Palo Alto Recommendations Please
Hello South Bay Hounds,
I'll be residing in Palo Alto during the upcoming FINA Masters World Aquatics Championships at Stanford, and I'm looking for places to eat. Mostly breakfast and dinner, and heavy on the carbs please! I like ethinic, and domestic but I will be on a budget, so go easy on the white tablecloth recs OK?
Thanks in advance.
A standby for breakfast in the area is Hobee's. There's one in the Town and Country village - if you don't have access to a car, I'm pretty sure the Marguerite shuttle runs there. Nothing spectacular, but fairly good, large portions, close to campus, and reasonably priced.
There are alot of threads on the site for PA restaurants which you might check. Short version ... my recs:
1. Bang for the Buck .... Try California Avenue (less than 1m south of stanford). Cafe Brioche -- good French Bistro, La Bodeguita del Media -- ok Cuban, lively atmosphere, Mediterranean Wraps -- cheap, generous portions, Peking Duck --just N of Ca on El Camino -- duck and seafood. Also there is a restaurant in the Alma Plaza shopping center ... Mandarin Cuisine? which I think is the best Chinese bargain in town. Huge lunches including soup for $6.50.
2. Breakfast ... I like Dinah's poolside restaurant for their omelettes and country fried potatoes ... across the street from a Hobees in south palo alto
3. Wild Card bang for the buck. There is a Scott's seafood restaurant in the Town & Country shopping center across from Stanford. Generally just ok, but they run happy hour specials in the bar area from 4-7 where most appetizers are 1/2 price. My favorites are the fried calamari which is the best I have found in the area (about $4.50) and steamed clams (about $5). Both very good, large portions.
I need to mention that "Scott's Seafood" and any kind of "bang for the buck" don't belong in the same sentence.
I noticed you mentioned "easy on the white tablecloth recs"; this place is NOT cheap, so while there may be some happy hour deals to be had, you'll just get frustrated that you can't stay for dinner because most of the entrees are $25. La Bodeguita (one of my favorites) is certainly not "budget", either.
Please, Palo Alto people, a little perspective on what "budget" means.
I second the recs for Krung Thai, and Med Wraps (Cal. Ave) / Kan Zeman (University Ave) (super fresh, amazing quality, home made, lots of carb options - the combo plate comes with hummus and lots of pita, and the shawerma plates come with rice).
You know ... sometimes I think people don't read this stuff. I did not recommend Scott's for dinner ... only for the happy hour specials. You need to order off the bar menu. Their prices on the specials are in the $4-$6 range, and the portions are very large. I don't know where you are going to do better for a huge plate of calamari or a large bowl of steamers ... and with the complimentary loaf of sourdough, you will not likely be hungry enough to stay for dinner ... so a full meal for 2 people for $10-$11 -- qualifies for budget in my book. And if you're really hungry, you can throw in some fries which I think are <$2 during happy hour.
I like the Burmese food at Rangoon, off University. They have lunch specials, but dinners are pretty cheap too. Don't miss the coconut rice.
Arepas and hot cocoa at Coupa Cafe on Ramona.
I had quite delicious Middle Eastern food at Cafe 220 at 220 University. We shared an appetizer plater but the shwarma/gyros looked good. Open late.
It's never really cheap, but Whole Foods does have a great salad bar and deli counter. Plus you can treat yourself to a few minutes of chair massage.
Mountain View is generally cheaper and more authentic ethnic food, if you feel like driving a few minutes south along El Camino or to Castro Street. Let us know what you find.
Rangoon is good and cheap, which isn't common in Palo Alto. Pasta is an ok cheap carb-heavy option, La Strada is a better (but pricier) one.
There's a good Thai place (Krung Thai) next to the Trader Joe's in the San Antonio Shopping Center, plus in Mountain View there's good Indian food (Saravana Bhavan, Amber India, Amber Cafe, Passage to India (not as good as the others)), and good Chinese (Hunan Home's, Queen House, and others). Plus good Mexican in RWC (La Casita Chilanga, La Pachanga, etc.). Back a Yard (Jamacian) in Menlo Park is praised on the board, and at one time, Uncle Frank's BBQ in Mountain View was highly regarded (I don't know if it still is).
For breakfast, try Joanie's or Cafe Nora (both on CA Ave. in Palo Alto), or go to Hobee's or Stacks (both are chains but are ok).
On the farm (aka Stanford) itself, the options are somewhat more limited (and frankly, expensive for what you get). The Alumni Cafe is ok, so is the Sports Cafe. Anyone on campus should be able to direct you to those locations.
You've gotten a lot of good recommendations here. A few more in downtown Palo Alto:
- Hyderabad House for Indian self-service that's a cut above the usual
- Kan Zeman for Middle Eastern food (the sit-down restaurant sibling to Mediterannean Wraps on California Ave.)
- Vero for good Italian, including nice homemade pastas.
All are moderately-priced dinner choices.
hi brian! there are tons of ethnic options around.
for sushi on university ave, there's the very decent sushiya (though it's not cheap, it's a lot less expensive than other sushi joints).
i highly recommend st michael's alley (near whole foods) for weekend brunch. it looks a bit fancy but the prices are not crazy (less than $15 for an entree).
if you like indian, we've got the hyderabad house which is fast and easy.
a classic palo alto standby for pasta is osteria. it's a bit cheaper than la strada and i personally think it's higher quality than vero.
i also recommend rangoon for burmese food (very inexpensive).
if you are sick of ethnic, try plutos, which is the epitome of fast, easy, healthy, cheap, good quality- but it's plain old american. really popular among students and athletes and the lunch time work crowd. they have an awesome salad bar, good mashed potatos, etc.
everything i've mentioned thus far is in downtown palo alto and easily accessible by marguerite or by walking. if you do have a car, as other people have said, there are many good, cheap ethnic options in mountain view. go to castro street for ramen, good cantonese or szechuan, shabu shabu, and pho. lots of indian places a little south of palo alto as well.
I stumbled upon Cho's while running an errand on Californa Ave. and had really high hopes. Small hole in the wall place that has been there forever.
However, my experience was very disappointing. The service was extremely slow, though there were only two other customers (who were already eating) in the joint, I ordered one of their dumpling/potsticker combos, and got the wrong thing which included a pork bun that I didn't want. But as I was running short on time, and the first order took so long to get filled, I decided to keep my order. All the fillings (both beef and pork) were fatty and gristly, the bun was dry and had little flavor. I picked the dumpling and pork bun apart looking for edible portions, then ended up throwing 90% away. Oh well... at least it was pretty cheap - around $5-6?
I just went to Cho's last night. Ugh.
I'm not a dim sum elitest. My favorite dim sum places in SF are Good Luck Dim Sum and Wing Lee Bakery on clement. I like just about every take-out dim sum place in the richmond.
Cho's sucks. The shanghai dumplings have a really thick, doughy skin with very dry, dense filling - and where's the savory soup? The har gow were also very doughy which in itself is not all that bad. Most of the take-out har gow I've had feature thick doughy skin, probably from sitting inside the steamers. However, the filling inside Cho's shrimp dumplings were bland and quite rubbery. The potstickers were the best but also very thick and doughy. The filling was ok but nowhere near the quality as places like Su-hong, Jing Jing, Windy's...
I would never go back to this place.