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Visiting The Bay Area For a Few Days - Any Recommendations?

  • w

Hi! I'll be making my first ever trip to the Bay Area this week to interview with a company based out there. I was hoping for some general recommendations, I've heard wonderful things about the Bay Area's dining scene and look forward to indulging (I'm from DC). Price isn't really an object but I won't have a car and I'll be staying at the Grand Hotel in Sunnyvale.

Let me know if you need any additional information.


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  1. If price is no object and you are staying in Sunnyvale, Manresa. It's a little bit of a drive (if you don't have a car, you can probably use Uber, but it will cost you), but it would really highlight the obsession with ingredients that is a major part of the local dining scene. And it's a very good restaurant.

    1. No car in Sunnyvale? If you take the job, you might want to check back in. The best places are in SF, Oakland/Berkeley, and north to Napa/Sonoma. These are not accessible without a car.

      For your upcoming visit, you might want to concentrate on the interesting small Asian restaurants that have accumulated in Silicon Valley. Fun and quite different from DC. Explore the greater Bay Area on a future trip.

      Good luck with the interview!

      1. There's some bus service along El Camino Real, which looks to be near your hotel. In the Sunnyvale area, look for Indian restaurants - there are some chaat places on El Camino near the Santa Clara line. There's a huge Korean grocery on El Camino near Lawrence, with an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ next door.

        ETA: if you can get to the Sunnyvale Caltrain station, there are frequent trains to San Francisco. It looks like a long haul from your hotel, but if you want a night out a taxi to the station should be reasonable. Also, if you're flying in/out of SFO, you can take BART to the Millbrae train station then walk about 5 minutes to Hong Kong Flower Lounge for dim sum.

        1. Not having a car at that location will limit your options, but there's still some good food around. Kabul is a good Afghan place practically next door, but you may have just as good in DC. The Indian places are great around here. The closest to you is Shah, an Indian/Pakistani place that's a dive but has very tasty food. Further north / west on El Camino are Taste Buds (at Grape) and Madras Cafe (at Bernardo). Taste Buds has all sorts of great dishes while Madras Cafe is a southern Indian vegetarian specialist. Neither Shah nor Madras serve alcohol. Going the other direction is Arka at Fair Oaks, which is much more upscale than the others. Downtown Sunnyvale on Murphy Ave. isn't too far away, and the highlight there is Dishdash, a great Lebanese / Syrian place. The mansaf is out of this world.

          Good luck on your trip and please report back!


          1. Thanks for all the wishes. What about Chez TJ? I believe that's in Mountain View (where I'll be visiting).

            I believe a lot of my expenses on this trip are reimbursable so I could possibly wrangle a cab (or be willing to eat the Uber fare, is it $15 - car and $16 - suv minimum out there?)

            1 Reply
            1. re: WSJ

              Chez TJ's (never been there myself) is only a block off of Castro St., the place for inexpensive eateries of various Asian styles: Chinese, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Pho, etc.

            2. Hop on CalTrain to the end of the line in San Francisco and walk over to Marlowe, 25 Lusk, Mijita or Public House. From the train station you can hop on a muni and go to Epic Roasthouse on the bay or into the Dogpatch neighborhood to Piccino Cafe.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mlutsky

                or you can just get off at the oft-forgotten 22nd street caltrain stop and walk to the dogpatch :)

              2. Sorry for the late reply, wanted to give a brief update of the trip. I went to DishDash and got the mansaf but thought it was only okay - the lamb was nice and tender but that was about all I remember. I got dragged to Olleh by another recruit (different positions) and remember being really taken by the oysters (not so much by the sushi) and had some pretty good sake. Overall I didn't experience anything that put DC to shame.

                I ended up getting the job! And am currently in the process of deciding if I want to uproot my life and move out west.

                9 Replies
                1. re: WSJ

                  Hmm, the mansaf was not as great as usual on our last visit either - the lamb wasn't as flavorful as before, though the rice and yogurt sauce were still fine. Hopefully it's a lull, not a trend. Thanks for reporting back!


                  1. re: mdg

                    Absolutely, thanks for the recommendations. I'm actually back in the area (but in a different hotel) and have a car this time. Are there any other places I should check out? I was thinking of going to Kabul.

                    I'll be moving to SF in a few days and if there are any suggestions they would be much appreciated!

                    1. re: WSJ

                      Where will you be staying this time? I still think Indian cuisine is a glory of this area that is rarely done as well elsewhere in the USA. With a car it would be easier to get to some Mountain View choices like Peacock, Amber India, and Artisan / The Menu. Gongura is back in season so Taste Buds in Sunnyvale has their off-menu gongura specials that are some of my favorite dishes anywhere.

                      Kabul is very tasty - especially for aushak, lamb, and the seasoned rice - but I assume DC still has some great Afghan food. My first Afghan restaurant experience was there many years ago.


                      1. re: mdg

                        Hotel Strata, so roughly two miles up the road from the last time I came.

                        I went out to Castro street on the recommendation of the hotel staff and ate at Sushi Tumi and had the chef's sashimi special and was left very underwhelmed.

                        I'll be sure to check out the Indian options, I'm definitely a fan of Indian cuisine.

                        As of now I'm planning on moving up to SF by Friday so I should hopefully have an opportunity to check out a few of those places.

                        I appreciate all of your insight Michael.

                        1. re: WSJ

                          Few minutes away in Sunnyvale is Shah for tandoori items. Also like their goat karahi.

                          Kabobs at nearby Rose Market on Castro st.

                          1. re: WSJ

                            The little taco truck parked in the evenings in front of the liquor store (I think that's what it is) on El Camino Real near Phyllis is good. At least it was about 6 months ago last I was there.

                            The Indian recs are worthwhile. I second the gongura at Taste Buds idea. That's one of my local faves. Amber India is more upscale and has been around for a long time. They have a couple of places in SF, now, though. I like Artisan/The Menu, too.

                            I've never been to Chez TJ, but lots of people like it. If you're covered by work, there's not much to lose.

                            Castro St. is more quantity than quality, at least in terms of the standout kind of place you're looking for. But it's a local scene and worth a visit. Steakout has a good, grass fed burger and lots of different beers. It's become a popular spot, so you might enjoy hanging out there, especially if you like to drink beer.

                            Walia, an Ethiopian place in San Jose is terrific, up there with my favorite restaurants in the silicon valley / south bay region. But you have lots of that in DC.

                            The restaurants in San Pedro Square in San Jose are nothing to get overly excited about, but it's a fun place to go.

                            There is a huge amount of Vietnamese food in San Jose. Search the boards here for thoughts about that. I don't have a personal recommendation at the moment.

                            For that matter, there is a lot of talk about eating in all the silicon valley towns on this forum.

                        2. re: WSJ

                          Congratulations and welcome to the Bay Area! I saw your list of preferences in the Mission thread. If your workplace is near Sunnyvale, I suggest that you load up your Japanese meals during the week. Ramen and izakaya are better by a long shot and often less expensive too than in SF.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            My workplace is in Mountain View, but since they provide free meals it's unlikely I'll be wandering off campus for the first few months. But I'll be sure to try to try the Ramen and Izakayas I can.

                            Side note, I had Kabul for lunch. I got the lamb/chicken combo and they were really good and started to hit closer to my expectations.

                            I definitely like beer so I might check out that beer and burger place for a less expensive dinner.

                            I had a beer at the Stien beer garden last night and really liked it.

                            1. re: WSJ

                              When you get to San Francisco, you can compare Helmand Palace to Kabul. The other well-regarded Afghan place is Salang Pass in Fremont.

                              Your top choices for ramen in Mountain View will be Shalala and Maru Ichi. While you have time and a car at your disposal, you might want to check out Orenchi Ramen in Santa Clara.

                              Sumika Grill in Los Altos is also top notch for yakitori. Expensive at dinner, the tariff is lower for lunch.