Will bike for food: 5 Bay Area rides with tasty destinations

August 31, 2016                 5m read time
Jessie Beck


Everything tastes better after a bike ride. Explore some of the best eats in San Francisco with these five routes for beginners and pro-cyclists alike. Earn that meal!

The best bike rides are ones with something delicious at the end of the journey—after all, everything tastes better after pedaling up an appetite.

Fortunately, miles and miles of bikeable roads and a strong foodie culture make San Francisco a wonderful city for scrumptious cycling adventures. (Oh, and all 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 earmarked more than a few bikeable food stops. So whether you’re a hardcore Eddy Merckx type or just out for an easy Sunday spin, put one (or all!) of these two-wheeled-food adventures on your Bay Area biking bucket list.

1. Outerlands + Trouble Cafe

Outerlands Cafe in San Francisco Photo Credit Yuichi Sakuraba & Sara Shaughnessey

Outerlands Cafe in San Francisco

Photo Credit

Yuichi Sakuraba & Sara Shaughnessey

 
  • 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 round-trip
  • Local tip: Go on a Sunday when Golden Gate park is closed to cars.

San Francisco may get a lot of grief for piggybacking on the toast trend and making it expensive, 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 to Trouble to grab a deliciously thick slab of artisan bread with butter, cinnamon and sugar, plus a coconut and some espresso.

 
...the originator of the SF toast-craze, Trouble Cafe, has a far less hipster background than you might expect.
 

If you're 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—try the cast-iron pan dutch pancake and the ancho chili and cactus red cider. While the natural lighting and modern-homey interior has the feel of a West Elm catalog, the vibe isn’t bougie. Rather, the wait staff is so laidback and friendly, you’ll want to kick it and hang all day. Swing by for a drink and hang out in their sidewalk parklet, or grab an outdoor table if you plan on having a more substantial meal.

Both spots are just a couple blocks away from Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach, and offer outdoor seating for cyclists who'd rather not leave their rides out of sight in bike-theft-heavy San Francisco.

2. Fish

Fish in Sausalito Jessie Beck

Fish in Sausalito

Jessie Beck

 
  • 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 San Francisco visitors (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Most out-of-towners ride across the bridge, stop in Sausalito for a quick bite, then 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 favorite among locals and tourists alike is a tucked-away seafood restaurant called Fish, located 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 a quaint patio overlooking the harbor. Just be prepared with a jacket and cash, as Fish does not accept credit cards. For a longer ride, continue through Sausalito along the Bay Trail to Tennessee Valley Road, a 3.4-mile out-and-back trail that curves through green hills and ends at a beautiful cove.

3. The Siren Canteen

Siren Canteen in San Francisco Jessie Beck

Siren Canteen in San Francisco

Jessie Beck

 
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.
 
Siren Canteen in San Francisco Jessie Beck

Siren Canteen in San Francisco

Jessie Beck

 
  • 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 among shoeless beachgoers 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...). Biking here involves some uphill climbs and there’s no getting around it, so steel your quads.

4. Gestalt Haus

Gestalt Haus in San Francisco Jessie Beck

Gestalt Haus in San Francisco

Jessie Beck

 
  • 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 is 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 Marin Museum of Bicyling.

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

Hog Island Oyster in San Francisco albedo20 & risasa

Hog Island Oyster in San Francisco

albedo20risasa

 
The Bay is known for its oysters, and a trip to the source is a must for any bivalve-loving biker.
 
Hog Island Oyster in San Francisco Jessie Beck

Hog Island Oyster in San Francisco

Jessie Beck

 
  • 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.
  • 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 known for its oysters, and a trip to the source is a must for any bivalve-loving biker.

For the freshest and most mouthwatering mollusks 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. (Unfortunately, the cheaper alternative, Tomales Bay Oyster Co., recently shut down their picnic tables and is now a to-go-only joint.)

Grab a plate of oysters and charcuterie from the bar (and perhaps a refreshing press concocted with local vodka made from San Francisco fog), then sit back and enjoy peaceful Bayside views.

To make a bike ride out of it, start in Point Reyes Station for a nice, rolling 20-mile route there and back, or bike one-way from the city and get a car to take you back. My personal favorite? Book an Airbnb and make a weekend trip out of it.

Need a bike? Here are a few places where you can rent one in San Francisco:

...Or take a guided biking adventure in the Bay Area!

Want more biking inspiration? We’ve got you covered. Check out the ZOZI Bike Collection!

 
Jessie Beck

Jessie Beck loves to bike, eat, and travel. She’s previously called D.C., Malta, Seattle, and Madagascar home, but currently lives in San Francisco. Find her on Instagram/Twitter @beatnomad or blogging at beatnomad.com.

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