SFO layover & dinner
January 24, 2008 8:35 PM   Subscribe

Friend with three-hour layover in SF -- help me with dinner logistics.

Hi, a friend of mine has a three-hour layover tomorrow night at SFO. I'm going to drive out to the airport and the plan is to have dinner. So -- do we just hang out at the airport? Sounds boring. But driving back to the City for dinner seems like a big rush rush. Any suggestions?

(I live in San Francisco so I should know the answer but I don't.)
posted by ClaudiaCenter to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
Best answer: Why don't you bring take out with you?
posted by spec80 at 8:42 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, there's a brewpub at the Tanforan mall, which is about 5 minutes from the airport. I can't personally yay or nay it, but you might try poking around for restaurants in South San Francisco, San Bruno, or Millbrae. They're all really close to the airport, so travel time wouldn't be too much trouble. Or you could drive back and eat somewhere in the Mission - like the St Francis Fountain, which is just off Portrero on 24th st. and about 30 seconds from the 101 South on-ramp. From here, it should take no more than 15 minutes to get to the airport (I just did that trip an hour ago). Leave time to find parking if you come to the Mission, though it's not bad around the St Francis.

Maybe someone will come along with specific recommendations for parts south.
posted by rtha at 8:54 PM on January 24, 2008

Friday evening, right? The highway's going to be jammed. Even if it weren't, your friend would have to wait in the security line again to get back in, and there's never any telling how long that'll take.

i think the take-out idea is your best bet. You can't get through security to the (mediocre) restaurants, so your friend has to come to you. Pick up something yummy and take it to the airport. Hey, airport picnic! Bonus points for a bottle of wine in a brown paper bag.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:56 PM on January 24, 2008

There's an In-N-Out in Millbrae.
posted by milkrate at 8:57 PM on January 24, 2008

Best answer: Here's a relevant Chowhound thread.
posted by vacapinta at 8:58 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There's some excellent dim sum restaurants and chinese noodle joints in Millbrae, mere minutes from the airport. How can you beat a place called FOOK YUEN? Then there's Hong Kong Flower Lounge.

A bit further north, El Super Burrito serves delicious giant burritos AND it's pointy.
posted by moonmilk at 9:03 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Aw, you guys -- you're awesome!!! I've gone from nothin' to the following highly acceptable ideas:

1. Take out airport picnic with wine;

2. Burger Joint or Firewood Café or Ebisu (at the airport*);

3. Fook Yuen in Millbrae.

*Who knew that those restaurants were available? Not me.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:09 PM on January 24, 2008

Best answer: In San Bruno, there's tons of fun but not classy restaurants along El Camino Real - shabu shabu, Brazilian steak on swords within a Mr. Pizza Man (no kidding), but there's often a wait.

Closer to the airport, there are restaurants clustered around the hotels catering to folks stuck at the airport – an El Torito with a beautiful view of the bay.

There's nothing close that's also awesome/impressive/great/truly San Franciscan, but with only 3 hours, I would touch The Mission or anywhere like that.

If you're nervous about timing, all the food in the airport is now San Francisco based, so good sushi in the international terminal on your side of security along with other things. Then again, I'm a frequent business traveler. Perhaps I've become accustomed to such things.
posted by Gucky at 9:10 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm actually a fan of the airport Ebisu. It's as good as the one on 9th and Irving. Nabeyaki udon is immense and delicious.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:25 PM on January 24, 2008

Buy a full fare, refundable ticket for a flight that departs after your friends. The eating inside security is some of the best inside an airport anywhere. Three hours is not enough to be relaxed. If there is a problem with a security delay or with traffic, your friend is probably doomed or at the least highly anxious.

Southwest Airlines will usually refund your ticket price on the spot. Get the boarding pass from them, go inside, see your friend, eat a relaxed meal, go back outside and tell them your plans changed, get your refund.
posted by Xurando at 11:22 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I live five miles from the airport. Go have dinner in Burlingame. Lots of good restaurants there.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:48 AM on January 25, 2008

Response by poster: For future layover buddies, here's the SFO list of restaurants, stating for each whether pre- or post-security.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:41 AM on January 25, 2008

Ebisu is fabulous if you like sushi. We've been to the airport Ebisu so many times this year, the owner and the sushi chef recognize us. The international terminal in general has the better restaurants.

Also, BART would give you a set schedule and a fast trip (45 mins each way) if you decided you wanted to go to the city. Countless good restaurants around the 16th street and 24th street stations.
posted by bendy at 3:30 PM on January 25, 2008

There are food courts at either end of the international terminal that are actually pretty damn good - Ebisu, Burger Joint mentioned above.
posted by migurski at 8:49 PM on January 25, 2008

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