Palo Alto and Environment....Chaat and South Indian suggestions especially welcome
My son is moving to the Farm (what can I say; this Bear is trying to make the best of it...:-), and we are starting to collect restaurant suggestions. Both for him AND for us when we go to visit.
Both inexpensive and "special occasion" suggestions welcome. And we love Chaat and South Indian, and I know there are good places nearby...so which are your favorites? Your suggestions must be vegetarian-friendly, and the closer to Stanfurd (sic) Medical Center the better!
5 miles - or half an hour during rush hour! Mountain View has a lot of decent, inexpensive places, but traffic has increased a lot recently, which limits how often I get there. Depending on where he's living, though, the train is a possibility for dinner.
In downtown PA, I prefer Janta to Darbar for lunch: their buffet is smaller, but it changes more frequently and has IMHO more interesting vegetarian dishes.
mdg's advice is sound, including that South-Asian restaurants cluster around Sunnyvale and MV and also tht most of the available advice here will be found in past threads.
The Castro-St. restaurant cluster (MV's downtown, 105 restaurant properties within a few bloks, 101 of them open for business at last count) includes two Indian (Sakoon, Shiva's) and a Pakistani restaurant (Shezan, not to be mis-read as "Shezam" and also familial offspring of the late legendary Sue Sista's "Sue's Indian Cuisine" at same site in the 1990s) within two blocks of each other. Nearby on El Camino, Amber Cafe which is a popular, eclectic "casual" spin-off of the locally famous Amber India.
Sakoon which I mentioned was a phenom. when it opened a few years back with a sophisticated modern inventive menu, immediately recommended in Michelin; more conservative now since its original wunderkind chef (S. Chopra) and colleagues left (2010) to found Arka (S'vale), and then the place he's now at (name forgotten, someone recall it?)
Sakoon though remains a large, unusually ornate, rather upscale Indian place and (since the local market decreed 20 years ago that it expected all Indian restaurants to offer lunch buffets whether or not their chefs preferred that format) offers possibly the most lavish buffet lunch in the entire county for $14 or so, vegetarian on one side, meaty on the other. Certain locals have found that lunch deal attractive as their main meal of the day, even. In my several tries of it, this buffet has surpassed in variety, interest, and plentitude the sort of meals families prepare at harvest feasts such as the US Thanksgiving.
Condolences re your son, of course. ;-)
Haven't been in a few years but I liked Chaat Paradise in Mountain View.
Definitely not a "destination" but fits the bill if you're looking for very casual, vegetarian chaat.
It's in a back corner of a small shopping ctr - a little hard to spot.
165 E El Camino Real,
Mountain View, CA 227 ft SE
Mountain View Shopping Center
(650) 965-1111 · chaatparadise.com
Is he going for undergrad or med school? We have lived in Palo Alto/Stanford for 15 years but admittedly our eating out has decreased as our boys grow and eat too much!
We too love South Indian, but we always drive down to Sunnyvale for that. We'll eat at Curry Up Now in Palo Alto from time to time for an Indian fix, but it is a different beast. There are taquerias close by - we like Chavez for el Pastor and to get our tortillas and I get cactus when I don't want meat, La Bamba for carnitas and loroco pupusas, and a few others in RWC.
In Palo Alto and on campus there is Coupa for arepas. Also on campus is Ikes for sandwiches - I never got it, but others love it. Thai cafe on campus was good many years ago and still has a following.
Close to campus, especially if he is at the med school, is Flea Street Cafe - haven't been in awhile, but it is a local favorite. Osteria in Palo Alto is a local favorite. The big issue with Palo Alto restaurants is that the food tend to be OK, but the prices tend to be less than OK IMO. It feels like you should be getting just a bit more. Palo Alto also doesn't have the same cheap eats as some places.
Pizza there is Howies and Patxis. My husband likes both (I can't eat pizza).
Neither: Medical residency (I keep telling myself that's not really school so its ok for the Cal folks.:-) Anyway, he'll have a car, but time might be a consideration...Anyway, I like the arepas and tacos suggestions, thanks.
So ok, folks, if its Sunnyvale for Indian, what are your favorites there???
Search and you should find lots of Sunnyvale and Mountain View choices for Indian. All are vegetarian-friendly, and many are vegetarian-only. Current favorites include Madura and Madras Cafe for vegetarian; Taste Buds, Peacock Mountain View, and Shah for vegetarian and non-vegetarian; Amber India and Artisan - The Menu in Mountain View for fancier Indian.
There are 4 indian places in PA proper (university ave), neither are what you're looking for but here's the rundown
Darbar - fairly classic "northern indian" (that indian menu we've all seen for the last 20 years), but they also have a few south indian specialties (dosa, idily, sambar). I'm a fan of the vindaloo here (dusky and rich), so it's in slow rotation.
Janta - went once, seemed to be no better than Darbar so we keep going to Darbar.
Amber Dhara - replaced Junoon, which was trying to do an "unusual menu" indian. It's upscale-ish and still has an unusual menu and full bar and a room you can rent (seats about 10). We went once and will be back very irregularly. Maybe.
Curry Up Now - this is one of the several brick-and-mortar instances of the popular food truck. It's hyper casual and not very indian - it's indian-"ish". I haven't really explored the menu yet, but it's at least cheap for PA.
There are a lot of various threads about greater palo alto, there was a recent chowdown and some discussions of the various sichuan places. University Ave has about 150 restaurants just in that cluster.
Let me plump for one that hasn't been mentioned: Howie's Pizza in Town and Country. Pleasant prices, smaller/healthier food, relaxing. With the wealth of good pizza (Vesta, Terrone, Renzo), and lesser but pretty good places Strada, Campo, Figo, Howie's is firmly in the first tier.
Good suggestion, Howie's. Locally famous former high-end chef in Menlo Park (Howard Bulka, originally from Chicago, who bailed out a few yrs back to make pizzas.) Not a VPN (strict traditional Neapolitan) pizzeria like the very successful Napoletana Pizzeria in MV -- now imitated by a couple of VPN newcomers in Palo Alto -- the majority of whose offerings are vegetarian too; but Howie's is a truly artisananal pizzeria, moderate prices, good attention to detail, located right off the Stanford campus.
I do regret Junoon's passing. Much smaller but even more adventurous than Sakoon in Chopra's time there. (And there was a doorway next door to the then- Palo Alto offices of the little start-up firm Facebook.com. )
My favorite near campus is Tootsie's at the Stanford Barn and it's near the med center. Haven't been there for a couple years so would appreciate updates.
For Indian, you'll want to head a little further south to the Sunnyvale area.
I'll bump this up in the hope that someone who knows more than I do about the area will post, too.
First off, I haven't been to any Indian restaurants in the area (and can't think of any), so I'm no help there.
The medical center is on the side closest to the mall. There's an outdoor market there that sells produce. The restaurants are chains. My son likes the soup and sandwiches at The Melt. I don't agree, but it is fairly veg-friendly.
On University there's Oren's Hummus shop. That might work. We enjoyed the pizza at Campo recently. Nola, on a side street, is festive (and loud). The Southern food is probably not good for vegetarians.
There are several places inside the Town and Country Village. Mayfield Bakery and Cafe is good. My son bikes here to go to Trader Joe's. (Will your son have a car?) Super-casual Asian Box might be good for you, if you like tofu.
We've found the food is cheaper and often better on South California Ave. Cafe Brioche is lovely for French. Izzy's has decent bagels. Palo Alto Sol has okay Mexican, a bit heavy and not very spicy. Pleasant atmosphere.
(Redwood City has better options for casual Mexican. Also in RC, Martins West has high-end pub food. Probably the best food I've had around there. Some nice vegetable side dishes, but still maybe not appropriate for your needs.)
Willow Market on Middlefield Road is another good place for produce and takeout. (And beer.)
The Village Pub in Woodside is supposed to be good for special occasion. I haven't been. Breakfast/brunch at Buck's is fun. The decor is eclectic. The food isn't very good, but the salads are fine.
I've tried many of the "eateries" on campus and pretty much everything has been mediocre with exception of the crepes and sandwiches at the outdoor Coupa Cafe. The cafe at the museum overlooks the Rodin sculptures. I never seem to be there when they're serving food, but I've lingered over a glass of wine. It's fairly near the medical center.
Hope this helps you get started.
(btw, my son grew up in Berkeley, son of two Berkeley grads and....oh, well.)