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Palo Alto Takeout - Need Your Best Ideas

j
jhulla Jan 24, 2008 07:16 PM

Wife and I just moved to downtown Palo Alto and are looking for your best ideas for takeout and casual meals. Please share.

In the past three days, we've tried:

1. Back A Yard Caribbean, Menlo Park: Delicious and friendly. I had some jerk chicken and fried plantains. The chicken was spicy without being overpowering. The plantains were yummy. Definitely will be added to the rotation.

2. Darbar: Ordered some basics: a lamb dish, some channa masala and some samosas. The samosas were pretty good. The lamb and channa were average. Not bad. And I'd consider going back since they were convenient.

3. Pasta?: This was terrible. The pasta was overcooked. The sauces were bland. It was overpriced. Not going back.

Clearly, we need hound advice for:

- Takeout Chinese?
- Takeout Indian?
- Takeout Thai?
- Other promising takeout places?

Thanks!

  1. j
    jsaimd Jan 24, 2008 08:42 PM

    How close to home are you wanting to stay? Within a couple of miles, I would say for Indian a lot of folks like Hyderabad House. I have to say my meal there was not great, but others have good luck, especially with the specials. Spice Hut Bistro in Menlo Park, but only their South Indian and try to get spicey, if you can (not easy) or Suraj in Redwood City (recommended, but haven't tried it). Passage to India and Amber are better, Amber Cafe too, or Tumeric in Sunnyvale a new favorite. I am not sure about the takeout at Amber or Tumeric. I am not a huge Darbar fan. We have gotten takeout from Palo Alto Sol and like that. Of course taquerias are great - Chavez market is close and does nice al pastor, we like El Gruellense in Redwood City and Palo Alto, and La Bamba or La Costena. Kan Zeman in Palo Alto has some decent food.

    1. bubblet4me Jan 24, 2008 09:10 PM

      You say downtown so I assume you mean University rather than California as the closest main street.
      My go to take outs from Paly are:
      -Kan Zaman for Middle Eastern Amazing lentil soup and the veg plate can feed two
      -Mango Cafe for Carribean jerk anything is really good
      -Junta for Indian consitently good food or Spice Hut Cafe in Menlo if you want good Masala Dosa
      -Chef Chu in Los Altos for Chinese try the walnut shrimp
      -Woodside Thai for Thai but they have done a menu change and I can't suggest them as strongly anymore
      -There is a thai place on University I go from time to time but I have no idea what it's name is. It's on the north side of the street with pink table clothes if that helps any.
      -Paxti's for deep dish pizza
      -The Counter for burgers
      -And when all else fails I hit Cheesecake Factory for the miso salmon. Their food is actually decent if you don't have to sit in the dinning room with half of Paly High
      We have been pretty happy with each of these for take out.

      4 Replies
      1. re: bubblet4me
        RWCFoodie Jan 24, 2008 09:14 PM

        Small spelling correction: should be Janta Indian.... I haven't tried it but here's a link:
        http://www.jantaindianrestaurant.com/

        1. re: bubblet4me
          j
          jhulla Jan 26, 2008 08:26 PM

          Got takeout from Ken Zeman tonight -- great recommendation. We got the veg plate -- and it did indeed feed two! The lentil soup was delicious. We also got the lamb shawerama -- and it was quite good.

          Thanks for the many recs -- we'll try them all over the next few weeks and report back.

          1. re: bubblet4me
            j
            jhulla Jan 30, 2008 04:57 PM

            Ate at Mango cafe for dinner with a couple of friends. Got the jerk chicken sandwich. Not bad. My plantains weren't all that great -- I prefer them to be fried longer and mostly caramalized.

            I prefer Back-A-Yard Caribbean in Menlo Park.

            1. re: bubblet4me
              hungryann Mar 6, 2008 07:08 PM

              I think the Thai place you are referring to is Krung Siam. I liked it a lot when I was in the area.

            2. c
              ceekskat Jan 24, 2008 10:10 PM

              For Chinese, try Jing Jing & then pick up some sinfully delicious Gelato from next door for dessert. In addition to Kan Zaman for Middle Eastern, there is Gyros Gyros (ususally get the adena kabob plate). As for Indian, opinions are varied but give Hyderabad House & Janta a try. Amber in Mountain View is generally considered one of the better N. Indian restaurants on the Peninsula. We usually do take out from Suraj in Redwood City as it is closest to home but as of late, their chicken tikka kabobs have been tasting gamey, like reheated leftovers. Guess I'll have to venture into downtown PA now for Indian takeout. For vegetarian specialties, there's also Chaat Paradise in Mountain View on El Camino Real @ Hwy. 85.

              1. f
                foodielass Jan 24, 2008 10:51 PM

                California Ave. offers several takeout choices:

                Indian: Tandoori (between the Starbucks and the Counter) offers fairly inexpensive and serviceable takeout Indian -- personally I go for the wraps or the tandoori chicken; the chickpeas are also tasty

                American: the Counter has excellent sweet potato fries and built-to-order burgers, which you can also get in salad form. Takeout is actually a great option here because the lines can be long during normal dining hours. Note that there's always a burger of the month -- ask what it is before you order by phone, sometimes they're great.

                Middle Eastern: the various appetizers at Fairuz (spelling? -- it's the restaurant in the Illusions Supperclub towards the Caltrain end of California Ave) are tasty and the non-fried ones travel just fine.

                I've also ordered food to go from Bodeguita del Medio (Cuban) on California Ave., but it can be pricey and doesn't carry very well.

                Not on your list, but check out Fraiche yogurt on Emerson (near the Gordon Biersch) -- tangy and fresh-made.

                1. bbulkow Jan 25, 2008 09:18 AM

                  Re Darbar - it's in regular rotation. Their chana masala is not the best, though. Hunt around on the menu some more - simply because it's cheap and close. I'm very partial to the vindaloo, which isn't that spicy and has a rich, deep flavor. CTM is passable. Passage to India has been on the upswing over the last 6 months or so, if you're on that side of palo alto.

                  Re: hydrabad house - I'm also unsure. I ate their once and wasn't wowed enough to go back; didn't strike me as particularly better than darbar.

                  Pensinsula Creamery gets the nod around our house for burgers. We don't like Counter too much - too crowded. When I'm in the mood for casual, I don't want to wait around, and I'm not convinced the burgers are particularly good. Jefferey's is new on the MP/PA border and I haven't made up my mind about them yet - further down the casual scale.

                  I've had good takeout from Nola through waiters on wheels. Their skirt steak po'boy stands out.

                  There are several cafes around that are pretty tasty. One is across from Nola, but is often clogged with students - very wide menu though, could be great for takeout. Cafe Barrone in Menlo Park has a way with the panini, but is best for sit-down casual. I haven't tried University Cafe.

                  If california ave is an option, the A-number-one rec is Med Delight. The lamb-beef schwarma travels well, is cheap, and is hella tasty.

                  For thai, the best of an average lot is Bankok Cuisine (Lytton). They're a sister restaurant of the rather tasty Amerin in MV, but far less reliable. Sometimes the food is as good as Amerin, sometimes worse. Of the two thai places on university ave proper, they're both average. Thaiphoon has a nice atmosphere and very bland food, the opposite of what you want for takeout.

                  I am apparently alone in enjoying Tokyo Subway (MP) for fast japanese. The trick is NO SUSHI. They make a decent teppanyaki, for example, at reasonable cost.

                  For Chinese I give up all hope. I go to Windy's every once in a while because it's really fast and never full and has water dumplings. However, the food can be spotty, and the last time I did takeout the food didn't travel well at all. Yuck. I don't like Jing Jing or Su Hong any of the others, but rarely give any more than 2 chances. PA is filled with what I'd call "old line" chinese restaurants, long on the american and short on the chinese.

                  I work in San Mateo now, and get my takeout on the way home. Shanghai East for Chinese, Thai Time (san carlos) for thai. Now *that's* yum. MV has better of everything, too, if you're up for a short jaunt down 101.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: bbulkow
                    bbulkow Jan 25, 2008 10:47 AM

                    Oh - and for mexican take out - I strongly recommend the burritos at Mi Rancho on Willow. Closer than Redwood City, better flava than Mi Hacienda.

                    Finally, we get our pizza delivery from Pizza-a-go-go, but we only order one pizza --- BBQ chicken, thin crust. PAGG's thick crust is too doughy for me, but the BBQ chicken thing is fly. The right touch of cilantro.

                    1. re: bbulkow
                      c
                      ceekskat Jan 25, 2008 12:39 PM

                      Just curious...haven't been to Med. Delight but is their schwarma different from Kan Zeman's? I thought they were the same owners, hence....

                      I second Amarin Thai. http://www.amarinthaicuisine.com/home...

                      1. re: ceekskat
                        bbulkow Jan 27, 2008 01:23 PM

                        The short answer is "i don't know" and I should probably find out.

                        The Med Delight people seem to have their fingers in many locations, and the locations differ widely in quality. I suspect the Med Delight at 16th and Val in SF is the same, and the Med Delight near the Fry's in Concord, and the Med Delight on Shattuck in Berkeley. Of these, Berkeley seems far sub-standard, the Concord location is pretty good, and the SF and PA locations are superior. All have similar menus and murals.

                        I ate once at Kan Zeman, and rather liked it, but never have been back - for no good reason. I concur that it's likely the same owners.

                        Speaking of PA-area Middle Eastern, I often end up at Cafe 220 when I'm hungry after 10:30. The kebab wraps seem the best on the menu, but I wouldn't actively recommend it for other than late night eats. I've eaten at Gyro Gyro a couple of times, but the reconstituted nature of the meat (like a proper british Donner) is only rarely appealing - I'd rather have meat recognizable as meat. I always want to like Sebhali Cafe, in/behind the flower shop, [not strictly middle eastern] but the extraordinarily nice woman who runs it doesn't cook all that well - and is, I think, dealing as best she can with some major limitations on the size and type of equipment she can use. The chaat menu is interesting, though, once you've eaten at Vik's and Chaat Cafe you realize she's not got the essence of Bhel Puri quite right.

                        Finally, on the schwarma tangent, I grieve the loss of the other Med Delight (no relation to others) on El Camino in San Carlos. The women who ran it sold out to a bunch of guys, and it went straight downhill. So sad. The place on Laurel is now superior, but a bit sit-down for my usual tastes.

                        Always looking for other schwarma recs.

                        1. re: bbulkow
                          h
                          Humbucker Jan 27, 2008 02:16 PM

                          The place on California Ave. is actually Mediterranean WRAPS not Delight, and yes, they are under the same ownership as Kan Zeman.

                      2. re: bbulkow
                        vincentlo Mar 4, 2008 03:04 AM

                        Don't "give up all hope" on Chinese in Palo Alto! There's only one place and one dish there I'll do takeout--Dragon & Phoenix from Peking Duck. I'm a pretty decent chef myself, but sometimes by the end of the week I'm low on fresh stuff in my fridge, and I don't feel like making a protein drink or boiling frozen dumplings or microwaving Lean Cuisine. That's when I order the $15 light, clean, and velvety dish of egg white with prawns, chicken white meat, ham, and broccoli. Very healthy and satisfying.

                        Vincent

                        1. re: vincentlo
                          bbulkow Mar 7, 2008 12:30 AM

                          Someday I'll need to give Peking Duck a try. It's on the far side of Palo Alto for me, so when I make it over to California Ave I end up at Cafe Brioche, Med. Delight, del Medio (last night, in fact, had their slow cooked pork and it was OUTSTANDING), Homma's, even Pro Bono and del Sol. Have to kick the old restaurant habit.

                          That thai place in Mid-town PA was decent 3 years ago when I lived nearby, possibly better than the university ave guys. No one ever mentions it, and I can't remember the name. Still any good?

                          I want there to be a solid chinese place within 2 miles of my house. Downtown PA is (barely) within that radius, has a half-dozen chinese, so I don't think I'm asking too much.

                          1. re: bbulkow
                            p
                            P. Punko Mar 7, 2008 11:48 AM

                            Was it the bowling alley Thai place on El Camino?

                            1. re: P. Punko
                              bbulkow Mar 8, 2008 05:37 PM

                              Nope. That's Thai City, which I'm fond of, but not overmuch.

                              Mid-town. Middlefield. Looked it up - was Mint leaf. Looks like 'indochine' replaced it. Still --- any report?

                              1. re: bbulkow
                                p
                                P. Punko Mar 9, 2008 03:34 PM

                                I don't think Indochine is open yet, I will check. I looked up Thai City and it is the terrible one on El Camino (only one meal there, so grain of salt)- "Thai Bowling Alley" is Thai Garden a bunch of blocks south of Thai City on El Camino.

                                -----
                                Thai Garden Restaurant
                                4329 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                Thai City
                                3691 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                        2. re: bbulkow
                          p
                          P. Punko Mar 6, 2008 12:30 AM

                          We've had OK luck at Bangkok cuisine, but haven't compared to Amarin, and I wish their menus were more diverse.

                          I had a special at Hyderabad House- some sort of mustard fried spicy chicken, and it was very good but oily. Their samosas were above average.

                          Our new fave Grullense is El Grullense Grill on Woodside. I know it will be hit and miss, but it was great the two times we've been (Pastor, the "Frank's" fIsh taco, the regular shrimp tacos, the rice, the salsa verde)

                          Windy's was OK the one time I went, but PA is kind of dead for Chinese (a lot of people like a place right off California- Jade something?

                        3. JoyM Jan 29, 2008 02:12 PM

                          I like Rangoon on Bryant St., off University, for Burmese food. They also serve Chinese food but I've never tried it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: JoyM
                            p
                            P. Punko Mar 6, 2008 12:32 AM

                            Their chinese is well prepared, kind of chinese american, it is OK for what it is.

                          2. s
                            sandrachang Jan 31, 2008 03:07 AM

                            Try Jade Palace on California Ave - it's kinda hidden away near the end of California, but the Chinese food is pretty good - it's Cantonese style.

                            1. j
                              jsgjewels Mar 4, 2008 09:28 AM

                              Drive a little ways down el camino to Chef Chu's for chinese, the quality of the ingredients is definitely worth it. For Thai, Siam Garden on University used to be not bad, but I haven't been in years. For homey inexpensive italian, Osteria is the way to go, but I've never had takeout there, so you'd have to try it out and see if that's as good.

                              1. t
                                tomritza Mar 4, 2008 01:47 PM

                                Im a fan of Robaii Falafel & Persian Bites in DT PA on Hamilton and Cowper. I think there Falafel is one of the best and will often get it to go.

                                1. k
                                  katya Mar 4, 2008 05:14 PM

                                  Patxi's for Chicago style pizza (I recommend the Californian).

                                  1. k
                                    karma_bites Mar 5, 2008 02:27 PM

                                    No one suggest Homma's Brown Rice Sushi?
                                    Ker-azy!
                                    I don't like brown rice. I like Homma's Sushi, even though it is made with brown rice.
                                    I don't like California Roll. I like Homma's California Roll.
                                    They have vegetarian options.
                                    Their food is excellent. The restaurant itself screams "Get my excellent food as takeout." And they do have a thriving takeout business. I can never make it that far though, I always end up eating there. But don't bother with the miso soup and get your drinks frfom Mollie Stone's which is a couple of seconds away.
                                    They are in an alley off of Ramona which crosses California Ave.

                                    Also, Cho's is right there if you want very inexpensive dumplings.
                                    Students crowd both places so how expensive can they be? Not very, that's how.
                                    Also, Molly Stone's is at the end of California Ave., they have a decent little deli and wine selection.
                                    And California Street is not as far as you think. Just take the pleasant walk down the bike path next to the train track and then walk across the intervening lovely tree-lined neighborhood and you're there. A pleasant walk makes every cuisine taste even better.

                                    For closer to home you could do worse than getting something takeout from Whole Foods. Not a lot worse, but it isn't bad.
                                    Is Rangoon still around? I really liked their Tea Salad.
                                    Avoid Pizza-A-Go-Go and New York Pizza like the plague (the Bad Pizza Plague).

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: karma_bites
                                      bbulkow Mar 7, 2008 12:41 AM

                                      Oh, nuts. Tea Salad. Now I know where I'm eating tomorrow. Tea Salad is freakishly addictive and I haven't had it in years.

                                    2. j
                                      jhulla Apr 21, 2008 06:39 PM

                                      Thanks for the many recommendations. Some notable updates.

                                      Hyderabad House: Great Indian takeout. The chicken 65 (fried bits of chicken and chilis in sauce is nearly perfect in its greasy/spicy goodness). Other dishes are very acceptable. This place is now firmly in the regular rotation.

                                      Bangkok Cuisine (on Lytton): Great Thai takeout. We've ordered the Mango Chicken a few times now. It is a chicken/vegetable/mango dish that is served in a carved out mango. Really tasty. Also on regular rotation now.

                                      Counter: Great. As a recent transplant from LA and a regular at the original Counter in Santa Monica, it is nice to get a taste of LA here in PA.

                                      The disappointments:

                                      Jeffrey's in Menlo Park: New and clean. Food is greasy and and unremarkable.

                                      Paxti's: Did not work for me. My pizza was soggy. And this was at the restaurant. I can't imagine I could do any better heating a pie at home.

                                      Tandoori (on California Ave.): This was another disappointment. Our meal was bland. Not going back.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jhulla
                                        o
                                        ottosmo Dec 30, 2008 07:18 AM

                                        Just found this old thread - note for downtown and California Ave, all the takeout places are listed with menus, hours, and phone numbers at www.takeouteats.org. Also ratings by the compiler of the site, one star to four stars.

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