The last time Grub Street ate at an airport, we had a chicken sandwich at the TGI Friday’s at SFO. With a soda, the tab for the disappointing white puck came to something like $15. This is an example of not getting one’s money’s worth. On the other hand, we dropped something like $65 for fried chicken, appetizers, and a few cocktails at Fish & Farm the night before and called it well spent. To ensure more experiences like the latter, Gourmet has tagged a few restaurants throughout the country as “worth the money.” In our area, that means Tartine Bakery, Cyrus, Taylor’s Automatic Refresher (the original in St. Helena), and The French Laundry.
The logic behind the first three is obvious: They’ve got reasonably priced, above-average food. That fourth choice seems odd — French Laundry is not known as a budget option but apparently “the food aims for—and very often achieves—perfection.” The Napa-centric editors also tagged the “fascinating” Ubuntu. For those that don’t get up to wine country too often, we’d include on that list the great new pizza at Flour + Water, the hangover-busting breakfast at Al’s Cafe Good Food, and the sublime fried chicken sandwich at Oakland’s Bakesale Betty — the exact opposite of an airport-quality lunch, for about half the price.