We were delighted by Aida Mollenkamp’s Top 11 Spots for Bay Area Foodies, from Bay Area Bites. It seems we have good “food think” (like group think, only more filling).
We heartily love each place on her list and thought we’d round it up to 25, with 14 more spots from the Epicuring team:
Susie’s Scrumptious Spots:
Milk Pail Market 2585 California Street Mountain View, CA 94040, (650) 941-2505
It’s like you’ve died and gone to a cheese, chocolate, and obscure pastries bargain basement. This several decade old, community-oriented “open air European market” is my go-to for bulk chocolate, frozen hand made pastries, and when I need lots of cheese for a party. Many who work nearby have never been here. Be the first to discover it.
The Gardener, San Francisco, Berkeley, Healdsburg
No garden necessary. Since The Gardener focuses on beautiful garden supplies, the few table ware and other food oriented items stand out in their beauty and function as “keepers.” An easy way to upgrade your foodie lifestyle.
The Cheese Board, 1512 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709-1517
Say you like obscure cheeses which you can taste before buying, Berkeley history, chewy baguettes, and good people. Go here. Ask no more.
Alemany Farmer’s Market, Saturdays 6am-3pm, 100 Alemany Boulevard San Francisco, CA 94110 – (415) 647-9423
It’s not the most convenient farmers’ market. In fact it may be the least convenient. But it’s worth trekking here by foot, car, or bus (bike is for the hilly-inclined) to enjoy the bounty of produce, flowers, and everything in between. This historic market is a photographer’s dream, with murals in each stall, many that match what’s being sold there. A real out-of-San Francisco experience with great prices too.
Good Earth Natural Foods, “Our mother ship is located at 1966 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Fairfax, California”
Need I say more? I’ve only been to Fairfax a few times – the definition of Marin-granola-crunchy enclave – but for some reason this natural foods store draws me back. If you want to go back to the ’70s, stop here perhaps on your way to the coast. Try pizza and other prepared foods, on the outside patio.
Hangar One Tasting Room, 2601 Monarch Street, Alameda, CA 94501, (510) 769-1601
Ironically it’s easiest to drive to the St. George Spirits / Hangar One tasting room in Alameda. (You spent your whole life driving your kid to school, isn’t it pay-back time?) However if you don’t have a driver on hand, you can take the ferry or a bus (which I personally would not endeavor, unless you feel like a road trip.) Logistics aside, you’ll experience incredible artisanal spirits and can tour the facility. They also have a small selection of local artisan foods to buy – perhaps the perfect last stop before heading for a flight at the Oakland Airport!
Bittersweet Chocolate Cafe, 2948 College Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705,
Colorful Mexican decor meets shabby chic, Bittersweet Chocolate Cafe is eminently charming and comfortable to read a book or meet with friends while indulging in a thick cold or hot chocolate, coffee, or a selections of locally made chocolate bon bons (or all of the above). Bittersweet roasts their own beans and has their own bean-to-bar chocolate made in Berkeley. If you’re a fan of colorful interiors, a huge selection of chocolate from all over, and good people, it’s a nice stop you can walk to from Rockridge BART.
Because of all of the above, Ici has a constant line (much like San Francisco’s equally delicious Bi-rite Creamery) until closing time.
The Epicurean Connection, 18812 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma. Sheana Davis is a chef, the cheesemaker of Delice de La Vallee (an award-winning fresh cows/goats milk cheese [classes]) and connector of all things food in the Sonoma Valley. The Epicurean Connection is her small but mighty shop in Sonoma featuring her handpicked or made in house local products, cheeses, sandwiches and soups and so much more. Hers is the meeting place for many of the chefs in Sonoma where they come to catch up, get a few key ingredients and also to pick up produce from farmers which she consolidates for them. One of my favorite combos of hers is Delice with her orange blossom jam. Perfection.
La Boulange 2325 Pine Street, San Francisco. I’ve been devouring Pascal Rigo’s breads, pastries and sandwiches since the year he opened the original on Pine Street. Now I live a block away, and I’m there a few times a week picking up an epi, grabbing a mushroom soup for lunch, or treating myself to a cannele. There’s always something new in the glorious case – or in the bread baskets. Have you tried the sesame demi loaf? The master baker has 13 locations, but none are as much fun as the original on Pine with the French Blue door.
Scribe Winery 2300 Napa Road, Sonoma. Andrew Mariani is doing great work with the dirt and the grapes at his winery in Sonoma. There’s an artistry to Scribe from the design of the labels to the landscaping of the property to the finesse of the wines. And there’s nothing like going to a tasting in the rustic wine room with the lovely Lauren leading you through a progression of their chardonnay clone, pinot, syrah and cabs. You must arrange a tasting in advance, and if you like what you find there, you can join the Scribe Viticultural Society like I did, which also hosts quarterly soirees just for members.
The Ferry Building Marketplace and CUESA Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. If you visit one foodie place in San Francisco, this is the place. It’s picture perfect with stunning views of the Bay, and a twice weekly farmers market (Tuesday and Saturday) which hosts thousands of shoppers looking for just picked produce, handmade breads and pastries, preserves, meats and prepared foods. CUESA hosts great classes every week for the cook too. The interior is the Marketplace, and home to tons of great shops like Cowgirl Creamery (largest selection of artisan cheese in the area), Book Passage, Recchuti Confections (chocolates), Prather Ranch (meats), Sur La Table cookware, Far West Fungi, and Kingdom of Herbs (plants and gifts).
Fraiche, 1910 Fillmore, San Francisco. Another spot right in my neighborhood that I return to again and again. The organic frozen yogurt is the tangy all natural yogurt (vanilla, mango and Valrhona chocolate) I crave, with toppings like mochi, berry compote, honey and shaved chocolate. The fresh yogurt for breakfast, layered in a fruity parfait or with Irish oatmeal is a great way to start the day, with a cup of their drip Blue Bottle coffee of course.
Benkyo-Do, Japanese Confections. My family and I have been going here for our manju, mochi and rice crackers for as long as I can remember. Being Japanese-American, mochi has a special place in my heart, and I love the red bean stuffed mochi in all colors, and if you’ve never tried peanut butter stuffed mochi, then you are in for a gooey treat.
Goodwill 1669 Fillmore Street, San Francisco. There’s nothing I love more than hunting and finding a treasure–and the Goodwill on Fillmore is hands-down the best. I go weekly and search for kitchen and entertaining items and books mostly. Some of the best things I have found are my Italian pasta hand-crank machine for $8, the never used stove top smoker for $4 and the Belgium 5 1/4 quart Dutch Oven for $8. And so many cookbooks and first addition novels that it’d be hard to count.