Saturday, March 31, 2012

Eating out in San Francisco, Sonoma and Napa

Earlier this month my family took a trip to San Francisco and Sonoma. Prior to our visit I read about places to eat in the Bay Area and made reservations at a few spots. Below I describe our experience at each of the places that I would go back to and recommend to others. This trip was different than others because we had an infant with us, which explains why we chose to go out during lunch time. Dining with the baby is not the same as without one but all places that we visited were accommodating.

First one is Nopalito - Mexican restaurant that serves sustainable and organic food. We stopped there for lunch before our walk in the Golden Gate Park. It was easy to find a spot at 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon. We shared three plates: Salad made from cara cara oranges, blood oranges and grapefruit, Fish Taco and Carnitas. Carnitas was definitely a highlight - pork was moist and you could taste orange and cinnamon. Fish Taco was uneventful.

Prices seem to be higher for a portion size. But I can't speak much about how reasonable prices were at this place since I have not dined in San Francisco a lot. I do know it is more expensive than a taco truck. I would classify this place as an upscale Mexican lunch spot targeting people who appreciate quality ingredients and are willing to pay a premium for them.

Our second memorable lunch stop was Moritomo in Napa. We watch Iron Chef all the time so when we knew we were heading down to Sonoma we decided to make reservations at his restaurant.

We got there at 1 p.m. - at the time when lunch crowd was dissipating. Overall, this place did not blow me away - it was a nice Japanese restaurant, we have few of these in Seattle. The prices, however, were much higher (at least 1.5 times what I am used to). Fish tasted very fresh. We ordered 10-hour braised pork belly with congee rice, Spicy Chirashi bowl, Bento Box with Black Cod and Kabocha Squash Sticky Toffee Cake. I would say pork belly gave us a taste of Morimoto's ability to add Asian flavor to any ingredient, just like on the Iron Chef. Dessert was very good too - I am biased of course since I love toffee and caramel! Below are pictures from our lunch.

The trip to Sonoma would not have been complete without going to my favorite restaurant The Girl and the Fig. This time we sat outside and enjoyed California sun. I ordered Duck Confit and my husband had Pork Belly sandwich - very decadent lunch I would say.

Frances was the only dinner spot in San Francisco we went out to on this trip. I made reservations 6 weeks in advance. The place is small, has vibrant environment, quality food at reasonable prices - no wonder it is hard to get reservations. We got the only large round table available for a party of 4 and a baby. So, if you plan on bringing a kid or kids with you, call way in advance and let them know that you will be bringing a stroller.

We ordered Applewood Smoked Bacon Beignets and Little Gem Salad as a starter and for dinner I had striped bass and my friends had steak and a duck breast. The meal was what you expected - excellent! The only disappointment was dessert - I was not thrilled with their offerings. All in all, I enjoyed this place and would go back.

This concludes my report about my dining experience in San Francisco and Wine Country. I hope it provides some ideas where to eat when you are in the Bay Area.

On this trip I also tasted Ledson Sauvingnon Blanc and right now it is my favorite white wine. Another travel tip: visit Visitor's information center in Napa and/or check in with your hotel's concierge to get one-for-two wine tasting coupons.

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