Just moved to Mountain View from New York. Help an east coast hound find his new favorite haunts!
Hey everyone, we just moved to Mountain View from New York and are looking for new favorites both nearby and far away (very willing to travel). We love cooking and eating just about anything and would love your help to find any of the following:
1) Markets! -- We've found Whole Foods and Trader Joes, but are there smaller markets anyone recommends for either ethnic ingredients or quality meat/produce? What about:
1d) Farmers Markets?
2) Weekend brunch spots -- Willing to travel, but would love local recs too. I want everything from your typical American spot, to ethnic (bonus points if it's Latin American), to dim sum, to fancy-shamncy-only-on-special-occasions brunch!
3) Coffee, both individual drinks and coffee by the pound. I love strong black coffee and am excited to try all of the Bay Area's small, local roasters.
4) Wine Shops -- we stumbled upon K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, which is pretty great. Any other recs?
5) California food -- not sure what I mean by this exactly, but I guess I mean all the stuff you think is unique to the area. What are the staples I'm missing? What is the place or thing I'll try and never be able to live without again?
6) New York food -- Pizza? Bagels? Pickles? Pastrami? Does it exist out here? Is it any good? I've gone a couple of weeks, but can I really go the next few years? Help!
7) Fast food/Take out -- Extra points for food trucks and great burger joints.
8) Indian -- we've had some amazing Indian food so far in Sunnyvale, and these have just been random walk-ins. If this is average, what's the best?
9) Vietnamese -- we've seen tons of Pho places around, and recently drove around a neighborhood in San Jose with tons of Vietnamese restos. Any standouts?
10) And finally, your favorite restos of the area. Price is no option, but we want variety -- expensive, medium, cheap, and dirt cheap. No taco is too small, no umpteen course tasting menu too grand.
Thank you for recs!
I'm sure you've discovered quite a bit more in the months since you've moved here, but I'll add a few...
Nijiya Japanese supermarket in MV or Sunnyvale - lots of organic stuff at reasonable prices, very clean, all the Japanese staples, and great (non-butcher) meat selection
You might also want to try Sprout's in Sunnyvale (http://www.sprouts.com/) for inexpensive produce and a good inexpensive but healthier meat selection. It's like a cheaper whole foods.
Santa Clara along El Camino is considered to be Koreatown so lots of Korean BBQ places. There is also this guy that sells fresh-roasted sweet potatoes here:
Schaub's was mentioned I think, but I'd second it for a decent butcher option. It's next to Sigona's (which has a great produce, super-fresh olive oil, vinegar and nut/dried fruit selection) in the Stanford Shopping Mall. Try the famous Fred's Steak.
Kara's cupcakes - one in Town and Country in PA. Try the chocolate fleur de sel cupcake.
For deep dish, you can't beat Zachary's in Berkeley/Oakland (or Windy City in San Mateo isn't bad). For thin crust more neapolitan style, there are a bunch of options in SF. I like Delfina's pies. But for South Bay, Pizza Antiqua on Santana Row is good, as is La Pizzeria in Campbell. Arinelli's in the Mission in SF has a decent slice.
Besides Wise Sons in SF, there is a good NY style deli in SF called Miller's East Coast Deli.
Da Noodle in San Jose has oxtail pho...apparently very good.
Of course, I love many Napa places. Redd, Celadon (try their pork belly/watermelon salad), Solbar, Addendum (for the famous Ad Hoc fried chicken), Farmstead at Longmeadow Ranch...and many other more famous places.
For burgers, I like Kirk's in Palo Alto. But the best burger I've had in recent memory was at Umami Burger in SF.
Berkeley and Oakland have incredible places for less $$ than in SF. Many good ethnic hole-in-the-walls and great Ethiopian. Might also want to try Commis and Brown Sugar Kitchen.
I'm sure you'll find a ton of great recs for SF. So many awesome restaurants and bakeries popping up. Good ice cream too.
+1 for Dittmer's when they re-open.
For something that you wouldn't have had in New York that should blow your mind are the fresh dungeness crabs off of the boats at Pillar Point. Half Moon Bay/Pillar Point isn't that far of a drive from Mountain View and live dungeness crab during crab season is one of the true gems of the area The local crabs are only a day or two out of the ocean and haven't been kept in a tank and starved/stressed and the tomalley inside is bursting at the seams. Dungeness brought in from say Washington or Alaska or kept in tanks for days like at Ranch 99 tend to have blackish tomalley and very little of it. Sometimes the boats will sell fish too, just have to call the harbor(650-726-8724) and find out if any boats are in that day.
Rose International Market on Castro Street in Mountain View is a fabulous source of mid-east products, particularly Afghani and Persian. But it gets better. It becomes a restaurant just before noon, turning out generous, delicious and authentic kabobs and more. Orders are huge and sharable. Plan to spend some time combing the grocery section.
ETA I notice some negative reviews on Yelp, mostly from people who didn't understand the drill or the menu. Some found the service short or rude. You, coming from NYC, should find RIM a paragon of politesse after Al, the Soupman.
If you're looking for something to do this weekend, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in San Jose is having their annual Greek festival. Listen to Greek music, watch the dancers, eat some Greek food (the lamb chops are our favorite), and don't miss the pastry selection in the courtyard. I had a galaktoboureko tonight with the custard still warm on the inside. Heaven!
Print out coupons from the website for free admission.
The fruit season is starting up at Andy's Orchard in Morgan Hill. This man and his orchard are a local treasure. Go to some of the fruit tastings and be amazed -- 30+ varieties of cherries, dozens of varieties of apricots, plums, pluots, peaches, nectarines, and more. Plus it's a nice field trip into the more rural part of Santa Clara County. Gives you an inkling of why this was nicknamed the Valley of Heart's Delight, before silicon stole the limelight.
Mountain View has some amazing spots, but don't forget about our beautiful California coastline! There is a tiny town that is south of Half Moon Bay called Pescadero they have Duarte's (Do-arts, not Du-arte's I know the family and their last name is said like the first example) Tavern. The tavern has been featured on Food Network for the best cioppino in the state, they are also famous for their extremely Californian cuisine like cream of artichoke soup and ollaberry (cross between a black berry and a raspberry) pie. The prices have been hiked up due to the publicity that's the only drawback. My grandpa used to bar tend there and the prices really have changed over the last 6 years or so.
Check out The Half Moon Bay Brewery as well, it's about $11.00 a flight for 12 or more beers. They also do live music and serve some good cali cuisine.
I haven't had a slice of Duarte's pie in years...I go to Phipps and pick them myself and make ollaliberry gelato. They have awesome spice blends, their garam masala is amazing! The artichoke bread is a must when I go there I usually get the garlic artichoke batard. Harley Goat Farm's is also an awesome place to learn about goat cheese making and you can have a conversation with one member of the Duarte family who owns the goat farm.
In culinary school my chef was wondering why I wanted to make cream of artichoke soup with anchovy crostini, so I brought her and her husband to Duarte's and she fell in love with the soup!
Duarte's pies - crust has changed; not for better. Good pies at Arangeli's, esp rhubarb. Also, Arangeli's used to have a great way to order and send their partially baked breads anywhere. We've gone to Duarte's for 40 years - usually get take-out & go to beach or Butano State Park for picnic. I prefer the 1/2 (artichoke) and 1/2 (green chile) soup.
re: Robert Lauriston
We've been going there a long time, back when the aunt made all the pies. Up to awhile back, the crust was crispy and light, complementing the flavorful fillings. Now, it seems they make the pies along with the store variety perhaps where I would guess preservation is important. We had some for the first time in years last week and all of us were surprised they would change a popular, people-drawing, known-for item like the pies.
Sounds like what happened to Knott's Berry Farm's boysenberry pies... my parents said they were really good back in the day when the original Mrs. Knott was at the helm.
I bought a frozen Duarte's olallieberry pie... would not purchase again, but I make my own boysenberry pies with lard crusts and Duarte's could not compare.
Another pastrami/deli is Wise Sons in the Mission Dist. in SF. You might like to try it for a very casual brunch. It would be interesting to hear your impressions, including of their house-smoked fish.
Does cannoli count as NY food? Try Romolo's in San Mateo, an old-school (for CA) spot with espresso and ice cream.
And I almost forgot, we've also eaten three nicer meals since we got in!
Alexander's Steakhouse -- kind of a disappointment. Steak is a beautiful thing. It's simple, it's flavorful, it's filling, it's life-affirming. A good steak should be served bleeding rare and seasoned with a little salt. Why do you Californian's have to gussy up this evolutionary comfort with bourbon soaked Roquefort butter toppings? I mean honestly! The closest thing they had to what I was looking for was a T-bone with three salts and lemon... It was passable, certainly not worth the price tag. The appetizers were boring despite a ludicrous attempt to impress (a 10 ingredient shooter? a cracked egg over a salad?). Needless to say, I was a tad unhappy.
The Village Pub -- the exact opposite experience. This place served me the best duck I've ever had in my life. I cannot give this place enough praise. In fact, any attempt to praise would do it disservice. Really, the whole experience from the wine to dessert was top notch. Easily the best meal we've had in California.
Azziza -- also excellent. Surprising and fun. Not Moroccan at all as advertised. Even the pastilla (which otherwise was pretty close to the real thing) had duck. That said everything we tried was cool and creative.
Feel the same way you do about Alexander's (though I've been to the SF location not the Silicon Valley original).
Sundance Steakhouse isn't the best by any means, but it does more classic preparations. Same with Felmings.
My partner maintains that the best steakhouse in the Bay Area is Boboquivari's in SF and I agree based on what I've had (though I'm not a big steak person myself). House of Prime Rib in SF is a classic for prime rib.
If you liked Village Pub check out the Mayfield Bakery in Palo Alto at Town and Country Village. Same owners, but a more casual environment. Also, next door is Calafia, a great casual spot started by Google chef. We had a good breakfast there this spring. Another really good place is St. Michael's Alley in Palo Alto. They have been around for awhile and serve great fresh food.
Hello all, this update has a little than last week's since we spent the long weekend in Portland where our food experience was a notch or two above here :-).
We went back to Madras in sunnyvale and are still decidedly impressed. The dosas just blow me out of the water. I love how close this place is too.
Tried Yakko Sushi for lunch. I love this kind of sushi place, and (at the risk of being lynched for saying this) is exactly what was missing from New York. It's perfectly low-key, relaxed, affordable, and nothing gourmet or fancy, but makes solid dishes that hew to the traditional. It's not exciting, but it's not bland either. It's comfort Japanese. I can't imagine going out of my way here for dinner, but I'll be frequenting it for lunch.
Esther's bakery -- cozy, cute, German. What else can I say? Wish it were closer, but I'm craving their brunch!
La Costena -- at least I think it's called that. It's a Rengstorff between Middlefield and [the] 101 with a giant "Best Burrito" banner and a tacqueria in the back. It's pretty damn good. Had a chile verde burrito that was leagues better than any burrito I ever got on the east coast. Perfect take-out food!
Pickles -- why did no one mention Sonoma brinery?? It's not exactly the answer to my prayers (not sour enough), but they actually barrel ferment their pickles rather than "pickle" them in vinegar. While not as good as the lower east side stalwarts (Gus's, Pickle Guys), it's better than all the "artisanal" vinegar knock-offs I've seen. Does anyone know what else they make and where I can get more of their products?
Whole Foods -- pretty damn annoyed with it, and I'm not sure I'll be going back. We've seen far better produce at markets and the milk pail and better prices/selection at Safeway. Still haven't found a Cheesemonger or a Butcher in the area, so that may keep us going back there for that.
If anyone has any leads on a good Cheesemonger or Butcher though, it'd be _much_ appreciated. Thanks for all the recs!!
Sonoma Brinery: This Jersey girl from Santa Rosa has found these to be the only decent Gus's style pickles around (I ate my first Gus's pickle from the barrel at about age 3). They also make excellent "raw" sauerkraut, available at Whole Foods. Agree with you about WF. Their quality has declined noticeably, but, unless you live in SF or Berkeley, they have the best fish around.
Still looking for a decent bagel.....
No one has mentioned Ava's Downtown Market on Castro. They are a family-run grocery, new within the past year. They have a nice grass-fed meat selection, Acme breads, and many organic items. If you want something they don't carry, they will almost always be able to order it for you. And you will not find a nicer bunch of people anywhere!
Welcome to MV. I love living here and hope you will, too.
Wow, thanks again to everyone for all of their recs! It's been a hectic week, but we've already found some new favorites. I'm excited to keep diving through this list. So far we've tried:
Izzy's Bagels -- yes, yes, it's not a New York bagel, it's not chewy, it's not dense, it has funny flavors, and I'm pretty sure it's steamed and not boiled (mortal sin), but I still love it. It's a beautiful substitute. The flavors are fun and perfect for a Sunday morning. Jalapeno bagels with mexican salsa cream cheese? Cucumber scallion cream cheese? Green Olive and garlic? Yes please! I wasn't brave enough to order the lox yet -- we lived down the road from Russ & Daughters for years, and I'm just not ready to compromise on my smoked fish.
Palo Alto farmers' market -- speaking of Sunday morning, that's where we ran into the farmers' market on California ave. Impressive array of produce and tasty treats. Can't wait to check out the one in Mountain View next week.
The Milk Pail -- what an awesome market. Californians are spoiled with produce, and the Milk Pail is an embarrassment of riches. I love their seemingly random selection of ethnic food items -- particularly of the eastern european and russian variety. Is there any rhyme to the reason? We also swung by the International Market (halal) next door and grabbed some pickled vegetables and pita chips. We did not take home a calf's head, but maybe next week.
Artisan Wine Depot -- We went to the one on Villa which is pretty convenient to our new place. I love browsing in a wine shop, but this place is kind of like visiting your friend's disorganized office. Browsing is difficult, if not impossible, but the staff at the shop were helpful and made good recs. I'll be frequenting the place in between drives to Redwood City.
Phillz -- I'm charmed by (although admittedly confused and somewhat annoyed by) Phillz's vast selection of blended coffees. I'm charmed because 15 blends, each with a cute name, means I won't get bored easily. I'm annoyed because those cute names come with absolutely no description of what I'm drinking, how it was roasted, where the beans came from, why I want to try it, etc. The staff is also mostly unhelpful.
Dana Street Coffee -- this place is too cute. I'm not blown away by the quality of the coffee, but I dig the vibe of the staff and owner. It's the perfect cup on a lazy weekend or a hectic Tuesday.
Zombie Runner -- gotta love a place that operates out of the back of a running store. Their drip is tasty and their espresso drinks are well executed. I also appreciate the side of guilt that comes with an old pair of "brand new" (i.e., unusued) running sneakers sitting in my closet :-).
Printers' Cafe -- solid salads and sandwiches, good selection of beers and wines, fun atmosphere and vibe.
Passage to India -- we haven't eaten a full meal here, but we've fallen head over heals for the bakery. Such tasty pastries and snacks. The spicy peanuts, the spicy potato pastries, the samosas -- all delicious. I'll be frequenting their lunch buffet.
Madras Cafe -- two words: Dosa Heaven. We stumbled in here at 10pm after everything else was closed and were the only "foreigners" in there. Will definitely be going back.
Fiesta del Mar -- went to the one near downtown Mountain View. Tasty, though I feel a tad overpriced. The meal wasn't particularly memorable except to note that the flavors were warm, the portions too generous, and the decor tacky.
Hobee's -- I have a soft spot for local chains and greasy spoons and boy does this place hit that spot. We went to the one on Mathilda for brunch at that 70s wood veneer experience. I loved the hash browns with guac and tomatoes, and the eggs were classic diner-well-done blob of vegetables and congealed yoke. The place is special in a down home sort of way.
Hey, thanks for the writeup! You're getting into the swing of it.
Re: philz - Philz is almost dead to be since I bought a pound of "turkish beans" and the taste has nothing to do with turkish coffee. It's a blend of darker and lighter without any discernible reason. I have a friend who is a huge Philz pusher, but I simply want reliability in my beans. I'm somewhat between roasters now - with the "good guys" pushing $20/lb (3/4 lb at $16 - fourbarrel, ecco, bluebottle, barefoot ....) and my poor old brain continuing to think that $11 is a good price at $14 is expensive (this was true only two years ago), I'm using Peet's to fill in until my brain catches up with the current price in coffee.
P2I bakery - have you compared with Amber's bakery? Very close geographically, haven't tried Amber myself.
Fiesta del Mar - you can say it sucks. It's OK. I find it really has few redeeming qualities, when places like La Bamba are so close.
Hobee's - I agree about the nostalgia factor. It's not a greek diner, but the tofu scramble does it for me.
Given your comments and the locations involved, I'll strongly suggest Su Hong Palo Alto. Get some dumplings and the Lion's Heads, at very least. I also don't understand why you haven't sampled Red Rock for coffee, although I 100% agree on the Dana Street vibe. And - if you like Madras Cafe, you have a lot of good indian eating in front of you. The number of places where I'm the only white guy on a given visit is high - places like Chaat Paradise and, a further drive, Real Ice Cream. You'll love that.
Madras Cafe is my favorite for regular dosas, while Madura in Sunnyvale is my favorite for rava dosas. Saravana Bhavan and Chaat Paradise are two other fine vegetarian places. Peacock is one of the better all-around vegetarian / non-vegetarian Indian restaurants in Mountain View. Artisan / The Menu does a fine job in the more expensive range, focusing more on sourcing of ingredients than the less expensive places do. Hyderabad House in downtown Palo Alto has amazing achari dishes. And these are just a few highlights of Indian food near Mountain View. Please keep the reports coming!
Red Rocks who uses 4 Barrel from SF. Quality varies depending on who the barista is like at any coffee shop. Red Rocks variability is a little greater though. I do like their pour-over bar though.
Scratch has good coffee but that is a restaurant and not a coffee shop.
Every other place in MTV is pretty bad.
Sweet Shop in Los Altos. This is a candy store but has excellent espresso using Verve beans.
Zombie Runner in Palo Alto using Moksha Beans. This is a store for runners with a very good coffee bar within it.
Barefoot Coffee. Very good coffee but not my favorite. I'd rather go to the next 2 places....
Bitter + Sweet in Cuptertino using Sightglass Coffee from SF. Quite a cool place that is open late. Excellent coffee.
Bellano Coffee in Santa Clara or Cupertino. They used to switch around beans but now I think they mostly stick with Verve.
Fraiche in Palo Alto. This is the only place that I know of where I've gotten an excellent shot using Blue Bottle.
I eat a LOT between Mountain View and RWC. Here are some tips not mentioned:
1) Markets - it's fun sometimes to go to the mexican, chinese, japanese, indian, and korean markets. A good place to start is the Ranch 99 chain.
2) Brunch - Crepevine, Coupa Cafe in PA are OK, but more importantly Oren's Hummus. I don't eat a lot of brunch.
3) Coffee - I'm an espresso guy not a drip guy, if you like espresso hit the single origin bar at Red Rock. Buy FourBarrel there. Blue Bottle is available at Fraiche in PA. Make a trip to Barefoot (the original one) in Sunnyvale - that's 100% worth it. I'm always on the lookout for Verve beans (great Santa Cruz roaster), Cafe Zoe in MP uses them. There's the new place in RWC that escapes me. Coffee life is a little dire outside these few spots - most of the indian, chinese, japanese people I know locally don't drink a lot of coffee. There's some fun tea spots, like Ocha, which has an espresso like contraption for tea and a full selection of bubbles and snow.
4) Wine Shops -- you found K&L already.
5) California - Manresa, Flea Street, Scratch. Scratch does a very nice lunch burger.
6) NY Food - Refuge for pastrami (worth a trip), Izzy's for bagels. The bagels will be disappointing but tolerable.
7) Trucks & take out - Check out Edgewood Eats, which I think is on monday. Some are hot, some are not. You've seen in'n'out - try it - puts Shake Shack to shame. Take out, I get a lot of chinese, travels well. I have a soft spot for Chef Liu in MV. Su Hong Palo Alto, Da Sichuan in PA, Hunan Garden in PA. Thai I like Amerin, but it's not great, it's only very good. Sit down burgers I like Peninsula creamery in PA, The Counter is _way_ too slow (but some people are huge fans), Clarke's in MV (semi-fast), Jeffery's in MP. SteakOut in MV is exceptional, especially if you like german beer in the sun.
8) Indian - There isn't really a "best" because of the types of indian. South indian is the strongest, there's Mayuri and Madura for dosas. Sneha has good variety and the right kind of chicken 65 (terrible ambiance), Aachi Aappakadi and Anjappar for Chettinad, Sakoon for a sort of fusion-y twist, Amber for northern, probably Shalimar for Pakistani, Darbar for Vindaloo. Going over to Anjappar in McCarthy Ranch is a treat in itself.
10) Sorry, too broad a topic. There's just way too many places. I love somewhere I can live for 20 years, eat out almost every night, and still try two new places a week. For better or worse, most are average neighborhood places. Right now, Ramen is pretty hot (Orenichi and Ryowa), Sumika for yakitori, kapo nami nami for interesting japanese. GF and I are current embarking on Restaurant Roulette RWC, where we will eat (randomly) the 50 places in RWC that we haven't eaten yet. Paradise Kebab House was a nice little gem this week - great little mom and pop, made with love. Hit Victoria's for tacos a few days earlier, it looks like the California Burrito (originated in San Diego, using french fries) might finally be taking hold. Breadth is really your friend in the south bay - there's less trend-ism than the SF scene, but also not as high quality of food.
Cafe Brioche for french, Nola for a party, Rose International for alley kebabs, Falafel's Drive Inn for the "special" (falafel and banana shakes), Med Wraps on California Street for schwarma, Evvia for mesquite roasted branzino.
Great small, personal mom and pop Asian market in Menlo Park is Naks. The owners are from Japan and will recommend brands, explain ingredients, how to handle, prepare an ingredient. They have a small, fresh produce section, other veggies and fruits, great sushi a couple times a week, fresh SJ Tofu daily, and much more.
I've lived here a long time and can't recommend this place enough.
When I lived on that side of PA I went to Nak's all the time. Super nice owner and remarkably good selection for the space. Not Ranch 99 selection, but the prices were often competitive. They get Benkyodo manji as well. They also have a section of dutch groceries and Indonesian.
Check out La Costa on Alum Rock in San Jose. Not to far from 101.
Good Mexican seafood. Outdoor seating. Bit of a rough neighborhood but folks watch out for each other.
If you are going to cook on you own grab some Mexican pre-marinated meats at Chavez market in Sunnyvale (and grab a pretty good burrito there as well). The little Mi Pueblo in Mtn View is like a corner store. Check out the big on in E. Palo Alto. Good deli counter.
Not sure if you are an oyster lover but a day trip up the Point Reyes area to have a lunchtime oyster fest can be fun. Then you can stop in town and buy some bread and cheeses to take home and then take a trip to the light house. You might see a whale (warning: the jillion steps down to the light house are much easier than the jillion steps up). I prefer the Drakes Bay Oysters but you may like on of the other places.
Have to add my praise to Dish Dash and the Rose Market - they seem to get visited fairly often. If you don't mind zero atmosphere, Shan in Sunnyvale is good but the counter lady forgets her smile at home every single day.
Friday nights are crazy busy...but fun...at Fiesta del Mar Too on Villa Street, one half block from Castro. In addition to a wide menu, they have a staggering variety of tequilas and produce memorable margaritas (at least the first is briefly memorable in a good way). I have tried dozens of sit-down Mexican restaurants within 20 miles and consider this superior to the competition. Ask for your order the way you want...that way they will know and adjust for your pleasure. ¡Salud!
Start with Castro Street and local places. Get your own baseline for ethnic food there first before ping ponging around the Bay for Pho, or Indian or Sushi. There is NO New York food here! None! It is only a California version and you will be disappointed. There is, however, Great Mexican food everywhere.
As far as the restaurants go, you will hear the same 20 or 30 names, and for the most part they earn their reputations. Give 'em a shot but don't try and do them all too soon. There really is a limit. Welcome to the left coast.
i somewhat agree. Cascal (tapas), Fu Lum Mam (Dim Sum / Cantonese), Tomi (Sushi), Shabuway (Shabu Shabu), Amici's (thin crust pizza), Sakoon (Indian) are decent. But there is a lot of bad food on Castro... Ginseng (Korean) and Hangen (Chinese, can't remember region) are terrible. Xanh (fancy thai) is ok, but not really an "authentic" thai place. Queen's House is a poor excuse for taiwanese food. I sort of feel like you can skip some of the mediocre to bad places and go directly to the better stuff that's within a short driving distance. But you are right in that the selection is somewhat overwhelming... for example, I still havent' found a great Korean bbq place yet because there doesn't seem to be great consensus and you just end up trying a lot of different places...
Xanh is High-end Vietnamese not Thai. It is decent, about the same quality as Tamarine in Palo Alto.
There's a nice burgers/sausage + german beer place called Steak Out on Castro. Be forewarned, they are just getting popular as they have an excellent patio for the summer and can't handle the crowds. Going off times is best.
Hey there. I am a transplant from NYC to Mountain View about 10 months ago, so hopefully I can give you some ideas...
1) Markets! -- Definitely MV farmers market on Sunday AM. It's great. No prepared foods, but tons of great veggies, fruits, bread, cheese and canned / dried goods. Not much in the way of prepared foods. Along same vein, the Ferry Terminal market is great also because there are more prepared food places. Worth the trip. Finally, Ranch 99 for staples and cheap seafood (fresh dungeness for $4.99) and Asian fruits.
1a) Butchers? Can't help there
1b) Bakers? Love Acme bread products. They are at the MV farmers market. Also, Satura Cakes in Los Altos. Not as sweet as your typical stuff. Had the best red velvet I've ever had this weekend. For a more fusion-y Asian / American bakery, Paris Baguette is good. I usually go to the one in Palo Alto.
1c) Fishmongers? Can't help here, as I usually hit Ranch / WF for that.
1d) Farmers Markets? MV and Ferry Terminal
1e) Produce? Ranch 99 and MV farmers market
2) Weekend brunch spots -- Ugh, you're going to be disappointed here, unless you head up to SF. Ricks is ok for a casual weekend breakfast. Fu Lam Mam in MV has quick and decent dim sum. We've been hitting Los Charros for menudo on weekends also. But I haven't found anything along the likes of what we have in NYC within close distance of MV...
3) Coffee - lots of small places. In MV, I like Red Rock. Always a good selection drip coffees and a nice single origin bar. That's my goto. Many like Philz, but I think it's ok. I miss things like Zibetto in NYC; haven't found anything like it. In SF, I really enjoy Blue Bottle - I'm sure part of it is the hype, but I swear its the best coffee around.
4) Wine Shops -- Second the artisan wine shops in MV. Its close by and has decent selection. THe store is a bit of a mess, but the owners are always quick and eager to help.
6) New York food -- Pizza? Napoletana Pizza in MV is very strong. Not much else here. Pizza here, imho, largely sucks. Amici is surprisingly solid for a chain and is our standard goto. Bagels? Around MV, it's pathetic. In Palo Alto on University, there is a place that has really good bagels. I actually think they are boiled.
7) Fast food/Take out --haven't found great burger joints, altough in-n-out is solid. Frankly for fast food, there are so many ethnic - chinese, indian, mexican eateries, that I tend to hit those for weekday lunches.
8) Indian -- Amber, Passage to India and the place on Castro (Sakoon?) are all good. But probably not as good as stuff further south.
9) Vietnamese -- Stuff in MV is mediocre, but passaslbe. I like Pho 54 in SJ. Feels like you're eating pho in vietnam, given the decor and clientele. I enjoy this place immensely.
10) And finally, your favorite restos of the area - if you venture further north to MP / RWC / PA, near where i work, i love Orens (Israeli food), Sanchos (fish tacos), Tacos Los Gemelos (best $1 tacos), Mihoacan Market (roast chicken). Elsewhere, Everyday Beijing in San Mateo, Koi Palace (dimsum) in daly city, Yank Sing (dimsum) in SF, Grand Harbor (taiwanese) in Fremont, Ton Soon Garden (great Korean Chinese) in Santa Clara.
In case you are wondering how you'll adjust to the move, we love it. I was scared to leave NYC but now I go back and I wonder how I ever lived there. The weather rocks here, the quality of life is better, people work to live and not live to work, and the food, while lacking in some areas, has things we can't get in NYC, so it's a tradeoff.
Enjoy and welcome to the Bay Area. Oh yeah, lay off the horn too :) People stare at me still, when on occasion when I honk because its largely unheard of here. As is jaywalking...
Just had lunch at Tacos Los Gemelos in RWC -- that was an undersell there, buddy. Those tacos are unlike anything I've ever had before. The tortillas are savory and melt in your mouth, all the meat is savory and a little sour (is that vinegar?) -- they're little bit size pockets of heaven!
We do fruits and vegetables here - let New York City keep its bagels and pickles (it just makes them more special when you go back). On the Peninsula you'll find large populations of people with recent Chinese, Indian, Mexican and Vietnamese ancestry. For Chinese ingredients there's 99 Ranch on Grant Road at the vary southern end of Mountain View: I don't particularly care for their produce, since a lot of it is pre-packaged, and last time I was there they had garlic from China, sacrilege since this county grows most of the US crop. There are a number of Indian groceries in Sunnyvale and south - look along El Camino. There's also a big Korean supermarket in Santa Clara off Lawrence, about two towns south of you. If you like Mexican foods, Mi Pueblo is a local chain of groceries catering to the Mexican community.
The farmers' markets are worth checking out. I don't know about Mountain View's - I go to the downtown Palo Alto one since it's within walking distance, but a lot of farmers supply multiple markets. If you happen to be in Monterey when they're having theirs it's worth stopping at.
BTW, it's 101, 280, 85. I'm not having any of this creeping LAism which started about 20 years ago. And if you talk about the El Camino, well...
Well you picked the right time to move here - this is where fruits and vegetables want to be from.
1) Markets! -- We've found Whole Foods and Trader Joes, but are there smaller markets anyone recommends for either ethnic ingredients or quality meat/produce? What about:
Have you found the Milk Pail Dairy on California Street off of San Antonio? Small eclectic market. Or Piazza's Fine Foods on Middlefield Road in Palo Alto. There are literally hundreds of small ethnic markets scattered throughout the county: Chinese, Mexican, Vietnamese, Indian, Pakistani, Persian. Just try a few. There are two huge shopping centers with Chinese markets and restaurants: Lion Plaza in Milpitas and Vallco Village in Cupertino.
I'm partial to Sugar Butter Flour on El Camino in Sunnyvale.
Best are the Chinese specialty grocers. Ranch 99 or the smaller stores.
1d) Farmers Markets?
Every town in the county has a great farmers market. Mountain View's is on Sunday mornings, I think, in the parking lot of the train station. Sunnyvale's is on Saturday mornings on Murphy Ave.
You'd have to be blind not to be able to find great produce. Start with the farmers markets. Check out Olsen's Cherries on El Camino for truly great stone fruit.
My advice is not to look for New York food here, it won't be as good and it'll give you an excuse to go home for a visit every now and then.
And remember, we wait *in* line and freeways are not referred to with an article, unless they are named (The Bayshore and 101 are correct).
I'll start with local markets and move on to restaurants later (or let others do it):
1. The Milk Pail, european-style open air market, great cheese and produce, limited other stuff (fresh bread, bulk foods) but high quality and good prices. Small and crowded, but wonderful; go off-hours (weekend morning before 9:30 or so is good) and use a basket, not a cart. Same shopping center as Trader Joe's, but along California Street almost to San Antonio.
2. Same center, but on San Antonio almost to California Street is a medium-size market which changed hands recently and I haven't been there since -- It used to be Mexican / Eastern European (!) and a little scruffy, now they have a halal meat sign and I don't know anything else about them. Go and report back, please! ;-)
3. Oakmont Produce -- small market, very good well-priced produce, Mexican meat market and tacqueria, other ethnic foods. 311 Moffett (which is what Castro street is called on the other side of Central Expressway).
4. Rose International Market -- Persian market with some great take-out food (kebabs etc).
5. Crossroads World Market, mostly eastern european, some bulk spices, lots of smoked fish, varieties of feta, etc. Very little produce, if any.
6. Bigger / better Indian markets further into S'vale, but India Fresh on El Camino on the right a bit past Hwy 85 is OK.
5. Butcher: Dittmer's Wurst House should re-open very soon http://www.dittmers.com
6. Beautiful produce but more expensive at De Martini, 66 North San Antonio, Los Altos (on the right as you head toward downtown Los Altos).
7. Large Asian market: 99 Ranch, (Grant and El Camino in MV) -- helpful live fish counter, decent produce (lots of Asian greens), Asian deli for char siu etc.
8. Large grocery stores, in increasing order of better-than-Safeway (with prices on the same scale): Nob Hill (Grant and El Camino in MV), Piazza (Middlefield Road at Charleston in Palo Alto, just a bit on the PA side of San Antonio), Draeger's (downtown Los Altos). Whole Foods would be in between Piazza and Draeger's (in my opinion, others may differ). I buy meat and fish at all of them, but wouldn't mind finding a good true butcher somewhere!
These really concentrate on MV and very close to it. No great fish options in this radius; search CH for the choices further out (Race Street Fish & Poultry etc).
K &L and Beltramo's are our standbys.
There is also Vin Vino in Palo Alto - though their selection is rather specialized in pricier Rieslings and Burgandies. I feel more comfortable at K & L and Beltramo's.
Philz has a few locations in the peninsula/southbay and has a great drip coffee. It has a somewhat chaotic ordering process.
The Zombie Runner Store in Palo Alto has a great espresso machine.
The Sufi Coffee Shop in Mountain View does great coffee - both in the Middle Eastern way and standard espresso drinks. The owner can be slightly surly, and keeps somewhat sporadic hours. The little area in the back is nice on a warm day.
For Indian, I am very partial to Tastebuds if you like very spicy food. Try their Fish Pulusu and ask for it spicy.
Completely breaking the budget - Manresa
Good, somewhat expensive, and probably better versions in SF:
Flea Street Cafe
Scratch in Mountain View, high-end places on University Ave. in Palo Alto
Donato Enoteca does satisfying, Italian food
I second Martin's West for gastropub food.
Pizza - Chicago Style:
DishDash in Sunnyvale has great Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food
After eating again at the Cantankerous Fish On Castro, I would like to put in a rec for the restaurant.
It looks like it was bought by Scott's Seafood and so won't be in existence much longer, but the seafood is traditionally good, if a little over salted, and is certainly as good as Scratch across the street.
It's fallen out of favor, but I'm not quite sure why. Certainly not a destination restaurant by any means, but I've been decently satisfied with the meals there.
As far as New York food... I'm going to generalize based on San Francisco, and I don't know if the San Jose food scene is completely different, but...
1. Pizza - If you were one of those people who had strong opinions about "best slice in NYC," you're going to be pretty disappointed. There are places with okay slices in SF that approximate the sort of paper-thin crust you're used to (Arinell's and Victor's are okay), but there are other styles of pizza here that are quite tasty. And if you were a regular at Una Pizza Napoletana, he's got a spot in SF now, huzzah.
2. Bagels: If you were one of those people who had strong opinions about "best bagel in NYC," you're going to be REALLY disappointed. Nothing even comes close. In the typical SF bagel shop, they will automatically toast your bagel without asking you first, because that is the only way to make those things palatable. Once in a blue moon someone opens a bagel shop that purports to sell the real thing, and people get excited about it (lately it's Schmendrick's, which doesn't have its own space yet), but if you were in the habit of eating a bagel every day, you're going to have to make a lifestyle change. Sorry...
3. Pickles -- I'm not a pickle guy, sorry. I did notice that the pickles you get with your sandwich here are always half-sour, instead of full-sour. Dunno why.
4. Pastrami -- Um, well there is pastrami here that I think is decent. It's been too long since I've regularly tasted Carnegie or Katz to make comparisons with strong convictions, but I think places like Moishe's Pippic do an okay job. There's apparently a single distributor from whom all the good pastrami places get it from; there's a thread about it here somewhere.
For wine, I like Artisan Wine Depot, 2 shops in Mountain View. They're young people, to me at least; who really like wine, but focus on value rather than snob appeal.
Also very Mt View is the corner of Rengstorff and Middlefield, where you'll find Taco La Bamba, and La Coste~na side-by-side for great tacos.
We all have our preferences/favorites and mine is the less frequently mentioned Los Altos Taqueria, located kitty-corner from La Costena. This completes "the burrito triangle" and has never disappointed since they opened about 15 years ago.
For coffee beans, I like Graffeo, the storefronts in North Beach (SF) and San Rafael (have not been in years) are a cool throwback to an earlier time -- no coffee drinks are available -- only beans or ground to your order. You can try this product from the self-serve bins at Draeger's Market in Los Altos, then order online, by phone, or at the store.
Fishmongers: Cooks Seafood in Menlo Park is fantastic, for fresh products, advice, and service.
Let us know how this adventure goes, please.
My 2 cents: The Mt. View farmer's market is quite good. I live in Menlo Park and prefer to do my produce shopping at Sigona's (locations at the Stanford Mall and Redwood City) and usually visit Schaub's Meat, Fish & Poultry next door at Stanford at the same time. Sigona's is inexpensive and usually has the speciality items I look for at the farmer's market (green garlic, tangelos, pastured eggs...). There is a Penzey's in downtown Menlo Park for quality spices.
You should try Napoletana Pizzeria in Mt. View, along with Spot Pizza off of University Ave in Palo Alto. Grullense on Middlefield (the one across from Costco) in Redwood City has excellent carnitas tacos (the other Grullense locations are not nearly as good -- I wasted 2 years eating at the one on El Camino in Redwood City).
+1 for Napoletana Pizzeria. As good as it gets around here, especially for those who prefer thin crust, minimal toppings, fresh flavors. Our fav is the sausage. Grind of meat is a bit fine, but guess the lighter weight is a necessity when supported by the thin crust. Another tasty option is the ricotta pizza, where the cheese is stuffed and hidden inside the outer edge crust.