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Santa Clara/Sunnyvale/mountain view recs - good stuff at low prices

Hi chowhounds,

I just moved to sunnyvale, now I am in search of everyday food locations. I get almost all my meals at restaurants, so I am looking for reasonably priced everyday food that's good! With all the restaurants around here, there has to be a lot of those! I eat pretty much everything, although frequency wise, mexican probably ranks high, then vietnamese, japanese, salads and sandwiches. I live around Tasman and fair oaks and work at Santa clara (montague and 101) .
I have got some good places to try for weekends from the forums, but need recs for weekdays.

So far I have tried Dish N Dash and Chavez market, I'll go back to both, but need a lot bigger list.
here is some I am looking for:

1) Taqueria's
I am sure there are plenty of family owned low key Taqueria's, a few names will be nice. Also, I am wondering if there are places that make innovative burrito's and Salsa, if anyone has been to sacramento, there is a small chain named Dos Coyote's, that's the kind of place I am looking for. It's a little more upscale than the average mexican place, but still cheap and really good.
2) Vietnamese Pho places.
3) Salad's - Places similar to Pluto's where I can make my own salad's.
4) Great sandwiches.
5) Desperately need to find some coffee places. Been to the 2 at sunnyvale downtown, wasn't really impressed. Looking for places with the best barista's!
6) Brunch/Breakfast (This is not in the cheap category, more for weekends) - classy, imaginative brunch buffet? or just regular steak and eggs or corned beef and eggs. I had a few regular places in Folsom, one of them (Sienna at el dorado hills) always had an unique/different item for their sunday brunch, been there 5/6 times and every time they had something different.

Any other recommendations are welcome too (ethnic or otherwise). I really do eat everything.

Thanks in advance, I know it's a big list, but I didn't really get a good vibe by just driving around, so had to come here!

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  1. Not on your list, but we recently went to Kunjip for Korean ox tail soup and were very impressed.

    1066 Kiely Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

    1 Reply
    1. re: Martin Strell

      Had the bibim naeng myun at Kunjip on Monday -- it was outta this world! Great banchan too.

      1066 Kiely Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

    2. I'm a fan of Taqueria La Bamba's carnitas and have been for more than 20 years. They now have 3 locations in Mountain View so you don't have to deal with the original and it's dearth of seats at lunch time. The carnitas are tossed on the griddle before being added to whatever you've ordered (I like them in the tacos, burritos, and on top of nachos), so they come have a crisped exterior that I like better than moist carnitas that are swimming in juices. Pretty much old school, so don't expect to find innovative burritos. I've had Korean burritos from the BBQ Kalbi truck when it parks in Mountain View (had been Thursday nights near Books Inc., I don't know what it is now).

      Great sandwiches? I like the ones I've gotten from the Eat on Monday food truck when it's in town. Pork belly is particularly good, so are the braised short rib sandwiches. A wee bit further afield, I had the torta cubana at El Gallo Giro in San Jose and really enjoyed it. Not a traditional cubano in that it has breaded beef, pork leg, and head cheese in addition to the ham, pickles, and cheese, but really tasty. I'm sure the mayo they smeared on the bread before throwing it on the griddle didn't hurt!

      My family like Pho Vi Hoa in Los Altos (El Camino and San Antonio, so nearly in Mountain View). Pretty traditional stuff, but we find the flavor of the broth just that much better than most of the others we've had in Mountain View.

      Can't say anything about coffee places. I avoid that brew like the plague unless I'm truly desperate from caffeine. ;-)

      Salad's? I'm not saying you'll like this, but the only place I can think of for make your own is Fresh Choice on El Camino in the San Antonio Shopping Center.

      La Bamba
      2058 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View, CA 94043

      El Gallo Giro
      1720 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

      1. Have you been to Barefoot yet? If not, you should.

        Barefoot Coffee Roasters
        5237 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

        1. Sorry to say Stingray, but I have looked for years, but never found a Dos equivalent down in the Bay. It's a must stop any time I drive up to Sac/Tahoe for me, if only for the nostalgia factor... ahh the paella burrito, she calls me still.

          Fiesta del Mar is more upscale than the garden-variety tacqueria, but it actually serves Mexican food, unlike Dos.

          1. I'm also new to the area, but I've been to Country Gourmet in Sunnyvale twice now for brunch and I've been really impressed. The food is traditional brunch food, but often with an interesting twist. For example, the eggs benedict comes on top of buttermilk biscuits instead of English muffins, and the cheese omelet contains cream cheese along with two other cheeses. They even ask how you want your poached eggs done on the benedict (soft, medium, or well).

            The service style is a little odd. You place your order at the front counter, and then you go pick a seat and they bring the food to you. You get your own coffee/drinks. I personally don't mind this, but I could see some people being turned off.

            Country Gourmet
            1314 S Mary Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

            1. 1) Taqueria - La Costena
              3) Whole Foods...this one is tough
              4) Dittmer's on San Antonio
              5) Red Rock - serve Four Barrel, great vibe, 2nd story with wifi and lots of room
              6) Palo Alto has a few...as does los altos...nothing worth noting (or that I know of) in MV or Sunnyvale. In Palo Alto - Joanie's, Cafe Brioche, St. Michael's Alley if you're going more fancy. In Los Altos - Rick's Cafe, Malty's, Tom's Depot...Menlo Park (a little far) - Stack's, Cafe Barrone

              Red Rock Cafe
              1010 Lincoln Ave, Napa, CA 94558

              Cafe Brioche
              445 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA

              La Costena
              2078 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View, CA 94043

              1 Reply
              1. re: vis

                Dittmer's at San Antonio is temporarily closed. they are reopening a few blocks further south in Sept.

              2. 1. In Mountain View, I like Taqueria Los Charros. The restaurant on El Camino is more of a sit down place. Jennifer's Taqueria on Latham and Escuela in a small strip mall also does some huge burritos. Also in Mountain View is Vive Sol, which is more a mexican sit down place.

                2. The best Pho I've had in the peninsula area is at Pho Hoa Vi on San Antonio and El Camino. If you go further south to San Jose, you'll find many more options, but I am not that familiar with the Pho down there. Alternatively, if you like Pho, you might also like Ramen -- the real kind, not the kind that you get in the grocery store -- the Sunnyvale/Santa Clara area has a number of great Ramen noodle shops in the area.

                3. Closest place is probably Fresh Choice, a chain of buffet style salad bars.

                4. For Japanese style sandwiches (white bread and stuff in the middle wth the crusts cut off) I go to Nijiya (Sunnyvale/Mountain View border on Grant). One of the better banh mi places - Cam Hung in Sunnyvale has a lot of options, and are all pretty delicious. Eat on Monday is a food truck that services that area. They do some very good sandwiches.

                5. Try Dana Street Coffee in Mountain View or Phillz Coffee in Palo Alto.

                6. There are no truly excellent breakfast joints in Mountain View or Sunnyvale to speak of. Amelia's in Santa Clara does corned beef and eggs, but it's not super classy or imaginative, just a nice place to eat brunch. The Original Pancake House in Los Altos does very many different styles of pancakes. Calafia in Palo Alto has recently expanded their brunch menu (love the chicken and waffle here), and next door is Mayfield, which offers a more upscale brunch option.

                Cam Hung Restaurant
                903 Reed Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA

                Taqueria Los Charros
                854 W Dana St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                Jennifer's Taqueria
                1929 Latham St, Mountain View, CA 94040

                6 Replies
                1. re: mhuang

                  Whole Foods in Los Altos is just as close as Fresh Choice in Los ALtos//Mountain View
                  A little more north - more salad bar choices - Calafia has a good one with mostly organic stuff in it
                  Draegers in downtown Los Altos also has a decent salad bar..

                  855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA

                  1. re: takuhead

                    Thanks much everyone, ths is looking like a good list to start with. Please keep them coming, I have plenty fo time
                    @artemis...I see u have good choice with the Paella burrito..:) I was really hoping to find something simillar here. One of their locations started a strawberry salsa that was just yummy, sweet and sour!
                    I always felt fresh choice is like any other chain, not worth driving anywhere for, and I always end up eating too much..:). Actually to clarify the salad part, I am looking for places where I can customize my salad as well as make my own.
                    Anyone else think there is some taste difference between whold foods locations (talking about the hot food bar) ?

                    1. re: takuhead

                      Sawa sushi in sunnyvale i've heard is pretty darn good.

                      1. re: kevin

                        ... and pretty darn expensive. Not a cheap eat, by any stretch of the imagination!

                    2. re: mhuang

                      I do like ramen quite a bit, I'll search the boards for some names. Maybe you have a few to add?

                      1. re: stingrayy990

                        Orenchi (Santa Clara on Homestead and Lawrence) - Orenchi Ramen with the soft boiled egg. There's always a wait for Orenchi, though, given how popular it has become.
                        Ramen Halu (San Jose/Santa Clara)
                        Ramen Kahoo (San Jose/Santa Clara) - a good bowl of ramen, good broth, good meat, but wasn't a huge fan of their noodles.
                        Ramen Tenma - try their okinawan soba
                        Santouka (inside Mitsuwa Market) - I usually end up getting whatever special they've got. You have to not mind sitting in a supermarket food court, and while it's under construction, it's noisier than usual.

                        Shalala, Maru Ichi and Rwoya are all in Downtown Mountain View; I haven't been to Rwoya in years, and I've had some rather disappointing bowls of Kuro Ramen at Maru Ichi of late. Shalala makes a good bowl of spicy miso ramen.

                        Ramen Halu
                        375 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

                        Maru Ichi Restaurant
                        368 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                        675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA

                        Orenchi Ramen
                        3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

                        Ramen Tenma
                        487 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

                        675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

                        698 W Dana St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                    3. Indian- there are so many good places and they are all very reasonably priced. Good choices of food from every region of India. Probably the most choices anywhere outside India itself.

                      I like northern Indian/ Pakistani, so I like Kabob and Curry in Santa Clara.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ckshen

                        +1 for Kabab N Curry's in Santa Clara, Dish Dash. Would add Esther's German Bakery and cafe in Mt. V/Los Altos at San Antonio x El Camino. for German breakfast and coffee (not Black Forest breakfasts - the regular ones).

                        Good thread for ramen: http://www.sanjose.com/restaurants/ar...

                        Kabab & Curry's
                        1498 Isabella St, Santa Clara, CA 95050

                        Esther's German Bakery
                        987 N San Antonio Road, Los Altos, CA 94022

                      2. If you like Dish n Dash, you should try Dish Dash. that's the original restaurant in downtown Sunnyvale.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ckshen

                          oh yes , thats on my list. is it in cheap eats category?
                          long forward to trying some of the places.

                        2. For taqueria sampling, try Los Altos Taqueria, the 3rd point on the Burrito Triangle at Rengstorff and Old Middlefield Road in MV. All the taco and burrito choices you might expect, plus a wide menu of plates, soups, seafood dishes. Crispy carnitas and incredible simmered chicken are my favorite ingredients for tacos.

                          Rose International Market, Castro St., across El Camino Real from downtown MV, has Persian foods -- grocery, deli, and the food bargain of the Peninsula, kebabs cooked over mesquite coals.

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

                          Los Altos Taqueria
                          2105 Old Middlefield Way Ste E, Mountain View, CA 94043

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: anyhow

                            I also really like Los Altos Taqueria's huevos rancheros for breakfast -- the sauce is heavy on the veg, more like a pile of tasty sauteed peppers, onions, and tomatoes than a red enchilada sauce.

                            +1 on Rose Market (warning -- it's not always clear where the line is and how to order....)

                            Los Altos Taqueria
                            2105 Old Middlefield Way Ste E, Mountain View, CA 94043

                          2. Some suggestions:

                            Cooking Papa (Santa Clara) - get here before 11:30 am, limited parking, gets very crowded. Cantonese comfort food stuff: stir fry, noodles, rice, congee, claypot rice, in house made cheung fun (like at dim sum). Cash only, pretty good and great value

                            Pho Binh (Sunnyvale) - best pho in the area, and IMO better than Pho Vi Hoa which is more commercialized. PB's broth is lighter, more simpler tasting in a good way. PB also has a great duck leg noodle soup.

                            Cam Hung (Sunnyvale) - small deli for dine in or to go. Best banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) in the area. Have to eat it while the bread is toasty hot.

                            Shanghai Flavor Shop (Sunnyvale) - greasy hole in the wall kind of place. Very famous for their Shanghainese pan fried pork buns (shen jian bao), might just be the absolute best in all of SF Bay Area, and has ample soup and juices inside. Other than that, spinach and pork wontons in soup (Shanghainese style) is a nice change of pace to go with the pork buns, or their scallion and oil brothless noodles is also great if you need extra carbs.

                            Shalala in downtown Mountain View is pretty good, I'd say way better than Maruichi or Ryowa, but not as painful of a wait at Orenchi.

                            Shanghai Flavor Shop
                            888 Old San Francisco Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                            859 Villa St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                            Maruichi Restaurant
                            530 Barber Ln, Milpitas, CA 95035

                            Cam Hung Restaurant
                            903 Reed Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                            Cooking Papa
                            2830 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

                            698 W Dana St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: K K

                              Yelp says that Pho Binh has closed.

                              The OP might want to head towards Cupertino and check out the great Indian restaurants in Sunnyvale. Madura, Madras Cafe, Kerala Kitchen, and Saravana Bhavan have all been reviewed here favorably, and recently. And they are pretty cheap eats!

                              1. re: 512window

                                Good list of South Indian & I'd like to throw in Rajjot for North Indian cheap eats. More your mom 'n pop, home style food. Been there off & on over the years...not sure if prices have crept up a bit. I've made the drive to pick up Aloo parathas but have gotten combo plate as well. Two curries, rice or roti, raita & pickle for $5.75; 3 curries, $6.99. Even the two curry plate is enough to feed 2 people! This is not the best Indian food but if you stick to basics, you'll find a decent, inexpensive, satisfying meal.

                                1. re: ceekskat

                                  I've been to saravan bhava a few times...that is an awesome place!

                                  By the way, any idea how to save the map in google maps or download to my phone?

                                  1. re: stingrayy990

                                    Made it to barefoot, philz coffee and cafe brioche. Haven't made up my mind about cafe brioche yet, luved the sidewalk seating though, so I'll definitely go back. I had lentil soup which tasted a little sweeter than I am used to (almost like there was molasses or brown sugar in it). I liked the vibe at barefoot, but the espresso wasn't what I prefer ( a bit too bitter). Not going back to phillz coffee, I don't want to patronize environmentally irresposible places ( paper cups only), pity, I think I liked the atmosphere.

                                2. re: 512window

                                  HI I cant find anything anywhere on Kerala Kitchen,.. not on this site or yels]p or google

                                  1. re: jason carey

                                    Maybe referring to Kokila's Kitchen in Cupertino. Haven't been, Gujarati, I believe.

                                    Kokila's Kitchen
                                    20956 Homestead Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                      But Kokila's closed years ago so that wouldn't be helpful either. The other three restaurants mentioned in that post are all excellent though!


                                      1. re: mdg

                                        Thanks, wish there were a credible keralan restaurant in these parts.


                                          1. re: ckshen

                                            never mind. You were part of those discussions.

                              2. I work at Cisco down the street at Tasman/Zanker so here's some of the lunch places I've tried that have gone back to multiple times -

                                Athena Grill - AMAZING greek food. Try the dip sampler, and their main courses have never disappointed. Their greek fries are also great to munch on. Located in the middle of nowhere by a bunch of office buildings but it gets very busy.

                                Louisiana Territory Cajun Truck - they show up at the Netgear building at Zanker/Plumeria. I check their facebook feed for announcements.

                                The Banana Leaf - Malaysian/Thai food but the place gets packed at lunchtime so you need to get their early.

                                Huong Lan Sandwich IV - my favorite banh mi place. They put peanuts on their sandwiches though so be careful if you have any allergies. Their spring rolls are also good.

                                Pho Nam - I *think* this is the name of the place but it's two doors down from Huong Lan Sandwich IV - great pho. I always call it "the pho place by the sandwich shop".

                                Turmeric Restaurant - In Sunnyvale on Murphy Ave - hands down my favorite Indian food place in the Bay Area. Everything is freshly made on site and it's the only place I've ever been to where I prefer the vegetarian options over the meat options. It's a buffet at lunchtime that used to be jam packed before the recession hit - not as crowded now but the food is still great.

                                Banana Leaf Restaurant
                                182 Ranch Dr, Milpitas, CA 95035

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

                                Huong Lan Sandwich IV
                                41 Serra Way, Milpitas, CA 95035

                                Pho Nam Restaurant
                                1205 Wildwood Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94089

                                Louisiana Territory
                                Mountain View, Mountain View, CA

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Bunson

                                  ty Bunson for the truck rec, i'll definitely try that out.
                                  the rose market was awesome, have to go back there to try other stuff.

                                  1. re: stingrayy990

                                    Also since you seem to like Mexican food you might want to try the Taco De Oro Taco Truck up First Street in Alviso. It's odd in that it's parked right next to the El Tacos De Oro restaurant but the truck is the one to go to. Cheap cheap $1.25 tacos that are pretty good for what you pay.

                                    Just up the street there's a place called Maria Elena's that used to be really popular with the work crowd but I found out they put MSG on their chips (no wonder they tasted so good), and recent Yelp reviews seem to indicate quality/service have taken a downward slide or at least is now inconsistant. This is more of a warning than a recommendation.

                                    Maria Elena's Restaurant
                                    1450 Gold St, Alviso, CA

                                2. Not a restaurant, but an open-air produce and dairy market - The Milk Pail in Mountain View. It's my absolute favorite place to buy cheese -- they always have amazing deals and a huge selection of cheeses, local and imported. Great selection of Acme Bread delivered daily, too.

                                  Acme Bread
                                  1601 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: operagirl

                                    For some reason, CH is not letting me edit the location link at the bottom of this post.

                                    Esther's German Bakery
                                    987 N San Antonio Road, Los Altos, CA 94022

                                    1. re: operagirl

                                      ty operagirl, I was going to research cheese on the forums, this gives me a head start..:)

                                      1. re: stingrayy990

                                        You're most welcome! Welcome to the Bay =)

                                  2. For coffee:
                                    My favorite is Sweet Shop on Los Altos Ave. Not a coffee shop but the best coffee and reasonably cool out-of-way place to hang. They get Verve beans delivered every Thursday. Red Rocks is variable depending on the barista and the variable 4 Barrel coffees. The rest of the places are horrendous. Philz? Oh Pleaz. Any place that proudly describes one of their coffees tasting like "charcoal" is automatically disqualified. Others not too far away is Barefoot (I appreciate their efforts but far from my favorite), Bellano (excellent, serving Herkimer and Zoka IIRC) and Sweet+Bitter (or Bitter+Sweet serving Sightglass).

                                    Red Rock Cafe
                                    1010 Lincoln Ave, Napa, CA 94558

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: 12172003

                                      ty so much...got to try Bellano, that was more the way I like it.
                                      I just had simple coffee at Phillz, I wasn't impressed at all, but then I thought maybe I need to try some of their other types of coffee. but "charcoal"..really? That definitely should disqualify anyone...:)

                                      1. re: stingrayy990

                                        "Among the darkest blends available at Philz. Appropriately named, this blend is not for the faint of heart. The ether blend is dark, oily, with charcoal tones and a strong clean finish. One of the strongest tasting blends at Philz." 'nuff said.

                                        1. re: 12172003

                                          Just wanted to updated, my current favorite coffee place is cafe venetia in palo alto, exactly what I was looking for..:) I know it's not in the region I originally requested, but still its totally worth the drive.

                                      2. re: 12172003

                                        I'll mention the asian bakery Paris Baguette at El Camino/Lawrence as well. Not sure how their coffee is but it might be the closest thing you'll find in the area that can rival some of the ridiculously good asian bakeries down in LA. Not sure how their coffee is though.

                                        Paris Baguette
                                        3561 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA

                                      3. The solid mexican restaurant in south San Jose, Tu Mero Mole, has a location in Sunnyvale. Food is very similar. Moles are decent, but I think the standout dishes are the Cabrito Jalisco (goat) and the Cochinita Yucateca (pork). Sunnyvale location is at 590 Old San Francisco Road (down the street from Shanghai Flavor Shop).

                                        Shanghai Flavor Shop
                                        888 Old San Francisco Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                                        Tu Mero Mole
                                        2041 Woodard Rd, San Jose, CA 95124

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: zartemis

                                          Thanks for the tip - it's great to see them have a location that's a lot closer to me. Hope to check them out soon.

                                          Tu Mero Mole
                                          590 Old San Francisco Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                                          1. re: zartemis

                                            I have wondered about this place often, the burrito was pretty alright. Thanks!

                                            1. re: zartemis

                                              Thanks again for the pointer to this new Sunnyvale branch! The cabrito is as delicious as I remember it from the San Jose location. Hope to try more things soon.


                                            2. 3) Sweet Tomatoes for DIY salad. Lawrence & Kifer.