moving to Atherton
I am moving to Atherton or one of the surrounding communities and I was wondering what the food scene is like out there? Does anyone have any knowledge?
Not all that great. I was spoiled rotten by the Berkeley food scene, and had to drastically reduce my expectations when I moved to Menlo Park a couple years ago.
There's good individual places, but you have to hunt for them. Mountain View and San Mateo have nice downtown areas, but IMHO Menlo Park and Palo Alto tend to be overpriced and not all that great.
It depends on how much you want to bike... We live pretty much without a car. But it does mean we don't get the best chow sometimes. New Kappadokia in Redwood City is right by the Caltrain station, there is a Caltrain Station by Castro street in Mountain View. You can do a search on here for Palo alto and Menlo Park recs too. You are super close to tacos in Redwood city too. We bike there from our Menlo Park apt.
Do you know anything about Atherton? It's one of the wealthiest cities in the country. The only person that rides public transits are the maids who work there. There are actually plenty of good restaurants in the area, just not in Atherton itself. Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and environs have plenty of options.
It depends on the transit. Commuting by bike and Caltrain is actually quite chic around here. Atherton has a Caltrain stop that will take you right into the city albeit only the slow train stops there. Oh - and Atherton has very few commercial developments - it is mostly residental, so yes, seach for Menlo Park and Redwood City.
There's some decent Mexican and Salvadorean in Redwood City, good Chinese and Indian in Mountain View, lots of choices in San Jose, most in places that are hard to get to without a car.
Atherton / Palo Alto's about the least chowish part of the Bay Area.
Not the strongest area for food in the Bay area but here are some first-hand and second hand recs. You will definitely need a car in that area.
Redwood City: Old Port Lobster Shack - New England style seafood
Woodside: Village Pub
Palo Alto: Pluto's for casual lunch/dinner, Tamarine for upscale Vietnamese
Menlo Park: Flea Street Cafe
Half Moon Bay: (really need car) Cetrella
You definitely need a car to get around the peninsula. Assuming you have one and that you don't mind driving a bit, I don't think the food scene is quite as bleak as other posts have painted it because you've got just about everything from San Jose to San Francisco to choose from. Even within the Atherton-Menlo Park-Palo Alto area, you won't starve, at least not immediately. Maybe say more about the kinds of things you like, price, etc.
I've lived in Palo Alto for 30 years, and I mostly agree with the tenor of the other posts -- restaurants on the Peninsula (and yes, you will need a car) do not compare favorably to those in San Francisco. But then again, what does? Given that, there are some categories of restaurants on the Peninsula that are OK places and some that beat anything SF has to offer. I'm not going to try to be comprehensive here ... I'm sure others will fill in some blanks, but here's my category analysis in sports reporting form.
ITALIAN (mostly northern as the bay area seems to have an aversion to the southern italian dishes we all grew up with) : I like Osteria in downtown Palo Alto and Pasta Moon in Half Moon Bay, but neither compares favorably to Incanto, Oliveto, Acquellero, etc up north.
JAPANESE (full course) I have been nowhere in the city that does as good a job with Kaiseki-style dinners as Kaygetsu in Menlo Park. Even Bauer has now elevated Kaygetsu to his top 100 list.
SUSHI Have a look at sushimonster's list of Peninsula sushi restaurants:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39452... I don't think the city can compare in either range of options or quality.
MEXICAN Not an expert here, but I have not found a go-to high-end Mexican restaurant on the Peninsula. But recent posts seem to indicate the same problem in the city. Other than that ... "taco trucks are taco trucks" (the ones in redwood city on middlefield road are excellent) and there are lots of taco/burrito places that are fine.
SEAFOOD I have been searching the Peninsula for years for a place that prepares simple, fresh, fish ala Tadich or Sam's in SF. No such luck, but a wide variety of places that do things like "pinenut-encrusted halibut with fresh mango sauce" ... yecch
Advantage: SF ... bigtime
STEAKS I'm a midwest snob here; nothing in SF or south is even in the same ballpark as a good Kansas City or Chicago steakhouse. 4" thick fillets with no steakknive provided or necessary. Given that, the Peninsula is weak anyway ... Sundance in Palo Alto is ok, Alexander's in Cupertino good, but very expensive. Best is probably Forbes Mill in Los Gatos but I think, a step below Harris, Alfred's in SF.
Advantage: Slight Edge to SF
INDIAN Lots of good press for Amber India in Mountain View, Junoon & the other upscale place in palo alto??? etc. I'm no expert here, but my Indian colleagues drive down from the city to eat at these places.
FUNKY, GREAT NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANTS The biggest category weakness on the Peninsula ... there are of course some exceptions, e.g. Back-a_Yard in Menlo Park for great jerk chicken, etc, but by definitions the burbs can't win in this category.
Alright ... I'm getting tired here ... somebody else take over ...