Menlo Park - Jonathan's Fish and Chips - Sweet tea, Southern cornmeal-crusted catfish and deep-fried corn on the cob?
In a recent fish and chips topic, there was a brief mention that Jonathan’s. I goggled a bit about it and now I’m interested. Anyone have comments.?
The owner/main chef from Lake Charles, LA has been cooking for about 15 years at this small shop located in a strip mall between a Mexican market and a barber shop.
Other fish choices include whiting, tilapia, sole, snapper, calamari, oysters, prawns,
There is also a crab bucket and crab cakes,
There are many more Southern menu items such as gumbo, jambalaya, fried okra (coated with corn meal), red beans, po' boys, mac and cheese, sweet potato pie, cobbler, etc.
The greens, cooked with fatback comes with a piece of cornbread
The hushpuppies are jalapeno-spiked. The sweet potato fries sprinkled with powdered sugar.
For people who don't want fish there are fried chicken wings, burgers, turkey burgers, hot links, sandwiches, dilled potato salad, cole slaw, macaroni salad, and more.
The owner tried to open a larger restaurant in Hayward, but from what I read, the chef left and it went under. That restaurant was serving everything that Menlo Park serves and other dishes such as oxtails and short ribs.
There was a report that the strip mall might be razed and the owner doesn’t have plans to open in a new location. You never know.
So that is what I have gleaned about Jonathan’s. Who has tried it?
Blog with photos
Jonathan's Fish & Chips
840 Willow Rd, Menlo Park, CA 94025
I live around five blocks from Jonathan's but rarely eat there. For fish and chips, I prefer Cook's Seafood on El Camino. It's an apples and oranges comparison since Jonathan's is southern style -- cornmeal crust --- versus Cook's. But the oil at Cook's is always clean. I've had fish fried in dirty oil at Jonathan's. I'm not slamming the place -- It can be good. But it also has local competition.
Back-a-yard is maybe three blocks away and serves fried fish as well. They always have clean oil and it's one of the best, inexpensive restaurants in Menlo Park.
Across Trowbridge from Back-a-yard is a Mexican place that has menudo on the weekends -- which I like quite a bit. It's got pig feet in it. Maybe not as good as Gonzalez at Middlefield and Fifth. They also have sandwiches and tacos made with cabeza. Is cabeza brain? Whatever it is, at $4 a sandwich, I like it better than fish and chips at Jonathan's for maybe double that.
On Menalto, a street south of Willow, is another Mexican market that has carnitas burritos and you can get it with chopped pork skin. Gimme some skin. Wow. I sometimes put the leftovers in the fridge and the skin congeals so you can slice the burrito into discs that are held together by aspic/protein magic. This is a great thing to have late night, slathered with Tapatio, when you need something in your stomach to dilute too much beer. Maybe I'm going into too much detail here.
It seems counter intuitive, but for me, if I'm going to pay to eat out near home, the place has got to be pretty good for the money because I can usually prepare a better quality meal at home for the same price. When I look at Jonathan's versus Back-a-yard versus a to go burrito on Menalto, or that place on Trowbridge, I usually fuggedabout Jonathan's.
Oh, Jonathan's has fried okra. Which reminds m last time I went was for that. But once again, the experience depends on the oil that day.
Sesos are brains. Cabesa is head. Usually that means beef cheeks ... the stuff that fancy restaurant sell for $$$. Sometimes a restaurant will include other parts of head, but I haven't found that too much in this area.
Great info, thanks. Loved the description of the pork skin burrito.
As a fellow Willows-ite, I have to agree, Johnathan's doesn't get my business.
I rarely eat at Back-A-Yard because they close at 8 and stop letting people in closer to 7:30.
The market/taqueria on Menalto is La Hacienda. I usually get the Torta there just because it's not a burrito, and boy is it good. They also make a mean barbacoa, recently hyper-popularized by Chipotle but still danged good and slightly rare - but Mi Rancho means I don't even get in the car, so it gets the nod. Trick at Mi Rancho is to get the Regular, not the Super. La Hacienda's a buck or two more; both have super-size portions.
It was a main stay of our family when our sons were in high school. The fish was was wonderful and thanks for reminding me of Jonathan's.
Jonathan was a high school star at Woodside High School, CCSF and CAL. Both of our sons were his teammate at Woodside.
Also their hot links sandwiches were to die for.
If any hounds go say hi to Mrs Mc
re: Melanie Wong
Thanks. Places like Menlo Park sometimes fall off the radar of the boards. I didn't search for Jonathan's, because I despaired at reading through posts that had one line mentions or had nothing to to do with the restaurant like one post in that list that mentions Jonathan Kauffman.
Lots of great additional info here. Glad to hear that Jonathan's is not in danger of closing soon. I don't have to put that cornmeal-coated deep-fried corn on the cob as such an urgent item to try on my must-try list.
Happened to eat there yesterday, first time. I usually get a burrito at Mi Rancho next door (recommended!), but ran into a friend right outside so sat down for fish.
It's all about the fish, obviously. The owner recommends the catfish, as it's the thickest. I had the sole just to be contrary. Sizes are S, M, L and the Medium did just fine for me - about 5 moderate sized pieces of fish with fries for a little less than $10.
The breading on the fish is very, very flavorful with the cornflour, but frankly I found it overwhelmed the fish a bit. I suspect the thicker catfish keeps it in balance. Crunchy like crazy. They serve about 5 kinds of fish. I think I prefer my fish and chips English style.
The atmosphere is plastic tableclothes and very much has a down-home-LA feel. About half the people there were black - they're right close to east palo alto and serve the black community there, but anyone will feel at home - it's not the tony part of Menlo Park. I didn't pay a lot of attention to the rest of the menu, but next time I'll see if they have real red-beans-and-rice. Po'boys were on the menu but I didn't see a single one on any table.
I think you could do a po'boy takeout and eat in your car, I don't think I'd try that with the fish. The fish wants to be eaten fresh.
Parking is easy in front, strip-mall-style. It's minutes from the freeway exit, but everything was cooked-to-order thus took about 10 minutes, not quite a very fast stop, but a great 30-minute-lunch.
Oh, and that stripmall is going strong with Mi Rancho as an anchor. Ain't going nowhere.