San Francisco Day Trip: Sample James Beard Award Nominees and Winners

James Beard San Francisco
ferry building

The San Francisco area is famous for its local wineries and scenic landmarks. For you epicurean adventurers, we have planned an alternative, perfect daylong getaway for the seeker of exceptional and award-winning food, wine and spirits. Get ready to try exceptional food and wine from the James Beard San Francisco award nominees and winners.

One of the best areas to stay in San Francisco is Union Square – close to everything in the city from shopping to restaurants to theaters. Some of the finest hotels are the Westin St. Francis, JW Marriott San Francisco, Sir Francis Drake and the Grand Hyatt San Francisco.

 You can begin your day at the iconic Ferry Building Marketplace – just a 20 minute walk down Market Street or a quick ride from your hotel. The Ferry Building Marketplace was opened in 1898. It now offers modern dining and shopping including The Gardener, with its linens and flora, and Recchiuti Confections, featuring hand crafted chocolates.

slanted door cooking

Before leaving home make your lunch reservation for the Ferry Building’s The Slanted Door restaurant. In 2014, The Slanted Door was the James Beard Foundation winner for Outstanding Restaurant Award. You’ll see and taste why they won the award – incorporating Vietnamese cooking techniques using delicious, local ingredients from nearby farms and ranches. Famous dishes include the Wild Mendocino Uni, Cellophane Noodles, Spicy Monterey Squid and the grass-fed Anderson Ranch Lamb Sirloin.

Following lunch and shopping, take the 15-minute ferry ride to Alameda. Once in Alameda, take a cab, Lyft or Uber to the artisan distiller, St. George Spirits. The view across San Francisco bay is stunning.

stills st george spirits

Tasting appointments can be made in advance. St. George Spirits dwells in a historic setting, a formerly active Navy Hanger, 1940-1990s. As we toured St. George Spirits, the copper pot stills were busily cranking out the distillate of their “Terroir Gin.”

This gin gains its flavors from Mendocino Douglas fir trees, California bay laurel and Coastal sage conjuring up a hike on Marin County’s Mount Tam. Additionally, traditional Gin botanicals like juniper and citrus notes round out the gin profile. This creative spirit-making and use of organic, local ingredients contributed to the nomination of St. George’s Master Distiller, Lance Winters, as the 2016 James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Beer, Wine or Spirits Professional.

Lance Winters Master Distiller

St. George Spirits has a diverse range of spirits from various types of gins, vodkas, rum and whiskeys as well as the potent absinthe, fruit brandies, and fruit and coffee liqueurs. The tasting is fun and lively and is led by spirit professionals who can recommend cocktails matched to their spirits. The surprising favorites in our group were the Chili Vodka and the Terroir Gin, two of St. George’s top spirits.

Following the tasting at St George Spirits, take the ferry back to the Ferry Building and your close-by Union Square Hotel for a rest or shopping break.

A16 San Francisco

Cap your day with an Italian dinner at A16, named for the famed trans-Italy Autostrada that links Naples with Bari in Puglia. Sample the wine from the A16’s award-winning wine list. Wine Director and co-owner, Shelly Lindgren, won the 2015 James Beard Foundation award for her “Outstanding Wine Program.” A16 is a place to table-sample multiple dishes. Our favorites included the Burrata with Sea Salt and olive oil, the “Funghi” Mushroom Pizza, the pasta dish Maccaronara and a creamy Ricotta Salata. Our Southern Italian red wine selections included the spicy cherry/cranberry-noted Campania Cesanese and the bold and dusty Taurasi Aglianico.

Savor day tripping in San Francisco at some of our favorite James Beard San Francisco award-winning haunts.

st-george-spirits-00 whiskey and gin

If You Go:

 St. George Spirits
2601 Monarch Street, Alameda CA
(510) 769-1601

For tasting reservations email:

Union Square
Post, Powell, Geary and Stockton Streets, San Francisco CA

Download a map of Union Square 

The Ferry Building Marketplace
1 The Embarcadero, San Francisco CA

The Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building #3, San Francisco CA
(415) 861-8032

A16 San Francisco
2355 Chestnut Street, San Francisco CA
(415) 771-2216

Co-Author: Courtney Quinn shares her experiences in the world of wine via her blog, Path2Wine. She is currently studying for her level four exams through WSET® Wine and Spirits Education Trust and is a Certified Specialist of Wine, Society of Wine Educators. Courtney has certifications in the Business of Wine and holds a Master’s Degree from the University of San Diego. Courtney and Tricia Conover were classmates at the Culinary Institute of America, Napa Valley, where they received their C.W.P. designations – Certified Wine Professional.


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