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showing off San Mateo

dimsumgirl Feb 1, 2011 02:47 PM

I'll be in San Mateo for two nights on business. What does the San Mateo area have to show off as best bets? I'm looking for a nice place to enjoy dinner not necessarily cheap eats but open to anything and a couple of casual lunch spots at a reasonable price.

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    artemis RE: dimsumgirl Feb 1, 2011 02:50 PM

    Ramen Dojo. Sushi Sam's (stick with sushi and traditional foods like chawan mushi and agedashi tofu). Sweet Breams. I visit all three almost weekly. I also like Hotaru for homestyle Japanese (oyaku don). I have only been to Osteria Coppa once, but it was pretty good, too.

    Sushi Sam's
    218 E 3rd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

    Sweet Breams
    220 2nd Avenue, San Mateo, CA

    Ramen Dojo
    805 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

    4 Replies
    1. re: artemis
      ankimo RE: artemis Feb 1, 2011 11:29 PM

      i agree Ramen Dojo for spicy ramen.
      Himawari for tan tan men
      Izakaya Mai for champon
      Everyday Beijing for northern chinese
      Silver House for Cantonese
      Little Sheep for hotpot
      Yu Raku for chinese japanese
      Hotaru for cheaper sushi than Sushi Sam's
      Wasiiki for peruvian
      Ravioli House for pulled pork sandwich
      Alhana for shawerma sandwich
      Romolo's for cannoli
      Sweet Breams for dessert taiyaki
      Suruki for japanese market
      Langkawi for roti prata
      Sibby's for cupcakes
      Yakitori Kokko is ok
      Golden Island to get a mango sago

      1. re: ankimo
        Melanie Wong RE: ankimo Feb 1, 2011 11:48 PM

        Could you tell us a little more about Wasiiki and what you recommend there? It seems to be in the spot where the San Mateo branch of Redwood City's Estampas Peruanas used to be. I tried it once a few years ago and wasn't that impressed. But I do remember it because that was the first time I had beef heart anticuchos. Same people or different management/cooks?

        Mancora Restaurant
        2319 S El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94403

        1. re: Melanie Wong
          ankimo RE: Melanie Wong Feb 2, 2011 02:57 PM

          last time i was there was May, and apparently a review in Dec. said they changed owners, so maybe not as good now. (was the old estampas before that) i ordered pescado a la macho. the typical dishes i usually order besides the fish variants also are
          ceviche, papa or palta rellena, aji de gallina, lomo saltado, chifa cuisine

      2. re: artemis
        staple RE: artemis Feb 2, 2011 10:18 AM

        Heartily backing up the Sweet Breams and Hotaru recommendations! The two would be a nice lunch combo.

        Sweet Breams
        220 2nd Avenue, San Mateo, CA

      3. Robert Lauriston RE: dimsumgirl Feb 1, 2011 03:31 PM

        Some worth-a-detour places discussed here:


        1 Reply
        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          bbulkow RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 1, 2011 04:40 PM

          I didn't see san mateo places are mentioned - that thread is south bay.

          The best food I've had in san mateo is chinese and japanese. There are a number of choices in both, depending on price / quality / likes.

        2. Ruth Lafler RE: dimsumgirl Feb 1, 2011 04:51 PM

          I was hunting for dinner on El Camino just off 92 and found an interesting little cluster at 25th and El Camino. I ended up at Spicy Empire (Sichuan), but I was tempted by a Filipino place (Mana), a Peruvian place and a Shanghainese (Little Shanghai) place.

          Little Shanghai
          17 E 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

          Mana Restaurant
          33 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

          Spicy Empire
          105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

          1 Reply
          1. re: Ruth Lafler
            bbulkow RE: Ruth Lafler Feb 1, 2011 10:43 PM

            The little cluster on 25th has been written about a few times. Spicy Empire used to be Shanghai East, and the two Shanghai places provided some competition for each other - although Little Shanghai was always better. The thai place there, Nipa-pon, is fairly good. Not worth a trip, but a substantial heat quotient.

            Little Shanghai
            17 E 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

            Spicy Empire
            105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

          2. PolarBear RE: dimsumgirl Feb 1, 2011 04:56 PM

            Hey dsg, I've been seriously Jones'n for razor clams (two different preps) from Silver House (2224 ECR, iirc), one style is with black beans. Have no idea if or when they are in season or available. Be sure and let us know what you find.

            Silver House
            2224 S El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94403

            1. eatzalot RE: dimsumgirl Feb 2, 2011 10:40 AM

              Request mentioned "not necessarily cheap eats" w/o cuisine constraints. San Mateo has one of the Bay Area's "destination" contemporary international restaurants, not mentioned here yet for some reason: "231 Ellsworth" (betw. 2nd and 3rd), which recently passed its 10th anniversary in current incarnation. Don't think I've dined under current chef Tzu Chiang, but 231 Ellsworth is one of the few SM restaurants steadily recommended in the Michelin and from several meals there in recent years I think it may be Michelin "star" quality (I said same of one or two other Bay Area places in recent years to which Michelin did later award stars). It's also one of the few of the 8 or 10 well-known "gastronomic" restaurants often mentioned in the Penisula or South Bay (the kind with modern international cuisine and serious wine lists) to also serve _lunch._

              FWIW, 231 also proved very flexible and accommodating for group "theme" dinners along lines I mentioned in recent "Destination restaurant ..." thread and has given notably good value for those.

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

              4 Replies
              1. re: eatzalot
                artemis RE: eatzalot Feb 2, 2011 11:59 AM

                Really? I was at 231 Ellsworth about 18 months ago and was not very impressed. It was fine, but too expensive for just "fine." I would much rather drive into the city or down to PA than go back, at least if it's the same chef as when I went. Then again, if I had $50+ max expense account for dinner and I didn't feel like going to Sushi Sam's, I might go to 231, as it's a shame to not take full advantage of an expense account... but I think I'd rather try Viogner first.

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

                Sushi Sam's
                218 E 3rd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

                1. re: artemis
                  eatzalot RE: artemis Feb 3, 2011 08:15 AM

                  Really. I wasn't present so can't comment on your dinner of course, but as with any restaurant, I think a few tries of 231 will give a representative picture, and I'm reflecting sincerely here after six or so visits in recent years (last was 1-2 years ago). 231 also compares naturally to its established competition in SM and SC Counties, done in more detail last year (link below). Note update, John Bentleys is now in Redwood City only; another in that class is the few-years-old Quattro at the Palo Alto Four Seasons. Viognier, also in downtown San Mateo - thanks for mentioning it!-- we've used often as a wine-tasting venue in the separate room and sometimes stayed for dinner. I thought the kitchen was more striking when it was Gary Danko's(until 2000 or so when he set up his own place) but certainly worthwhile recently.

                  This edges into a specialized topic worth discussion but not here: Of expensive high-end restaurants, which show "just" consistently competent, modern international kitchens and which show unique sparks and creativity? The Pen. and S. Bay certainly see some of the latter but not at all the places I've mentioned. Village Pub's high-end and custom dinners I'd put in the Competent class, for instance. 231 I've experienced as Competent with flashes of uniqueness but above all, it has given good value for group dinners where we're aiming for high-end but also cost-sensitive.


                  John Bentley's
                  2915 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94061

                  Village Pub
                  2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                  222 E. 4th Ave., San Mateo, CA 94401

                  Quattro Restaurant and Bar - Four Seasons Hotel
                  2050 University Ave @ University Circle, East Palo Alto, CA 94303

                  1. re: eatzalot
                    artemis RE: eatzalot Feb 3, 2011 08:56 AM

                    Thanks for such a thoughtful answer. It sounds like I need to try 231 again!

                    I eat pretty regularly at Quattro because I work in the area - I've never had a clunker dish there, though never had anything amazing either (which is of course hard to find). Quattro is always at least good, and sometimes very good, so it's great for all the business lunches and dinners we host.

                    1. re: artemis
                      eatzalot RE: artemis Feb 3, 2011 09:19 AM

                      My impression of Quattro is identical, though based only on a little experience (two "banquet" meals and a modest à-la-carte dinner). The larger meals were organized by a food-wine organization with a bit of reputation, and not long after Quattro opened and was getting established, so the kitchen may have put itself out extra hard. What I saw was extremely impressive technically though not especially adventurous -- which may have been the choice of the people who organized the events and decided the menu. But overall a similar quality level to what I've seen at 231 Ellsworth over the years, which is why I recommend it.

              2. K K RE: dimsumgirl Feb 2, 2011 12:55 PM

                Best high end Cantonese in downtown San Mateo might just be Champagne Seafood Restaurant.

                Wakuriya, much further away closer to the 280 side, is probably the best modern kaiseki restaurant in town (non sushi).

                115 De Anza Blvd, San Mateo, CA

                Champagne Seafood Restaurant
                88 E 4th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

                1. m
                  ML8000 RE: dimsumgirl Feb 2, 2011 03:10 PM

                  The taquerias might be better a bit south in Redwood City but San Mateo has quite a few decent taco joints.

                  Here's a list of restaurants in downtown SM, not just Mexican. There's a good number of places.


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