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Any "Must Eats" in San Mateo?

Meeting people in San Mateo this week for dinner. Looking for ethnic, reasonable sustenance. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Downtown San Mateo, particularly B Street, has a lot of choices. Most places on B are small, hole-in-the wall places. You could eat at a different place every night and still have alot left to choose from.


    3 Replies
    1. re: rednails

      Sushi Sam's is pretty solid, it's downtown near B Street...

      1. re: rednails

        I'd like to update the link you posted above, since they changed it ...


        1. re: osho

          Excellent, thanks! Looks like they updated the look of the website too.

      2. Gator's Neo Soul might be worth a look. My wife just went there and thought it was good. They do Southern food with a Cal twist. The website can give more info.


        Gator's Neo-Soul Cafe
        129 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

        1. Burrito-wise there's La Cumbre, Tres Amigos and Pancho Villa, all in downtown. All get positive reviews but given burritos are subjective, you'll have to decide. They're Inexpensive enough that you could try them all and not be broke. It's also about what you order. If I had to pick one - it would definitely be La Cumbre.

          There's also a few good Japanese resturants but I'm not up to date on them. I like Kaimuki Grill on El Camino/2nd but haven't been in a long time.

          1. Sushi Sam's is a very popular destination and a big hit with the locals, although purists may have other takes. Definitely worth a trip once but be prepared for the wait.

            For a cheaper alternative for sushi, teriyaki, tempura, Hotaru is another local favorite for really good value.

            Everyday Beijing is good for noodles, dumplings. A good entry to Northern Chinese, Beijing style cooking.

            Himawari and Santa are two solid ramen noodle soup restaurants. Santa's the old tried and true favorite although I'm no longer a fan, but if this is your first time it's interesting.

            Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot is not open yet but should be soon (I hope?) That should be a worthy contender for a new place. Next to 231 Ellesworth. Signage is up, but interior not quite done yet.

            Shabuway has a great vibe, Japanese style mini hot pot. Delicious cuts of beef that tastes better after boiling if you use the citrus based soy sauce add tons of garlic and scallion and eat with rice and the veg.

            For dinner/late night Japanese, try Oidon and Izakaya Mai for Japanese style tapas. Food basically that is meant to be consumed with alcohol (and lots of it).

            Happy Cafe is open for dinner only...Wednesdays? Small hole in the wall that fills up quickly. Best Shanghainese in the downtown area, until you get to Shanghai East on 25th Ave (which is another good place). You might enjoy The Noodle Shop, since it's new clean and simple/cheap (I will reserve my own opinions on this).

            5 Replies
            1. re: K K

              Little Sheep opened last night on Ellsworth in San Mateo. I went by today but had just had sushi at Hotaru (which was great - best sushi quality/$ ratio in town) - so didn't try it. We did talk with the owner or manager - very friendly, she explained that it took them 10 months to open due to the conversion with PG&E (physical and bureaucratic both apparently) for the gas burners to fire the hotpots. But, they are finally open.

              Interesting menu - three soup bases, original/spicy/mushroom.
              A lot of variety for the contents, from beef and lamb to shrimp and octopus to sea cucumber intestine and pork kidney. Also vegetables, wide assortment of mushrooms noodles and tofu, and BBQ meats/veggies as well.

              maybe will try next time, it looks like a fun place. Maybe it belongs in Chains I think they have 700+ outlets worldwide.

              1. re: K K

                I agree with a lot of the suggestions already mentioned, including Himawari, Hotaru, Pancho Villa, and Everyday Beijing. I also like Joy Luck Place (4th Ave) and Yuzu (on 25th Avenue, away from the downtown area). Also Shanghai East on 25th Ave. I wanted to like Shabuway, but was underwhelmed. I know it's not ethnic, but a stop at the B Street & Vine Wine Bar (B Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue) can be nice. Haven't had any food there, but they have a nice wine selection and often have live jazz.

                1. re: Wendy_san

                  I second Wendy's recommendation for Yuzu, but it's actually on 37th Ave. just south of Hillsdale Mall off of El Camino Real.

                  1. re: Eugene Park

                    Eugene - thanks so much for correcting my mistake on Yuzu! :-)

                  2. re: Wendy_san

                    I can speak (highly) of the simple, savory menu at B Street & Vine. The key word ere is "bruschetta". Pairlings of smoked meats, soft cheeses, nuts and other delectables -- cut into nice tidy bites.

                    We were first drawn in by the warm sound a sweet, subtle jazz horns cascading out onto B Street. The Jazz policy is a treat and includes a couple of young stand-outs.

                    B Street & Vine
                    320 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

                2. I haven't been, but I've seen a lot of posters going goo-goo over Andy Wai's Chef Wai, apparently a higher-end Chinese place:


                  Chef Wai
                  111 E. 4th Ave
                  San Mateo, CA 94401

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: orezscu

                    Forgot about that place. It's a mixed bag with Chef Wai, really your mileage will vary. It's not cheap but if you hit it on the dot the Cantonese style cuisine has elements of old and new school to it and can be refreshing. The trick is having Andy cook the dishes, and even better if you go with a regular who knows him and the staff. But then we get into discussions of VIP / preferential treatment and thus the neglect of walk-in customers.

                    Last few times I've been there were with family who had the hookups, and had Andy design our dinner menu. It was really a mixed bag of results, with some standouts and some were just eh. Even a stellar chef by rep and training has his days. But overall I still say a strong contender for San Mateo high end Cantonese, until you get into Millbrae/San Bruno. But that's another subjective discussion.

                    1. re: K K

                      I've been to Chef Wai quite a few times for lunch ands found it to extremely reasonable. Lunches come with salad, egg rolls (perfectly fried, shatteringly crisp!), entree and the y always offer us a dessert, Almond or Mango puddings (more like gelatin really) which are great especially the Mango. All lunches are less than $10

                      There is also Ristorante Capellini for decent Italian but I'd rather go to Gator's for the gumbo and fried chicken.

                  2. I love Himawari on 2nd in downtown San Mateo. It's a ramen joint with a clean and cozy feel and a very friendly staff.

                    Excellent ramen, and a smallish but good selection of izakaya offerings too. Everyone raves about Santa, I'd go to Himawari over Santa any day. I like the salt broths, especially the clams, butter corn and side pork (decadent but delicious if you're a fat fan). An onsen tamago (peeled soft boiled egg in the soup) is a nice addition as well. I'm getting hungry just writing about it and I just finished dinner...

                    1. I like Annapoorna on El Camino for Southern Indian (vegetarian) food, and Shanghai East, which is nearby on 25th Ave. for Shanghainese.

                      Here's a link to how I found them http://www.chowhound.com/topics/36127

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Euonymous

                        Second, Annapoorna. Definitely good, if you're looking to expand your horizons beyond chicken tikka.

                      2. I went to a vietnamese place on El Camino (forget the name). I had a bahn mi with pork and fries shrimp rolls. The bahn mi was ok( the bread stunk), and the shrimp rolls were pretty good. I saw lots of peolple there eating the various soups. Is it worth going back for the soups if anyone's been?

                        1. Don't forget Izakaya Mai on 2nd Ave. They're open until 11:30pm and have fabulous dishes like Miso Eggplant, Miso Pork Don, Hamachi Kama. It's "tapas-style" Japanese bar food. Small plates you can share and get a lot of variety from. It's very authentic and tasty.

                          1 Reply
                          1. another vote here for both Shanghai East for their dumplings, and Annapurna for Southern Indian. Not much atmosphere at either place, but I like the vibe at both. Annapurna, in particular, is very friendly. And you cant sit with friends while eating there, since there is no place to sit but, boy I like the hot off the grill chicken teriyaki from Kaz on 2nd in downtown San Mateo.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: tomritza

                              Pancho Villa is a go spot for me when I want to grab some Mexican food in San Mateo. Its been mentioned in the thread here. The watermelon drink is incredibly good.


                              Pancho Villa
                              365 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

                              1. re: Lando

                                231 Ellsworth

                                Corkage Free Fridays!

                                All Summer long!!

                                Bring your favorite bottle of wine and enjoy a great meal.

                                Free corkage limit is 4 bottles per table. Glassware requirements can affect our ability to provide this free service. Please let us know of your glassware needs in advance of your dinner.

                                Please call with questions or special accommodations if you have more wine or extra glassware requirements. Additional charges may apply based on your needs

                                231 Ellsworth
                                231 South Ellsworth Avenue
                                San Mateo, California 94401
                                (650) 347-7231