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Best garlic dishes in the Bay Area

What and where would you include in a garlic crawl?

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  1. Spices / Spices!3 etc. have a number of dishes that are covered in a shower of fried garlic slices.

    Old Jerusalem's ful is very garlicky.

    Incanto includes a roasted head of garlic on the antipasto platter.

    Korean places generally serve sliced raw garlic with barbecued short ribs.

    Does anyplace around here make that Middle Eastern garlic sauce that's made from a few heads of raw garlic crushed with salt, lemon juice, and oil? It's chunky, not a puree.

    Garlic noodles topic:


    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I like the "spicy garlic sauce" dishes (sliced side pork, cucumber) at China Village better than the versions at Spices. They would be at the top of my garlic crawl list.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Have you ordered any of these garlic-showered dishes? It sounds like the "Bay Fung Tong" style crab. I seem to remember reading in the past that "Bay Fung Tong" restaurant on Franklin had this dish, but I don't know if they still do or if it's still any good.

        The Spices!3 fried stinky tofu sauce used to be very garlicky, but hasn't been as much the last several times I've tried it.

        I'm sure I've had some things that had me burping garlic recently, but I am struggling to remember.

        1. re: twocents

          I've had the garlic-showered dishes, though I can't remember which ones.

          I don't remember the sauce with fried stinky tofu except that I preferred the tofu plain.

          1. re: twocents

            Bay Fung Tong - style dishes have lots of garlic in the coating but also black beans, chilis, scallions, and more.

            There's also fried crispy-skinned chicken that covered with a blizzard of deepfried garlic bits.

        2. You should include a Filiipino style breakfast with some garlic rice. Here's the photo of longsilog (longanisa, fried eggs, garlic rice) at Good Bites Cafe (Filipino and Arabic).

          Longsilog -

          Not as much garlic in the rice here, just enough to perfume it, which I initially considered a fault. Then the proprietor reminded me that I might be in close quarters with others the rest of the day, and he was right about the amount to start the work day. The longanisa were great, made by his sister. Garlicky, just a little sweet (not candied like too many), and meaty tasting, plus less greasy than usual. Eggs had runny yolks, but the whites were more frazzled than I like. This also came with a small green salad that had some mint in the dressing that reminded me of Levant style salads. And to end, a little cup of mixed fruit salad, cut to order. This cost something like $7 all together and was so worth it.

          When I left, I got a lahmacun to go. I wanted some baba ghanoush, but learned that it's only by special order now. Hummus is always available in the case. I loved this little spot when it was Rihab's and I like it just as much today.

          ETA: the condiments for my breakfast included a housemade spicy vinegar that was the perfect touch for those chubby sausages.

          Good Bites Cafe
          1504 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002

          1 Reply
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Mmm, that reminds me of the arros negra at B44. It's full of garlic to start with, and then you add aioli.

            44 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

          2. I'll add the "Beef Stomach in Spicy Sauce" at Little Sichuan Express. Very tender tripe with sliced jalapenos, whole garlic cloves (soft and sweet), and red bell peppers.

            Also, the roasted garlic crab at PPQ Dungeness Island.

            Little Sichuan Express - CLOSED, moved to Newark
            34420 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA

            1. I have a weakness for cajun shrimp (app) found exclusively @ Scotts seafood of Jack London Square. It is butter, lots of garlic and some other stuff which is really not that important !!

              8 Replies
                  1. re: Kim Cooper

                    here it is

                    Scott's Seafood Restaurant
                    2 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607

                  2. re: JiyoHappy

                    The garlic naan at Taste Buds in Sunnyvale.

                    Who has the best garlic fries? Thin, fresh & hot, crisp french fries, garlic, parsley, and parmesan. Yum.

                    1. re: chow_eb

                      Garlic fries at Gordon Biersch are pretty good

                      Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
                      33 E San Fernando St, San Jose, CA 95113

                      1. re: JiyoHappy

                        Smart Alecs in Berkeley has garlic fries (air baked) that make you wake up the next morning with garlic breath... :) They used to be free if you brought in a paper or test with an A on it!

                        1. re: marilees

                          Oh yeah, I remember ..I could stink up the car just by saying aaaahhhhhh ...on our way back to San Jose

                          1. re: JiyoHappy

                            Haven't been in a while but doesn't Fritz have wonderful garlic fries? I remember big chunks of spring garlic in the fountain glass that they use to serve the fries in.

                1. I'll add the crispy garlic pork ribs at the Ark in Alameda.

                  1. Donning an asbestos suit, I nominate the smoked ham w/garlic cloves at Brandy Ho. YMMV.

                    1. It is certainly used judiciously, but any garlic crawl, for me, would include L'Osteria del Forno. Benjarong Thai, too, maybe.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: whiner

                        Which dishes at L'Osteria del Forno? I love the place but can't remember anything garlicky.

                      2. Piccino Cafe does a pizza bianca that is very, very garlicky and delicious. They shave the garlic so thinly it disintegrates into the cheese.

                        1. I had a garlic custard with sauteed mushroom and toasted walnuts about 20 years ago made by Cindy Pawcilyn at Fog City Diner. I still remember it!!!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ez2b4d

                            That was good. No longer on the menu, though.

                          2. I would definitely include the chicken schwarma served with onions and garlic sauce at Gourmet Express in Milpitas as well as their phenomenal lemon garlic potatoes. I ate there for lunch today (again), and a co-worker knew I went there and complained about my garlicky breath. That's how you know it's strong.

                            Bland Name Hides Super Flavorful and Garlicky Middle Eastern Food at Gourmet Express in Milpitas

                            Only open weekdays for lunch though.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: katya

                              Aram's in Petaluma makes shwarma with garlic sauce too.

                            2. shouldn't have to be said, but just in case any first-time to SF garlic-loving visitors are reading:

                              NOT Stinkin' Rose. it stinks - was dragged there by know-nothing friends once a long time ago.

                              ok it's not wretched or poisonous, but such a waste with so many better choices within a 10 minute walk.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: hill food

                                Oh yeah. It's a corporate tourist trap.

                              2. Don't forget the whole cloves of pickled garlic, purplish pepto bismo-colored.

                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Korean and Japanese grocery stores.

                                    Edited to add: the pink coloration comes from shiso.

                                1. Some place for garlic noodles, but where? Who makes really good ones?

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    They're on the menu at Vo's. I wasn't in the mood but everything we ordered was good.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Have Vo's reopened their location on Grand?

                                      As for Nan Yang... I haven't forgiven them for changing the recipes for some of their dishes when they moved from Chinatown to Rockridge. In fact, the Thai garlic noodles at the original Nan Yang were a favorite of mine, and they were one of the dishes that was completely changed at the new location.

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        Are they bad now? Or just different? Maybe they're more authentic and less Chinese the way they are now.

                                        1. re: rccola

                                          I have no idea whether they're more or less authentic. Although it was in Chinatown, Nan Yang was always a Burmese restaurant -- one of the first in the Bay Area. The owner, Phillip Chu, is from Burma but is ethnic Chinese, so I'm sure that influences the food somewhat. The original version of the Thai garlic noodles was unlike anything I had ever tasted. They were delicate flat noodles in a thin, clear sauce that I think was vinegar-based with garlic and topped with thin slivers of some kind of Chinese ham and some chopped peanuts. The version they serve now is much more like Vietnamese garlic noodles: thicker, chewier, much heartier. Good, but totally different.

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            Hmmmm. They were very amiable today. Perhaps they'd resurrect that dish. It sounds delicious and different.

                                            1. re: rccola

                                              The last time I was in there the owner stopped by my table and I asked him about it. He said they could do a version that was closer, but that he didn't have the right ingredients to replicate the original version. But you're right: I've been missing this dish for many years now -- maybe I should contact him and beg him to reintroduce it.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                Please post if they do. I will rush in and order Lafler noodles.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Ah, thanks. I was out of town that week and missed that thread.

                                            Vo's Restaurant
                                            59 Grand Avenue, Oakland, ca

                                    2. Just had lunch at Nan Yang. Virtually everything on the menu (inc. garlic noodles) is loaded with garlic, esp. a garlic soup. And everything was delicious, inexpensive, and a bargain for the elegance of the setting and the service.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: rccola

                                        Nan Yang, definitely :) and garlic noodles at Crustacean in SF

                                      2. Woodminster Cafe makes an astonishingly garlicalicious chicken salad sandwich. Just your basic sandwich shop with pretty otherwise standard choices, but the Iranian owner goes completely nuts with the chicken salad.

                                        Woodminster Cafe
                                        5020 Woodminster Ln, Oakland, CA 94602

                                        1. The highest quality, most garlickly dish, bar none, is the pasto pesto at Caffe Sport on Green Street in North Beach.

                                          1. Escape from New York Pizza has a really tasty (and potent!) pizza with pesto, potatoes, and garlic - about 20 cloves of garlic per slice, sometimes more.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: katya

                                              Note: those are ROASTED garlic cloves, delicious.

                                            2. I love the Heartstopper pizza at Lanesplitters. Bacon, gorgonzola, spinach, and lots and lots of roasted garlic. My skin exudes garlic for days, and the combo is great.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: JasmineG

                                                Huh, that's one of our regular orders there, but I never noticed it being very garlicky.

                                                Pauline's pesto pizza, now that's garlicky. They paint the pesto on after the crust is done, then just pop it back in the oven briefly, so the garlic's still raw.

                                                Dopo's broccoli and cauliflower pizzas have a lot of garlilc.

                                              2. There is also a fried shrimp with garlic at Krung Thai (San Jose, and MV locations) that has the best fried garlic bits - I can eat the whole dish with garlic by myself...yummy

                                                1. One other garlic-o-rama pizza:

                                                  Giovanni's Pizzeria's best pizza is their Rustica which features chicken breast, basil, tomatoes, and plenty of garlic. It's available by the slice and is one of the best and cheapest Silicon Valley lunches around.

                                                  Giovanni’s in Sunnyvale: You Got Chicken on My Pizza! No, You Got Pizza on My Chicken!