Takeaway, outside dining, indoor dining: What’s best for you?

by Linda Hubbard on June 30, 2020

We’re been jotting down notes as we experienced some takeaway and outside dining options (indoor is not for us at this time) and have talked to a number of restauranteurs. Here are some of our experiences.

The ideal dining situation we’ve experienced in the last month was not here on the Peninsula but rather at Nick’s Cove which is on Tomales Bay about an hour north of the City. It was simple and straightforward: You ordered your meal and drinks at a window. The drinks were brought out and set down on one round table. The food on another. We picked up our food and drink. It was about as contact free as possible. Masks required. Food could be enjoyed at a number of outdoor tables very well spaced apart. It does help that Nick’s has a pier!

We had a similar experience at Cafe Borrone when we went for breakfast. You do have to go indoors to order (there is an online ordering option; maybe best utilized when not ordering scrambled eggs!). The food is delivered picnic style to a wooden table where you pick it up and take it to one of the cafe’s well-spaced tables. The doors are all open for solid air flow, and the tables are set for multiple size parties.

“We are happy to be back!” Marina emails. “It may not be normal but it feels more normal … being open even in this capacity.”

Alpine Inn, aka Zott’s, just re-opened at the end of last week. The tavern is closed but the beer garden is opened with tables spaced six feet apart and various staff ensuring that rules are followed such as wearing a mask any time you’re not seated at your table and honoring a 90 minute time limit. Dogs are still welcome but children, not surprisingly, must sit at the table with their family as the various games and activities are not currently available. You’re encouraged to order using the online ordering system but staff brings the food to you. The contact is brief; the wait staff quickly puts your tray of food on the table and departs.

Walking downtown on Sunday we noticed that Ann’s Coffee Shop has spread out into Santa Cruz Avenue, a great option for breakfast or lunch, but one we haven’t experienced personally. Ann’s, by the way, opened in 1946!

In our view, the ante goes up and individual comfort for risk increases when opting to dine outside for dinner, as this meal is, by definition, longer. Camper, Roma, Vida and Left Bank all appeared to have good spacing. And they all continue to offer food to go.

When outside dining first opened, we dined at Flea Street Cafe. The experience was just fine (and food, as always, delicious) but owner Jesse Cool has since closed the outdoor dining option and is offering take out only. Jesse emailed:

“A lot of restless nights for [Managing Partner] Michael [Biesemeyer] and me as we are very concerned about the opening of table service and the safety of our industry.

“After a week of opening outdoor tables at Flea Street, following all safety mandates and more, we decided it was not responsible to put our staff in jeopardy with guests unmasked…We will remain operating with carry out food only and offer the deck as a place for people to eat their carry out picnic style, and we will have live music provided by the Riekes Center on Friday and Saturday night.”

Having had these dining experiences, we read with interest an article in the Los Angeles Times that featured an interview with scientist Lucy Jones. Her adamant advice: “Don’t share the air!” which translated means wearing a mask and maintaining your distance. You can hear more of her thoughts about the pandemic in a recent podcast.

Note: Governor Gavin Newsom said today that he “tighten things up” heading in the 4th of July weakening, which could include pulling back indoor dining and shopping.

Photos by Linda Hubbard (c) 2020

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