Palo Alto Dining
I will be spending the weekend in Palo Alto and am looking for suggestions on anything fun, different, or "must tries" in the area. We will be there for a total of 3 nights, so have plenty of time to check out various spots. Really into food, but love cozy bar with unique atmospheres. Also, we want to stay in the area, as we have spent plenty of time in SF Bay previously! Any suggestion would be seriously considered and greatly appreciated! Thanks ahead of time!
Weekend traffic might not be too bad, but if you're trying to get from the downtown Palo Alto area to, say, downtown Mountain View between about 5PM and 7PM on a week night triple the time allowed for the trip. Parking can be a problem at most times.
In downtown Palo Alto - University Ave. - I like the newish Amber branch for Indian, Reposado for upscale Mexican (very noisy), Three Seasons for upscale Vietnamese (although they've been plagued by construction on their block ever since they opened). I can't think of any place I'd describe as "cozy": with the high rents, the startups and the venture capitalists it's a be-seen type of scene.
Some of my favs for lunch: Jing Jing (you can find better Chinese on Castro St. in Mountain View but this is walking distance from where I live), Janta for their Indian buffet (limited selection, but changes a lot: Darbar up the street is uneven; neither are open for lunch on weekends), the Thai place on University for their soups. If you want someplace a bit different, there's Paris Baguette on University, a US branch of a Korean chain that features mostly French but also some Korean baked goods.
Around Palo Alto:
In the $40ish pp:
Evvia - Greek-cal food
Flea Street Cafe - Fresh, cal food
Station 1 - Fresh, cal food
Village Pub - steak house setting, formal American food with modern twists
Donato Enoteca - Italian
Under 40ish pp:
Martin's West - Gastropub - food can be a bit uneven
Hole-in-the wall and/or Under $20 pp:
Oren's Hummus Shop is pretty good for Mediterranean
Palo Alto Sol - good Mole, enchiladas, and margaritas
If you are into wine, K & L, Beltramo's, and Vin Vino all do tastings on the weekends. Check schedules/prices on their websites.
It depends what you want. I'm not very impressed with the late night options in Palo Alto
Madera has the swanky, older vibe - can be pretty quiet though depends on the night.
Joya has the same vibe and serves food.
La Bodeguita serves decent mojitos its not particularly late night - it has a cigar room and a patio.
NOLA and next door Old Pro (sport bar) have a college feel. NOLA has decent food.
I like the mole at Palo Alto Sol, too. I wouldn't call it a hole in the wall. Mediterranean Wraps, also on S. California, probably is. It's my favorite place for shawarma around there. Izzy's has pretty good bagels. Cafe Brioche is a cozy, friendly place with good French food.
Near University Ave., NOLA is a fun place for Cajun/Creole food, though the TVs sort of bug me, but that's a matter of taste. Reposado has more upscale Mexican food, if that's what you're looking for.
In the Town and Country Village, I really like Mayfield cafe. Howie's Pizza is good, too, but probably not worth a stop on a short trip.
A drink in the bar or by the pool at the Rosewood hotel on Sand Hill Road isn't cozy, but has great people-watching and can be fun.
You should check out the bar (Madera Lounge) at the Rosewood hotel for cocktails. Great view and a great place for people watching. This is where all the VC's, millionaire nerds, cougars of Silicon Valley hang out. Hilarity ensues.
Nola is also a pretty fun place for cocktails. The food's alright.
You have lots of great recommendations already. Depending on where you're coming from, you may want to check out the Indian food options. In addition to Amber Dhara in Palo Alto, Sakoon, Amber India, and Artisan / The Menu are all nearby in Mountain View (in decreasing order of atmosphere). I'd go with Tamarine over Three Seasons for upscale Vietnamese downtown, and Reposado over Palo Alto Sol for Mexican. Vero is excellent for Italian in downtown Palo Alto and is a nice cozy restaurant. Cafe Renzo is also downtown and is a bigger, brighter place. Definitely second the schwarma at Mediterranean Wraps. Palo Alto and Silicon Valley are not great for late night bars and restaurants, alas.
Enjoy your trip!