El Indio: 3695 India St. between Old Town & Little Italy
Serving great Mexican food since 1940! My dad used to bring home their taquitos on Saturdays after he worked a half day. The food is still great. Don’t worry about the long line. The service is fast and the wait is worth it.
Buona Forchetta: 3001 Beach Street, San Diego, www.buonaforchettasd.com
Located in South Park, this Italian eatery is worth finding. This is authentic Italian and we thought the pizza was the best we’ve found outside of Italy (and NYC). You can sit indoors or in the lively front area.
Point Loma Seafoods: 2805 Emerson St. San Diego, www.pointlomaseafoods.com
Another casual spot for amazing fish sandwiches and other great seafood choices. They now have an upstairs terrace with great views while you enjoy your meal. A great spot for lunch or an early dinner.
Bakeries & Breakfast
Farley’s Coffee: Potrero Hill, 1315 18th Street.
Great coffee shop in Potrero Hill neighborhood. Parking is easy, too.
Liguria Bakery: the corner of Stockton & Filbert, Little Italy
For the best focaccia in town, go to Little Italy and taste this traditional focaccia, a flat bread that originated on the Ligurian Coast of Italy. You can walk to Washington Square park nearby and enjoy your goodies.
Mission Chinese: Mission District, 2234 Mission Street
Popular spot for excellent and creative Chinese food. It’s always crowded, so lunch is easier to get a table. It’s open for lunch & dinner. Worth the wait!
Plow: Potrero Hill, 1299 18th Street
Great spot for brunch or lunch. They use lots of fresh, local ingredients. Fun menu for brunch. If you have to wait, walk one block to Farley’s. See above.
Tartine Bakery: 600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, in the Mission District
Try the best morning buns you’ll ever taste. They also have wonderful breads, pastries and even sandwiches. It’s a busy and popular spot, so get there early and avoid weekends. You can sit inside the very small bakery or grab a table on the sidewalk.
Brunch, lunch & dinner
NOPA: 560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 864-8643- http://www.nopasf.com
Great brunch menu and excellent fresh & inventive dishes. This place is popular with the locals, so make a reservation or get there early. It’s also open very late for the after theatre crowd.
AQ: 1085 Mission St. (SOMA neighborhood) http://www.aq-sf.com
Fresh, seasonal and creative food that won’t break the bank. The bar serves up fun cocktails with unique liquors from a Bay Area distillery.
Outerlands: 4001 Juda St. (outer Richmond, near the beach) – http://www.outerlandssf.com
This casual eatery is west of the main attractions, but not that far from Golden Gate Park and a close walk to the beach. Parking is much easier out here, too. We’ve been here twice for brunch and the food is creative, fresh and very satisfying. Almost everything is made in-house—and you can taste it! It’s worth seeking out.
Hog Island Oyster Company– Ferry Building (re-opening Spring 2014)
These guys have outgrown their original spot, but they’ll still be in the Ferry Building. Besides excellent oysters, they make the best clam chowder in town.
Coffee Shops & Bakeries
Basque Boulangerie:460 First St. East (on the square) http://basqueboulangerie.com
Community Cafe– 875 West Napa St. Sonoma
Full breakfasts and lunch. Light dinners.
720 West Napa Street, Sonoma No website yet
Great spot for baked goods & coffee.
421 First Street West — on the square http://www.sonomasunflower.com
Light breakfasts and lunches. Sit in front or try the secret garden in the back.
Lunch & Dinner
133 East Napa St. http://www.dellasantinas.com
A local favorite for fine Italian food and hospitality. The outdoor patio is a fun spot for lunch or dinner.
El Molino Central
11 Central Avenue, Highway 12, Boyes Hot Springs http://www.elmolinocentral.com
The best tamales (and true Mexican Cuisine) by far!!
101 East Napa Street — on the square, http://www.mayarestaurant.com
Good Mexican food and a fun spot for drinks and happy hour. Try the Sangrias or Margaritas.
Sonoma Market/Glen Ellen Market
Deli & produce http://www.sonoma-glenellenmkt.com
A full deli and the best panini sandwiches around. Ask them to grill it for you.
The Red Grape
529 West First Street — just off the square
This Sonoma favorite is a great spot for lunch or dinner. Not only do they have excellent thin-crust (East Coast) pizza, but they have a nice array of pastas, salads and sandwiches. You can eat inside or back in the cosy courtyard. Look for their monthly specials.
Fine Dining — mostly dinners
Swiss Hotel: — on the square, http://www.swisshotelsonoma.com
Cafe La Haye
140 East Napa St. http://cafelahaye.com
Another Sonoma favorite that has been around for many years and continues to provide excellent food and service.
487 First St. West — on the square, http://harvestmooncafesonoma.com
Hot Box Grill
18350 Highway 12, Boyes Hot Springs http://www.hotboxgrill.com
Worth the ten minute drive from the plaza. Small, cosy spot with great food.
Taste of the Himalayas
464 First St. East — on the square http://indianfoodsonoma.com
Hidden behind the Sebastiani Theater, this small, yet cosy spot offers a spicy alternative to the usual wine country fare. There’s outdoor seating in the warmer months.