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Brand new in Silicon Valley: where should I eat?

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I just moved from LA to Palo Alto. I had the LA scene wired with thanks to Hounds and the food-bloggers. I knew where to find the best (and 2nd and 3rd best) pho, tortas, ramen, burger, sushi, ribeye, roast chicken etc.

I'd love to hear any and all "must chow" spots in the greater Silicon Valley area (I am pretty familiar with San Francisco's foodie scene). My only noteworthy eats so far are the charcuterie plate at Village Pub and the Village Cheesehouse sandwich. Thanks in advance for any and all advice. Any recommended Hounds and food bloggers to read up on the area's dining options?

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  1. For tortas near PA, La Casita Chilanga - 2928 Middlefield Road, Redwood City

    1 Reply
    1. re: Hoss

      I'll second that recommendation for tortas at La Casita Chilanga. Good stuff!

    2. There are a couple of world-class posts on Peninsula sushi and Redwood City taquerias by a poster called "sushi monster"...that's a great start, and just searching the archives on here.

      EDIT click on the sushi or taquerias hyperlinks below pics http://www.emeraldlake.com/go2ell.html

      Couple of my faves in your area:
      *The Oasis on El Camino Real in Menlo Park...burgers and pizzas, great atmosphere
      *Creamery in downtown PA...if you like this sorta stuff, you'll love it
      *Lobster Shack on Middlefield in Redwood City...a bit $ but solid
      *Metate Taqueria on Harbor Blvd in San Carlos...yum!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Munching Mark

        Awesome! I'll get to those tortas right away. Thanks for the links!

      2. While you will find many -- and strongly opinionated -- discussions of all the popular foods and forms, I believe there is only one Persian Market with mesquite grilled kebabs and lots more.

        Rose International Market on Castro Street, south of El Camino Real in Mountain View, has the absolutely strangest process for selecting, ordering, and collecting your food.

        I think it is a great bargain for delicious, carefully prepared foods. You can find out in advance how-to-do-it on this board.

        Hope you enjoy it!

        -----
        Rose International Market
        1060 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94040

        1. Plenty of soondubu (Korean tofu stew) options in Santa Clara, but So Gong Dong Tofu House in Palo Alto is a good nearby choice. I don't like the SGD in Santa Clara though.

          -----
          So Gong Dong Tofu House
          4127 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA

          1. Welcome to Palo Alto. It's a great food town. I love the Creamery in downtown P.A. and recommend Thaiphoon a few doors down. One of my favorite places nearby is Shiok in Menlo Park.

            1. Welcome, PAHound! As one of the first regions on the Internet, silicon valley naturally has a long history of online food buzz. Hundreds of recommendations are available on this board, it's important to do creative searching -- "south bay," "peninsula," "silicon valley" being useful search terms. Here are some good examples, the first has many recommendations.

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/399097
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/427295
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/595762
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/599555

              1. Palo Alto proper suffers from upscale demographic syndrome.

                There's great Indian, Chinese, and Vietnamese south and east of there. I keep a list of places to try on the rare occasions when I'm down that way:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/427295

                Mitsuwa Marketplace is worth a visit.

                -----
                Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant
                1320 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

                Mitsuwa
                675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA

                Habana Cuba
                238 Race Street, San Jose, CA 95126

                Chinjin Eastern House
                1530 S De Anza Blvd, San Jose, CA

                25 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  That's a great thread, and thanks for the suggestions.

                  Just had a debate with a coworker who said there's no type of food the Bay Area does better than LA (except high end French Laundry-esque spots). I told him he can't possibly be right, but he argued the only ethnic food that's even a draw is Vietnamese. Thoughts on what type of cuisine in the Bay Area trumps the LA area?

                  1. re: PAHound

                    i am willing to throw out Indian (being ignorant of Indian in LA), but Silicon Valley has great Indian food.

                    1. re: jsaimd

                      I'm pretty familiar with Indian in LA (its centered in Little India, which is in Artesia), and I'm excited to compare Silicon Valley Indian.

                      Tirupathi Bhimas is perhaps the best Indian in LA, and I can't wait to get to their Milpitas location. Any specific dishes at any specific place that warrant a "run, don't walk". Thanks!

                      1. re: jsaimd

                        I would think so too. Not at all familiar with LA scene.
                        I think the food in Indian restaurants is alright. But there are few Indian restaurants that are good at what they do, here.
                        For gourmet Indian (not run of the mill), go to Mynt in San Jose.
                        For homestyle Punjabi food I like Lovely sweets in Fremont.
                        Please do check other threads.

                        I think bay area has some very good Afgani restaurants.

                      2. re: PAHound

                        Aziza (Cal-Moroccan), Peruvian, our local version of Cal-Italian? This question has come up before:

                        http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Zitune is much closer for Cal-Moroccan than Aziza, though with the recent price increases it's less of a value than before. I've not been to Aziza, but my wife has and prefers Zitune. The lamb shank M’rouzia tagine is probably my favorite dish there.

                          Michael

                          -----
                          Restaurant Zitune
                          325 Main St, Los Altos, CA 94022

                          1. re: mdg

                            Zitune can't match Aziza's atmosphere, esp. if they seat you in Siberia (the back room). I liked the food at both.

                            1. re: Claudette

                              Just got to Aziza- wow. The cocktails were creative and tasty. The lamb appetizer was amazing. Lentil soup hit the spot. But the big hit was the farro "risotto" with sous vide egg! Must try if you haven't. Beef cheeks were also nice, but who would've thought with all that beefy goodness that the farro would steal the show.
                              Thanks for the recommendation- Aziza would have gotten lost in the shuffle otherwise. Definitely unlike anyplace in LA- if they opened it there they'd be booked solid for 6 months, easy.

                        2. re: PAHound

                          NorCal does the mid-range nice place better (the list is large, Slanted Door, Zuni, Nopa) and artisan (bread, cheese, choco, baked goods, etc.) better then LA, pretty much across the board of cuisines. Pretty much every neighborhood will have a nice local joint that will well execute, quality food at a reasonable price that you could take guests and it would be nice.

                          It doesn't match up as well on basic ethnic (Chinese, Mexican, Thai) but there are areas it surpasses -- XLB, one dim sum place (Koi Palace). I think the geography (customer support in one area, like Glendale for Armenian) and more affordable rents in LA makes a start-up mom and pop more realistic, and thus a more vibrant scene.

                          1. re: ML8000

                            There are pockets of good Mexican food in Bay Area neighborhoods with lots of Mexicans, e.g. International Blvd. / Fruitvale in Oakland and Fair Oaks / Lloyden Park in Redwood City. And some great Yucatecan food in SF.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Agreed those are vibrant areas. It's interesting that those areas (minus SF and Yucatan) are similar to SoCal in it's easier to start a business given rent and local community support.

                              1. re: ML8000

                                The Yucatecan places in SF (except for the Noe Valley spinoff of Mi Lindo Y.) are in funky parts of the Mission with relatively low commercial rents.

                          2. re: PAHound

                            I'd think the Indian here is better than L.A., where the Indian restaurants are concentrated way out in Orange County. Plus I think Silicon Valley has a "fresher" community of recent-immigrant tech workers who miss the food of their home country, rather than the more settled community of Artesia.

                            Afghan, I haven't been out to Fremont yet but the fact that there *is* an Afghan restaurant scene here blows my mind.

                            Turkish. No "out" Turkish restaurants in L.A. other than one food-court joint, supposedly because the Armenians are everywhere and hate them - genocide tends to do that.

                            1. re: Cicely

                              Actually, the area with high concentration of Indian restaurants is located in Artesia, in LA county proper.

                              1. re: Cicely

                                What Turkish spots would you recommend? I learned to love Turkish food on my travels around Turkey a few years ago. I did check out Sultana in Menlo Park, and found it pretty good. I've heard New Kap is tasty in Redwood City.
                                Do you think New Kap is worth the trip? Anywhere else I should hit? Any upscale Turkish delights?

                                1. re: PAHound

                                  I had a tasty imam bayeldi at Troya and the other items I tasted were ok. Berkeley has the Turkish Kitchen and while enjoyable I'm not sure it worth a special trip, certainly not upscale.

                                  -----
                                  Troya
                                  349 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                  Turkish Kitchen
                                  1984 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                  1. re: PAHound

                                    In SF I've only been to A La Turca. But New Kap is better than any other Turkish restaurant I've tried. Much better I think than Sultana. My parents request a trip when they visit me in San Jose, and some friends of mine visiting SF met us there and thought the place was a gem.

                                    All their entrees are good. They bring a plate of mezes to each table to choose from. I LOVE their lentil soup. It's a charming place.

                                    -----
                                    New Kapadokia Restaurant
                                    2399 Broadway Street, Redwood City, CA 94063

                                  2. re: Cicely

                                    I know this is an old post, but I just thought I'd pass along that Fremont has the highest concentration of Afghan residents in the United States. Salang Pass is my current favorite.

                                    1. re: adrienne156

                                      Thanks. I love Afghan food. My current favorite is Helmand in Boston. I haven't partook for awhile, so I may just try to get to Salang Pass this weekend.

                                  3. re: PAHound

                                    San Francisco is miles ahead of LA in terms of Italian food and Chinese Food (except for a place or two in Monterey Park) -- particularly dim sum. Along those lines, you are much more likely to get a great Pizza in SF than in LA. Also, I haven't found a decent seafood restaurant in LA that serves better crab or shrimp than San Francisco.

                                    OTOH, LA does Mexican and Cuban much better than SF.

                                    1. re: Hoc

                                      What are your go to Italian places in San Francisco? I've been impressed by Quince and Perbacco (but wouldn't put them ahead of Drago Centro or Mozza).
                                      Agree wholeheartedly on pizza, though my two favorite CA pizzas are still Mozza and American Flatbread co.

                                      -----
                                      Perbacco
                                      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                      1. re: Hoc

                                        For authentic/traditional Mexican, yes.

                                        But San Francisco has developed its own style of Mexican which I, along with a lot of other locals, happen to love, and its been replicated in very few other cities

                                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      I'm down in San Jose nearly every weekend. What are the good things to order from Chinjin Eastern House? I went once but don't think I ordered the right things as I don't read Chinese.

                                      Thanks!

                                      1. re: luckytomato

                                        Good question. I remember the lamb warm pot, sesame bread, and knife-cut noodles were good, but I'm not sure what they call them on the menu.

                                        http://www.chinjineasternhouse.com/me...

                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/594079

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          Thanks! I'm going to have to drag my mom out here from Maryland so I can get her to translate the menus for me :-)

                                    3. Greetings. I haven't replied because I don't go for the "best X in Y" metaphor of eating. Just about every dish, at every restaurant has its time and place. Except the Cheesecake Factory.

                                      Really, what do you like?

                                      As there's only a medium amount of peninsula traffic here, when you search, make sure you open the timeframe to about 5 years. A few places come and go, but most remain the same.

                                      That having been said, the best single dish for my money is the mestita at bodeguita del medio on california st, and a glass of white table wine and the ham-wapped-figs at Iberia. The how long bay soup is reliable at Tamerine. I need a fix of lamb schwarma every week from Simply Med on california street. Falafel drive-inn has been covered on food channel a bit and is fun. Best highish end indian for my money is Tumeric in Sunnyvale.

                                      Do a few searches and welcome.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: bbulkow

                                        Thanks for the reply. I'll be getting those mastitas ASAP. I like everything. Stoked to get at Chez Panisse and French Laundry, but the best meal I had in the last year was probably birria out of an East LA taco truck.

                                        I like your sentiment about every dish at every restaurant... but you must have never been to Miyakes :)

                                        1. re: PAHound

                                          I have been to almost every restaurant in palo alto. There are actually a lot of restaurants. I have a list of about 16 left, and my girlfriend and I randomly choose one every week. We call this restaurant roulette.

                                          The time and place for Miyake is when you're seeing a movie at the stanford theater and you have exactly 10 minutes to grab something edible - you can do that at the bar there, as long as you eat from the boats and you're pushy about settling the check fast. Mikyake is the second worst sushi in palo alto, amazingly - Tomo (not to be confused with the good Tomo in MV) is worse.

                                          I will add the vindaloo at darbar (very different from north-england vindaloo, but better). Hugely rich, deep taste.

                                          The quality of sushi here-abouts is not so bad but not tops. Best has to be sushi sam's up in San Mateo - whatever a beltfish is, I like it - best whiteboard ever. Naomi in MP might appeal to you - sit at the right side of the bar and talk to the head itame. Last time I was there he had pickled and roasted some Saba, which he does in the old style and only once a year. It's an omakase kind of place. For me, the everyday standard is Fuki Sushi, but it's simply very good, never surprising.

                                          If you like down home food, you have to check out El Taquistador's pioneering work on the tacos of redwood city. Regrettably, El Taquistador eats no pork, so the quality of carnitas and al pastor is unmeasured.
                                          http://www.emeraldlake.com/tacos/inde...

                                          Going southward from Mountain View is somewhat uncharted from a Chow Hound perspective. There's lots of Korean replacing the previous-immigrant-wave Indian places. The indian dish to watch for is Chicken 65, which is seen in profusion locally but rarely elsewhere. The version at Hydrabad House on University is only average but gives you a taste. I like Mayuri in Sunnyvale. I love Korean (eaten a lot in Oakland) and haven't really pushed the west san jose joints (the one place in PA is decent, not great).

                                          And you realize Manressa is closer than CP or TFL and at-par or better. The chef pummeled Bobby Flay a few weeks ago on the food channel in an iron chef episode (cabbage). There's some good notes on the new chef at Chez TJ in MV, but I haven't been yet. They're both Michelin 2 stars - some dispute over whether Chez TJ is going to keep the second star for long.

                                          If I was to characterize the food scene in "silicon valley", I'd say its strength is richness. There's a *huge* breadth for a small area. Denizens of the computer industry value novelty, bring in immigrants, and have money. You could do worse.

                                          1. re: bbulkow

                                            And if I was going to characterize the problems with the peninsula, it would be style over function. This is a creeping cancer that spreads in all directions from university ave, palo alto. The most typical example in my mind is the recent Joya - great look, below par food. More typical would be a Zibbibo, which puts itself out as so much better than it is, although it's not bad. Even the recent Kampai. Fun place, inventive itame, only pretty good fish.

                                            There is a lot of simply good food. Take Thaiphoon, previously mentioned. It's not that great. The menu reads great, but all the tastes are muted. I'm very fond of Peninsula Creamery, it's got character and a good burger (someday --- the bubbly burger!) - but it's not great.

                                            There's a conservative provincialism, likely based on the suburban nature of the area. But in the nooks and crannies - some good eats.

                                            The further you go from Palo Alto, the more the effect fades.

                                            1. re: bbulkow

                                              I agree with this 100%.

                                              Haven't been to Joya, but am sad to hear that- the space looks great, and La Strada (same people) has some good stuff next door.

                                              If stuck in Palo Alto- Coconuts is hit and miss for Jamaican, but the corn festival are amazing, and the jerk can be good- it has seemed to get fattier though at both Coconuts and Back-a-Yark (the casual counter run by the Coconuts people in Menlo Park). Evvia is actually really really good Greek/med, but pricey and the space is pretty loud. Bangkok Thai on Lytton I think is the better Thai place in PA, but it isn't wonderful, and they don't have Pad Kee Mao/Drunken Noodles. The two Thai places on University are not terrible, but they aren't exciting.

                                              Only have eaten at Zibbibo once, but their sauteed corn with harissa side dish was out of this world. It was the best corn I think I've ever had. Whatever they put on the corn would work amazingly on a grilled cob of corn.

                                              PA is definitely a style over substance place. I think it has got to just come from the extremely high rents. It is depressing.

                                              The best burger (not ultra-upscale in the area) I think is Jeffrey's in Menlo Park, and I like their shakes too. Service is good, food isn't that expensive, and they are very consistent.

                                      2. Lots of good recs for Indian on losfelizhound's thread here:

                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5495...

                                        I think Chat Patta Corner in Fremont is a must-do, and I keep meaning to get to Komila Vilas for lunch.

                                        My best meals in Palo Alto have been at Tamarine (upscale Vietnamese, way better than the far more famous Slanted Door), La Strada (solid pastas and salumi), and Hyderabad House (great achari gosht and chicken biryani). Oaxacan Kitchen is on my radar,

                                        I used to live in Santa Clara, and the things I still crave from around there are the yeast raised donuts from Stan's, the Northern-style dim sum at China Stix (shao bing you tiao, both sweet and savory soy milk, fan tuan, fish dumplings), the Taiwanese spicy beef noodle soup at A&J

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: daveena

                                          Oh, and I think Nha Toi is worth the drive even from Oakland, so it's definitely worth the drive from Palo Alto.

                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6007...

                                          1. re: daveena

                                            Went to Nha Toi on a Friday night a few weeks back. Loved the food, and the karaoke going on was rather hilarious. We were the only non-Viet in the place, and they wanted us to sing soo badly. So a rendition of "Can't help falling in love" was in order, as the English selections were rather sparse. The spareribs and the mackerel were particularly appreciated. Thanks for the enthusiatic recommedation.

                                        2. Comparing LA to Silicon Valley and environs is going to disappoint you immensely. SF/Oakland/Berkeley has FAR better options and quality. The food culture in those parts is much more sophisticated and demanding than it is in the South Bay. Mountain View's Castro St. is a prime example. There are something like 70 restaurants in five or six blocks and few or none of them are worth going out of your way for. I live within walking distance and tend to drive rather than eat there. I moved down here after almost 30 years in SF and couldn't believe how much of a difference there was in food offerings, both in restaurants and stores.

                                          As others mention, the pleasures in this area are more along the lines of pretty good Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Indian, Korean, ethnic Chinese and the odd other place here and there. But expect less than the ideal in all cases and you'll leave happier. Lots of the touted Chinese places, for example, are extremely oil laden, to put it kindly. The same tends to be true for Indian restaurants. Most of the places mentioned in this thread, at least those I've tried, are fine, but you wouldn't be dazzled if you'd eaten at equivalents in LA. Want fresh, top quality ingredients in creative California/Mediterranean/Fusion cooking? Good luck.

                                          Go north when you have time and explore up there. It'll be much more satisfying.

                                          1. I haven't tried much in Garden Grove, but the Vietnamese in San Jose is probably the best in the Bay Area. Try Bun Bo Hue An Nam for its signature dish, Pho Kim Long for Pho Ga, and Pho Ha Noi for northern style Pho Bo.

                                            -----
                                            Pho Kim Long
                                            2082 N Capitol Ave, San Jose, CA 95132

                                            Pho Hanoi
                                            1759 E Capitol Expy, San Jose, CA 95121

                                            Bun Bo Hue An Nam
                                            740 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: DezzerSF

                                              DezzerSF - where exactly is Pho Kim Long? I went to a place with the same name a few months ago near the Great Mall in Milpitas, but the pho ga was so bad I told myself I must have stumbled onto the wrong place. The soup was laden with msg and had no chicken flavor, the chicken itself was of the big plump American white variety instead of the more flavorful free-range yellow chicken variety, and the noodles were the thin processed ones instead of the wider fresh rice ones.

                                              -----
                                              Pho Kim Long
                                              2082 N Capitol Ave, San Jose, CA 95132

                                              1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                Pho Kim Long is on E. Capitol nr Great Mall.

                                                -----
                                                Pho Kim Long
                                                2082 N Capitol Ave, San Jose, CA 95132

                                            2. maigre: "SF/Oakland/Berkeley has FAR better options ... " I (east-bay native) might have said so 20-30 years ago, but things do change, and today many food fanatic friends would beg to disagree. SF itself is unique. But topic is places we DO recommend around silicon valley, and I agree with the first sentence following: "Mountain View's Castro St. is a prime example. There are something like 70 restaurants in five or six blocks..."

                                              93 actually, last published count; largest compact restaurant concentration in the peninsula area. People in Menlo Park and Palo Alto (even east bay) come there by choice; knowledgeable friends up the peninsula prefer to gather there because of high quality-price ratio and many options. Some favorites (many already recommended in this or previous topics):

                                              3TA, 156 Castro, 988 1382 "Asian fusion"
                                              Amarin, 174 Castro, 988 9323 Favorite local Thai
                                              Bodrum Cafe, 383 Castro, 396 7010 Turkish, upscale, new
                                              Cafe Baklava, 341 Castro, 969 3835 Turkish
                                              Cafe Yulong, 743 W Dana, 960 1677 Chinese (Shandong), unusual
                                              Cantankerous Fish, 420 Castro, 966 8124 Bar small plates
                                              Chef Liu, 236 Castro, 938 2968 Chinese; fresh noodles; Taiwan chef
                                              Chez TJ, 938 Villa, 964 7466 Modern American/French; Michelin Stars
                                              El Calderon, 699 Calderon, 940 9533 Salvadorian
                                              Fu Lam Mum, 155 Castro, 967 1689 Chinese: Dim sum, new set-up
                                              Ginseng Korean, BBQ 475 Castro, 967 3913 Korean grill, new
                                              Gyros House, 212 Castro, 940 9316 Try Iskendar platter
                                              Hunan Chili, 102 Castro, 969 8968 Chinese -- Sichuan chef
                                              La Fiesta, 240 Villa, 968 1364 Regional Mexican
                                              Le Petit Bistro, 1405 W El Camino, 964 3321 French neighborhood bistro
                                              Los Charros, 854 W Dana, 969 1464 Mexican; Breakfasts
                                              Maru Ichi, 368 Castro, 564 9931 Ramen (Japanese fresh noodle soups)
                                              Mediterranean Grill House, 650 Castro, 625 9990 Exceptional grilled meats
                                              Nami Nami, 240 Castro, 964 6990 Kappo (an elegant Japanese format)
                                              New China Delight, 360 Castro, 961 6635 Chinese -- Sichuan chef
                                              Queen House, 273 Castro, 960 0580 Chinese -- dumpling specialties
                                              Rose Market, 1060 Castro, 960 1900 Persian
                                              Ryowa, 859 Villa, 965 8829 Ramen (Japanese fresh noodle soups)
                                              Spice Islands, 210 Hope, 961 0628 Singaporean
                                              Sushi Tomi, 635 W Dana, 968 3227 Sushi; omikase dinners
                                              Totoro, 841 Villa, 691 0796 Korean; hotpots, fresh kimchi
                                              Vaso Azzurro, 108 Castro, 940 1717 Italian, good value
                                              Xanh, 110 Castro, 964 1888 Vietnamese, elegant
                                              Zucca, 186 Castro, 864 9940 Mediterranean bar/grill

                                              I've even heard that Caltrain employees try to schedule their hours so they can take meals there (these restaurants are very near the Mountain View station).

                                              1. Hi, welcome to Palo Alto. You probably have a pretty good idea of the Peninsula's culinary landscape by now so I'll just give you a few of my faves in particular. BTW, I agree with jsaimd as to the speculation that Bay Area does better Indian than L.A.

                                                Blueberry scones - Cafe Borrone, Menlo Park
                                                Lamb chops - Evvia, Palo Alto
                                                Frozen choc. yogurt w/ strawberries - Fraiche, Palo Alto
                                                N.Indian lunch buffet - Amber, Mountain View*
                                                Veggie combo - Zeni (Ethiopian), San Jose
                                                Tandoori chicken, lamb kabob & other tandoori items - Shan, Shalimar both in Sunnyvale; Kabab & Curry's, Santa Clara
                                                Biriyani - Kabab & Curry's, SC (available on weekends)
                                                Dosas & other tiffin items - Madras Cafe, Saravana Bhavan, both in Sunnyvale
                                                S.Indian (vs. "tiffin") - Taste Buds, Sunnyvale**
                                                S. Indian buffet - Annapoorna (veg), San Mateo

                                                *Many people on the board have recommended Turmeric but there weren't enough outstanding dishes on my recent visit to warrant a return trip - though dinner buffet is certainly a good value)

                                                **Just had lunch buffet yesterday for first time. At $7.99 pp, this small, clean cafe had one deep fried app, 4 or 5 S. Indian vegetarian dishes (outstanding), chicken pulao/biriyani (meh), veg. pulao, one S.Indian style chicken curry (outstanding), two N.Indian style chicken including tandoori & one dessert. Take my advice, just eat the vegetarian items, any chicken that doesn't look familiar & the delicious naan which they bring piping hot to the table. Considering I didn't like almost half the buffet, I can't wait to go back for those few amazing items. Homestyle preparation is key here, beats any veg. sides I've had in thalis at other restaurants. Unfortunately, none of the veg. items from buffet are on the dinner menu which consists mostly of items seen in many N. Indian restaurants :(

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: ceekskat

                                                  for both depth and variety, with diverse regions well represented, with respect to Indian foods the big triangle between S.Mateo, Newark, and silicon valley far surpasses SF/Berserkley/Oaktown. Since we don't live right there we usually try a different place each time we're in the area and have yet to get a 'just o.k.' meal. Thanks for the note on Taste Buds, I'll mentally file it in the 'try soon' pile.

                                                  1. re: moto

                                                    I drove to Milpitas on the assumption that the food at Thirupathi Bhimas would blow the food at Berkeley's Udupi Palace away, but it was pretty similar.

                                                  2. re: ceekskat

                                                    Kabab and Curry has biriyani every day, but alternating between chicken and lamb. Sometimes it's weak, but mostly it's great. They have the best tandoori lamb chops and naan.

                                                    1. re: Claudette

                                                      Everyday? Good to know, a recent change perhaps. Had biriyani there probably 3 times in the past year, it was great everytime.

                                                      1. re: ceekskat

                                                        They're on their third menu since we started eating there 4 yrs ago, and it's Tues/Thurs chicken biriyani and Wed/Fri lamb biriyani. I never go on Sat/Sun, so am not sure if they keep the rotation.

                                                        The lamb biriyani at Hyderabad House in PA is spicier and more interesting, IMHO.

                                                        1. re: ceekskat

                                                          If you like biryani I highly recommend Gulzaar in San Jose. I normally overlook this dish at other restaurants but it's a revelation at Gulzaar.

                                                          Amazing and Cheap Middle Eastern/Pakistani Food at Gulzaar Halal Restaurant in San Jose: For the Best Biryani Ever Don’t Order the Biryani
                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/593487

                                                          -----
                                                          Gulzaar
                                                          1880 W San Carlos St, San Jose, CA

                                                    2. Andy's Bar-B-Que, on El Camino Real at San Tomas Expressway in Santa Clara, for ribs (spare ribs, baby backs, or beef), chicken, sausages, pork shoulder, tri-tip, brisket, steaks, chops, and more. They do magic with baked potatoes, too. Go hungry.

                                                      The biggest knock from Andy's fans is that the original location in Campbell, from where they moved a few years ago, had the smoke layers of 40 years adding to the dark old-timey atmosphere. This location is brighter and, honestly, the food tastes just as good. Make that great!

                                                      -----
                                                      Andy's Bar-B-Que
                                                      2367 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050

                                                      14 Replies
                                                      1. re: anyhow

                                                        Search is your friend, but here are a few great dish / great place pointers to get you started, starting with a few that have no peer that I know of in LA or SF:

                                                        - Achari dishes at Hyderabad House
                                                        - Gongura dishes at Taste Buds when in season (early summer)
                                                        - ... In the Vegetable Garden (and many other dishes) at Manresa
                                                        - Mansaf at Dishdash
                                                        - Apricot souffle at Bistro Basia
                                                        - Spit-roasted meats at Mayfield
                                                        - Just about anything at Nami Nami
                                                        - The great biryani road: biryanis at Hyderabad House, Taste Buds, Athidhi, and many more
                                                        - Chicken Oaxaca at Estrellita

                                                        Enjoy, and please report back!

                                                        Michael

                                                        -----
                                                        Manresa Restaurant
                                                        320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                        Kappo Nami Nami
                                                        240 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                        Estrellita Restaurant
                                                        971 N San Antonio Rd, Los Altos, CA 94022

                                                        Dishdash Restaurant
                                                        190 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                                                        Hyderabad House
                                                        448 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                        Taste Buds
                                                        673 Grape Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                                                        Bistro Basia
                                                        201 South California Avenue, Palo Alto, CA

                                                        Athidhi
                                                        727 South Wolfe Road, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                                                        Mayfield Bakery & Cafe
                                                        855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                        1. re: mdg

                                                          mdg's post reminded me of the phenomenon of silicon-valley unique Mexican restaurants (UMRs), and also the region's exceptional restaurant critic, who writes about them (Stett Holbrook). Mediocre mainstream rice-and-beans Mexican restaurants are a venerable local tradition (in the classic corporate suburban silicon valley of the 1970s-1980s, they often were large chains) but exceptions stand out. mdg mentioned Estrellita, a beloved "regional" Mexican restaurant and also venerable, going back decades. Oaxacan Kitchen in Palo Alto off California is another (ate there again recently, lunch with remarkable courses I've never seen elsewhere). The upscale Reposado in Palo Alto sounds interesting (opened this year, written up by Holbrook but I haven't tried it yet). It is these atypical, unique Mexican restaurants, representing regions and dishes little seen in the US, that cause buzz.

                                                          Holbrook writes in a county freebie entertainment paper, Metro Silicon Valley, and is an unusually perceptive critic. Look for the in-depth cover stories on unique local restaurateurs:- "Uncle" Frank of BBQ fame, David Kinch, recently Lawrence C. C. Chu. (The last is a good-hearted entrepreneur and singular energy force, so successful at pleasing suburban and mainly non-Chinese clientele at his Chinese restaurant off San Antonio that it serves hundreds of covers per day.)

                                                          -----
                                                          Estrellita Restaurant
                                                          971 N San Antonio Rd, Los Altos, CA 94022

                                                          Uncle Frank's BBQ
                                                          2135 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View, CA 94043

                                                          The Oaxacan Kitchen
                                                          2323 Birch St, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                                          Reposado
                                                          236 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                                            What region does chicken in apricot-chipotle sauce come from? El Contado de Santa Clara?

                                                            http://www.estrellitarestaurant.com/e...

                                                            Oaxacan Kitchen just opened last year.

                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493360

                                                            Seems like Americanizing the food is a requirement of running an ethnic restaurant in Palo Alto. They have to cater to local habits by undersalting, making things traditionally made with stock vegetarian, adding chiles to dishes traditionally not spicy, offering some generic Califronia fish dishes, and so on. La Bodeguita del Medio, for example, is not very Cuban.

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              Robert, I love your Italian chowhounding, but I am not grasping how overgeneralized slams of Palo Alto restaurants help anyone find delicious food. Have you tried any of the dishes that I recommended? If so, I'd like to know what you liked, what you disliked, and why?

                                                              And regarding the chicken in apricot-chipotle sauce (which I have not had), the web page you link to clearly reads that "Some of the especiales are traditional while others you will encounter are exciting variations on the traditional." Which of Estrellita's specials have you tried? Which were good and which were found wanting?

                                                              Michael

                                                              1. re: mdg

                                                                mdg, is Palo Alto any where near Stanford?
                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5499...

                                                                1. re: mdg

                                                                  Because we have some "older" friends who like Estrellita's, I've had the chance to try the food over the past 15 years. I find the flavors are less "clear and distinct" than I would wish. This criticism extends from chips and salsa through regular-menu and special dishes to desserts.

                                                                  Somehow, the restaurant is noisier now and the table layout leads to much chair bumping by servers, bussers, and other patrons. All in all, the experience is less enjoyable and the food could not bring me back.

                                                                  For the OP, Fiesta Del Mar Too, in downtown Mountain View, is "the Friday night place for fun in a Mexican restaurant." Food is fresh-tasting, Margaritas (100s of combinations) are handmade as part of their Tequila University, shrimp specialty plates, roasted rellenos, lovely guacamole.

                                                                  Is it authentic? I suppose it reminds me of cantinas on the West coast of Mexico, but filled with Silicon Valley types, it must be altered to fit the clientele. ¡Vamonos a la Parranda!

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Fiesta Del Mar Too
                                                                  735 Villa St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  "What region does chicken in apricot-chipotle sauce come from?" seemed an odd comment on Estrellita (located in Los Altos) -- I never noticed such a sauce-- Robert, what dishes did you like there? Anyway Estrellita is unique and Your Ambiance May Vary; I recommend everyone try it if they can.

                                                                  Ditto Oaxacan Kitchen. Two unusual, delightful lunches there recently. The woman from Oaxaca has been very gracious and full of information when we've asked about unusual dishes. An appealing plate of fresh churros dusted with cinnamon and sugar, in a napkin cone flanked by cups of coffee and Mexican hot chocolate, would be great at breakfast but made a good dessert. In the linked thread, rworange mentioned Ensalada de Caesar as if it were a local concession, but didn't mention that Caesar salad did come from Mexico (1925 or so, IIRC).

                                                                  1. re: eatzalot

                                                                    Chicken in apricot-chipotle sauce is an April special.
                                                                    http://www.estrellitarestaurant.com/e...

                                                                    1. re: wolfe

                                                                      Thanks wolfe -- my point is, that specific sauce, on a special, isn't how most fans I know would characterize Estrellita. It might be exquisite, too, which is more important IMO.

                                                                      BTW for my sins, I indirectly ended up at Chef Chu's (above) at lunch.

                                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    Respect must be paid to Estralita.

                                                                    While mocking the apricot-chipotle sauce, you didn't mention esquite which I have yet to see elsewhere outside of local, obscure Mexican markets. Sure it is just elote in a cup and a street food, but I can't name another Bay Area Mexican restaurant serving it.
                                                                    http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esquite

                                                                    Here's my report on Estralita from the day of the dead
                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/569234

                                                                    While Estralita had a whole DOD selection put together (which few Bay Area restaurants did), a stop by Oaxacan Kitchen that same night turned up nada ...had to ask a second person who was unaware that there might be some special dishes on that day ... not so much as a special tamale. .

                                                                    The dishes at Estralita are based on Oaxaca, Veracruz, Puebla and Chiapas specialties. Some of the more interesting specials are the Chile En Nogado which is served, I think, for Mexican Independence day in September and the chocolate mole with rose petals for Valentine’s Day.

                                                                    Here's a good review about the history of Estralita
                                                                    http://www.flavornotes.com/revestrell...

                                                                    Do I think it is the best Mexican restaurant? Maybe not

                                                                    However, when this place started in 1978, this was the only place brave enough to introduce regional specialties. And in 1978 do you think many places were making moles or dishing up chile en nogada?

                                                                    They still make dishes that other places, including the new crop of joints like Oaxacan Kitchen won't try. ... apricot-chipotle chicken aside.

                                                                    Tho ... that MIGHT be chamoy sauce ... or based on it ... which can be bought online from Mexgrocer
                                                                    http://www.mexgrocer.com/97832-00053....

                                                                    Here's more about chamoy
                                                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamoy

                                                                    There's even a post on the Chowhound home cooking board for ... Pollo en Chamoy ... chicken in chili apricot sauce
                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/523943

                                                                  3. re: eatzalot

                                                                    Estrellita has a nice, home-made quality to their food, not over-salted, subtle. I remember the tamales and pork dishes being very good. The patrons seem to be on the older side. I once went with a buddy and before we stepped in the owner came out and said "Hi boys, com'n in!" Being in my 40s, this was a little funny but when we got inside, well yes, we were boys.

                                                                    1. re: ML8000

                                                                      I still think you are mixing up Estralita with another restaurant. In another post you mentioned pupusas and they don't make those. Also, it is not at all dated, but pretty and even romantic. It looked like a some of the small neighborhood restaurants I ate at when I was working in Mexico City.

                                                                  4. re: mdg

                                                                    Only one of these I've gotten to so far is Hyderabad House. Had never tried Achari before, and love the spice and flavor explosion. The delicious meat is just a condiment. Nothing beats sopping up the sauce with naan. Dishdash is next. And Manresa will be conquered on a *real special occasion.

                                                                    1. re: PAHound

                                                                      Thanks for the reports back! Gongura dishes are still on the menu at Taste Buds in Sunnyvale - gongura chicken highlights the sour flavor, gongura goat compliments it with the rich goat meat. But it's getting close to the end of the season. So sooner would be better than later if you want to try those dishes, or it will be another 10 months or so before they are available again.

                                                                      Michael

                                                                3. Shanghai Flavor Shop, in Sunnyvale, serves Sheng Jian Bao that a lot of folks travel for. I like many items on their short menu but these pan-fried dumplings are the reason I go back.

                                                                  If you aren't familiar with SJBs, use caution because they are served really hot. Oh, but don't wait too long because the warmer the broth, the tastier.

                                                                  Hope you enjoy the adventure!

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Shanghai Flavor Shop
                                                                  888 Old San Francisco Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                                                                  1. Let's see:

                                                                    Alexander's Steakhouse in Cupertino, they do have A5 Japanese beef for steak.

                                                                    Dynasty Seafood in Cupertino for dim sum (just a notch better than Saigon Seafood Harbor)

                                                                    Jin Sho in Palo Alto (hint, sit at the sushi bar only in front of either chef owner, talk to them to design your menu, do not order the "omakase" off the menu and at the tables)

                                                                    Shanghai Flavor Shop in Sunnyvale as previously mentioned for the shen jian bao (it's a greasy hole in the wall but fantastic and authentic), maybe the spinach pork northern style wontons or a scallion/oil noodle.

                                                                    Kaygetsu Menlo Park for kaiseki (although I'd argue that Wakuriya in San Mateo is a much better and cheaper choice). The sushi bar at Kaygetsu might just be the best sushi between Menlo Park and Cupertino, but very very expensive and small selection.

                                                                    Divino in Belmont for great neighborhood authentic Italian (although don't compare it to 5 star known entities like Incanto, Oliveto, A16, Quince etc)

                                                                    Kappo Nami Nami in Mountain View for Kyoto style "kappo" cuisine. For best results, order the seasonal omakase menu and reserve ahead of time (dinner only). Sushi is not their forte.

                                                                    Sumika in Los Altos or Sumiya in Santa Clara (for Japanese style yakitori and skewers) although I'm sure the ones in Gardena are way way better.

                                                                    Liou's House in Milpitas has a Taiwanese style banquet dining, although the catch is that many special dishes require advanced reservations (and ideally go with someone who can speak Mandarin and read Chinese).

                                                                    Ramen...that's a tough one. Rameniac's favorite Kahoo Ramen in San Jose....well I haven't been back in more than a year but there are downhill reports (outside of CH), especially the younger chef from Okayama went back to Japan (who was also the former chef of Do Henkotsu, former tennant). I dare say that Bay Area ramen won't match places like Santoka. Maybe Maruichi in Mountain View is your best bet but expect inconsistency.
                                                                    Do not go to the Milpitas location, half the quality easy :-/.

                                                                    Dishdash is amazing (already mentioned).

                                                                    1. For fear of unleasing the wrath of fellow chowhounders, my suggestions for you:

                                                                      *Peninsula Creamery, Palo Alto - Milkshakes and burgers
                                                                      *Akane, Los Altos - Sushi
                                                                      *Cherry Sushi, Santa Clara - good "cheap" sushi (not authentic in any way, but filling and cheap nonetheless) also note: closed due to fire. Will re-open soon
                                                                      *Alexander's Steakhouse, Cupertino - expensive steak dinner.
                                                                      *Los Altos Grill, Los Altos - less expensive steakhouse
                                                                      *Dish Dash, Sunnyvale - Mediterranean food.
                                                                      *Falafel Drive-Inn, Santa Clara - Haven't tried it but heard great reviews.
                                                                      *La Mar, San Francisco - Upscale peruvian food (my fave!)
                                                                      *Bogadita Del Medio, Palo Alto - "Cuban" food
                                                                      *La Fiesta, Mountain View - Mexican Food
                                                                      *Viva Sol, Mountain View - Mexican Food same owners as La Fiesta and Fiesta del Mar
                                                                      *Cicero's Pizza, Cupertino/San Jose - very thin crust pizza, (like, cracker thin)
                                                                      *Amici's Pizza, Mountain View - Hand tossed thin crust pizza (normal thin)
                                                                      *Pizza Chicago, Palo Alto - Thick crust pizza
                                                                      *Fu Lam Mum, Mountain View - Dim Sum has great dessert taro buns
                                                                      *Xanh, Mountain View - Super trendy vietnamese fusion food. It's so-so.
                                                                      *Tandoori Oven, Palo Alto - Indian "fast food." Cheap menu, the indian fare that american's go for like "chicken tikka masala." You can find better at Gaylords or Turmeric.

                                                                      I just realized this list is pretty local to you. I'm from Mountain View so I guess you could use this if you didn't were lazy and didnt want to travel too far from PA.

                                                                      I Love this thread! There are so many other restaurants in the area I want to try now!

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: phyrefly44

                                                                        Xanh isn't really super trendy vietnamese. It is more usual, but well presented Vietnamese in a clean, not freezing room. This is the place you go in Winter when you are tired of California cheap non-heating.

                                                                        I don't think Gaylord's exists anymore.

                                                                        I'd recommend Spicy Leaves (new, in Los Altos on San Antonio, right off of El Camino) for Indian. Flavors were amazing- Naan was disappointingly meh. I had Goan curry scallops (not vindaloo, another southern dish)- flavors were mustard, onion, ginger, cardomom, other stuff. Moderately spicy. I've had this dish once before somewhere else, and it was totally different, with the exception of the black mustard seed. Very very good.

                                                                        1. re: P. Punko

                                                                          Xanh's menu, you decide the trend factor:
                                                                          http://www.sporq.com/mountainview/xan...

                                                                          1. re: P. Punko

                                                                            I'm looking forward to trying some of the Sri Lankan and Goan specialties at Spicy Leaves.

                                                                            Not too long ago I was surprised to read a pan of La Strada here. Then I learned that the original chef, Donato Scotti, had left. He's opening his own place in Redwood City next month. Hope the 'hounds on the Peninsula stay on top of that one.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Spicy Leaves Indian Cuisine
                                                                            4546 El Camino Real #A5, Los Altos, CA

                                                                            Donato Enoteca
                                                                            1041 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City, CA 94063

                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                              Two points about Spicy Leaves-

                                                                              The service is very friendly, as I think the manager or owner is very attentive to the guests. The booths look comfortable but are not because the tables are not wide enough for the width of the booths- I actually wish I had said something to the manager. Melanie, if you go I wish you would say something, if you find that they are as uncomfortable as I did. I will next time I go.

                                                                              The prices seem a little bit high, and the breads were just meh.

                                                                              The Goan curry was simply delicious, but I would have preferred shrimp to scallops (the scallops were cooked just fine, but the sauce was so rich with flavors, scallops kind of disappear flavor wise). My DC had one of the vegetarian dishes with cheese (one of the standard ones) and she thought it had the most flavor she had ever had in such a dish.

                                                                              I can't wait for Donato Enoteca to open, or at least have their menu up on the website.

                                                                              I'm sad about La Strada, but I will try to presume the new chef can't mess up the antipasti meat plate.

                                                                        2. Here are my picks. At Shalimar only order butterflied chicken, seekh kabob, and dal. Please look up my reviews on Gourmet Express, House of Kabobs, Gulzaar, and Amber Cafe for my favorite dishes.

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant
                                                                          1320 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

                                                                          Turmeric Restaurant
                                                                          141 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                                                                          Gourmet Express
                                                                          463 Valley Way, Milpitas, CA 95035

                                                                          Patxi's Chicago Pizza
                                                                          441 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                                          Shalimar
                                                                          1146 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                                                                          Pastaria & Market
                                                                          49 E Main St, Los Gatos, CA

                                                                          Amber Cafe
                                                                          600 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA

                                                                          House of Kabobs
                                                                          161 S Sunnyvale Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                                                                          Gulzaar
                                                                          1880 W San Carlos St, San Jose, CA

                                                                          Shana Thai Restaurant
                                                                          311 Moffett Blvd, Mountain View, CA 94043

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: katya

                                                                            Here are my Palo Alto area favorites thus far:
                                                                            Chai at Coupa Cafe
                                                                            Valrhona Chocolate Yogurt with Apricot Puree at Fraiche
                                                                            Smoked Tofu and Rosewater Mojito at Mantra
                                                                            Tzatziki and pita appetizer and molten chocolate cake at Evvia
                                                                            Plato de Vegetales at La Bodeguita del Medio
                                                                            Weekend lunch buffet at Amber

                                                                            Others the places that I have tried that have been good, but not been spectacular (according to my book) are: Junoon, Darbar, Calafia, Oaxacan Kitchen, Vino Locale, Applewood PIzza, Pluto's, Cafe Barrone

                                                                            Places I would probably never go back to are: La Strada (terrible - don't bother!), Amber Cafe (different from Amber restaurant and not good), Empire Tap Room (overpriced)

                                                                          2. Polish Deli
                                                                            456 Cambridge Ave

                                                                            1. More piling on, confining my recommendations to Menlo Park and southwards:

                                                                              High end:
                                                                              Manresa, Los Gatos: Chef Kinch is the king of fine dining anywhere south of the Golden Gate Bridge.

                                                                              Alexander's, Cupertino: Excellent steaks, but one can do almost as well and for a lot less at:

                                                                              Forbes Mill Steakhouse, Los Gatos: Also excellent steaks, not as posh as Alexander's.

                                                                              Middle-of-the-road:
                                                                              Nami Nami, Mountain View: Kyoto-style Japanese, so not your usual teriyaki-and-sushi Tokyo fare. Miso black cod especially recommended. Seasonal menu, so don't get upset if a favorite dish disappears.

                                                                              XANH, Mountain View: Vietnamese. Wacko interior lighting scheme, but the food makes up for it. Competes well against Tamarine--which one to go to depends on where one lives.

                                                                              Tamarine, Palo Alto: Vietnamese in Palo Alto. More posh than XANH, which is more nightclubby. Where else can one find wild boar as a regular item?

                                                                              Sino, San Jose: Trendy sort-of-Chinese nightclub/restaurant in Santana Row. The kung pao chicken "lollipops" are worth the trip for lunch.

                                                                              Cheap(er) eats:

                                                                              Ginseng Korean BBQ, Mountain View: Skip the self-grill route, which seems overpriced, and stick with the top of the menu, especially the beef bul-go-gi.

                                                                              Dishdash, Sunnyvale: Excellent Mediterranean. Go for lunch, or stay with the appetizers; this is one of those places that does the small plates better than the entrees.

                                                                              Palo Alto Sol, Palo Alto: Sister (brother) restaurant to the Fiesta Del Mar clan. Good sangria, but the pair of enchiladas in guajillo and mole sauces is what draws me back.

                                                                              Cho's, Palo Alto: hole-in-the-wall dumpling shop. Quick, filling, tasty, has been around forever. Hours vary. Frozen dumplings available.

                                                                              Homma's Brown Rice Sushi: Yes, sushi in brown rice. Gives it a nutty flavor not to be found in regular sushi. Excellent, but call ahead or expect to wait to be served.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Manresa Restaurant
                                                                              320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                              Tamarine Restaurant
                                                                              546 University Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                                              Kappo Nami Nami
                                                                              240 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                                              Palo Alto Sol Restaurant
                                                                              408 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                                                              Dishdash Restaurant
                                                                              190 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                                                                              Cho's Restaurant
                                                                              213 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                                                              Sino
                                                                              377 Santana Row Ste 1000, San Jose, CA 95128

                                                                              Xanh Restaurant
                                                                              110 Castro St, Mountain View, CA

                                                                              Forbes Mill Steakhouse
                                                                              206 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                              Alexander's Steakhouse
                                                                              10330 N. Wolfe Road, Cupertino, CA 95014

                                                                              Ginseng BBQ & Tofu House
                                                                              475 Castro St, Mountain View, CA

                                                                              Homma's Brown Rice Sushi
                                                                              2363 Birch St, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: w0x0f

                                                                                Which dumplings do you recommend at Cho's? So far they've been terrible. Is anything prepared fresh?

                                                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                  They're not XLB, so if that's what you're after, you're in the wrong place. I've always liked the three-in-one dipped in lots of hot sauce, the potstickers, and (not a dumpling) the triangle chicken.

                                                                                  1. re: w0x0f

                                                                                    No, I'm not looking for XLB necessarily, just some evidence that there's something that's made to order and not frozen here. What is a three-in-one? I found the potstickers abominable here, so I guess we'll just have to disagree on this one. What appeals to you about them, maybe they've changed the recipe?

                                                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                      I'll have to go back--I've been away for a while, so maybe. You're right, he (or his wife) appear to make large batches, freeze them, then cook them (in a wok) as needed.

                                                                                      A three-in-one is just three kinds of dumplings, two pieces of each.

                                                                                      His dumplings are thick-skinned, not thin, which gives them a nice chewy texture. Thin is good too, on XLB, but with the hot sauce these seem more substantial.

                                                                              2. From an OChound who recently visited SJC, must chows:

                                                                                FALAFEL DRIVE-IN, a falafel version of In-n-Out or Sonic. http://www.falafelsdrivein.com/home.html

                                                                                RAMEN HALU. http://ramenhalu.com/halu_main_englis...

                                                                                PICASSO'S TAPAS. http://www.picassostapas.com/

                                                                                SAN JOSE TOFU for fresh house-made tofu. http://sjtofu.com/

                                                                                BERTUCELLI'S LA VILLA GOURMET DELI for great ravioli togo. http://www.wglavilla.com/

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Falafel Drive-in
                                                                                2301 Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128

                                                                                Ramen Halu
                                                                                375 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

                                                                                San Jose Tofu Co
                                                                                175 Jackson St, San Jose, CA

                                                                                Bertucelli's La Villa Deli
                                                                                1319 Lincoln Ave, San Jose, CA 95125

                                                                                Picasso's Tapas Restaurant
                                                                                62 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

                                                                                1. Thanks. Am going Friday night. have read some mixed but generally positive reviews on here, so hopefully he's hit his stride by now. Will report back.

                                                                                  1. Dio Deka in Los Gatos in well worth the trip. I travel to the area from LA from time to time, and always try to save time to have lunch or dinner there...it's "modern" Greek cuisine, the like of which you just can't find in LA right now...

                                                                                    http://www.diodeka.com/

                                                                                    1. I second the recommendation of Andy's BBQ, although it's not the best BBQ in the South Bay. That honor goes to Uncle Frank's in Mountain View. They're temporarily closed because of a kitchen fire. Their brisket is not to be missed.

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      Uncle Frank's BBQ
                                                                                      2135 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View, CA 94043

                                                                                      Andy's Bar-B-Que
                                                                                      2367 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: cheesecakeking

                                                                                        not a lot of new here, but some of my fave silicon valley eats summarized

                                                                                        sheng jian bao at Shanghai Flavor Shop Sunnyvale
                                                                                        Grand Century Mall Food Court San Jose-- green waffle in the front bakery
                                                                                        Thanh Huong's thit nuong banh mi (huong lan, cam hung also popular in SJ)
                                                                                        Dalat (SJ) for Hu Thieu
                                                                                        Shiok (MP) for Roti Prata
                                                                                        Formosa Bento House (RWC) for porkchop over rice
                                                                                        Rincon Sabroso (MV) for handmade sopes
                                                                                        Los Gemelos (RWC) for handmade corn tortilla tacos
                                                                                        Back a Yard Grill (MP) for jerk chicken
                                                                                        Kitchen Table for house cured pastrami (kosher)
                                                                                        So Gong Dong (PA location specifically) for soondubu
                                                                                        Jang Su Jang (Santa Clara) for my away-from-LA korean
                                                                                        Hoshi (San Jose) buta kakuni, okonomiyaki, etc
                                                                                        Ramen -- Orenchi or Santouka (toroniku)
                                                                                        Sumika (Los Altos) for yakitori and the best oyakodon ever
                                                                                        Dohatsuten (PA) for nagoya teba chicken wings
                                                                                        Taste Buds Indian (Sunnyvale) for inexpensive tasty butter chicken
                                                                                        Rajjot (Sunnyvale) for fresh paratha
                                                                                        Turmeric (Sunnyvale) for an inexpensive $13 dinner buffet
                                                                                        Philz Coffee (MP) outpost

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Sumika
                                                                                        236 Central Plz, Los Altos, CA 94022

                                                                                        Shanghai Flavor Shop
                                                                                        888 Old San Francisco Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                                                                                        Hoshi
                                                                                        246 Saratoga Ave, Santa Clara, CA 95050

                                                                                        Taste Buds
                                                                                        673 Grape Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                                                                                        Dalat
                                                                                        408 E William St, San Jose, CA 95112

                                                                                        Formosa Bento House
                                                                                        2660 Broadway St, Redwood City, CA 94063

                                                                                        The Kitchen Table
                                                                                        142 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                                                        Dohatsuten
                                                                                        799 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto, CA

                                                                                        Thanh Huong
                                                                                        2050 N Capitol Ave, San Jose, CA 95132

                                                                                        Rincon Sabroso Restaurant
                                                                                        122 N Rengstorff Ave, Mountain View, CA 94043

                                                                                      2. We have also recently moved from LA to PA. I have a preference for the high end, expensive, amazing restaurants which I knew and loved from LA. To that end I really enjoyed Manresa in Los Gatos. My other great meal was COI in SF (COI - 373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133). I thought it was better than Gary Danko in SF although that can start its own discussion. I was a devotee of S Irene Virbila and tried to eat everywhere she recommended. I need to find a high end food critic that covers the peninsula since we have a child and it is hard for us to get to SF for dinner. Chow Hound is great as well. So if anyone can recommend their favorite high end meals. I would love to try your recommendations.

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Manresa Restaurant
                                                                                        320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                        Gary Danko
                                                                                        800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                                                                        16 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: dnals

                                                                                          there's only 1 Manresa and no Coi down here, so traveling north for that level of food is necessary...you probably already know the following
                                                                                          but for "nicer" dining in lower peninsula area, i would recommend
                                                                                          Alexander's steakhouse, Village Pub
                                                                                          Kaygetsu, Wakuriya
                                                                                          not "high" end, but Evvia, maybe Parcel 104 and Le Papillon, Madera has a nice ambiance
                                                                                          check out Baume, Plumed Horse, Chez TJ

                                                                                          -----
                                                                                          Manresa Restaurant
                                                                                          320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                          Kaygetsu Restaurant
                                                                                          325 Sharon Park Dr Ste A2, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                                                                                          Parcel 104
                                                                                          2700 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95054

                                                                                          Chez TJ
                                                                                          938 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                                                          Village Pub
                                                                                          2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                                                                                          The Plumed Horse
                                                                                          14555 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070

                                                                                          Wakuriya
                                                                                          115 De Anza Blvd, San Mateo, CA

                                                                                          Madera
                                                                                          2825 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                                                                                          Le Papillon
                                                                                          410 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

                                                                                          1. re: ankimo

                                                                                            I will keep exploring. We tried Village Pub. Fine, well executed but very traditional and not too exciting. Bistro Elan was ok bit not all that great and what is up with the obnoxious waitstaff? They basically told us we had been there long enough and it was time to go? (We had ordered apps, entrees, and wine so BACK OFF.) Evvia was not all that impressive. Our real estate broker said it was the high end place to go which is very depressing. I really enjoyed Chez TJ and would go back! So Anything along the lines of Chez TJ, and Manresa and COI is awesome!

                                                                                            -----
                                                                                            Manresa Restaurant
                                                                                            320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                            Coi
                                                                                            373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                            Chez TJ
                                                                                            938 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                                                            Bistro Elan
                                                                                            448 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                                                                            Village Pub
                                                                                            2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                                                                                            1. re: dnals

                                                                                              The short answer is "this ain't LA, baby".

                                                                                              You've listed the top end of south bay dining. There aren't more places "like" Manresa and Chez TJ and COI (working at the two Michelin star level). As Michelin gave only 3 two-stars in LA (and stopped reviewing there), I think you'll have trouble asserting the food there was notably better. Gitz and service, perhaps. The bay area doesn't really go for that.

                                                                                              Regarding "high end reviewers", there aren't any. The bay area takes great pride in the mid-range restaurants (roughly: entries $25), and also much pride in casual. There's only a few dozen restaurants in the range above that.

                                                                                              Maybe that reviewer is you.

                                                                                              Two you should try are Baume and Marche. The rap on Baume is his food's exciting but doesn't hang together and has too many misses for his price range. Marche is just kind of under-reviewed and I don't know why - I've never been there either.

                                                                                              There are a few "everyday" quality places I like far better than Evvia in PA, notably Flea Street and St Michael's Alley and Tamerine, but no one (other than a real estate agent!) would postulate those are in the Michelin 2 star class. Each one has its average outings.

                                                                                              If you have the wallet to eat at Manresa regularly, simply hire a car to SF. It's really only 35 minutes door-to-door unless you live up a windy mountaintop somewhere. There's not really anything "like" COI in SF, either. Patterson's next venture is Oakland, which has sprouted a few interesting restaurants in the last year.

                                                                                              -----
                                                                                              Manresa Restaurant
                                                                                              320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                              Coi
                                                                                              373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                              St Michael's Alley
                                                                                              806 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                                                              Chez TJ
                                                                                              938 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

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

                                                                                              1. re: dnals

                                                                                                Dio Deka is far better than Evvia, and Cyrus in Healsburg is definitely worth a drive if you like Manresa. Baume is fun and delicious, at least the first time, and Marche just got a new chef a yr or so ago, and not much has been said about him.

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                Manresa Restaurant
                                                                                                320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                                Dio Deka
                                                                                                210 E. Main Street, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                                1. re: Claudette

                                                                                                  I was thinking about recommending Dio Deka too. It's down in Los Gatos and has a polish to the room and service that dnals might enjoy. Plumed Horse is on the high-end list too, but I've never been.

                                                                                                  Given dnals' statement about kids and not getting to SF, I thought recs outside the south-peninsula wouldn't be helpful. Otherwise one would repeat Commis, Eve, the coming Plum over and over again.

                                                                                                  Closer to home, I had one good meal at 231 Ellsworth (San Mateo, halfway to SF) that I'd consider high end, although the general feel is 231 Ellsworth doesn't present enough bang per buck.

                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                  231 Ellsworth
                                                                                                  231 South Ellsworth Ave., San Mateo, CA 94401

                                                                                                  Dio Deka
                                                                                                  210 E. Main Street, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                                  The Plumed Horse
                                                                                                  14555 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070

                                                                                                  Commis
                                                                                                  3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                                                  1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                    The Plumed Horse is wonderful - both food and remodel.

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    The Plumed Horse
                                                                                                    14555 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070

                                                                                                2. re: dnals

                                                                                                  If you find Village Pub and Bistro Elan "not too exciting" and "ok" - which I understand - I don't think you'll find Flea Street or St. Michael's Alley to be any improvement. I found Dio Deka far inferior to Evvia with highly touted but utterly tasteless lamb chops. There's nothing out here that matches the top Greek restaurants in cities like New York.

                                                                                                  The higher-end Asian restaurants are the obvious places to explore. Kaygetsu for kaiseki was already mentioned. Sakoon has been the standard setter for higher-end Indian food, but I just read that the chef has left recently. Amber is another good choice in the higher-end Indian. These two Indian places are higher-end in food quality, but more in the moderate range for price and service. Alexander's might also be worth checking out as a Japanese influenced steak house, though I've not been there.

                                                                                                  The only other place I know of down here like Manresa and Chez TJ is Baumé. I haven't been there but it has received mixed reviews. It would be interesting to see your take on it.

                                                                                                  Silicon Valley is not big on high-end places, and while San Francisco has more, that's not its particular strength either. LA and Silicon Valley are very different places and the restaurants reflect the personalities of each place.

                                                                                                  Michael

                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                  Manresa Restaurant
                                                                                                  320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                                  Kaygetsu Restaurant
                                                                                                  325 Sharon Park Dr Ste A2, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                                                                                                  Chez TJ
                                                                                                  938 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                                                                  Bistro Elan
                                                                                                  448 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                                                                                  Dio Deka
                                                                                                  210 E. Main Street, Los Gatos, CA 95030

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

                                                                                                  Village Pub
                                                                                                  2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                                                                                                  Sakoon
                                                                                                  357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                                                                  Baumé
                                                                                                  201 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                                                                                  1. re: dnals

                                                                                                    We eat at Bistro Elan a couple of times a year, always on a Friday evening. Padrig is a gracious matre d. And we always ask for Ed Nieto to be our server. He is a kick. Don't know what other days he works. We discovered him at an amazing place called The Dining Room in San Mateo, long gone.

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    Bistro Elan
                                                                                                    448 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                                                                                3. re: dnals

                                                                                                  Manresa is stll in a class of its own, but Chez TJ is also doing very imaginative high-end cuisine in Mountain View. Baumé in Palo Alto is starting to get some good reviews, but I haven't been.

                                                                                                  Given your preferences those seem to be the two places to try. Other high-end places like Village Pub, while excellent, tend to be a bit more traditional. If you like high-end Japanese, definitely try out Kaygetsu. For high-end Indian flavors at moderate prices, try Sakoon in Mountain View.

                                                                                                  Michael

                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                  Manresa Restaurant
                                                                                                  320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                                  Kaygetsu Restaurant
                                                                                                  325 Sharon Park Dr Ste A2, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                                                                                                  Chez TJ
                                                                                                  938 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                                                                  Village Pub
                                                                                                  2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                                                                                                  Sakoon
                                                                                                  357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                                                                  Baumé
                                                                                                  201 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                                                                                  1. re: dnals

                                                                                                    "food critic" "peninsula" --- ha.
                                                                                                    "high end food critic" "peninsula" --- ha ha ha ha.

                                                                                                    The best notes you'll find are right here.

                                                                                                    For this kind of eatin', your best guide is Michelin. Manresa with 2, Chez TJ with 1, Village Pub with 1, plumed horse with 1. After you're bored with those places, let's dispute about what the next 4 places are beyond those.

                                                                                                    St Michael's Alley might be on the next 5 list, as might Flea Street.

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    Manresa Restaurant
                                                                                                    320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                                    Chez TJ
                                                                                                    938 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                                                                    Village Pub
                                                                                                    2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                                                                                                    1. re: dnals

                                                                                                      (Welcome, by the way, dnals!) Other threads here touched on high-end Peninsula and South Bay options. I'm pretty familiar with these options having experienced many small and large dinners at those and other venues in the region. This thread has information, and another recently addressed related questions, to which I added my nutshell high-end list as of April 2010:

                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6998...

                                                                                                      bbulkow is right that a good deal of information surfaces on this board (keep track of the names that have good advice by clicking on the user name when you're logged in; then look to upper right: you can add that user to your "reading" list -- thus I "read" bbulkow for example). But bbulkow may be unaware of the South Bay's excellent independent restaurant writer, Stett Holbrook, who's covered all types of restaurants (including high end) for five years. His range extends up to lower SM County (Menlo Park, maybe further). Holbrook writes for a weekly entertainment tabloid, "Metro Silicon Valley," unusual for its genre in having some way-above-average critics. (Holbrook also does in-depth interviews of influential local chefs, which is how I learned Uncle Frank's BBQ background and Chef Chu's original business plan -- cited in another thread recently.) Current issue reviews the unusual Alexander's Steakhouse in Cupertino, which, as I learned (Melanie take note!) now offers ramen.

                                                                                                      On another thread, active this week, I put some history of Chez TJ (Mountain View) and a link to Holbrook's recent published review under its new chef:

                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6754...

                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                      Chez TJ
                                                                                                      938 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                                                                      Chef Chu's
                                                                                                      1067 N San Antonio Rd, Los Altos, CA 94022

                                                                                                      1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                        Two things to add:

                                                                                                        Despite bbulkow's disappointment soon after it opened, some of us went to Joya in Palo Alto for lunch recently, ordered a wide range of the small-plate offerings, and found them consistently interesting and delicious. Especially the cold seafood "Martinis," in glasses with various garnishes. Joya is (the server explained) deliberately modeled after Cascal in Mountain View (opened 2003), to the point of borrowing Cascal's house musicians one day a week. Cascal, which aims for sort of international tapas, is phenomenally popular and is intensely decorated in a style one very experienced eater friend calls "Disneyland Morocco." I've tried it a few times since it opened and despite its popularity, I found too many of the small-plates offerings bland or heavy (as in the empanadas with their gratuitously thick heavy fatty crusts -- and that's one of the few specific food memories to stay with me from Cascal.) Joya, on a busy street corner open to the outside, had a more typical and lower-key elegant-upscale restaurant look, and its empanadas were savory and delicate, the crust emphasizing rather than dominating the filling.

                                                                                                        Also, I forgot to mention above that Stett Holbrook also contributes to Chow, as in this truffle article:

                                                                                                        http://www.chow.com/stories/10352

                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                        Cascal
                                                                                                        400 Castro St., Mountain View, CA 94041

                                                                                                        Joya
                                                                                                        339 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                                                                        1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                          I agree with this, but comment further that we've always been disappointed with the main courses. So go to Joya to have drinks and starters, or plan to make a meal out of a large number of starters and skip the larger plates.

                                                                                                          Separately, for the folks with the child -- Mayfield Bakery Cafe is a sister restaurant of the Village Pub, and is local, in the Town and Country Mall in Palo Alto. I've seen kids of all ages in there, clearly isn't an issue, and while definitely overpriced (as is pretty much everything in SV), it's tasty and a pleasant atmosphere. And if you go later in the evening, they'll often be giving away unsold bread from the bakery!

                                                                                                          Marche in Menlo Park is another option, though I personally prefer Village Pub or Flea St. Cafe. Have not been to Baume. Some name Bistro Elan as a nicer French restaurant also on California Ave. While I like the food there, every time I've eaten there I've had some kind of serious waitstaff problem which has ended up making the experience less than fabulous. Could just be me, but generally I'm fairly easygoing about service.

                                                                                                          If you go to Tamarine on a quiet midweek evening when they aren't swamped, it can be a great experience. I've never really been on the Evvia bandwagon -- would rather go to Dio Deka in Los Gatos, though that's fairly far away and if you're going down there for a food experience, you probably should be eating at Manresa.

                                                                                                          Another option in Saratoga is Sent Sovi, though Plumed Horse is the more obvious choice.

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          Manresa Restaurant
                                                                                                          320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                                          Tamarine Restaurant
                                                                                                          546 University Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                                                                          Bistro Elan
                                                                                                          448 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                                                                                          Dio Deka
                                                                                                          210 E. Main Street, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                                          Village Pub
                                                                                                          2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                                                                                                          The Plumed Horse
                                                                                                          14555 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070

                                                                                                          Sent Sovi Restaurant
                                                                                                          14583 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070

                                                                                                          Mayfield Bakery & Cafe
                                                                                                          855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                                                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                            If we're updating:

                                                                                                            I think Joya's gone uphill after the opening crush. I tried it a month ago and the entire experience was more pleasant. The food as upgraded to tasty (but still small even for tapas), the atmosphere better somehow. The crowd that night seemed more celebratory, a number of tables of friends and family.

                                                                                                            I did re-try Iberia, in Menlo Park, and whatever service problems they sometimes have weren't in evidence. The experience was entirely "why don't I eat here once a week." Price may be an object, but the food is everything Joya isn't. Authentic, high quality, broad range of dishes. I enjoy that they serve regular white wine in tumblers instead of stemware, which is my favorite aspect of the western and southern half of europe.

                                                                                                            I wouldn't take my parents to Joya, all things considered. The food just doesn't hit the bar. We have gone to Evvia, which they liked.

                                                                                                            1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                              Agree on Iberia- just went last week and almost everything was spot on. Loved the snails. Phenomenal sangria.

                                                                                                              Have been on a Spanish kick lately and I'd choose Iberia as best in the area over Zarzuela. Some dishes at Zarzuela were better, but the superior Sangria and atmosphere put it over. Service at Iberia is never great, but consider that part of the Spanish charm and drink up.

                                                                                                              1. re: PAHound

                                                                                                                I'm great with different service levels but Iberia crossed the line for me a few years back. There's plenty of pixels spilled on this forum about Iberia in that period. What I got there recently was a nice relaxed Spanish pace - no problem.

                                                                                                      2. La Bodeguita del Medio in PA (best Cuban food and cigar divan)!!!!!

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: sacabeans

                                                                                                          I liked BdM but it seemed more pan-Latin fusion than Cuban.

                                                                                                          For traditional Cuban, the best I've found in the Bay Area that's still in business is Habana Cuba in SJ.

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          Habana Cuba
                                                                                                          238 Race Street, San Jose, CA 95126