definitive Bay Area restaurants

My top restaurants per category in the Bay Area:
If you think I'm wrong on some of these tell me and help me fill in the blanks if you can.

California – Gary Danko, Lalimes, Chez Panisse (is there a good everyday type place?)
French – French Laundry: tasting menu
Bistro style – Cafe Claude, Jojo's: steak frites

Northern Chinese – Shan Dong: Shan Dong chicken, hand made noodles, dumplings
Vietnamese – Le Cheval, Slanted Door
Korean – Oghane, My Tofu House

Thai – Lotus Thai
Indian – still need to find
Italian – Trattoria La Siciliana

Taqueria – Cactus Taqueria: burritos, fish tostada; Taqueria Ramiro and Sons: super carnitas burrito
Mexican – still need to find maybe Guaymas, maybe Dona Tomas

Pizza – Zachary's

Burgers – Christophe's
Steak place – still need to find


Bakery – Crixa cakes
Coffee place – Blue Bottle

a plan for Disneyland

(This post provides some tips for enjoying Disneyland based on my experience from a recent trip. It assumes many things like bringing kids and wanting to enjoy most of the many rides that Disney has to offer.)

The worse thing would be to go to Disneyland this Summer, pay all that money for the tickets, hotel, transportation, and spend your trip waiting in line for 45, 60, 75 minutes at a time for rides in the 90+ degree heat in Southern California…with kids. That sucks. The alternative is to plan ahead, get on all the cool rides, have your kids remember the rides and not the long waits, and have fun.
With that here you go:

  1. Go buy this book. Read it inside and out, and don't forget to take it with you. This Unofficial Guide to Disneyland book includes information about all the rides, nearby hotels, plans/routes for your trip, food choices, and it will save you so much time you won't believe it.
  2. Learn how to use FastPass and use it. Basically FastPass are tickets that you can use for later in the day but you get to use a special FastPass line when you go back later. For instance you can ride Splash Mountain first thing in the morning (very little wait), grab a FastPass after you're done, and go ride Splash Mountain again in the afternoon when it's really really hot. In the afternoon the wait is 60+ minutes or longer and with FastPass you cut in front of everybody and get on in 5 minutes. You can only get so many FastPass tickets per visit so learn how to use it.
  3. Don't be afraid to go back to the hotel in the afternoon and even eat lunch outside the park. You can break up the day into two visits, a morning visit to Disneyland, and a late afternoon-evening visit. You'll totally avoid the peak which looks to be 11-3pm and it's also when it's the hottest out.
  4. Have a plan for each day that you visit Disneyland for all the rides you want to see. Go to the most popular rides first when the wait in line will be the shortest, this includes Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones, and the Matterhorn. You don't have to stick to the plan 100%, but it's just really good to have one.

That's all there is to it. The book has the rest of the info like when to go e.g. mid-week is best like a Wednesday-Thursday, it has details on California Adventure and Universal Studios, and also tips on how not to lose your child.

A few more things:

  1. I think the best age to take kids to Disneyland is between 8-12 or second grade through seventh grade. Anything younger and your kid is probably too short for the rides and Disneyland can't be cool if you're 13.
  2. We stayed at the Sheraton Anaheim and it worked out well. The Disneyland hotels are pretty pricey and so the Sheraton was a good value given it's location.
  3. 2 days is about right for Disneyland. One day is way too short and three days is a little much.
  4. There's an IHOP, a Denny's, and a Subway outside the park with more reasonable costs for food. Or you can try and find some fish tacos which is a Southern California thing.
  5. Before you buy that Disney schwag (for yourself and not for your kids), just ask yourself when you'd see yourself wearing that Mickey Mouse polo shirt or hat. If you work for Disney, that's one thing, otherwise, it's kinda lame (if you're 13 or older anyway).
  6. Here's our trip report and you can kind of tease out what our plan was based on it.

I hope this was helpful :)

Vacation Review: Kailua, Hawaii


Kailua is a great place to stay when visiting Oahu for folks looking for a "real" Hawaiian experience, enjoying the local life and just hanging out on beautiful beaches. Kailua beach and Lanikai beach (same area) are two of the nicest beaches in the world and not too many folks around which make it even nicer.

more photos


  • Lanikai and Kailua beaches: blue clear, relatively calm waters. Swimming areas and great views of the "Mokes" islands and flat island. Lots of activities like kayaking and windsurfing available. Not crowded at all. Surprisingly and happily very, very few people on the beach. Stop by Kalapawai for coffee and snacks before heading to the beach. Also check out Island Snow for shaved ice.
  • Buzz's Steak and Seafood was surprisingly excellent. Ate there twice. Lanikai Juice for smoothies and their Acai bowl was also very good. Maladasas, or Portuguese donuts are excellent from Leonard's Bakery. Also, Boots and Kimo's for breakfast in Kailua was also yummy, banana pancakes w/ mac nut sauce is their specialty.
  • Kailua's Thursday night Farmer's market was killer. We had our best dinner of the night there and got a pork lau lau plate for $9. We spent maybe $30 that whole day on food. Rachel Ray has nothing on me.


  • Stay away from all the tourist traps especially Polynesian Cultural Center and their luau. Waikiki is cool for people watching but that's about it. There are better beaches out there.
  • Sam Choy's restaurant (his flagship one) was pretty disappointing. Sam Choy is like the Emeril Lagasse of Oahu but Emeril's restaurants are actually pretty good. I wasn't impressed at all with the dinner we had. Wasabi cheesecake topped w/ Ahi poke, that would be a cheesecake w/ raw fish on top. Enough said.


  • Used and Orbitz to shop around and we finally booked our flights directly w/ Hawaiian Airlines. Used Budget for car rental, and stayed at Papaya Paradise B&B (actually her daughter's place right next door – she also has vacation rentals) in Kailua. I don't believe there are any big hotels in Kailua, it's a relatively small town and not very touristy at all.
  • We also went to Haunama Bay for snorkeling. It's a nice beach/location as well. The North shore also has some great beaches but not very swimmable. Waimea Bay is nice as is Sunset Beach.
  • Weather wasn't the best in May, cloudy w/ intermittent showers. Another week or two and it would probably have been a little more perfect.
  • We missed out on hiking Diamond Head this time and hanging out at North Shore beaches some more.

crocs footwear


This is my second or third post on footwear. I only own a few pairs of shoes, that's why I guess I talk about the one's I do have. Anyway, I talked about Keen sandals the last time, and they're great, I wear them just about every day.

It was at Ironman Canada though where we ran into the Men's winner, Chris Lieto at the airport that I saw these sandals. He was wearing these Crocs (picture in the photo isn't me) in a bright yellow. They looked really funky, and I thought they were like some special Ironman secret.

Anyhow, I saw these sandals at a store and I think I'm going to grab a pair. They're very chic looking and I saw another person wearing them today during lunch. They're not going to be for everyday wear. Just for wearing after working out and for going to the beach.

Restaurant Review: Gary Danko

Too much IE talk, so need to balance me out a bit. Tine and I went to Gary Danko for b-day dinner, one of the coolest dining experiences in San Francisco, and the cost reflected it. I had the 5 course dinner, she had 3, we also had champagne and a half-bottle of wine.

We had a sommelier recommend the wine, a 1999 Calera Selleck Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir. We had about 4 or 5 more people fussing over us too, serving us bread, water, food, the cheese course, welcoming us, open the door to the bathroom — service was pretty good.

I had caviar/oysters, lobster, duck, cheese and this killer chocolate mousse with marscapone sorbet. Tine had risotto, frog's legs (yum), and souffle.

It was our second time at the restaurant and hopefully not our last. I'll come up with an excuse to go there again next year. It's a pretty ridiculous dining experience.

So back to the bathroom. Gary Danko is probably the best place to go to the bathroom in San Francisco. The bathroom is well decorated, they play new age music so if you need to go #2 you're all relaxed, there's a water fountain, lovely hand soap and lotion, rolled up individual towels, and little Gary Danko stickers on the toilet rolls that are folded up. I wonder if we can get some of this stuff done at the office.

my Keens, or the end of my Birkenstock era

I've been wearing Birkenstocks to work everyday since March 1999. I have two pairs, a black pair and a brown pair and I've resoled them both numerous times.

I thought it was time for a change and couple weeks ago, I started wearing Keen sandals. They're very comfortable and seem to be well designed. I do hope they last a long time or I'll just have to pull out my Birkenstocks again.

Shopping Spree

I've been on a little shopping tear lately. Here's what I(we) have bought:

– ordered (not yet bought) a new car
cast iron dutch oven for camping (on sale! @Amazon)
GoldTouch keyboard (ergonomically sound)
Humanscale keyboard tray
Tom Bihn cafe bag (it's NOT a purse!)
– iCurve laptop stand

Our home office is coming together and becoming ergonomically correct. Already have Steelcase Leap chair that's pretty awesome and our furniture is nice too. I have some more kitchen stuff to buy and then get some more shirts to wear to work. It's getting to be pretty bad when I have Firefox and Mozilla polo shirts as shirts I wear on the weekend (not that I mind, but just shows I need more clothes).