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Apr 8, 2008 08:03 PM

Good Chow in San Carlos

Hey Hounds, we have some very good chow in the little town of San Carlos. In the past couple of years many new places have opened. Here’s a recap of some of my favorites. Please add more to the list. Definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area. In no particular order:

Mediterranean Delite
A great kabob place with ample portions. Fast food ambience and cheap prices. Always delicious. One of the better keftas I’ve had.

The Refuge
Discussed on chowhound already. They make super high quality pastrami. Excellent selection of beers, cheese and wine. Pricey but you get quality for your money.

San Remo
Best pizza in the area. Created by the same family behind Tomasso’s in the city (according the history on their menu).
1152 San Carlos Ave

Spederia Pizzaria
The closest to New York style pizza by the slice that I’ve found in the Bay Area. This place is the real deal. Stop in for a big flat slice that you can fold (if you’ve been to NY, you know what I mean).

Mi Ranchito
We have dueling taquerias here. This one has the better burritos, homemade chips and salsas.
660 Laurel St

El Charrito
This tacqueria has the better tacos, authentic street food style. And I prefer their Al Pastor.
1100 Holly St

The see and be seen “scene” in San Carlos. Busy bar, dark and moody interior with “everybody looks fantastic” mood lighting. Straight-ahead American food, executed right. Rotisserie meats, great steaks and a good wine list.

Harmony Yogurt
Organic frozen yogurt. Natural flavor with fruit, nut and sweet toppings. They just added a raspberry flavor to go along with natural flavor yogurt. Not at all like the sugary dreck that passes for frozen yogurt in most places these days. This is the natural stuff.

Sneakers Pub & Grill
One of the better sports bars for chow. Has lots of TVs, including screens built into the booths and a nice long bar, if you like that kind of thing. That said, the food is great American pub food. Very good burgers, fries, pizzas, pasta pesto salad is surprisingly flavorful, and they offer a decent selection of beers. Family friendly too.

Sirayvah Organic Thai
Have to throw this in with the caveat that I haven’t been personally. But on feedback from friends, it’s worth mentioning. Organic, delicious Thai.

One shout out to our neighbor, Belmont. Shalazar is a very good Persian restaurant. They just relocated from San Mateo to a new location in Belmont. Check their review on Check Please Bay Area too, but do note the new location.

County Restaurant Supply
And, for the foodie cooks, we have a restaurant supply store that’s open to the public. Great prices on all kinds of kitchen and service stuff.

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  1. Nice thread, great info!

    Have you tried Gracie's, the small sandwich place southward on Laurel? Great turkey, and all the limited offerings are delicious.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Munching Mark

      Since this thread seems to just keep rolling on, I'll second Gracie's. They roast their own turkey for sandwiches and have house-baked oatmeal rolls for the bread. That combo is one of the best sandwiches I've ever had of any kind; it spoils you for other sandwiches.

      Gracie's Delectables
      902 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

      1. re: Mick Ruthven

        That turkey on the oatmeal roll is very tasty. They roast the turkey and slice it off the warm bird to order for the sandwich. Nice.

        Gracie's Delectables
        902 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

    2. I'll add CreoLa to that list. I'm no expert on Creole/Cajun food, but what I've had there had the feel of authenticity, and certainly tasted good.

      Also, Jersey Joe's makes some good artery-clogging cheesesteaks.

      3 Replies
      1. re: meka

        I wrote a review of Creola a while ago - let me say I was far less than impressed

        Sorry don't know how to do the link properly

        OTOH - I then went next door to Sirayvah Organic Thai and had an excellent meal. It is not classic Thai, and a bit pricey (for Thai), but the quality and tastiness make me return - something I will NEVER do to Creola

        1. re: estnet

          link 1

          Jersey Joe's Hoagies
          21 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070

          344 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070

          1. re: estnet

            I don't know about anything else, but the Sunday Chicken at Creola is spectacularly good.

        2. Thanks Shane. Great post. Hope others will chime in on the places you mentioned and others. That area is under-reported. Any places to really, really avoid?

          Speederia Pizzeria
          711 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

          Harmony Frozen Yogurt
          1226 Arroyo Ave, San Carlos, CA 94070

          Gracie's Delectables
          902 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

          County Supply Co
          711 Old County Rd, San Carlos, CA 94070

          300 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002

          El Charrito
          1100 Holly St, San Carlos, CA 94070

          Sirayvah Organic Thai
          366 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA

          The Refuge
          963 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

          1163 San Carlos Ave, San Carlos, CA 94070

          716 Laurel Street, San Carlos, CA 94070

          San Remo Pizzeria & Ristorante
          1152 San Carlos Ave, San Carlos, CA 94070

          Mediterranean Delite
          1620 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070

          Mi Ranchito Taqueria
          660 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA

          33 Replies
          1. re: rworange

            I'd add Kabul Afgan to the list - the best chicken kebobs I've had in the bay area
            and the portions are larger than Shalizaar's.
            Avoid any Chinese restaurants on Laurel - you're much better off driving 10 minutes north to San Mateo for chinese/japanese food.
            Has anyone tried the new Mediterranean place that replaced Sai's Vietnamese restaurant?

            1. re: danielmaung


              Kabul Afghan Cuisine
              135 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070

              1. re: danielmaung

                Yes, let's please hear a report on Pilita Grill, the new Turkish/Med place. The menu looks very interesting (website link on the Places page).

                Jersey Joe's Hoagies
                21 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070

                Pilita Grill
                680 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

                788 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

                344 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Hey, Pilita Grill looks like a place I ate at a few months ago, I've been trying to find it again. Regrettably, Google Street View doesn't cover Laurel, so I can't be sure. I had a very tasty lunch pita, and will try another trip soon.

                  If you like Jersey Joe's, you should really try Cheesesteak Shop. Unfortunatly the Redwood City location still says "coming soon". Jersey Joe's doesn't have the bread quite right, compared to CSS. Not that I'll ever turn down a cheesesteak (actually, I'm becoming fond of the 'steaks at the little hut in front of the east palo alto Home Depot - if the guy only had peppers, he'd have something going on).


                  Re: med delight: I used to work nearby, and they had a crew of persian women running the place, with one guy at the grill. Their schwarmas were best-ever. Then, sometime around 1.5 years ago, the place was taken over by large men, like 6 foot 3 and all muscle, and all the women cleared out. The food took a huge dip for the worse, and we shifted to Med Delight on California for our schwarma fix. Perhaps it's come back up or the women came back - I hope so. The place was *aces*.

                  Final mention: Thai Time. All your regular thai favorites and then some. It's just a good "default thai". I prefer MV's Amerin a little better, but Thai Time is good, these days I sometimes get take out on the way home from work. Oddly, it appears the couple who owns it is thai and german, so they have bitburger on tap and have a little bar that people actually eat at. I even ordered a pumpkin martini there near halloween - not bad.

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    Hope to hear more about Pilita. It has some anatolian dishes that aren't on other turkish menus around here.

                    Speaking of coming soon, Mangoberry (the original from Korea) is supposed to open in San Carlos and Palo Alto. Will be interesting to see how Harmony responds to the competition. That said, I've been trying the new style frozen yogurt all over the place, and Harmony is still my favorite of the field, so far.

                    A few places I'm curious about in SC: Micha's, Marsha's Lunch Box, and Santorini. Any opinions?

                    Adding links:

                    Izzy's Steaks & Chops
                    525 Skyway, San Carlos, CA 94070

                    1163 San Carlos Ave, San Carlos, CA 94070

                    1125 San Carlos Ave, San Carlos, CA 94070

                    1754 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

                    Marsha's Lunchbox
                    760 Industrial Rd, San Carlos, CA 94070

                    753 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

                    Thai Time
                    1240 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      I believe the yogurt place coming to Palo Alto and San Carlos is Red Mango. Pinkberry is supposedly coming to Stanford Shopping Center. There's also a place called Yogurberry opening up in Mountain View on Castro Street. All these froyo places with similar names makes keeping track of them difficult.

                      1. re: Humbucker

                        Yes, thank you, I am confuzzled. I meant to type Red Mango! Locations in Palo Alto and San Jose are planned too.

                        One more spot I'd like to hear more about: Rumi.

                        Laurel St has really become an interesting restaurant row. Downtown Campbell is blooming in the same way, but I haven't kept as close tabs on it.

                        Red Mango
                        852 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Is that the address of the former Scoops ice cream? I wondered what happened to them as they closed up shop so suddenly. No more macapuno ice cream!

                          1. re: peppatty

                            Sorry to hear about the loss of macapuno! Did an address check and 852 Laurel St is/was a Starbucks location, so not Scoops. Sort of funny as rival Pinkberry has venture funding from a founder of Starbucks.

                            Fwiw, I had some macapuno made by Treat Ice Cream recently that was pretty good.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Where can I find Treat by the scoop locally? Now that the weather is good, ice cream, with hot fudge, is what I'm craving more than frozen yogurt. (Although I did just go to Harmony yesterday. Mix in the blackberry sauce with the plain, and you've got a yummy blackberry yogurt!)
                              That Starbucks location had the local business upset by even opening over a year ago. (We already had a Starbucks less than 3 blocks away.) Now they are going to put a yogurt chain just around the corner from our locally owned Harmony? What is this world coming to?

                              1. re: peppatty

                                Sorry for the delay in replying . . . I was hoping you'd get an answer closer to San Carlos. If not, I had Treat's macapuno at Blondie's in Santa Clara. Hot fudge available here too, including a pretty good non-sugar version.

                                Blondie's Frozen Yogurt & Ice Cream
                                2905 Park Ave, Santa Clara, CA 95050

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Thanks. Yes, that's a bit of a trek, but I do go that way sometimes. BTW, I don't see that Starbucks going away. They've got plenty of business. Maybe the store address is the one next to Goodsage and Starbucks since it's still vacant.

                                  1. re: peppatty

                                    Red Mango opened in Palo Alto last week. I tried it yesterday. Owner Yul Kwon (Survivor winner) introduced himself and shook my hand, and I had a chance to ask him about the other branches. San Carlos is slated to open the end of July. Santana Row is up in the air due to some litigation.

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                      They just put the Red Mango coming soon sign up, it's next to Good Sage and Starbucks. Lots of parking next door where the old Cala Foods used to be. A couple of stores closer to Arroyo, there's going to be a new cupcake shop. She's planning to open early June. Down by the old Scoops location will be a new ice cream place, (Cowabunga?) they only say they'll open in the summer. Next to that, Spasso is opening a wine bar. I also spoke to the new chef/owner of a japanese restaurant opening where the crepe place used to be. He's hoping to open the end of August. It'll be seasonal based menu. He was very nice and also planned to teach japanese cooking classes during the day.

                                      1. re: peppatty

                                        I've noticed that the Santana Row branch has been removed from the company website and replaced by Cupertino coming soon. How's the progress in San Carlos?

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          Red Mango is apparently in the permit building approval stages. So I'm not sure when. The Cala Foods location has now been leased by Foodville, which will be renamed, Bianchini's. They've been at the farmer's market Thursday's getting people to fill out surveys to get a feel for what the locals want. So if you live in the area, please give them input! Harmony now has mango flavored yogurt (very mango-y and light, not too sweet) to add to the raspberry and natural. Plus, they now have a really good chocolate sauce. The cupcake shop is open. I'm not a fan, It's really expensive $3.50 for a cupcake and doesn't fulfill the $3.50 mark for me. I'll try it probably one more time, but not for a while. Sibby's rules! And I am waiting impatiently for the ice cream place to open...

                                          Bianchini's Market
                                          810 Laurel Street, San Carlos, CA

                      2. re: Melanie Wong

                        I've been to Micha's three times. Very nice service, intimate, good ribs and sides. By way of comparison it's not quite Sam's of Campbell, but it's far above something like Armadillo Willy's.

                        Marsha's is better than it looks on the outside, with its unassuming setting on the auto-shop heavy side of Industrial. I go for the generous oven-roast turkey sandwich. Haven't had anything else. It's basically a lunchtime sandwich place serving the immediate area.

                        Santorini has been there for a long time, and straddles the line between wrap place and dinner place. It's much more posh than Mediterranean Delite, with shanks and moussaka and retsina, but a smaller menu and lower prices than Pilita across the street.

                        The Refuge is really the most exciting thing happening in San Carlos right now, hands down. It's not just a new thing for the area, it's its owner's vision and invention.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          One of my co-workers just loves Santorini. We haven't made it there yet. The owner is friendly too, I hear.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            One of my top ten tastes in 2009 was at Pilita. The Pilita Cherry ~ Lamb meatballs infused with sour cherries, tomatoes, & onions served with rice. The chef said it was a traditional, home style cooking dish from Turkey that you don't normally find in restaurants. I don't know how true that is, but I wish my grandmother cooked like this.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Thanks for the link. Interesting that we had different experiences with Pilita Cherry, my meatballs were not dense and hard at all. I have noticed some inconsistency in other dishes there however, so I'm not surprised.

                        2. re: Melanie Wong

                          I finally had lunch at Pilita today - they had 4-5 tables out on the sidewalk, which was a pleasant place to eat. Inside, they've done wonders with the place - nice decor with no trace of Sai's left.
                          The break basket was served with a nice red pepper/olive oil dip, which was a good break from the norm. I had the Ankara Doner Kebab which was a little bland until I heaped a bunch of the yogurt sauce (brought on the side) on it. I had been expecting the doner in a wrap, but it came just as shredded meat (like gyro meat, mix of beef and lamb) over some fragrant white rice, with a few grilled veggies on the side.
                          My companion had the daily special which was grilled salmon served over a spinach and carrot salad. This was really good - a very large piece of perfectly grilled salmon and a nice plate of spinach lightly dressed.
                          The rest of the menu was quite extensive - a large section of mezes, soups (red lentil was the soup of the day today), entrees and a section of grilled kebabs.
                          The service was excellent although the busboy was a little over-enthusiastic in refilling our water glasses. We were in and out in under an hour and I'd certainly go back - the staff were super nice. The one downside is that it was a tad pricey for lunch (looked like the same menu for lunch and dinner). The doner kebab was $14.95 and the salmon salad was $15.95.

                          Give it a whirl if you're in the neighborhood.

                          1. re: Pinkster

                            Thanks for the report! It seems that I've been making the rounds of Turkish spots and am looking forward to trying this one.

                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                            I just had lunch at Pilita Grill with my co-workers. You'll find a report on the experience at

                            There's also my blog post, which includes pictures:

                            I'll also add that the wraps were reasonably priced, especially considering that they came with either fries or salad.

                          3. re: danielmaung

                            If you like really good and spicy Chinese food, very authentic, drive the OTHER WAY and try Crouching Tiger on Broadway, right off El Camino. Trumps anywhere else I've been north of San Carlos

                            1. re: lkaren

                              Crouching Tiger is actually in Redwood City, not San Carlos. But that is close enough to check out if it's good. What have you had there that is very authentic? What are they known for? What style of Chinese is it?

                              So far the most authentic Chinese I've found around here is Joy in Foster City, which is Taiwanese.

                              Crouching Tiger
                              2644 Broadway St, Redwood City, CA 94063

                          4. re: rworange

                            For what it's worth, San Remo has decent pizza but the other food is of the "put the spaghetti on the plate, ladle the canned ragu in a circle on top" sort.

                            Sneakers seems to be mostly a Sysco reheat joint, but it's big bar food.

                            Giuliana's is good for hearty homemade Italian food, and only $5 corkage.

                            1. re: orezscu

                              If you have a better selection for a sports bar type of place, please offer it up. I'd love to hear your recos.

                              1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                Well, the new Coyote Cantina on Laurel has a big bar that's set up for sports viewing, and has full liquor/draft. Their food is Mexican, and on the whole I'd venture that it's of higher quality than Sneaker's.

                                They also have a large back patio that will be great this spring/summer.

                                St. James Gate and Marvin Gardens also have full menus and much sports on the TV. The Gate's menu has been getting more ambitious lately...and that about exhausts my resources.

                                Thanks for starting this thread. There are tons of good food resources in San Carlos and I always love seeing our town mentioned here.

                                1. re: orezscu


                                  St James Gate Irish Pub
                                  1410 Old County Rd, Belmont, CA 94002

                                  Coyotes Mexican Cantina
                                  1037 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

                                  Marvin Gardens
                                  1160 Old County Rd, Belmont, CA

                                  1. re: orezscu

                                    Yeah, I like Marvin Garden too, although I don't think the ribs are as good as people say. It's been on the Chronicle's best cheap eats in the bay area list for awhile now, and deservedly so for the burgers and atmosphere. It is in Belmont, but quite convenient to San Carlos.

                                    I tried Coyotes last night and will have to try again because it was a disappointing experience. Maybe just an off night? They were in over their heads and couldn't seat or serve people in a reasonable amount of time. We waited 30 minutes for a table and he couldn't even tell us how much longer the wait would be (despite open tables inside and on the patio), so we left after 1 drink with chips & salsa at the bar (which were suspiciously similar to Chevy's). A 6-top also walked out after waiting even longer to order. The place was a mess, so we'll try again to see if they manage the place better on another night.

                                    1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                      Sorry to hear that I may have steered you in a bum direction -- Coyotes isn't even that complicated of a place, you'd think they could get people in chairs faster. I've only been there at lunchtimes and things have moved quickly. Sporting of you to give them another chance after an annoying disappointment like that.

                              2. re: rworange

                                based on this thread and others, i went to sirayvah thai last night. it was far beyond mediocre and i am never going back. it was NOT thai food, farther away from thai food than even the generic king of thai group in san francisco or coriander in the basement of the westfield mall (the pad see ew made to order is actually pretty good, and i was certainly wishing i had that instead of sirayvah).

                                i understood from reviews that it was going to be "less authentic" but i guess that's a relative term. no depth of flavor, and in fact no flavor at all. i'm still reeling.

                                we had pad thai, which tasted pretty much like tomato paste and little else, with a couple large shrimp and tofu cubes (tasted like wildwood tofu) thrown in; pad see ew, which had salty, oily, pale noodles with no wok char, with broccoli florets instead of gai lan and no discernible sauce; 'crispy' calamari, which were tiny strips of calamari that tasted like raw flour (though the calamari was not chewy, points for that) and a dish of watered down bottled sweet chili sauce as a dip, and green curry vegetable, which was the most watery and flat tasting 'curry' ever, with an electric green color where the vegetables tasted like they had been cooked separately, set aside, and then dumped into some curry sauce right after we ordered it.

                                add 1 serving of rice (brown, which is fine) and a diet coke and you're at $53. in fairness, i should admit that the rice noodles weren't sticking together, which can happen at other place, but that was hardly enough to redeem this disastrous meal.

                                whatever it was that we were served, it was not thai food. and it didn't even taste good. we hardly ate what we ordered, and then kept passing the leftovers between us because no one really wanted to take them.

                                this is the first time in my years on chowhound that i've been utterly, totally, and completely disappointed with a recommendation. i don't know how on earth my experience was so different from the people who recommended this place, but it was just lousy.

                              3. Mediterranean Delite is awesome. Really good food, reasonable price, crowded at lunch time. Sneakers, not so good food - your standard sports bar, nothing special there. Vics is not on the list and a few doors down the street on San Carlos Ave (towards the Train Depot) from Sneakers - good breakfast, albeit slightly overpriced.

                                1. Nice thread Shane,

                                  I like to add 'Izzy's Steak and Chop House' on 525 Skyway Rd to the list. The atmosphere is wonderful Izzy's is a great place to eat and is cheaper. we get great steak there.