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Dec 14, 2009 04:52 PM

moving up that way..trying to decide if we live in the Portola valley would we NEED to go into town for good food

Hi we are moving up that way from San Diego.. We are going to be at Stanford but really like dining out so we are looking at areas in between Palo Alto and the city.. Are there really good restaurants in the Portola valley /Burlingame etc area.. or would we need to go into SF?
,hoping at least not weekly!
We are truing to pin down an area.. many thanks

ps.. how far south does anyone live AND go into the city for dinner?

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  1. If you really like to dine out, live as far north up the Peninsula as you can stand. Professionally it would make more sense for both me and my wife to live on the Peninsula, but as obsessed foodies that would be just too much of a sacrifice.

    Portola Valley is the sticks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      There are loads of Stanford folk around Portola Valley - I wouldn't call it the sticks at all!

    2. We live just a few minutes from Portola Valley. The area is beautiful and wonderful for families, but doesn't have much food wise. There are a few decent places around, but the city has many many better options. We do go up to the city for dinner - it isn't that bad, but you have to plan. Also difficult with kids to schlep up to the city to eat. The bonus is that Indian food is good close by in Sunnyvale area. Also good taquerias in Redwood City.

      1. find a place in potrero hill near the 3rd/22nd caltrain station so that you guys can easily get down to stanford.

        or you could live near the millbrae BART/caltrain station so that you have easy public transportation to both stanford and the city

        it's so much more enjoyable to do dinner in the city though when it doesn't have to be a huge pre-planned event and it can be spontaneous and you can just hop on the bus and go somewhere

        (the answer to your question is no, there really aren't good restaurants in that area)

        that being said though, as much as a foodie as i am (and as you and your wife are, and everyone else on the site), i personally don't think proximity to restaurants should be a huge consideration when deciding where to live (even if that comment will get me in trouble on this site); but this is now moving into life advice.

        10 Replies
        1. re: vulber

          The best restaurants, food shops, farmers markets, and CSA programs (not to mention culture / nightlife) are pretty much a package deal around here.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Portola Valley has food delivered from at least 2 CSA programs that I know about - one from Blue House Farm in Pescadero. Also the Menlo Park Farmers Market is nearby for food. Many restaurants in the city have tables much closer together than on the Peninsula.

            Even foodies can find great food within 10 miles of Portola Valley if they know where to look and if you live here there are plenty of people with big kitchens who cook dinner parties.

            1. re: amhey

              There are quite a few more CSAs with drop-off points in the area. Mariquita's Two Small Farms CSA has a multitude of locations, many of them full with waiting lists. The small CSA in Salinas, J&P Organics, that I patronize has a drop at Stanford, I was surprised to learn. Marin Sun Farms has an active CSA program near campus. With this level of demand for quality ingredients, it still puzzles me that local customers aren't demanding a higher level of cooking in restaurants.

          2. re: vulber

            >find a place in potrero hill near the 3rd/22nd caltrain station
            yes, and to boot, that area is a lot like Portola Valley :-)

            >i personally don't think proximity to restaurants should be a huge
            >consideration when deciding where to live
            i agree, especially given the 101 from sf is such an ugly drive.
            if you have flexible hours and can take 280+carpool, this may be more reasonable.
            evenmore so if you have say an academic job which may only require campus visits 2-3 days a week.

            if you do bite the bullet and live in SF, you might want to decide if you want to be in a walkable neightborhood or not with reasonable fwy access to the south bay ... like that may exclude clement st but include say dolores park. potrero has easy parking when you come home but it's not that much a walkable place ... i live on the other side of PH and work in berkeley.]

            1. re: psb

              I'm struck by the cognitive dissonance of suggesting a walkable neighborhood in SF for folks who'll need to commute 35 miles on the 101.

              I mention it because that's my life, living in Bernal and commuting to the E Bay - so I'm not trying to be snide or dismissive. The irony is just well known to me.

              1. re: BernalKC

                What's ironic about it? If you have a long drive to work, it's nice to be able to park when you get home and walk or bike to dinner or the store.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  i'm saying that when possible, take public transportation to work (caltrain), walk/bike/bus to get around the city, and then use cars to get away from the city (trips to wine country, the beach, etc.). it's also nice to be able to go out to dinner in the city and not have to worry about choosing a restaurant based on availability of parking

                  again though, this is getting into non-chowhound territory

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Yeah, I do love being able to park the car and enjoy the walkability of Bernal. But in green/sustainability terms, its half a loaf. As I walk to the market I feel some need to genuflect a few times to absolve my freeway-addled-gas-guzzling-cabon-footprint guilt.

                  2. re: BernalKC

                    Mine too. I drive to San Mateo every day from Bernal and prefer to leave my car parked as much as possible on my off time. So I normally have to be dragged to anything north of Market Street :-)

                  3. re: psb

                    Don't forget Portola Valley is bikeable to Stanford, even if you can't walk there. Unless you are fortunate to live in Ladera behind Bianchini's or near Roberts at the corner of Alpine/Portola Rd you are not going to walk to the shops. If you are at Stanford then there is Stanford housing on campus - many folk associated with Stanford live there.

                2. love the handle...
                  this feels like a question that goes beyond topics discussed on foodie board...anyhow, if you're young and don't mind driving/training it, then go ahead and live in the city but don't do it just for the food (if other things like being in an urban environment, museums, live music, bar scene are also important then I get it). Plus if you're a student or in a grad program i think you would want to be close to your classmates but that's just me....

                  I have friends that work at Stanford and live in the South Beach area (near AT&T park) so it's pretty easy to walk to Caltrain, and take the shuttle into Stanford from the Palo Alto Caltrain station. note that no matter how you slice it, it is an hour commute door to door given walking and waiting for the train and then taking the shuttle...if you work late then the train stops every stop so its longer. i know because I do the opposite commute (work in SF and live near Palo Alto)....

                  Anyhow, there are plenty of good places to eat in Palo Alto and you can walk to them if you live in downtown Palo Alto (and you're a quick drive to good restaurants in Los Gatos, Mountain View, Menlo Park)...i would never say it's as good or diverse as San Francisco but there are some really good spots.

                  Burlingame has some decent restaurants as well (a notch down from Palo Alto) but the upside is you're w/in a 25 minute drive to the city versus 45-50 minutes.

                  1. thank you all so far this has helped.. Sadly we are not young anymore.. its not the bar scene we crave.. but dining.. we live a 5 minute walk to UCSD here.. so one of us will be having a longer commute! I have been to SF every year for the past twenty or so.. past husband and now daughter up there.. I do not think I could live in the city.. but we definitely want o eat there a and shop there often.. We have looked at houses and I am thinking now Burlingame that area will be the best bet..

                    I will be back on this board as a newbie when we move asking you all where to go! so its really a foodie advise column today..

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: butterbutt

                      I will stick up for dining on the peninsula. It's really not that bad.

                      There is *nothing* in portola valley itself, except Woodside Pub, which has only one michelin star. Buck's is a fun family place. Flea Street is *super awesome* and likely won't get a star, but on a good day might deserve one. Kaygetsu will break your wallet into small pieces, but you won't care. After that, where do you end up going?

                      You can ride down woodside road, and just before 101, you're in the mexican part of redwood city. Taquerias galore. *great* taquerias, more than you can shake a stick at. It would take years to eat everwhere good in that part of town. I'm working on it.

                      Downtown redwood city is medium grade, but has some winners. Enough to stay interesting. I had a very good meal at Martin's West last weekend, and often enjoy Crouching Tiger. City Pub has the best in fresh north-coast beer. There's 5 or 6 places in our regular rotation.

                      Next circle, if you're working at stanford, is Palo alto / menlo park. The eats there really aren't bad, even though CH gets snide about PA, since there's more form than function. Joya is a great example - mediocre food in an awesome looking room. I am within 5 restaurants of having eaten at every place near university ave (150 places!), and can tell you there's plenty of amusement to be had. Coupa Cafe is great relaxed venezualian. Evvia for the sardines. Paxti's for the deep dish. Tamerine for high end vietnamese. Reposado has treated us well the last few trips. Peninsula Creamery for the old school burgers and fries. La Strada's probably my pick for italian, although Bella Luna and Osteria pack a punch. 3 seasons hasn't been then same since they 86'ed the fire roasted mussels, but we like the relaxed bar atmosphere. La Bogedita for the slow cooked pork. Junoon's not bad although the half price everything before 6:30 often nets us at Mantra on a friday afternoon. The marinated flank steak at Nola.

                      All of that's about 15 minutes from Portola Valley, but close to work (assuming you don't live right on Portola).

                      Circling out, maybe to 30 minutes, gets you San Mateo - some great chinese - Sunnyvale - some great indian - and Mountain View - a cosmopolitan mix of various stuff.

                      Riding 280 into SF will take about 35 minutes into the mission (delfina +++). I don't get up as much as I'd like. You won't either, but it is there.

                      Regarding 22nd Caltrain, I tried that for 7 years of my life. The caltrain is terribly, terribly slow. I took it twice as a trial, and realized that when comparing 1 hour on 101 vs 3 hours in a train, I'll take 101 (off hours commute and I wasn't going as far south). The balance shifts depending on when you go, if you go early enough to take the express trains, and how long it takes from the caltrain station to work. The benefit of *driving* to work and *living* somewhere with walking is you *have to* go to work, and by the time you're home, if it's a 10 minute walk somewhere fun, you'll do it.

                      Good luck making a choice!

                      1. re: bbulkow

                        since when is having "only" one michelin star so terrible?

                        would recommend trying to be fairly close to the millbrae BART; there are many good restaurants located near BART stations (though quite a few aren't) as well as stores; and with the whole idea of the "neighborhood restaurant" becoming more and more popular (which means not offering valet parking in a notoriously difficult to park neighborhood), it'll be much easier to eat at some place like delfina

                        1. re: bbulkow

                          Bbulkow, I think you mean Village Pub instead of Woodside Pub.

                          To the OP, if you're into Japanese food, you might like Kaygetsu in Menlo Park.

                        2. re: butterbutt

                          I'd also stick to somewhere on the Peninsula, esp if you're use to a 5 min walk.

                          I've witnessed the Potrero to PA commute (gf at the time) and it had its ups and downs and when traffic was bad (near SFO and again in PA off 101) it wasn't fun. 101 is as bad as most freeways in LA.

                          You can do okay in Palo Alto, Menlo and San Mateo. Burlingame. SM and Burlingame are 20 minutes away from SF.

                          1. re: butterbutt

                            Burlingame is a great place to live. You'll love it. I think you can even manage to live walking distance to downtown burlingame as there are some nice communities within walking distance.
                            Alana's for breakfast is great, i'm also a fan of Stela Alpina for a great little neighborhood italian spot. Kabul is decent afghan food and there are some nice little sushi spots.

                            1. re: butterbutt

                              Another vote for the Peninsula for all the stated reasons by fellow hounds

                              "Sadly we are not young anymore..." Do you *really* want to commute more than 15 min? If you decide on anything north of Redwood City/Woodside, please try the commute before you purchase a home. Definitely would stay near 280.

                              1. re: butterbutt

                                When you get to Portola Valley - join the Yahoo! Group PVForum - you will meet many, many local residents - many foodies - and you will have friends to dine with.

                                1. re: butterbutt

                                  In Burlingame's favor is its proximity to Caltrain and to San Francisco. If whoever commutes to Stanford plans to do it in a car, they should be aware that University/Sand Hill/Oregon Expwy all bog down horrifically during commute hours, and parking in the center of campus is very limited and only available to high level professors and administrators. Normal professors and university staff have to park in progressively further out parking lots, which will add anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes to a commute. In Burlingame, hopping on the CalTrain to the Stanford station with its express shuttle to the center of campus would be relatively fast, while at the same time popping up to San Francisco in the car at off-peak commute hours would be pretty fast. If you plan to commute to Stanford from Burlingame in a car, I'd say you should just live in Portola valley.

                                  1. re: butterbutt

                                    Foodwise, I'd pick San Mateo over Burlingame by a long-shot both for the quality of grocery shopping and restaurants.

                                    And do keep in mind that morning fog on 280 can be so thick in the winter that you'll need to take 101 many times.