The STANDARD H Travel pages are our version of city guides presented by our founder, Wesley Smith. These are places he's traveled, enjoyed, and recommends, so they're all vetted and what we refer to as STANDARD H verified. These lists will evolve, so check back often and travel safe!

 

SAN FRANCISCO

 

Blue Bottle Coffee

66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Now, you've bound to have heard of Blue Bottle Coffee if you're on this page. However, if you haven't, just know that it had a cult-like following early on, it grew so people began to "hate" it. Obviously. Well, I still enjoy it, especially from this particular location as it's the only location in the entire company that offers its aptly-named espresso called 17 Foot Ceiling. If you're in the area, check it out. You won't find it anywhere else.

 

Comstock Saloon

155 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

A fun bar with a great selection of of craft cocktails and delicious food. The burger is worth the price of admission, however it's the Starters portion of the menu where I order almost everything. The Brussels Sprouts are a must.

 

The View Lounge

780 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

As if the name above isn't enough, this is a great spot to have drinks in the summer when the sun stays out longer. The views are amazing looking predominantly east.

 

Flour + Water

2401 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

If Italian is what you're craving, search no further, this is your spot. The food is great and the service is fantastic. I highly suggest trying a little of everything and splitting it all. I love getting a delicious pizza as well as one of their gourmet pasta dishes. They also had an amazing salted caramel gelato, so I hope that's still there.

 

Sears Fine Food

439 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

This is your choice for breakfast. It's been there since 1938, so it's an institution, after all. Swedish pancakes, and your classic diner fare. Perhaps you had a late night ...or not; this place hits the spot.

 

NAPA VALLEY

 

Oxbow Public Market

610 1st St, Napa, CA 94559

Restaurants and local vendors are what make up this well-rounded display of gastronomy. It also hosts a Ritual Coffee which is my go-to jolt of caffeine in the mornings when in Napa.

 

Model Bakery

644 1st St, Napa, CA 94559

Next to/attached to Oxbow Market, Oprah Winfrey actually said this was her favorite breakfast sandwich, so I guess you can say the rest is history. Model does in fact have very good breakfast sandwiches, but what also got our attention were the cookies - specifically the chocolate cookie and the almond cookie - which may otherwise fly under the radar.

 

Restoration Hardware

6725 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599

Known for their massive showrooms, my wife actually informed me they had a restaurant. Needless to say, I was delightfully surprised by how good it was. We enjoyed the burrata, split the lobster roll, had a salad & the truffle fries (we always do if on the menu). The mimosa was also better than most, so before you scoff at the idea of eating at RH, you may want to give it a whirl.

 

Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch

738 Main St, St Helena, CA 94574

A go-to brunch place whenever we're in Napa, walking up to the restaurant feels like when you're a kid going to the pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin...not because they have pumpkins, the feeling's just the same...only it's delicious breakfast food you're choosing.

 

Charter Oak Restaurant

1050 Charter Oak Ave, St Helena, CA 94574

One of my favorite meals to eat when in the Napa area. It's farm to table, so the menu is constantly changing, and I can assure you, nothing will disappoint no matter what your taste is. Personally, I prefer to sit out on the patio under the lights as it can feel serene even though you're surrounded by people. It's great. If the following is still on the menu, order it: Miso Caesar Salad, anything involving their BUTTER, the Hamburger. And if the Nikka Coffee is on the list, make it into an Old Fashioned. We also had the Carrot cake which was awesome.

 

Joseph Phelps

200 Taplin Rd, St Helena, CA 94574

Joseph Phelps offers some fantastic reds and a wonderful ambiance. With a spacious back patio area looking out over the vines, you may not want to leave, especially with a glass of their flagship red, Insignia.

 

Orin Swift

1325 Main St, St Helena, CA 94574

Before you roll your eyes, this isn't a post highlighting The Prisoner. Yes, that wine blew up 5 or 10 years ago or whatever it was, but that doesn't make it bad, either. Besides, they no longer own the label for Prisoner, but I digress...Orin Swift makes some really great red blends, and their tasting room is a lot of of fun. I love their imagery and let's face it, you've probably bought a wine based on it's label, admit it. So, if you're going to judge these books by their covers, I think you'll be far from disappointed.

   

Artesa Winery

1345 Henry Rd, Napa, CA 94559

Artesa is one of the more architecturally interesting vineyards in Napa. In fact, I believe I was first introduced to their wines via Architectural Digest. My wife and I had a wonderful time while sitting outside in their courtyard/patio in the middle of their facility. The service is incredible, the wines are as well, and the charcuterie board made for a perfect companion.

 

Miner Winery

7850 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558

Miner has been on my recommendation list since I first visited in 2009. "The Oracle" is their flagship Bordeaux-style red, but I also love - perhaps even more - their Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon which, though not cheap, is $30 less expensive. I highly recommend this making the cut on your list for tastings while in Napa.

 

Signorello Estate

4500 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558

Signorello is a fun place to meet if you're in a group or have friends coming together. I loved sitting out by the pool overlooking the vines on the property while sipping the only Zinfandel I've ever really liked. With very approachable prices, Signorello is a great stop.

 

Quintessa

1601 Silverado Trail S, St Helena, CA 94574

Not the cheapest of the lot, but incredibly very, very good. My wife loves the whites, and I love the reds. This was also one of my favorite vineyards, architecturally. Built directly into the hills, this modern structure blends right into the landscape. Another great aspect of the current production: Quintessa's winemaker is Rebekah Wineberg, one of only a few female wine makers in the United States. 

 

River Terrace Inn

1600 Soscol Ave, Napa, CA 94559

This has served as our go-to hotel in Napa as it's close to downtown, and also very easy to make your way north to all of the incredible vineyards right there at your fingertips. It's also a nice, short walk to Oxbow Market.

 

SONOMA

With its proximity to the coast, the wines of Sonoma typically prove to be a tad lighter than those grown to the east in Napa.

 

The Girl & the Fig

110 W Spain St, Sonoma, CA 95476

The corn with lobster sauce appetizer is incredible. It's honestly the best thing I’ve had in recent memory. The duck con fit is the way to go and as a side note: the fries they have (not served w the duck) are perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Delicious. I started w a beer and then got a glass of wine with dinner and it was ideal. 

 

Tasca Tasca - Portuguese Tapas and Wine Bar

122 W Napa St, Sonoma, CA 95476

This place is a great casual dinner spot right off of the square in downtown Sonoma. We started with the wings where the sauce is the hero. The crab empeñadas are like a delicious deep fried crab cake if you like crab cakes. The pork sliders are great espeiclaly with the pickle - that totally makes it. Dry cured Choriço is delicious as well. 

 

MacRostie Winery Estate House

4605 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448

My best friend recommended we go here just before our trip and as a result, I canceled a reservation in exchange for this one, and I'm glad I did. We ended up bringing back two different whites and one of their Pinot Noirs, which is somewhat rare for me as I typically gravitate towards Oregon Pinots. The grey building makes for a beautiful host and the wine that greets you walking from the parking lot doesn't hurt either. We had a blast here.

 

Bonus: if you're into water sports, I highly recommend kayaking the Russian River. It's an absolute blast. 

 

"BAY AREA"

This is somewhat of a cop-out, as listing only one thing from a particular neighborhood shouldn't constitute a separate page, and if I included it in any of the above, I'd be getting told "that's not in SF!" So, alas...this section:

 

Vesta

2022 Broadway, Redwood City, CA 94063

One of my favorite places to eat pizza in the Bay Area. Whether you're stopping in to eat lunch outside along the sidewalk, or grabbing them to take home, I highly recommend the Sausage & Honey. It's a red sauce pie with spicy Italian sausage, mascarpone, honey, and serrano chili. It's so good.

 

Yumi Yogurt

3955 S El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94403

Frozen Yogurt is so early-2000's, I know, however this Froyo's legit. Flavors rotate almost daily which only means you'll want to check their menu daily. 

 

Rooh Restaurant

473 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

We went here with two other couples and we effectively tried nearly everything on the menu between us. It started with one of the best Old Fashioned's I've ever had, followed by an onslaught of food. Standouts included: their bread, the lamb chops, and my friends loved the fish.

 

State of Mind Slice House Pizza

3850 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

Pizza is my favorite food, hands down, and when my wife said a high school friend of hers is a co-owner of a pizza place, we had to try it. We ordered the Bacon/jalapeño/honey pizza and it's incredible. We also had the Corn/jalapeño/sausage, and the award-winning Mushroom. Bravo.