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Late afternoon chow near Stanford Hosp

Lord willing and the creeks don't rise, hubby and I will be traveling to Stanford Hospital on April 6th for a consult. Our app't is for 1:00 p.m., so we will be leaving SLO Co about 7.a.m. to get there on time.

We'll stop for a good breakfast on the road, but will probably need to get an early lunch before the 2 hour app't and then a late afternoon meal before leaving for home again; wow, it's wearing me out just thinking about it.

Lunch--simple, comforting, quick meal

early dinner- basically ditto.

We'll probably not want to stray too far from the campus area. I know it's a tall order, but can you help, Penninsula 'hounds? I know there will be places in the Stanford Shopping Center, but hubs is put off by high-priced places oozing "bistro". Even a good Japanese restaurant with nice cooked dishes would be comforting. Spicey foods a no-go.

thanks so much

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  1. Good japanese about 10 minutes by car - good if you go when they open (11:30) as they don't take reservations and it's pretty popular. A lot of food for reasonable prices but

    Gombei Japanese Restaurant
    1438 El Camino Real
    Menlo Park, CA 94025
    (650) 329-1799

    Have you thought about about stopping along your way home to break up the drive bacK? There are lots of places In San Jose (which isn't too far along your way) - but do you really want to eat so early with such a long drive ahead of you?

    1 Reply
    1. re: estnet

      Good recommendation. Cooked Japanese food, nice but not too fancy.

    2. I spend a lot of time over in that area. Cafe Borrone would be my first choice, followed by Cool Cafe and the Cafe at Neiman Marcus, and rounded off by Gourmet Franks and sandwiches at Schaub's Butcher.

      Borrone is really excellent, my go-to place in Menlo Park, and about a five minute drive from the hospital. Great food, what looks like a decent wine list, stellar baked goods. Has gotten many Chow raves. Would be good for lunch and dinner.

      Cool Cafe has the benefit of being within walking distance to the hospital and the setting is lovely. It is attached to the back of the Cantor Art Museum, so if you eat outside, there are lots of pretty trees, a nice lawn, and some striking Rodin sculptures. It features locally grown/sourced foods. It's always a dollar more than I really want to spend, but is quite tasty. Lunch only.

      Neiman Marcus Cafe might be too foofy for your husband just by virtue of its location, but the food is solid. Really good hamburgers and a great club salad (Can't remember the exact name - chicken, bacon, egg, tomato, blue cheese, avocado). I appreciate their generous portions, excellent service, and popovers. Also walking distance to the hospital or a very fast drive. Lunch only

      Gourmet Franks has good hotdogs with lots of toppings, grilled to order. Their fries, though out of a bag, are pretty tasty too. Outdoor mall seating. Lunch only.

      Schaub's is a butcher shop that also makes sandwiches, fresh and simple. They usually have a soup too. Lunch only.

      I'm not a fan of Max's or the CPK to-go place at the mall. There is also a cafe at Nordstrom - decent food, good soups, filling salads which you might like. Not too fancy and easy walking. Lunch or early dinner.

      Cafe Borrone
      1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

      Schaub's Meat Fish & Poultry
      395 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, CA 94304

      Cool Cafe
      328 Lomita Dr, Stanford, CA

      Neiman Marcus Cafe
      400 Stanford Shopping CT, Palo Alto, CA

      Gourmet Franks
      199 Stanford Shopping Ctr, Palo Alto, CA 94304

      Nordstrom Stanford Shopping Center
      550 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: YSZ

        nm's "club salad" sounds like the "Cobb Salad"" served at Hollywood and LA's grand old Brown Derby. Derivation of the name is interesting.

      2. I was wondering also if you would consider dinner further down the road. One reason, is to beat some of the rush- traffic which can get ugly in the commute hours. The further down the road the better.

        In San Jose, just off the exit of 101 is Sousa's Portuguese restaurant. Not brilliant food, but good and comforting.Nice caldo verde. Far from bistro, the Sousa's have been running the place for years. It is in the little Portugal section with a great little Portuguese bakery next door, Popular Bakery.

        It is really on and off the highway, you'd beat most of the rush hour traffic, and depending on the time, would sit out some of the traffic at dinner. Here's the place record

        Town and Country shopping plaza is going through a renaissance of sorts.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rworange

          You're right, we ought to make tracks down the road, rather than lingering. We'll be taking 280 up from 85(?) across the south end of the SCV; I've been through there at 5:00, so I know what you mean. Thanks for the tip about the Portuguese area in SJ. I grew up in Willow Glen, but never ventured that far in my day. Would love to visit the bakeries someday.

          Maybe we could stop somewhere near the OSH headquarters off Blossom Hill Rd area for dinner. We used to like to stop at Sushi Boat; there are other places to eat in the area, I believe. Or, if we get through 280/101 at a decent time, maybe at one of Melanie's favorite spots in downtown Salinas.

        2. On Welch Road quite near the Medical Center is California Cafe ( www.californiacafe.com I think then select the Palo Alto one). I think that it would be comforting for you to arrive there knowing it is only a few minutes from your destination. It usually has a fun bento box as well as other California cuisine or maybe you would want just a bowl of soup . Be sure and tell your waitperson you are on a schedule. I hope all goes well for you.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Giselle

            I second California Cafe & Nordstrom Cafe for sheer convenience/location. I think the Menlo Parks recs while good, may just take a bit more time. Perhaps you can have something more chowish on your drive back home.

            If you do have time, you should take a look at Palo Alto's Town & Country Village as suggested by rworange above. Hobees or Douce France may work.


            1. re: ceekskat

              I've never timed it with a stopwatch, but we go from the Med Center to Cook's and back, never feeling rushed, and get back to work before our friends who go to California Café. We like California Café for lingering-type Friday parties.

              Town & Country is tragically crowded when the Palo Alto High kids go for their lunch break ... a real negative for Douce France, which is a popular hangout. Outside of their swarming times, it is a great recommendation.

              OTOH, is Hobee's much better than Denny's? Haven't been back for years, I don't know.

              Palo Alto Creamery, in the Stanford Shopping Center, is another worthy spot. Wide choice of traditional American "Diner" foods and daily specials.

              Palo Alto Creamery
              180 Stanford Shopping Ctr, Palo Alto, CA

              1. re: ceekskat

                Warning that California Cafe can be very slow.

                Also, you can take the Marguerite B line to Town and Country should you wish. I don't think it is that bad at lunch, unless you want Jamba Juice. Last two times we were there the lines were reasonable at Douce France and Kirks. They were nonexistant at Calafia's Market a gogo, the Korean and Sushi places. Calafia and Mayfield restaurants were bussling, but reasonable and no high school kids. If you do an early lunch they should be fine. I am not a Hobees fan.

                Link's Cafe in the Medical Center used to be reasonably good, and there is a fun Thai Cafe (think Seinfields Soup Nazi) in the Psych building close to the Med Center. Catch the A line Marguerite that comes every 15 minutes for a 5 minute ride. I think it starts serving at 11. They serve noodle salads, soup and a daily curry.

                Sultana in Menlo Park would work for dinner and maybe lunch. Turkish food - think kebabs and rice, although they do have other things.

            2. About 5 minutes from Stanford Hospital, Cook's Seafood in Menlo Park for "some of" the best fish 'n chips in the Bay Area, un-fussy chowders and salads with crab or shrimp.

              Super-clean, quick, casual and 81 years of quality -- for lunch, dinner or both. Really, you might.

              Cook's Seafood Restaurant & Market
              751 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

              1 Reply
              1. re: anyhow

                I always liked Cook's but don't eat much fried food so I haven't been in a while. But if you want fried seafood, it's terrific.

                I've always thought California Cafe was like a spruced-up TGI Friday's. Boring maill food.

                And I've always liked Cafe Borrone, they seem to really care about their food even if it is cafe food. Wonderful people too.

              2. Regrettably, the campus area has lousy parking. There is one spot on campus worth eating, which is the sandwich place in the cantor arts center, cool cafe, mentioned by others. It's an offshoot of Flea Street Cafe, and the setting is gorgeous and relaxing. If you like Rodin, you can enjoy the sculpture garden, which you are roughly in the middle of. Somewhere around there is visitor parking. The food is also astonishing - simple, but very tasty, counter service, no stress.

                Of the stanford shopping center choices (easy parking, below average food) I'd choose Babbo's, just because it's not a chain. I think they have a decent wood oven. I've only eaten there once, but it's known for the pastas and little pizzas. If you're going chain you've got CPK and Pf Chang and the rest of it. Bleh.

                Another option: hit the andronico's at SCC for take-out, pick out a spot of grass on the Stanford Oval. Looks like the weather will be good.

                Regrettably, there's nothing positive to say about the little nest of restaurants around de las pulgas, because that would be handy. Flea Street isn't open for lunch, Dutch Goose is a beery neighborhood burger place, there's a mexican place that only looks OK.

                Of menlo park, I do seriously love Barrone. Problem is the small menu. Either they have what you're looking for, or you should go somewhere else. They have two or three salads, two or three panininis, some kind of lasana, and that's about it. Parking's not too bad, but you are coming all the way down off 280.

                Of the other MP restaurants, safe-relaxing-simple can be Left Bank or Oak City Grill (I don't think I've seen Oak City mentioned on CH before. It's kind of like a non-left-bank-left-bank). jzCool is unusual - it's a place you want to like, but you don't end up going back to. That's how most of my friends feel.

                The benefit of MP is you can avoid el camino real if you're careful. Consult your local map. It is slightly out of your way.

                Going into Palo Alto isn't the dumbest thing in the world - not that much further than MP if you're coming from 280. Slide across el camino at sand hill, alma and park. There's somewhere around 150 restaurants in about 3 x 8 blocks, and I'd need more detail to recommend one.

                I would not go all the way to Gombei. Gombei's fine, fits spec well, but I think the other alternatives mentioned are closer and easier.

                8 Replies
                1. re: bbulkow

                  According to their website, Flea Street IS open for lunch, and they certainly used to be in years gone by. Love this place.

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    Here's where I read from their website that they're *not* open for lunch:


                    You have another URL?

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      PS. finally had dinner at flea street this weekend, it was very, very good. Not top-tier-and-stars good, but some very good tastes at a reasonable price in a relaxed atmosphere. Little touches like pea blossom amuse "from jessie's garden" followed later by the owner stopping by the table and asking about the taste of the blossoms - excellent - a good touch.

                      more to the point - jzcool in Menlo Park is now closed, Didn't ask why, I imagine lack of traffic. So, more focus for them on Flea Street.

                      1. re: bbulkow


                        Flea Street Cafe
                        3607 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                        1. re: bbulkow

                          I guess I've lost touch with what "reasonable price" means... here's a link to the menu at Flea Street Cafe. That doesn't mean that we don't enjoy dinners in this price range, but perhaps I've just become accustomed to the little ethnic places I frequent.

                          Indeed, the menu does sound enticing! We have a 25th Wedding Anniversary coming up and it is literally 5 minutes from our house... could be the place to celebrate!


                          1. re: RWCFoodie

                            Perhaps reasonable wasn't the best word. I do think the place represents good value. For an excellent quality multicourse meal with a bottle of wine, we were at about $50/person out the door.

                            1. re: bbulkow

                              Thanks for that clarification - I don't mind paying for good food that's beautifully prepared and served, but lately I find that quite often, the product and service don't equate with the prices charged... The pea blossom amuse sounds lovely - what else did you have?

                      2. re: bbulkow

                        Not to push Gombei too much - but from the MEDICAL part of Stanford it isn't any further than many of the other places recommended. Even going down Sand Hill and taking ECR shouldn't take more than 5 or 10 minutes.

                      3. if an amazing sandwich is all you need, stop by the village cheese house http://www.thevch.com/

                        get the roast beef, or your meat of choice (actually, the no meat version works too) and defnitely get the works, mustard/mayo sauce included


                        JJ&F Market - Sandwich from the deli in the back, same deal, roast beef on rye with the works. Amazing!

                        craving one of these all the way from paris...

                        good luck!

                        1. Has anyone been to Mike's Cafe in Portola Valley for lunch? DH has been to breakfast & says it is fine. This is right off 280 & can't imagine it being crowded. For OP's purpose, can't beat location & pretty locale too.


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ceekskat

                            Boy, this place looks well-situated and with a lot of choice. Thanks!

                          2. Well, we had good weather for our trip and the app't went well. We got a foaccacia bread sandwich at the tiny 'cafe' next to the path lab at the cancer center. It was OK.

                            Next week we go back for another app't, but didn't luck out as to app't times. We will most likely have to stay overnight before heading home, as we will have to leave SLO at 0:dark-thirty to get up there in time for the 11:00. Too long a day (last appt over at 4:30. So my thought is to get a room somewhere and head out in the morning. Your reports of restaurants in the area will then come in very handy. Thank you all so much. You are terrific.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: toodie jane

                              toodie jane, hope all goes well at the cancer center. Appreciate all your posts on coastal stuff.

                              1. re: toodie jane

                                Maybe too late for your revisit, but you might note this if you are up that way again

                                Tigelle at Tootsie’s at the Stanford Barn (Palo Alto)

                                1. re: rworange

                                  We ate at Mike's Place in Portola Valley. The service was a bit rushed and distracted. Looks like a great 'neighborhood' place, though the cars in the lot looked like a Concours, lol. A bit hard to finddue to very discreet signage.

                                  Had a great burger (12.00), and the bread (Acme) and coffee were divine.

                              2. I haven't been in a bunch of years but the tiny little Tokyo Subway on Santa Cruz just off
                                El Camino in Menlo Park was always a favorite. The sushi's pretty average, but I really
                                like the katsudon. Cozy, friendly, inexpensive, and somewhat exactly like the sort
                                of place you might find at a subway station in Tokyo.

                                Tokyo Subway
                                605 Santa Cruz Ave, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                  kat! su! don! my ultimate comfort food.

                                  If you ever find yourself traveling 101 in Santa Barbara county, stop in Santa Maria at Atari Ya Japanese Restaurant in the back of the Stowell Center, at Battles and Broadway. Enrique's katsudon melts my heart.

                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                    This place has a warm place in my heart. If you've traveled in japan, you know what a little neighborhood place looks like, this in one.

                                    I've always ordered the teppanyaki, but the last two times it was aweful. Went from thick flavorful cubes to tough slivers. There's now a trainee guy there instead of the old guy, doing some dishes. I doubt I'll be back anymore - too bad.

                                  2. If you ever revisit the hospital, my wife, who works there, says the cafeteria food is good and inexpensive. She loves the french fries. On Thursday there is turkey which they pile "high."

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Ronald Wong

                                      Not in the hospital, but my brother reports that the cafeteria in the Tresidder Union is putting out a quite good Cantonese style beef stew with daikon (gno nam) in the Chinese section.

                                      1. re: Ronald Wong

                                        yes, the cafeteria is a place I eat often. Have been busy or I would start a thread!

                                        They actually do some very good Mexican dishes--they had excellent chile rellenos one evening. Good cheese enchiladas too--very thick and corny tortillas. Yum.

                                        The fries, however are precooked (as are the hamburger patties), sit under a heat lamp and are dosed heavily with seasoned salt (doesn't anybody do plain fires anymore?) They were fairly lackluster when I tried them.

                                        Good items I've had:

                                        Mashed potatoes--plain, & good, straighforward potato flavor.

                                        Chile rellanos

                                        Cheese enchiladas

                                        Pasta and meatballs

                                        Salad bar--many choices @ 40cents/oz.

                                        Cream soups

                                        Fresh veg medley--broc, carrots, and green beans or snow peas--fresh, bright flavors and not overcooked

                                        Scrambled eggs--not overcooked

                                        Turkey sausage patty

                                        Bacon strips



                                        It's easy to eat a good balanced meal for about $4-5, not including dessert.

                                        They have an ethnic food station at dinner I've not tried. They vary the cuisine. They also post a month's worth of menus near the entrance where the trays and cutlery are if you want to check in advance.

                                        Keith always cleans his plate, even if the food has gotten cold by the time he gets it. He loves theri muffins. "Not too sweet". A frend visitied him this week who spent a few months there after ortho surgery and he remembered the food as "very good".

                                        The ONLY cafeteria I've ever been in with fresh flowers on the tables (alstormerias) and the staff works very hard.