how do I see my friend in/near SF on a weeknight?
April 30, 2018 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Bay Area folks, this one's for you. A friend I haven't seen for a while is coming to SF and I'd like to see them while they're here. However, it will have to be on a weeknight. Taking into account current traffic patterns (please don't answer this question if you lived here 7 years ago) what is the optimal spot for us to meet for dinner, accessible by BART from the city, and by car from the south bay?

It's like its own very special, annoying kind of word problem.

Assume that Phil will be staying more or less close to a BART stop in SF. Assume I start in Cupertino and go up 280.

What is the optimal spot for us to meet, where "optimal" = closest to equal travel time, including any walking he'd have to do? (I would like to avoid that final hellacious approach into the city if possible.) Like if Phil got on BART, is there somewhere right near the Colma or Daly City or other southern BART stops that I could get to AND PARK AT easily?

If not -- if I have to go all the way up into the city to see him - then what is the easiest route up into the city at dinner time? Up 19 is horrendous, right? Better to go all the way up 280 to SoMa? What do I do for parking there? Is there another approach I haven't thought of?
posted by fingersandtoes to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Around what time would you be coming up 280? And is this weeknight a night when the Giants are playing at home?
posted by rtha at 7:58 PM on April 30, 2018

Most of the southern BART stations have their own parking garages so parking should be no problem. But I’m not sure how much they have within walking distance.
posted by pombe at 8:18 PM on April 30, 2018

Best answer: I meet in-between in Millbrae all the time! There are a lot of great restaurants within walking distance from the BART and with ample parking. My favorites are wonderful (270 Broadway), Boiling Szechuan Hot Pot, and O Sole Mio.
posted by watermelon at 8:18 PM on April 30, 2018 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I live in Glen Park (southern end of SF) and used to live in Cupertino.

Take 280. The traffic slowdowns are at the 380 interchange and Colma. The difficult stuff is once you get to San Jose avenue in San Francisco, i.e. where you would exit the freeway for Glen Park.

Millbrae is full of restaurants, as watermelon says. That's probably your best spot. Nothing is immediately available but everything is four or five blocks away.

The San Bruno BART station is directly next to the Tanforan shopping mall, but the food choices aren't the best. (I will note that Jack's restaurant is across El Camino Real from the mall and has decent food.)

South San Francisco has nothing useful nearby.

Glen Park has multiple good restaurants (Gialina pizza, L'Ptit Laurent french, Mazoni Italian) but that's further into SF than you suggest.
posted by blob at 8:25 PM on April 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

My wife points out that the Tanforan mall has both Hooters and BJs restaurants. Heh.
posted by blob at 8:27 PM on April 30, 2018

Best answer: Yeah Millbrae is a great spot for dining, Royal Feast is one of my favorites and the chef/owner apparently was on a bocuse d'or team. That's the end spot on Bart so he just has to ride it all the way to the end, and there's parking.
posted by Carillon at 8:33 PM on April 30, 2018

Definitely not worth it for you to drive up there if your friend is willing to meet you halfway. That last bit from south city to SF will land you at dinner (a) late and (b) cranky.

Everyone else is right that Millbrae has the best parking/BART/restaurant combo, but if your friend is willing to either take Caltrain instead of BART or is willing to transfer from BART to Caltrain at Millbrae, my favorite halfway point for dinner with friends is downtown Redwood City. There are a lot of restaurants (my favorite is Milagros) and plenty of parking structures.
posted by assenav at 8:46 PM on April 30, 2018

Best answer: If I were you, I would take Caltrain from Sunnyvale and avoid driving. I like the idea of Redwood City, even though it's slightly farther and more complicated for your friend. Depending where they're staying in SF, they could possibly just go to the SF Caltrain station instead of changing at Millbrae.
posted by pinochiette at 8:56 PM on April 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Dark Horse Inn on Geneva is a short walk from balboa park station- parking isn't that bad- especially on a weeknight, you might have to park a few blocks away and walk though. Plenty of places near Glen Park station, and last time I was there they did have a parking lot- again, which will be more empty on a weeknight. I can't recommend The Dark Horse enough though.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:59 PM on April 30, 2018

The Dark Horse is pretty great. If you're into dive bars with decent pub grub, Broken Record is in the same neighborhood and worth a shot as well. And the Ocean Ale House near-ish City College is a neighborhood gem.

San Mateo also is a nice intermediary and not too far from Millbrae or San Bruno via rideshare.
posted by kdar at 10:19 PM on April 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Millbrae is the only station south of SF (Balboa Park) that has anything within easy walking distance, aside from Tanforan which is only chains.
posted by rhizome at 10:36 PM on April 30, 2018

You could consider Kejji Lopez-Alt’s newish Wursthall in San Mateo. He'd need to take BART to Caltrain (or Caltrain directly if he's close enough to the station), or you could pick him up at Millbrae BART (~5 miles away), or he could grab a Lyft for the last stretch.

If you do end up driving into the city, I'd just use Waze, which will give you whatever the best route of the moment is based on wherever you're actually going. Parking depends a lot on the neighborhood; most areas will have paid garage options if you're open to trading money for time, just as long as you aren't in the middle of Giants game stuff. You could also park at Millbrae yourself and ride BART in the rest of the way, which would save you the city driving and parking.
posted by zachlipton at 11:11 PM on April 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

There's a Pizzeria Delfina that's a reasonably pleasant .6 mile walk from Burlingame Caltrain. That's probably a 45-minute trip for both of you. Parking is metered but not difficult or expensive. Milbrae is easier, though.
posted by wnissen at 8:49 AM on May 1, 2018

Response by poster: I hadn't even thought of Caltrain up, but you're right, that gives great options. Millbrae as backup. Thx all!
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:57 AM on May 1, 2018

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