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Mar 19, 2011 01:05 PM

family friendly food picks in Palo Alto / Menlo Park

Since i had such a great rec for SF this week, thought I'd try my luck... i'm coming back to the bay area, but this time staying in Palo Alto and with my family (wife and two young kids). we're going to be running around with stuff, so would love to find quick, easy but good foods in the area. Let's say within 15 - 20 minutes of Palo Alto... We are adventurous eaters so open to all cuisines. I already plan to hit Harbor Palace one of those days, but we're here for 4 days.

THanks all again!


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  1. Well with traffic, 15 to 20 min from Palo Alto ... you're still in Palo Alto. In Town and Country near Stanford is the Mayfield bakery/restaurant where you can sit on one side with a white tablecloth and have a lovely fairly pricey meal (kids menu available) or get sandwiches/light meals on the other side. Also in the same complex is Kara's cupcakes which is memorable and quite yummy -- 855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. The Stanford Art Museum is free and has a nice cafe and big lawn to run around on while parents eat. If your kids are younger than say five or so, don't miss the the little but fun packed PA junior museum and zoo Then go to Downtown PA for lunch at Coupa for arepas and salads (and hot chocolate) 538 Ramona St.

    My husband has been sampling Ramen everywhere and his current favorite is Dohatsuten 799 San Antonio Road, in Palo Alto but close to Mtn View. I like the curry ground beef and rice in a hot stone bowl. The menu has tapas and Korean dishes, the chefs are Mexican, the waitress, Indian, but they all greet you with the hearty welcome in Japanese. Last time we went there were lots of cute and happy toddlers. To avoid any wait, get there when it opens.

    If you do get to Menlo Park, go to Kepler's books. Great kids section and good cafe right next door where you can settle into your books and have your meal outdoors (if it stops raining by then). I think it's called Cafe Borrone. 1010 El Camino Real Menlo Park, CA or for a traditional fish and chips meal go to Cook's Seafood 51 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA.

    Cafe Borrone
    1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

    Coupa Cafe
    538 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

    799 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto, CA

    6 Replies
    1. re: Tumkers

      Cafe Borrone is an excellent choice; they have a small food menu but what they have is well selected and of high quality. I love the short ribs, when they're on the dinner menu. They have a short breakfast menu and excellent coffee drinks.

      Just getting *around* in PA/MP is a bit of a trial, so describing which sections, the age of the kids, will be helpful. Like, if you're around 280, Buck's in Woodside is a kick - but downtown you'd get about the same at the Peninsula Creamery (look on the menu for the bubbly burger).

      Coupa Cafe is a good choice too - it's a little funereal at times, a bit of a laptop ghetto, but the venesualian specialties (cachapas) are very good, and for kids who want simple things, crepes and fries are available. Don't leave without the hot chocolate.

      Along El Camino, there are favorites every few miles. Su Hong Palo Alto is chow-worthy, for example, near the PA/MV line. Look for the various El Gruense taco/mexican places. Further north is the Korean place (tofu house). Etc.

      Local pizza chain Amici's has a strong following. Very thin NY *STYLE* (not actually NY), tasty just-cheese for the picky eaters, a class level above but still kid-happy.

      The cafe at Stanford Art Museum is Cool Cafe and it's near a lot of Rodin, including the Gates of Hell. Nice place, limited indoor seating though. Better when the weather is good.

      For an adult-only night, you might consider Tamerine.

      Peninsula Creamery
      900 High St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

      Cafe Borrone
      1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

      Su Hong
      1039 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

      Coupa Cafe
      538 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

      1. re: bbulkow

        staying at the four seasons Palo Alto... i think that's in a somewhat business district of PA, but don't have any concept of where that is in relation to the downtown area...

        we'll be house hunting over a few day span in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Burlingame, so open to other food choices up and down that strip...

        Thanks in advance.


        1. re: FattyDumplin

          Hi - the age of the kids matters ---

          The four seasons is walking distance to nothing. You're about a 5 minute drive to downtown PA's university ave district, which is a pleasant upscale walking and eating street. That area is fairly expensive and not very kid friendly, but with 70 restaurants in a quarter mile, there are some.

          For "quick and good", I'd recommend:
          Peninsula Creamery (++ diner), California Pizza Kitchen (chain, but tolerant, quick, and really not bad), Mediterranian Delight (schwarma, falafel, casual, very tasty), Paxti's (Chicago style pizza, not quick, but tolerant and a very nice pie), maybe Hydrabad House (a little curry joint, order the achari), fraiche (peculiarity good froyo).

          The four seasons is right on the freeway, so it's very easy to go up to ABC Seafood for dim sum. There are lots of places like that - Spices 4 in foster city for very authentic szechuan - so you can pretty much eat any cuisine you like within a 15 minute drive.

          Peninsula Creamery
          900 High St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

          California Pizza
          2410 Jefferson St, Napa, CA 94558

          1. re: bbulkow

            I work in the Four Seasons complex and agree that it's walking distance to nothing. On the plus side, Quattro is good. Also in our complex is a Just for Lunch, and a SF Soup Co - skip both. Note also that the only coffee walking distance from your hotel is... in your hotel.

            Not exactly chow, but just across 101 in East Palo Alto (where the Four Seasons actually is, too) is a strip mall with a Jamba Juice, a Starbucks, and a Togo's, along with a McDonalds which is obviously very not chow, but sometimes a kid meltdown is only solved in certain ways. Also in that strip mall is a Mi Pueblo, a latino grocery store, which actually has pretty great burritos and other to-go items, some made with freshly made tortillas.

            It is a 5 minutes drive to downtown PA only off-peak, i.e. not rush hour and not lunchtime. During peak, it's more like 15-20 minutes, stop and go the whole darn way. It can be often faster for us to hop on 101 and drive an exit or two for lunch instead of slogging up University.

            Howie's is great, especially for families. Why go to CPK when Howie's has better pizzas and better salads? Same complex as Kara's.

            If your timing works out, I really like the Sunday morning Farmer's Market on California Ave in PA - lots of fun prepared foods, especially the crepe place and Oaxacan Kitchen, along with Scream Sorbet - so, so good and unlike any sorbet you've ever had. I think the market is also on Wednesday evening in downtown Palo Alto to a lesser extent.


            1. re: artemis

              I always think of Town and Country (where howie's is) as much further, but it does depend on time of day.

            2. re: bbulkow

              sorry. 3 year old and 2 month old. ABC seafood sounds interesting. we love chinese food , so definitely have to check it out.

      2. Don't know how old your kids are or what your price range is, but we eat out often with our kids (less often lately, so not up on all the new places).

        My kids LOVE LOVE LOVE south Indian food, which may be a bit different. It is a bit more than 15-20 minutes, but not much more since you are already right on 101. Our favorite lately has been Madura, but Dosa Place is fine for kids too and closer to the freeway.

        In Palo Alto, my kids like Kan Zeman. I think bbulkow means Mediterranean wraps on California (unless Mediterranean delight is their newish bistro). All same owner. I haven't been in awhile, but it has always been a go to for our family. My kids love their kebabs, while my hubby and I are partial to their combo plates.

        My kids also like Mayfield, but it is a bit pricey. In that same area Howies pizza is good. You can drive up north on the freeway to Rengstorf and hop off for burritos and pupusas at La Bamba. The pupusas are OK, but the carnitas burrito my husband loves. There is Back a Yard right down the street from you. A new sit down Mexican I have been wanting to try in Redwood city called Huipil that has been getting a lot of love.

        Kan Zeman Restaurant
        274 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

        La Bamba
        52 E Campbell Ave, Campbell, CA 95008

        Dosa Place
        525 Los Coches St, Milpitas, CA 95035

        Huipil Cafe
        2992 Spring St, Redwood City, CA 94063