I'm flying in to Oakland and travelling up to Sebastopol for my Grandfather's 80th birthday next week. I'm then going to visit family in the outskirts of Sacramento, then travel down to San Jose to visit more family, before returning a week later.
I'm creating a tipsheet for myself, something I can carry on my Palm TX. I've made several visits to the Bay Area before, including dedicated food trips. Usually I split it between upscale and downscale, but this time my goal is to focus on ethnic, especially Indian, since we don't really have any good Indian in Portland, and Thai, since it's one of my favorites. Also Vietnamese, though I think we hold our own in Portland better on that than most others. Perhaps Mexican, which I've explored several times before in San Jose, SF, and Sacramento, if there's something especially interesting.
Other cuisines, too. If there's an especially good Malaysian or Indonesian or Peruvian or Brazilian or whateverian, I'm interested.
I'm most interested in places that offer dishes that are both especially good and unique. It'd be nice to have a really good bowl of pho, butter chicken, or massaman curry, or carnitas, but even better if a place has a bunch of tasty specialties of Ho Chi Minh, or has a list of terrific Indian breads the length of my arm, or pounds all their own curry pastes and grows their own herbs to make them taste right, or cooks pescado zarandeado over open coals. Etc.
I'm looking for destination restaurants, even if they're dives. On a BBQ trip to Texas this last fall, I drove four hours from Austin to Houston just to eat at Vieng Thai. And it was totally worth it.