Shut Up and Drive
There are enough great restaurants in San Francisco to make you never want to leave.
But we've got a three-day weekend at our disposal, so it's time to check some must-visit spots off our lists. Expand your horizons beyond wine country (nope, not one of them is located there) to visit these greater Bay Area restaurants that are worth the drive—listed in order of distance.
All Spice, San Mateo
Driving Distance: ~25 minutes (Caltrain is an option, too.)
A Michelin-starred restaurant housed in a charming, restored Victorian? Yes, please. All Spice, tucked off of an unassuming stretch of El Camino in suburban San Mateo, feels like a stumbled-upon secret. Chef Sachin Chopra's food is laced with flavors of India, Thailand, Northern Europe and beyond: From an appetizer of crispy fried chicken ($16) served with cashew mole to aab-e-gosht ($25), wild boar cooked with coriander and fennel and served with saffron-cardamom flatbread, there is no bad order here. Bonus: You can preview of Chopra's chops in advance of Game, opening this fall in Chinatown.
Molina, Mill Valley
Driving Distance: 35 minutes
The heart of Molina is the oven—the wood-fired beauty holds court in the kitchen, and on the menu of flame-cooked seasonal delicacies. But the soul of the restaurant is chef-owner Todd Shoberg, who infuses every element of the food and the experience with his personality (including the playlist, which he selects nightly). The menu changes daily, but we're loving summer-inflected items like gypsy peppers stuffed with rabbit rillette ($15); a vegetarian cassoulet brimming with sweet corn, summer squash, ricotta, and a baked egg ($20); and a classic cast iron ribeye, served with fire-blistered romano beans and chimichurri ($34).
Bull Valley Roadhouse, Port Costa
Driving Distance: 40 minutes
There's something romantic about a roadhouse, particularly the kind with killer cocktails and a craveable menu. Bull Valley Roadhouse perfectly skirts the line between classy and decadent, serving hearty, gold rush-like family-style fare, skillfully executed and showcasing top local ingredients. Arrive hungry to dig into pan-fried sand dab ($15) with purslane and anise hyssop; pork ribs ($20) laced with maple, fennel and Port Costa peppercorn; and slow-roasted pork stew ($27), served atop "bloody butcher" corn polenta, tomatillos, and sour cream. If you indulge in a few too many of its perfectly shaken cocktails, you can stay the night at the Burlington Hotel, owned and renovated by the same crew—then pop back over to the Roadhouse for Sunday brunch.
Sir and Star, Olema
Driving Distance: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Perched on the corner of Sir Francis Drake and Highway One is a gray wooden house that could look haunted in the wrong light. Thoughts of ghosts vanish as soon as you step inside Sir and Star, the restaurant rebirth of West Marin legend Manka's: Fireplaces are lit with dancing orange flames, and the cozy, homey food is as delicious as the menu descriptions are eccentric. Don't miss the "Faux Gras of Local Duck's Liver" ($12), "Hot Smoked Crab plucked from surrounding seas" ($20), or "A Neighbor's Quail plumped with brick oven bread and kale" ($20). Pair it all with an excellent bottle of local wine and debate the practicality of driving to Olema for dinner every night.
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