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Dec 1, 2009 09:50 PM

Good Eats in Santa Clara?

Howdy CH'ers,

I'm coming down to Santa Clara for some business (training) in a couple of weeks and am looking for some local recommendations on good eating in the area. I'll be staying at the Avatar Hotel
at 4200 Great America Parkway, but will have a rental car.

Last year I was down in Cupertino (for training as well) and Chow came through with some excellent recommendations:
Some recommendations in that thread for include Beque and Dosa Place. I'm sure there are more... Are there any great local restaurants to check out? Also looking for sushi and any other local ethnic stuff. I'm open to trying anything.

Also, any local farmers markets on the weekends? I arrive on the 12th - Saturday and staying until the 23rd, so a short supply of fresh fruit/produce for snacking would be awesome as well.

I'm taking some extra time as well to drive around - hoping to head out to half moon (Sams and Barbara's) and Gilroy for some shopping (for the wife).

Also, are the places mentioned in the Cupertino thread still "king of the hill?" I'm thinking of going back for
A&J for Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
Shanghai Flavor Shop for shenjian bao
Hu Chiang xiao long bao
Ramen Halu
Sushi Kuni

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Regrettably there have been few regular Santa Clara posters recently. I can't tell you about Cupertino.

    But: search sunnyvale and mountain view. Sunnyvale's closer than Cupertino to Great American Parkway with great midrange ethnic eats, and Mountain View's a straight freeway shot and the eats are solid. If you just don't know what to eat, going to Castro Street in MV and letting your nose be your guide is a good idea - half the places are excellent. Trend has a Szchuan-focused lunch buffet that's a great way to eat many dishes.

    Farmer's market. You'll want Mountain View's sunday market, at the Caltrain station. It's all year, good selection even in December although reduced size. go between 10am and noon. Lots of other markets are closed in winter.

    Korean. Palace BBQ gets consistent decent recs of the Korean places, no recent reports. There's a lot of korean in Sunnyvale - few with English signs. Some day I will make a survey attempt, but GF doesn't like the portions at Korean, so it's not this year.

    There's a bizarre place called Falafel's drive inn (sic). Got mentioned on that food channel "diners & dives" show. The only thing to order is a falafel and a banana shake. Worth a trip - imagine if the first McDonald's was Falafel.

    For something different, there are two hot places, Zhao's and Hot Pot City, in Milpitas. I can't tell you which one is best, there were reports a few years ago.

    Manressa isn't that far, if you're looking for that kind of experience.

    Indian in Sunnyvale is to die for. I'm a consistent fan of Mayuri. The dipping sauce for the dosas are astonishing, their chicken 65 can't be beat - and low, low prices. Wednesday night dinner buffet. But there's a lot of great places which don't get a lot of coverage here. I've eaten at three different ones in the last 2 weeks, can't even remember their names. All are good.

    Here's a thread I tried to get rolling on sunnyvale Chaat:
    Notice how few responders, although solid recs.

    For sushi, You probably should go up-peninsula a bit to Mountain View (Tomi, Fuki), although if you're looking for really, really good quality Kaygetsu in Menlo Park is easy to reach and has the best fish I've had outside tokyo. They're primarily a Kaseki joint, but have moved to sushi in the evenings as well. The Sushi Monster list covers as far south as Mountain View, so you can read up on his opinions there.

    If you're in a mood to ramble, you might try Mexican in Redwood City. If I was going to recommend one place, it would be Casita Chilanga #2 on Middlefield. Make mine El Tesorito. Down-home atmosphere, and a little bit of a walking district around there (although too spread out for a proper taco crawl).

    The closest good food after 9pm is Fu Lam Moon in Mountain View. It's hard to recommend them prior to 9pm, given the incredible wealth of other Chinese places, but post 9pm they're the choice of choices. Open until midnight every night, and often full at 10pm.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bbulkow

      I second the vote for Mt. View's Castro Street (Xahn, Cascal, Fu Lam Moon are our faves) and the F's Mkt on Sunday. Sunnyvale has a good F's Mkt on Saturdays at the Caltrain station, with lots of good eats.

      My hubby likes Mayuri, but I prefer Sneha and Madhuban (sp?) on Lawrence Expy. There's a new sushi place called Mizu on Winchester, just over the Santa Clara line into San Jose that's very pretty, with lots of inventive maki. A block from it is a very good, new Texas-Cajun BBQ joint: Line Shack.

      Aqui in Campbell is a bit far, but is on our regular rotation for its terrific Cal-Mex.


      Line Shack:


      400 Castro St., Mountain View, CA 94041

      2230 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050

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

      Fu Lam Moon Restaurant
      40460 Albrae St, Fremont, CA 94538

      544 Lawrence Expy, Sunnyvale, CA 94085

      Mizu Sushi Bar & Grill
      1035 S. Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128

    2. Dosa Place is great, but I particularly like Saravana Bhavan when it comes to southern Indian snacks and thalis. It's just over the border from Santa Clara in Sunnyvale, and worth the trip, IMO.

      Saravana Bhavan
      1305 S. Mary Avenue
      Sunnyvale, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: teela brown

        Saravan Bhavan - I ate there last week, I think. Pretty good, but those places are starting to blend into each other. I had a ravi dosa and it was swank. The new place by the safeway to the south of there has a nicer atmosphere but the food isn't as good.

      2. I like Athena Grill for Greek food. Space Park Dr. isn't far from your hotel. The food is good, prices are reasonable, and the service is very friendly. I especially love their desserts. My favorite is the Galakoboureko (Semolina custard wrapped in fillo with
        lemon zest syrup). The dips are also addictive: love the Skordalia ( fresh whipped garlic, potato, olive oil & vinegar ). Skordalia + warm pita and I'm in heaven. They are only open Monday to Friday from 10:30am to 9pm.

        Athena Grill
        1505 Space Park Dr, Santa Clara, CA 95054

        4 Replies
        1. re: SanJoseHound

          I second the recommendations for Athena Grill and Madhuban. Zafran is a great Pakistani choice in Santa Clara - the biryanis are great, but so are many of their other dishes. Muniyandi Vilas in Santa Clara has been getting good notices for their Chettinad food, but I haven't been there yet. There are lots of Korean places in Santa Clara, but I'm not familiar with those either.

          As mentioned, downtown Mountain View is an easy drive from the hotel and may be just as quick to reach as places on the southern side of Santa Clara. Sakoon is the premier modern Indian restaurant in the Bay Area and highly recommended. Downtown Sunnyvale is also within easy reach, and is home to Dishdash, an outstanding Lebanese / Middle Eastern place. The mansaf (lamb and rice in yogurt sauce) is the star of the menu here. Nami Nami is also on Castro Street and is a great choice for Kappo style Japanese food from Osaka, if you want to broaden from sushi to other Japanese treats.

          Saravana Bhavan is good but it's a bit of a hike from your hotel in Santa Clara (it's near me, which is why I'm a lot more familiar with Sunnyvale places and haven't yet made it to Dosa Place. If you do want to travel to Sunnyvale for dosas, Madras Cafe is the star attraction - a very informal storefront, but the best dosas I've ever had. Another small storefront with great Indian food in Sunnyvale is Taste Buds. The gongura dishes are particularly amazing and I've never seen them offered anywhere else.

          Hopefully someone who is up to date on some of the Korean choices in Santa Clara can chime in.



          Dishdash Restaurant
          190 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

          Athena Grill
          1505 Space Park Dr, Santa Clara, CA 95054

          Taste Buds
          673 Grape Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

          Dosa Place
          2665 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051

          Zafran Restaurant
          1855 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA

          357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

          544 Lawrence Expy, Sunnyvale, CA 94085

          Taste Buds
          582 San Bruno Ave W, San Bruno, CA 94066

          1. re: mdg

            Adding the Nami Nami link...

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

            1. re: mdg

              Gaesung and Beque are both good, but Beque has more interesting banchan, and if you order two meat entrees, you get to cook them at the center of the table.

              I've been to two other Korean places but didn't like them, so don't remember their names. A friend of mine loves Korea House, but I haven't been there yet even though it's only 6 blocks from my house.

              Korea House
              2340 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050

              Gaesung House of Tofu
              2089 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050

              Beque Korean Grill
              3060 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA

              1. re: Claudette

                Here are a few of our favorites in Santa Clara and surrounding area.

                Indian: Kabab and Curry's go here for dinner and you can order individual pieces of tandoori. I think they have the best Indian food in Santa Clara & Sunnyvale. The lunch buffet serves only about 7 or so items. The service is slow for dinner.

                The Athena Grill was already mentioned and it is a hands down winner!

                99 Chicken: The salad bar is free when you order chicken. Ok the chicken is deep fried and so we only go here occasionally. The place is often packed,

                El Camino Mongolian BBQ: When we want a quick and healthy dinner we eat here.

                Lock Chun for Chinese food. Love their Mongolian chicken.
                (Also try Chef Ko's in Campbell on Hamilton Ave...our number one favorite and a tad more expensive and worth it.)

                We love Mexican food and we drive to Milpitas to Baja Cactus on Main Street. Love their homemade soft corn tortillas. The mole is the best in the Bay Area.

          2. A&J is still good. I have a slight preference for ASJ which is on Hostetter in San Jose as the beef has been a bit more tender in my experience. Noodles and broth are excellent at both.

            Shanghai flavor shop shenjian bao are excellent. I would go more often but its a bit out of the way for me. Also like the green onion noodles as a side as 2 orders of the dumplings feels a bit over the top.

            Hu Chiang- Only been once and it was good but not great . I found the meat (standard pork and beef) xlb to be a bit grainy in texture and like others found the other stuffings to be better.

            Ramen Halu. Still gets positive press but I don't think it has retained the magic that made it the CH super star it is. Its still good, but just not transcendent- and it definitely used to be. 9 out of 10 times these days I head over to Kahoo which is down the road from Halu. Or you could try Santouka in the Mitsuwa next to Kahoo.

            So all of those are worth a trip but as you've seen from other posters, there are plenty of good options around here.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Nathan P

              I like Halu, but I definitely think Santouka is better if you order correctly - i.e, the #9. That's the large shio with special pork - kind of a deconstructed ramen, with the pork, fungi, and veggies on the side to be dipped. Their special pork is about as good as that item can be IMO, and the Shio seems to be the best of their base options - clean-tasting and rich without being overpoweringly so.

            2. Also in Santa Clara is Neto Sausage. They make great sausage burgers and have recently expanded to a full menu that looks good.

              There is a small farmer's market in Santa Clara on Saturday mornings I believe at Benton and Jackson(?)

              For BBQ I'd recommend the Line Shack just south of Santana Row. They've got really great authentic Texas brisket (Sliced, smoked, no sauce)

              For Mexican I really like Jiminiz Taqueria (I think renamed Viva Taqueria). Well made mexican favorites with authentic ingredients.

              7 Replies
              1. re: trojandude

                Thanks for all the recommendations - I'll be busy programming the GPS for the next few nights.

                Are there any good bakeries? Looking for a good breakfast or maybe some delicious cookies and pastries for my wife to indulge on.

                Trojandude - are reservations required for the Line Shack? I love me a good BBQ.


                1. re: taiphun

                  Here's another question. We're heading out to the Monterey Bay Aquarium - are there any places to stop for chow? What about after the aquarium - anything in the area worth sampling?

                  I'll do a search here as well..

                  Thanks in advance,

                  1. re: taiphun

                    I think you'll find stuff on the California board for Monterey.

                    1. re: taiphun

                      I'd try to get some abalone if you can. Don't know here. I poached this from mudster on a related post "There's an abalone farm at (or under, more precisely) the commercial wharf. ( You might call them and ask them who they're currently supplying."

                    2. re: taiphun

                      I really don't think reservations are necessary at The Line Shack - unless you've got a huge group - David puts out real Texas style bbq - my faves are the brisket and ribs... and he's a super nice guy too.

                      The Line Shack
                      826 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128

                      1. re: taiphun

                        I've heard good things about Uncle Franks BQ in Mountain View. Call me a sinner but I like Armadillo Willy's - several locations for this.

                      2. re: trojandude

                        I know this is an old thread but it came up on top when I logged in, so I suppose others who live in Santa Clara or who are asking about it still see it. So, sadly, I am replying to report that the Line Shack has been closed for nearly two years at this writing (June 2013). I have mixed feelings about the place, but The Smoking Pig on North 4th St. in San Jose seems to be very well regarded as a possible BBQ substitute. A little bit farther away from the OP's location is Sam's Grill on Bascom, between the Valley Medical Center and the Pruneyard, highly recommended, also live music leaning toward Dixieland most of the time. SC/South Bay BBQ to avoid: Andy's Barbecue, Dickey's, Famous Dave's, J C's. Henry's Hi-Life has been popular for years, and while I enjoyed my meals there (despite horrific noise levels and overcrowding), everything tasted like it had been made in an oven and then slathered with (admittedly good) barbecue sauce. Not really barbecue. I never include Asian or Hawaiian places because I regard them as wholly different cuisines.