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Road trip LA to SF ---Advice needed on restaurants


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need some advice from all the travel gurus out there. I am taking a road trip from LA to SF starting Dec 24th. The plan is to go to Solvang and hearst castle on the 24th.Then spend the night ont he 24th in Monterey, look around monterey and carmel on the 25th and get to SF on 25th night and leave there on the 28th. I have made some hotel reservations thru Priceline. Instead of booking in SF, I booked Santa Clara. The travellers are my parents, my sister (19) and me (24). My mom is a vegetarian and the others only eat chicken and some seafood.

Could some of you give me some places indian and non-indian that would be kinda not-to-be-missed. I believe we are already set for Turmerik and Chaat Cafe in SF. So here's calling out to all you bay area folk...help me out please. Anything around SF and a 15 mile radius of Santa Clara goes.

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need some advice from all the travel gurus out there. I am taking a road trip from LA to SF starting Dec 24th. The plan is to go to Solvang and hearst castle on the 24th.Then spend the night ont he 24th in Monterey, look around monterey and carmel on the 25th and get to SF on 25th night and leave there on the 28th. I have made some hotel reservations thru Priceline. Instead of booking in SF, I booked Santa Clara. The travellers are my parents, my sister (19) and me (24). My mom is a vegetarian and the others only eat chicken and some seafood.

Could some of you give me some places indian and non-indian that would be kinda not-to-be-missed. I believe we are already set for Turmerik and Chaat Cafe in SF. So here's calling out to all you bay area folk...help me out please. Anything around SF and a 15 mile radius of Santa Clara goes.

Santa Clara is about a 50-minute drive from SF. There is a recent thread you might find helpful here: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...=entry1079803

Dusita is a great Thai restaurant in Santa Clara with many vegetarian chioces. My favorite however is Bangkok West in Soquel, almost midway between Monterey and San Francisco on Highway 1. But it probably won't be open on Christmas for lunch. It's the only Thai restaurant I know that has a lunch buffet during the week

One of the best Indian is Sarovar in Milpitas (about 15 miles from Santa Clara). Or in Santana Row in San Jose, Amber India is good but more expensive and more in the not-to-be-missed category. As Jerry said in his report referenced above, the El Camino Real, which runs from San Francisco to San Jose is a string of suburbs with strings of ethnic restaurants, many of which are great. Look at Palo Alto, Mountain View and Santa Clara using citysearch.com.

Good luck,

John S.

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In the Santa Clara zone, veggie friendly options include:

I can't say enough good things about Fiesta del Mar! We love this place so much, we drive to Mountain View from SF, just to eat here. (We've also been known to plan our flight times out of SFO to give us enough time to have lunch at FDM.) Make sure you go to the one on Shoreline right off 101, not the one in downtown Mountain View. They're justly famous for their shrimp dishes -- my husband loves their Camarones Alex and the Camarones a la Diabla -- but I love them for their great margaritas and their unbattered chiles rellenos.

I've heard amazing things about Amber India on El Camino, though I have never been there personally. For Afghani food, we've had a couple of good meals at Kabul.

If you should happen to find yourself down by Valley Fair Mall, Falafel's Drive In on Stevens Creek (just the other side of 880, if memory serves) is great; not really worth a special drive to San Jose, but good food in an otherwise dead culinary zone.

Edited by ScorchedPalate (log)

Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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Thanks guys, you guys rock! Been a lurker for long and knew you'd definitely come thru on this query. BTW since we have such bay area veterans here, what do you suggest is the best way to commute between Santa Clara and SF for a tourist. I will have a car and dont really mind paying for parking (<$20). Do you think its feasible to drive to pier 39 the first day an dpark there for the whole day and do the Alcatraz and Union square thing? Also if you could, what would a suitable itinarary be for like 3 days of sighseeing stuff? Thanks a bunch again

P.S: is there a chinese dim sum palce that is vegetarian friendly and also english language friendly that I could go to?

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Manresa in Los Gatos (10 miles from Santa Clara) is not to be missed

Lots of discussion of the restaurant in other threads in this forum

It is non-Indian cuisine but spectacular

They have also been very very good at working around my dietary restrictions

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In the Santa Clara zone, veggie friendly options include:

I can't say enough good things about Fiesta del Mar! We love this place so much, we drive to Mountain View from SF, just to eat here. (We've also been known to plan our flight times out of SFO to give us enough time to have lunch at FDM.) Make sure you go to the one on Shoreline right off 101, not the one in downtown Mountain View. They're justly famous for their shrimp dishes -- my husband loves their Camarones Alex and the Camarones a la Diabla -- but I love them for their great margaritas and their unbattered chiles rellenos.

I've heard amazing things about Amber India on El Camino, though I have never been there personally. For Afghani food, we've had a couple of good meals at Kabul.

I used to get takeaways from Fiesta del Mar and eat them on the Caltrain. Pretty good stuff, though I'm most fond of taquerias in MV like Burrito Real or La Costena.

Amber is quite good, though I remember it being kind of expensive. Naan 'n Curry in SF was nice the last time I was there for Indian, though I don't consider myself an expert.

If you're coming from Santa Clara, I'd just park your car at the Caltrain station and ride the train up to the city, then use Muni to get around. You can buy a discounted day pass at lots of different places, you don't have to worry about where to park, and you won't be trapped in Pier 39.

There are all the obligatory SF things (shockingly, it took me ages to actually do them) like cable cars, the bridge, Alcatraz, but really, one of the best things to do is just walk around and check out cool stuff. (Please avoid 6th St. South of Market, particularly at night.) SFMoMA has a great cafe and a gift shop with some interesting designer kitchen gadgets, and the Asian Art Museum downtown is awesome. You'll definitely want to take in the Ferry Plaza markets.

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Santa Clara to SF is an easy ride depending on traffic. Parking near Pier 39 will be expensive. Look to park a few blocks away off of the waterfront. SF is a great city to walk in ( even with the hills) so the few blocks to the pier will be easy. Tons of Dim Sum in Sf but I will defer to the locals to answer your question. We like House of Nan King ( Nan King House) on Kearny ( chinatown) for szechuan food and prefer to eat the rest of our Chinese food over on Clement street away from chinatown.

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

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Dress very warm for Fishermans Wharf / Alcatraz trip. It is cold and foggy on the water. Try to get into some nieghborhoods for a walk and not limit yourself to tourist attractions. Coit Tower is cool as is Twin Peaks ( dress very, very warm for this one). Lombard street where it winds downhill is a must for tourists. Just walk around Russian and Nob hills to see some great old buildings with SF feel. The Civic center is cool. Golden Gate park is great as is the Presidio for a nice walk. Plenty to see and do.

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

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Dress very warm for Fishermans Wharf /  Alcatraz trip. It is cold and foggy on the water.

It's actually pretty warm (and wet) up here right now, with highs in the mid 60s and nightime lows in the mid 50s. Looks like the weather forecasters are trending it a bit cooler after Christmas. Rain slicker might not be inappropriate for the Alcatraz trip.

In this thread, Lucky Creation was suggested for vegetarian dim sum.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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In San Francisco, you might consider Greens, a very good, non-Indian vegetarian restaurant with a great view.

Sight-seeing is subjective, but I lived in the Bay area for five years 30 years ago and have been back at least once every year since I moved, and I have never been to Alcatraz. Maybe a Harbor Cruise or a ferry boat ride by it (it's going to be cold), but why waste time looking at an old prison? You get a fantastic perspective of the city from the water, so I would say bundle up and take a boat ride, just not to the prison.

I don't mean to stir things up, but unless there is some reason to be in Santa Clara, I think I would reconsider not staying in San Francisco, especially if we are talking several nights.

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Thanks guys, you guys rock! Been a lurker for long and knew you'd definitely come thru on this query. BTW since we have such bay area veterans here, what do you suggest is the best way to commute between Santa Clara and SF for a tourist. I will have a car and dont really mind paying for parking (<$20). Do you think its feasible to drive to pier 39 the first day an dpark there for the whole day and do the Alcatraz and Union square thing? Also if you could, what would a suitable itinarary be for like 3 days of sighseeing stuff? Thanks a bunch again

P.S: is there a chinese dim sum palce that is vegetarian friendly and also english language friendly that I could go to?

I was born in San Jose and grew up in Santa Clara. Therefore, and especially because of cutting school a lot, I know the whole peninsula well.

The coastline from Pacifica down to Santa Cruz is exeptional. Maybe not as special as Point Lobos just south of Carmel (don't miss seeing that) but rugged and beautiful. I will say that the beach across the street (Highway 1) from the town of Davenport is well worth a visit. You can't see it from the road but you park on the ocean side and follow a descending path to it across the railroad tracks. Awesome place.

Try to walk-on to an elephant seal guided tour at Ano Nuevo beach on the south San Mateo County coast (a 2.5 hour nature walk) if you have time. Tickets are sold out now (2.50 or so each) , but you can get a walk-on pretty easily. There are many places that are turn-offs on Highway 1 which actually take you to beaches. The weather may be blustery but that is the attraction there. Gray whales will be migrating south during the time you will be here. The coast north of Big Sur is good whale watching. Bring your binocs. Some of the above would fit your 3-day requirement. Highway 1 is the best place to spend that time IMHO.

The fastest and least picturesque way from SF to Santa Clara is US 101. Get on southbound 101 at Lawrence Expressway. One time though, you should take 280 just because it's a beautiful freeway passing through Stanford property and Crystal Springs reservoir. It will be very green.

For a day at Union Square and Pier 39, they are not that close. Pier 39 parking is expensive, as dfunghi said. 20.00 won't cover a day. Park close to Union square to see that place. It is close to Chinatown (good food). Oh, on the wharf, the tourist boats fill up days ahead of time. Call the Red and White Fleet and consult citysearch.com for other companies to get tickets. Alcatraz is very popular, but Angel Island and Sausalito are great too.

Wow, I sound lime a frustrated tour guide.

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Could some of you give me some places indian and non-indian that would be kinda not-to-be-missed. I believe we are already set for Turmerik and Chaat Cafe in SF. So here's calling out to all you bay area folk...help me out please. Anything around SF and a 15 mile radius of Santa Clara goes.

Sadly, Turmerik in Sunnyvale has been closed for a while now. (they were good, but I don't think they were worth-driving-from-southern-ca good. For that matter, none of the indian places in this area are that good, IMO).

Indian:

- Dasaprakash in Santa clara, one of the best (but under-appreciated) South Indian restaurants. I believe they used to exist in the LA area, so you may already be familiar with them.

- There is also this brand new south indian place in San Francisco -- Dosa -- but I havent been to this one yet. Apparently, they have "non-vegetarian" dosas.

- Shalimar in San Francisco. Probably the best Tandoori chicken in the bay area. No ambience whatsoever. They also have a branch in Fremont, but skip that one.

- Empress of India in Santa Clara. This is a one-woman tiny shop. Closest, IMO to "home-style" indian cooking. But please call before you go as they are closed a lot.

- For chaat, I would skip Chaat Cafe. Either try Viks Chaat in Berkeley or Chaat Paradise in Mountain View (the latter is very close to Santa Clara). Dana Bazar in Fremont is also good.

Others:

- Rose Market in Mountain View. Iranian Grocery store -- sells kebabs (chicken/lamb/beef/veggie) in the evenings. I like the juicy chicken kebabs.

- So many of these great little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurants, too many to mention. There are these great Banh-Mi places as well. Lees Sandwiches in Sunnyvale used to be good, but they have gone downhill. There branch in San Jose may still be good...

- Kabul in Sunnyvale isnt bad.

- No good Italian places around Santa Clara that I know of, Sad.

- Chez Sovan (Campbell and San Jose) used to have good cheap cambodian food, havent been there recently

- DishDash in Sunnyvale is not bad. Middle Eastern

I did not mention the expensive places as there seems to be more than enough discussion here about them.

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Indian:

- There is also this brand new south indian place in San Francisco -- Dosa -- but I havent been to this one yet. Apparently, they have "non-vegetarian" dosas.

Walked past dosa on Tuesday at 6:15 or so, and it was quite crowded. Must have a bit of new restaurant buzz. Smelled good!

Holidays are usually a good time to go out to eat in SF. Many folks being out of town, gives you a decent chance for walk-ins without too much wait. Or at least better than usual.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Just returned to SF earlier today from a road trip to LA. Stopped at Monterey on the way down and Santa Barbara on the way up.

I found a nice place to dine in Monterey. It's called Amir Kabobs (on Lighthouse, only a few blocks from the Aquarium). It's Afhgan food and everything was delicious. The prices were very reasonable for the quality and quantity of food.

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