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Peninsula detours for unique food shopping

I'm going to be heading to Palo Alto on business so will be able to shop at places between there and SF that I don't usually get to. Some I think of off the top of my head:

Beltramo's & Weimax: hard-to-find wine, liqueurs, and liquor

Draeger's: truffle products I haven't seen elsewhere hereabouts

Gourmet Corner: biggest selection of French stuff in the area

Any other suggestions?

Beltramo's Wines & Spirits
1540 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

Draeger's Supermarket
222 E 4th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

Draeger's Supermarket
1010 University Dr, Menlo Park, CA 94025

Weimax Wines
1178 Broadway, Burlingame, CA

The Gourmet Corner
873 N San Mateo Drive, San Mateo, CA 94401

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  1. Try Piazza's up the hill in San Mateo. In the Laurelwood Shopping Center, on West Hillsdale Blvd off Highway 92 exit. Very similar to Draegars, but more of a neighborhood market, and somewhat less imported goods. But still a very good place to shop.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rednails

      Piazza's is a great market but I don't think they have anything I can't get close to home.

      I don't much care for Draeger's overall, I pretty much never buy anything there except a few hard-to-find imported items.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        True. Piazza's, Bianchini's, Lunardi's and a few others all have pretty typical stuff you'd find in any market in the Bay Area. They are great markets to shop in if you live around here, but not worth making a special trip for.

    2. I work in the area and I have been meaning to check out Esther's German Bakery in Los Altos. It might be worth a stop.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Mari

        They make some of the best German bread in the area.

      2. I assume you won't be stopping to eat in Palo Alto.

        1. A few other places to consider that might have some more unique finds that could make a stop worthwhile:

          Nak's at 1151 Chestnut St in downtown Menlo Park, (650) 325-2046. It's a Japanese market that also stocks goods from Holland. Odd mix, fun store. Very small, 5 minute stop. Super nice man running it. Some sake options and hit and miss on fresh fish and veggies.

          Gourmet Haus Staudt in downtown Redwood City. Owned and operated by a German family, recently handed over to the second generation. They stock lots of imported packaged goods, sausages, meats, wines, and beers from Germany. Nothing else like it in terms of variety around here. http://www.gourmethausstaudt.com/

          Chavez Market. If you go to Beltramo's, you can go a few blocks up El Camino to the big Chavez. They have one of the biggest collections of Mexican ingredients and food in the area. Great store. It's on El Camino & 5th (turn right at the Shell station).

          Up the road a little further in RWC is the British Food Centre. They have imported canned and packaged goods from the UK, plus some frozen meat pies and sausages (meh). If you like that sort of thing, it's worth a stop. http://www.buybritish.net/

          Sigona's Market in RWC sells the best produce in the area. They are family owned and operated and stock lots of local, direct from the grower produce. They also have some good house brand olive oils, lots of smaller batch brands, and some decent cheeses. Definitely focused on local, sustainable, and organic stuff.

          If you are willing to go south from Palo Alto, Rose International Market in Mountain View is a great Middle Eastern market (20 minutes south of PA).

          There are lots of Indian stores but I have yet to find a really good one for produce. The best one for everything else is in a dying little strip mall in Foster City. The store is called India Cash & Carry. http://www.indiacashandcarry.com/.

          There is also a Persian Market in San Carlos next to Kabul Restaurant called Adel (171 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070-2403 (650) 654-3340‎. They have a pretty good selection.

          Also, as an aside. If you have time to stop for a bite to eat. Do check out Refuge in San Carlos for the pastrami. Or go to Joy in Foster City for great Chinese. Both places are covered extensively on CH.

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

          Chavez Supermarket & Taqueria
          46 5th Ave, Redwood City, CA 94063

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

          Sigona's Farmers Market
          2345 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City, CA

          The Refuge
          963 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

          India Cash & Carry
          1058 Shell Blvd, D Foster City, CA

          Nak's Oriental Market
          1151 Chestnut St, Menlo Park, CA

          9 Replies
          1. re: Shane Greenwood

            I was in Namaste in Belmont last week and saw tiny Indian eggplant, okra, fresh Indian type chilis, curry leaves, turmeric roots, and sadly an empty bin marked gongura (which is what I was trying to find) in the produce section. Today I stopped in Berkeley at Indus Foods and Halal Food on San Pablo, and I can say that Namaste has a lot more to offer but no meat counter.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Good to hear, last time I was in there the stuff was not looking that great. They had the variety but it was on one of the very hot days a few weeks ago and they do not have AC. Was about 95 degrees inside and everything was looking pretty sad.

              1. re: Shane Greenwood

                I bought gongura at Namaste this morning. Fresh methi bunches (fenugreek) and drumsticks (snake gourd) also available today and not wilted.

            2. re: Shane Greenwood

              I'd check out Alhana Foods on 37th Ave. in San Mateo. The store is immaculate, the stock is extensive, well organized and turns over so nothing is old or stale. Just as an example, they have about 5 or 6 different brands of phyllo in the frig/freezer. Good olives in bulk. Interesting dried fruits and candies. All kinds of things from all over the Middle East. Here's a link to their website:

              Place link doesn't want to work for me:
              27 - 37th Ave San Mateo, Ca 94403 - Two Blocks South Hillsdale Mall

              1. re: RWCFoodie

                This store is really great, I was going to recommend it but couldn't remember the name. They have fantastic stock.

                1. re: RWCFoodie

                  Wow, never heard of this place before, thanks for the link!

                  1. re: RWCFoodie

                    While you're in San Mateo, stop by Romolo's for one of their delectable cannolis!

                    Romolo's Ice Cream Spumoni and Cannoli Factory
                    81 37th Ave, San Mateo, CA

                    1. re: alina555

                      Thanks for the info. I stopped by Romolo's and picked up half a dozen cannolis. They didn't last long with three teenagers in the house. The shell was perfect and the ricotta filling delicious,

                      1. re: alina555

                        Alhana is right next door (or a door or two down from) Romolo -- great cannolis, and nice people.

                  2. I forgot about the Penzeys store in Menlo Park. Places link's not working at the moment:


                    1. One more for unique food shopping in downtown Menlo Park is Penzey's Spices. Just a couple of blocks from Draegers in MP. It's at 771 Santa Cruz Ave.

                      1. I'd add, if you can drive a few exits south:

                        - Milk Pail Market in Mountain View (good selection of Italian, Mediterranean, cheese, fruit). It is the Peninsula's best indoor "European style" market.

                        -Dittmer's nearby for all those great varieties of German sausages/smoked meats and imported German grocery items. Check the freezer section for other goodness.

                        Signoia has a location inside the Stanford Shopping Center too.

                        Dittmer's Gourmet Meats
                        400 San Antonio Rd Ste 4, Mountain View, CA 94040

                        Milk Pail Market
                        2585 California St, Mountain View, CA

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: K K

                          Milk Pail has many bizzare foods. I'm currently eating through a couple bags of frozen dumplings - Ukranian style.

                          1. re: K K

                            About the milk pail - reasonable selection and good prices - however, perhaps it's just me, but I find the entrance area and parking area near the store smells of ah'hm, an overdose of (NH2)2CO and other stale nitrogen compounds. phew! It's pretty gross - especially on warm days. This may be the responsibility of the strip mall but a serious wash down is long overdue.

                          2. Haven't been for a while, but I've always liked browsing the Hawaiian offerings at Takahashi market in San Mateo, a few blocks from the SM Draeger's.


                            Also in downtown SM is Suruki Japanese supermarket, they might have more stuff than Jtown.

                            Of course there's the Ranch 99 market in Foster City and a newer one in Mountain View.

                            Takahashi Market
                            221 S Claremont St, San Mateo, CA 94401

                            99 Ranch Market
                            1070 Foster City Blvd, Foster City, CA

                            Suruki Supermarket
                            71 E 4th Ave, San Mateo, CA

                            99 Ranch Market
                            1350 Grant Rd, Mountain View, CA

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: PekoePeony

                              I second Takahashi's I haven't been in a while but they get stuff flown in from Hawaii every week, I think. One of my favorite Hawaiian snack foods I get there are the One Ton chips...
                              There is also the British food store in San Carlos, on 1652 El Camino Real.

                            2. there's AVP market in san mateo, groceries from Brazil. i haven't been there in well over a year, and so cannot attest to current conditions.

                              1. Draegers does have nice imports and sometimes good chocolate selection. However, when I was there yesterday they didn't have as nice of a selection of truffles, but some good bars. Good selection of gluten-free foods for anyone that cares.

                                Second Nak's for Dutch imports.

                                Crossroads world market in Palo Alto has some nice things.

                                I think you can find the same Mexican and Indian selection in Berkeley/Oakland/SF, so I would skip Chavez. Indian Cash and Carry in Santa Clara does have a large frozen section, but I suspect Indian shops close to home do as well.

                                Crossroads World Market
                                720 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto, CA

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jsaimd

                                  Crossroads has a lot of Eastern European food. I got some great German mustard there and some nice feta chosen from a good selection behind the counter.

                                2. Shane has a pretty good list. Definitely agree about Beltramo's. Weimax in Burlingame is smaller but has some interesting stock. I'm really surprised no one mentioned K&L (3005 El Camino in Redwood City near Atherton line). Sure, it's in SF but the RWC store is much larger and is their base. Big on Bordeaux. Tasting room. Call first.

                                  NB, Beltramo's usually has tastings Sat. afternoons. Worth checking out. VinVino on California Ave in PA has followers (tastings too) but some people (me for one) may not like their style - I've found the counter folks a bit, well, haughty. It's a small shop with some careful selections.

                                  Dittmer's is interesting - not many old time butcher shops around - though all the smoked items seem to have the same kind and degree of smokiness... housemade brats, swedish sausages, etc.

                                  For Japanese goods and markets - One more for Nak's in Menlo Park (Chestnut St is 2 blocks in from EC off Santa Cruz) - tiny market that's packed to the gills with Japanese, Indonesian, and Dutch items. Family has run this for 40 years. Marukai (from LA) recently opened a big Japanese supermarket at 19750 Stevens Creek in Cupertino (x-times bigger than Nijiya, about the same size as Mitsuwa at 280/Saratoga) - but no hot food (deal with the city) but there is a Beard Papa next door for cream puffs... Nijiya market in Mountain View (143 E. El Camino at Grant) has pretty good prepared food - nikujaga, broiled fish, okonomiyaki, and croquettes as well as sushi and rolls.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: jcr1

                                    Two huge thumbs up for K&L. I find it more interesting than beltramos, and they're not that far apart physically. "call first" only necessary for the tasting room - the rest of the place keeps regular hours. Beltramos has a better selection of Scotch, Tequilia, and other hard drinks. K&L is far superior in Port (they continue to have Dow's 2000 - I think I just need a case to put under the house), and I like their wine more - more "finds" - but you can hit them both.

                                    [I will always be tender toward Beltramos for a 1963 Ardbeg bottled by Cadenhead at cask strength. This was before scotch prices got so astronomical. Their scotch wall is impressive - just about every single malt brewery]

                                    Between the two (or maybe a hair further?) is the biscotti baker that is reputed to do canoli on Saturdays. Haven't been yet.

                                    Along 5th there's a wide variety of mexican markets, but you have nearly equivilent in berkeley.

                                    And, yes, Penzes is fun.

                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                      La Biscotteria
                                      2747 El Camino Real
                                      Redwood City, CA 94061
                                      (650) 366-2747

                                      It's next door to Soccer Pro. They also make squash, cheese and meat (veal, beef, pork?) raviolis that are very good, especially the squash. They do a biscotti with candied pineapple in it that is great with sweet wine. On Saturdays I think they do focaccia.

                                      In the summer they use veggies from their garden. Or at least they used to.

                                    2. re: jcr1

                                      I regularly buy wine from K&L's Redwood City and LA branches online and pick it up at the SF store.

                                    3. Hi Robert, if feel like a snack or two... sushi monster has done a great job of checking out and reviewing all 62 sushiyas from Burlingame to Cupertino as well as the 49 tacquerias in RWC. His website http://www.emeraldlake.com has detailed reviews of both. The short stretch on Middlefield in RWC just south of Rt. 84 / Woodside Road is pretty amazing... definitely lots of great choices for a taco fix, certainly worth a detour and you are only 5 minutes on Middlefield from downtown PA.