoid the blond dude at the French Laundry. The most ridiculous waiter we've ever had. Oh my God. I know it's supposed to be the best resto in the US and everything, but that man needs to tone it down!

Overrated disappointments

Me three. Way too precious and pretentious, too much posturing and overly dramatic presentation...the food was only okay, and it seemed like a parody of haute cuisine, everything tiny and perfect and arranged to look like a's been a while since we were there, and I've heard the new chef is great, but we tried it twice and just weren't impressed.

Good food gifts for clients in Napa?

There's an AMAZING (if somewhat pricey) chocolate shop in St Helena called Woodhouse - they make all their chocolates and they are delicious and gorgeous - almost too pretty to eat. I think you can get a small mixed box for about $20. It's worth the trip to see their shop, all the candies displayed like favorite truffle is the Cinnamon Toast.

I definitely agree that Round Pond Oils are fabulous, and EVOO is the next big thing in Napa.

Sweetie Pie's bakery in Napa has excellent small cakes and tarts, but they are pretty perishable, so I'm not sure if they'll serve your purpose.

Padma vs Katie on Top Chef

Who knew Padma had a cooking show and was married to Salman Rushdie? I guess I'll give her another shot...

Dec 16, 2006
megamalone in Food Media & News

Padma vs Katie on Top Chef

Okay, now that we've had half a season of Padma, we've formed legitimate opinions of her: how do you feel she stacks up against last season's host, Katie? Personally, I was thrilled that they got rid of Katie the Brunette Fembot, and I was hoping Padma would step up and have a personality, maybe even know something about food. I tried to give her a chance, but I think she's almost as wooden and uninteresting as Katie...what do you guys think? Does she have redeeming qualities (other than a hot bod and a gorgeous face?) Is there a reason why the Top Chef producers sought out two ladies with monotone voices, vacant eyes, and 22 inch waists to host a cooking competition show?

Dec 14, 2006
megamalone in Food Media & News

Review of Go Fish--Cindy Pawlcyn's new restaurant in St. Helena

Huh, I'll have to give it another chance - maybe they were having an off night when I tried it. I was unimpressed with the sushi, which seemed sloppily assembled and not terribly fresh. We also ordered from the "fish your way" section, and although the fish was properly done, the sauce was pretty flavorless and it was just kind of beached on the plate. I'm not the kind of girl who needs everything to look fancy, but it seemed like there was no thought put into it.

I agree that the staff seemed inexperienced and out of it - we made it clear that we were there for a birthday, and not only did we get nothing to celebrate the birthday, but we also had to sit waiting to order for eons. It wasn't terribly busy that night, and I thought this was strange.

The decor is really boring to me. There's a difference between "homey" and "homely" and I thought it fell into the latter category.

But I'll give it another shot...I LOVE Cindy's other places.

Union Square Tips?

Union Square is tourist central, so it's pretty hard to avoid the overpriced mediocre places - but it's not as bad as Fisherman's Wharf. What is your price range?

You could do one of the restaurants in Belden Place - it's an alley in the Financial District with about four good, solid restos in one block.

If you don't mind a little bit of a hike, you could go into Chinatown and get dim sum - that's a great San Francisco experience.

Top Chef Holiday Party Episode

Mike has some kind of weird power. I used to laugh at him, but now I find myself rooting for him in an odd, if he's lasted this long, there must be SOMETHING there other than the frat boy Belushi lookalike clown. I think he's putting weed in the judges' tastes or something.

Dec 14, 2006
megamalone in Food Media & News

Top Chef Holiday Party Episode

We call him "Troll Hair" in my house.

Dec 14, 2006
megamalone in Food Media & News

anti-OpenTable bias?

I love opentable. Very, very rarely make a reservation any other way. When we're hungry or planning a meal out, it's the first place we look for inspiration (before hitting chowhound, of course) to see what's available.

I've never noticed attitude or bad service in three years of happy open table use.

Dec 14, 2006
megamalone in Not About Food

Dinner for 12 in downtown SF?

Agree that Thirsty Bear has improved in recent months. Their tapas and paella have become a lot tastier and more authentic. It's good for groups - they've got lots of big tables. They make their own beers, which are actually pretty tasty (though I'm more of a wine snob than a beer snob).