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Peninsula/South Bay restaurants that would satisfy budget-minded foodies?

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Can anyone suggest a restaurant(s) between Burlingame and San Jose that would make some out-of-town foodies happy (and when I say "happy", I mean REALLY happy)? They're looking to spend about $50 per person (including dessert) and are open to pretty much any type of cuisine. Thanks in advance for the suggestions...

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  1. ambiance? type of food?

    6 Replies
    1. re: jsaimd

      They're open to any type of cuisine. In terms of ambiance, I'm not looking for anything "romantic" per se, but I do want to be able to hear my own conversation during dinner w/o resorting to shouting across the table. Hope this helps.

      1. re: dukefuji22

        Where are they from? It's pointless sending someone from LA to a Mexican restaurant, etc.

        That said, how about Afghani food? Kabul in Sunnyvale or Kabul Afghan Cuisine in San Carlos. Despite similar names and being on El Camino, they're not related and about 20 miles apart.

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

        Kabul Afghan Cuisine
        833 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

        1. re: ML8000

          Haven't tried either of those places you mentioned, but worth considering. Thanks.

          1. re: ML8000

            I personally find San Carlos Kabul unsatisfying. As tasty as the slab of meat and rice is, and they have very tasty slab of meat, there's not much to it, and little variety on the menu - except the pumpkin side dish, which is danged good.

            And I agree this is an unsatisfiable request. "make foodies happy for less than $50" could mean anything. Happiness is relative and personal. Dukefuji22, if you want a decent rec, you'll have to come up with some greater details.

            Example: will they be thrilled by a kind of food they haven't had before, even if it isn't great? How about Little Sheep Hot Pot? Rare in most parts of the world. But if they've had good Hot Pot in Beijing, it'll be a yawner.

            Finally - the usual issue with price is whether to include alcohol and tip.

            Second finally - look, if you're so crazy about a good impression, why not expand the territory to include SF?

            1. re: bbulkow

              1) Price does include alcohol. Yeah, probably unrealistic, but thought I would ask the question anyways.
              2) Didn't include SF simply because of scheduling issues.

              1. re: dukefuji22

                I'm sorry, perhaps I wasn't clear.

                Price is only one part of the equation. You've given no information about what these people might like ("open to any type of cuisine" says almost nothing). Where are they from? What kind of places and things do they rave about?

      2. Pretty broad request, so here are some broad recommendations in terms of geo and cuisine:

        Refuge in San Carlos would work well. Lots of positive reviews on CH. House made pastrami, excellent belgian beers, good wine list. Might be the most CH-worthy spot on the Peninsula.

        Joy restaurant in Foster City has some of the best Chinese in the area. Also reviewed at length on other threads. Very good for the budget.

        Iberia in Menlo Park. This is good for Spanish tapas in the bar. Very cool space with lounge seating, patio and fireplace. Not worth dining in the main dining room. But the bar area for tapas and wine is good. Service is spotty because they take a casual, European approach and tip is included, so they come off as aloof, but they are nice and the food is good.

        La Bodeguita Del Medio in Palo Alto does the best Cuban food in the area. They keep it pretty authentic and have a few outdoor tables when it's nice out.

        Gochi in Cupertino is Japanese tapas and gets a lot of love from the people in the area.

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        Iberia Restaurant
        1026 Alma St, Menlo Park, CA 94025

        Joy Restaurant
        1489 Beach Park Blvd, Foster City, CA 94404

        La Bodeguita Del Medio
        463 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

        Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas
        19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014

        The Refuge
        963 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

        3 Replies
        1. re: Shane Greenwood

          Heard good things about Iberia as well. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

          1. re: Shane Greenwood

            What do you like at La Bodeguita? I wonder if I've been ordering wrong there. Thank you!

            1. re: newhart06

              I highly recommend the mastitas - the slow cooked pork, first thing on the entree section. It's actually the only thing I like on their menu - the rest of it tastes watered down. Kind of like their drinks. I've settled on ordering a dark rum manhattan as my drink there, also doesn't come out watered down.

          2. Budget-minded foodies for $50/person? Seems like an oxymoron.

            I'd go with New Kapadokia (I eat there cheaply for $12 but if you get an entree, some mezes (a must!), and baklava it could be $30/person) or Zeni ($15/person). Shalizaar is another option. (I have long posts about all these restaurants and what to order on Chowhound).

            Dinner weekend night Indian buffet at Turmeric (especially since Indian food is something the Bay Area does so well)? Patxi's for Chicago style pizza?

            I'm not a huge fan of Kabul. It's fine, but I prefer Helmand in SF or De Afghanan Kabob House (Fremont, Berkeley, SF).

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

            Turmeric Restaurant
            141 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

            Shalizaar
            300 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002

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

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

            1. Red Crane in Cupertino - stylish, delicious, nouveau Japanese
              Aqui in Campbell - casual, fun, great Southwestern food
              Amber India in Mt. View - outstanding lunch buffet (lots of great Indian places, but this is my fave)

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              Amber India Restaurant
              2290 El Camino Real Suite 9, Mountain View, CA 94040

              The Red Crane
              7335 Bollinger Rd, Cupertino, CA

              Aqui Cal-Mex Grill
              201 E Campbell Ave, Campbell, CA 95008