6 Routes to Explore the Bay Area’s Top Food Destinations – With Less Than a Tank of Gas

Soaring gas prices in the United States have put a damper on weekend getaways and spring travel.

Gas prices soared in March amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with California hitting an average cost of $5.80 a gallon and prices in San Francisco climbing to $5.90 a gallon. gallon.

That SoCal road trip you’re planning? Suddenly it seems much more expensive.

Meanwhile, with the number of COVID cases plummeting from omicron surge highs, companies are easing restrictions, California has ended its universal mask mandate, and people are venturing out more than ever.

But you don’t have to travel far from home to spend a day exploring a neighborhood that’s new to you. From pristine French pastries to spicy East African stews and funky natural wines, there’s a world of food to discover in the Bay Area – in places you can reach with far less than a tank. gasoline.

Chronicle’s catering team’s “Best Day Ever” series guides you through an ideal day in culinary hotspots like San Francisco’s Mission District and under-the-radar gems like the city of Albany. Use these local to-do lists to get out there and start exploring.

Best day ever outdoor sunset

Spend an action-packed day in this San Francisco neighborhood


Presto Potato Pizza at Damnfine in the Outer Sunset.

Stephen Lam/The Chronicle

Over the past year, the Outer Sunset has become one of San Francisco’s most appealing dining destinations. One could easily spend a whole week there without getting tired, as its inhabitants already know. With old haunts still worthy and compelling newcomers, the Outer Sunset is an ideal neighborhood for a truly excellent food-fueled expedition. Let us guide you with the launch of this new food tour series, titled Best Day Ever.

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Best day ever in Uptown Oakland

Spectacular sweets and Arabian-style shawarma in Oakland


Julian Arreola (left) on the shakers and Bree Flores (right) on the steps to pick up a bottle of liquor to make drinks for Friends and Family patrons, Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Oakland, Calif.  The bar is located at 468 25th St.

Cocktail in progress at Friends and Family in Uptown Oakland.

Santiago Mejia/The Chronicle

Uptown has it all: historic music venues, contemporary art galleries, trendy boutiques and some of the most exciting bars and restaurants in the Bay Area. Lively newcomers like Viridian, the Asian American bar with fancy desserts and a neon-pink glow, and Sobre Mesa, the Afro-Latino lounge of recent “Top Chef” nominee Nelson German, are capturing national attention, while spots like natural wine except the Punchdown and the wood-fired Spanish stop Duende continue to be reliable destinations.

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Best day ever in Albany

This small town packs an impressive culinary punch


Wojia Hunan Kitchen

Wojia Hunan Kitchen in Albany.

Michael Short/The Chronicle Special/The Chronicle Special

Driving through the East Bay, you could easily miss Albany. The small town of 20,000 is sandwiched between Berkeley, El Cerrito and Richmond. Yet new restaurants, bars and cafes frequently debut in the area, ensuring a fresh and trendy place to unwind. Browse bottles and houseplants at a new cider bar, or pop into a picnic-oriented shop for rotisserie meats with sauces from local makers.

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Best day ever in Chinatown San Francisco

Dim sum, Taiwanese bento, and salt-and-pepper crab in this historic SF neighborhood


Clockwise from top left: Baked barbecue pork bun, sachima sticky rice in a lotus leaf, sesame dumplings, egg tart, cooked har gow and chive dumplings steamer from Good Mong Kok Bakery pictured in Chinatown in San Francisco, California on Saturday August 14, 2021.

A selection of dim sum from Good Mong Kok Bakery in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Stephen Lam/The Chronicle

Chinatown diners are spoiled for choice: Home to the oldest Chinese immigrant community in North America, the cuisines here cover all of China’s diversity, while newer establishments go beyond the borders to showcase foods from neighboring regions like Taiwan and Hong Kong. In recent months, Chinatown has seen the debut of swanky new dining destinations like Empress by Boon, the return of popular bakery pop-ups like Grand Opening, and the reimagining of historic establishments like the 80-year-old Cathay House. .

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The best day of my life in the Mission District

From morning coffee to late night burritos in the Mission


The iconic mural of actress and samba singer Carmen Miranda is displayed at El Rio, located at 3158 Mission St., on Saturday, April 3, 2021, in San Francisco, California.  The beloved dive bar, which reopened Thursday, had been closed since the Bay Area sheltered in place.  It also feels like a small victory, especially considering how many other businesses will never open their doors again.

The iconic mural of actress and samba singer Carmen Miranda in El Rio.

Yalonda M. James/The Chronicle

The Mission serves as a link for many intertwined communities in the city. The legendary Dyke March begins at Dolores Park; hipsters descend en masse on Valencia Street; and the influences of its hardy Latino population can be seen in the street vendors selling fresh fruit sprinkled with tajin, pupusas and quesabirria tacos, and the Thursday community market, where you can buy fresh tortillas made with ancient corn. Follow our guide for an incredible day, which starts with a great cup of coffee and ends with a dance at a beloved dive and a late-night burrito.

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Best day ever in Alameda

Island town now offers upscale croissants, inventive burgers and more


Wild Ginger - cold noodle salad, cucumber salad, beef malatang (M3), lamb burger with cumin

Xi’an-style street food at Wild Ginger.

Cesar Hernandez

Alameda has gone through tremendous changes over the past 15 years. Once a sleepy town, it now boasts a bustling downtown area with a large concentration of restaurants along Park Street, bringing a diverse set of cuisines to the town while allowing it to retain its small-town charm. Along Webster Street that stretches to Crab Cove are the island’s breweries and distilleries, including Almanac Beer Co. and St. George Spirits. Most of the island’s restaurants are focused on the eastern half, with dining options that include a mix of newcomers like upscale casual eatery Alley & Vine and longtime regulars like neighborhood gem Sandwich Board .

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Vanessa Arredondo is a Hearst News Fellow at the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]

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