5 Bay Area Bike Rides for Food Lovers
The best bike rides are ones with great food at the of the journey -- after all, everything tastes better after pedaling up an appetite.
Fortunately, San Francisco is an wonderful city for bike-food adventures. Not only is there a strong food culture in San Francisco and around the bay, but also miles and miles of bikeable roads (oh, those hills? Just think of them as a ticket to a side of fries...)
After spending the past three years biking and eating my way around the Bay, I’ve collected more than a few bikeable food stops. So, whether you’re a hardcore cyclist or just out for an easy Sunday spin, below are five Bay Area bike-food adventures that you just have to try.
1. Outerlands / Trouble Cafe
- Where: Outer Sunset (San Francisco)
- Ride level: Easy
- Price: $$ / $
- Route: Golden Gate Park - Ocean Beach - Outerlands/Trouble Cafe. See route on Strava.
- Distance: 9 miles roundtrip
- Local tip: Go on a Sunday when Golden Gate park is closed to cars.
San Francisco may get a lot of grief for serving up expensive toast, but the originator of the SF toast-craze, Trouble Cafe, has a far less hipster background than you might expect. For Giulietta Carrelli, the owner of the Cafe, toast was a childhood comfort food that helped her in troubled times. Bike here to grab toast and coconuts -- in addition to the usual gamut of espresso drinks and pastries -- at Trouble.
If you're more in the mood for a drink or dinner, head down the block to Outerlands, a rustic American restaurant with a short but creative menu and delicious cocktails. Swing by for a drink and hang out in their sidewalk parklette, or grab an outdoor table for something more substantial.
Both spots are just a couple blocks away from Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach, and have outdoor seating for those of us who'd rather not leave our bikes out of site in bike-theft-heavy San Francisco.
- Where: Sausalito
- Ride level: Easy-Medium
- Price: $$
- Route: Embarcadero - Golden Gate Bridge - Sausalito - Fish. See route on Strava.
- Distance: 12 miles with ferry / 22 miles round-trip
- Local tip: Go a little later in the afternoon to avoid long lines.
A bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito is the opposite of a secret: it’s a tourist mainstay for visitors to San Francisco. Most tourists will ride across the bridge, stop in Sausalito for a quick bite, and take the ferry back into the City. If you’re up for a long climb, you can also ride your bike back.
Although downtown Sausalito has a number of lunch spot options, a local and tourist favorite is a tucked away seafood restaurant, Fish, about a mile north of the downtown area. Pedal here and enjoy fresh trout from the Russian River or bowl of homemade clam chowder on their patio overlooking the harbor. Just be prepared and bring a jacket and cash (sorry, guys, Fish is cash only).
3. The Siren Canteen
- Where: Stinson Beach
- Ride level: Medium - Hard
- Price: $
- Route: Golden Gate Bridge - Sausalito - Mount Tam - Stinson Beach
- Distance: 20 miles one way / 40 mile round trip. See route on Strava.
- Local tip: Love IPA? Ask for your beer slushie with a Lagunitas.
I didn't know I loved beer slushies until I discovered The Siren Canteen, an unassuming beachside burger and taco shack nestled in the dunes of Stinson Beach. With a wide variety of burgers, tacos, quesadillas, and a self-serve pickle bar, The Canteen's simple and unpretentious menu is popular both among shoeless beach-goers and hungry cyclists traveling along the 101.
If you're coming from San Francisco, follow the beautiful but difficult coastal highway (the 101) or climb up and over Mount Tam before descending into Stinson Beach for a much needed carbo-load (and possible beach nap...). There’s really no good way to bike here without doing a lot of climbing -- be prepared.
4. Gestalt Haus
- Where: Fairfax, CA
- Ride level: Medium
- Price: $
- Route: Golden Gate Bridge - Sausalito - Fairfax / drive up and explore a mountain bike trail in Marin. See route on Strava.
- Distance: 18 miles one way, 35 miles round trip (though similar in length to the Stinson Beach route, biking to Fairfax is much easier and only has one notable climb.)
- Local tip: Gestalt Haus has free juice for kids.
Gestalt Haus the type of biker bar where spandex, not leather, is the norm, and mountain bikes line the wall. Tucked away in the hippie town of Fairfax, California, Gestalt Haus also happens to be in the heart of the birthplace of mountain biking and right across the street from the c.
Pop in after a bike ride for a half liter of beer and a sausage -- a combo which will run you a reasonable $12 + tip. There’s even vegetarian sausage and grilled cheese for the non-meat eaters in your bunch.
5. Hog Island Oyster Company, Tomales Bay Oysters, or Marshall Store
- Where: Tomales Bay
- Ride level: Medium - Difficult
- Price: $$$
- Route One: Golden Gate Bridge - Fairfax - Tomales Bay. See route on Strava.
- Route Two: Point Reyes - Tomales Bay. See route on Strava.
- Distance: 20 - 45 miles (one way)
- Local tip: Hog Island has a BYOB + snacks policy. Load up before you arrive! Also, there’s no cell phone reception here if you’re coordinating with friends.
The Bay is well known for its oysters, and a trip to the source is a must for any food-loving visitor.
For the freshest oysters in the area, head north of the small, old-western style town of Point Reyes Station to Tomales Bay, where locals and day trippers alike gather to shuck oysters and picnic at Hog Island Oyster, Tomales Bay Co., or the Marshall Store.
Tomales Bay Oyster Co. is the most bare bones eatery, serving up nothing but oysters (picnickers bring their own snacks and drinks) but The Marshall Store and Hog Island have full menus. Both are great and welcoming to cyclists, but The Marshall Store is the more laid back of the two.
No matter where you go, grab a plate -- or sack -- of oysters, then sit back and enjoy the peaceful views of the Bay.
To make a bike ride out of it, you can either start in Point Reyes Station for a nice, rolling 20 mile ride there and back, or bike one-way from the city and get a car to take you back or spend the night at the charming Ten Inverness Way.