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7 Restaurants Worthy Of A Road Trip From SF

Leaving the city for the day? Here’s where to go and what to eat.
7 Restaurants Worthy Of A Road Trip From SF image

photo credit: Melissa Zink

SF is a beautiful place that happens to be a gateway to other beautiful places. And, of course, restaurants worth planning an entire day trip around. Head to the spots on this guide after hiking up and down Mount Tamalpais or practicing your very impressive glass swirling technique in wine country—they might even convince you to pack up and move to California.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Marielle V Chua

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Sonoma

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The Day Trip: Sonoma

Even if all you know about wine is that it comes from grapes, a visit to Napa Valley should be high on your to-do list. Mostly because you’ll get to eat at Valley. It’s a hideaway from the more crowded restaurants near Sonoma’s historic plaza—time slows down and the local produce on the menu of simple Californian dishes reigns supreme. The freshest roasted stone fruits are topped with ricotta, jammy eggs get crowned with XO sauce, and olive oil cake is worth the drive alone. So prepare to stay in the back patio for hours and keep the bottles of wine coming.

The Day Trip: Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay is famous as the backdrop for Hitchcock’s The Birds, but you should also know that no trip here is complete without a stop at Spud Point. The old-school seafood shack off Highway 1 is churning out clam chowder that sets a high bar for all future chowders. Velvety rich and loaded with what we can only assume are buckets of garlic, this is a dimension-altering soup. Don’t stop there though—grab some of the also-excellent crab rolls and either spread out at one of the picnic tables out front or scoot down to nearby Doran Beach for an unbeatable picnic on the sand.

photo credit: Jess Paul

The Day Trip: Mount Tamalpais/Mill Valley

Hiking Mount Tamalpais—and ooh-ing at the seemingly endless redwood trees, waterfalls, and famous 10-foot ladder—is a Bay Area rite of passage. This foliage-filled state park just north of the Golden Gate Bridge is a happy place for anyone who’s in the top 5% of Strava super-users. Climb to the peak, then head down to PizzaHacker in Mill Valley for excellent sourdough pies, like the Forbidden Fruit with jalapeños, red onions, and a generous amount of pineapple, on their back patio.

The Day Trip: Point Reyes

Pastries are the sixth food group, so we embrace spots like Brickmaiden Breads. The charming  bakery in the equally charming town of Point Reyes Station, about an hour north of the city, is a pastry paradise. Inside the small, cottage-like space, you’ll find beautiful stacks of croissants, cookies, fresh baked breads, and flaky seasonal tarts. This is a point-and-buy whatever your eyes make contact with situation, so load up on one of everything that looks good before hitting a seaside trail at Point Reyes.

The Day Trip: Santa Cruz

There’s never a quiet moment at this Brazilian breakfast and lunch spot in the beach town of Santa Cruz. Each morning, families, surfers, and hungover UC students pack this green house on busy Mission Street without fail (so prepare for a wait). Once you get a table, the incredible egg plates, scrambles, and jumbo acai bowls topped with bananas and blueberries will keep you full for the rest of the day. Order the beef a cavalo—a slice of baguette topped with juicy steak, eggs, tomato, and melted cheese—then hit up the juice bar before heading to the beach.

The Day Trip: Napa 

Can’t get the group to agree on lunch plans? Oxbow Public Market it is. The fancy food hall near downtown Napa certainly has options, with 20+ stalls that highlight why eating in Wine Country is so great. Some of our favorite stops include Loveski for perfect reubens, Model Bakery (get the english muffin breakfast sandwich), and Hog Island for oysters grown over in Tomales Bay. After everyone has picked up their order, and, ideally, grabbed some wine, meet up at a communal table on the patio overlooking the river.

The Day Trip: Half Moon Bay 

Travel down Highway 1 far enough and you’ll encounter a funny site: an old train caboose on the side of the road, repurposed as a restaurant. Dad’s Luncheonette is serving burgers, potato chips, crispy mac and cheese with puffed rice and scallions, and more spins on roadside classics. The burger, one of the Bay Area's best, is more of a patty melt hybrid served on grilled white bread with Dad’s sauce, pickled red onions, and a runny egg—and it will transport you to a higher plane of existence. For vegetarians, the mushroom sandwich is an equally revelatory experience.

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