ISO Santa Clara gem
- Civil Bear Jun 3, 2013 11:11 AM
Looking for a casual place for dinner in Santa Clara. All types of cuisine are fair game. The only restraint is that we will have been working outside all day and would like to feel comfortable dining in shorts and tee-shirts. Bonus points if a better version cannot be found in SF.
Jang Su Jang - there is certainly no better in SF, alcohol limited to copious korean beer
Andy's BBQ (sort of - it's great for working outside all day - but the BBQ is likely not fully up to snuff for you).
Aachi Aappakadi - do not be scared off by the yelp reviews. Promise. Not sure if they have a bar.
Two casual places in Santa Clara area I've enjoyed recently are Athena Grill for Greek food (indoors, outdoors under a roof, or outdoors with table umbrellas). 1505 Space Park Drive
Santa Clara. http://www.athenagrill.com/index.html
QQ Noodle for Chinese noodle dishes and a few other options is near enough, I thought, in Cupertino at 10889 S. Blaney Ave. (corner of Bollinger Rd.).
Kunjip in Santa Clara for naengmyun (cold noodles in cold broth), suluntang (ox knee bone soup stew), kalbi tang (short rib soup), kalbi jjim (stewed simmered short ribs, really really good). Three kinds of banchan/appetizers (kimchi cabbage, daikon, and cucumber...totally awesome).
For ramen it's pretty much Misoya or Orenchi which surpass anything in SF or the Peninsula. Or even Santouka if food court style ramen is one's bag.
Consider driving a little further south to Yeganeh, middle eastern/Iranian coffee/pastry/bakery shop as well afterwards.
Ended up going to Kunjip. Big plus was that it was only a five minute walk. Arrived to about a 30 minute wait at 6PM, and the line got longer as we waited. Several other Korean places around with no line, so I figured we were in the right place.
Surprised at the limited menu, and even then it was tough to decipher exactly what you guys recommended, but I think we manged ;). The noodles in cold broth was a welcome relief from the heat (who woulda thunk watermelon in soup?). The spicy short-rib stew had just the right amount of heat for me and the meaty, melt-in-your-mouth short-ribs were scrumptious. Also enjoyed the banchan.
Thank you for the rec!
FYI there is much more to Santa Clara than the Korean strip (less interesting anyway since the soju licensing wars ended some years back) or the creditable but scattered ramen houses, not unique to the town.
Athena definitely worthwhile, though if you are from a region with strong Greek restaurant traditions it may be less impressive (much as Bay Area steakhouses, say, or pizzerias, can disappoint people from regions where those genres excel).
I'm amazed, and a bit disappointed in Chowhound, to see a general Santa Clara comfortable-restaurant thread with no one mentioning Afghani House, a former haunt where I've had at least 40 meals since it opened 18.6 years ago. (That's nearly as bad as the Mountain View Thai restaurants thread where bb not only got Bangkok Spoon's name wrong, but hadn't even TRIED it - the first Thai restaurant in a neighborhood with now six of them, and the least noteworthy today -- a couple of the others not even mentioned in that thread! -- but folks, how can you compare alternatives when you lack the basic points of reference, such as Bangkok Spoon???) "Middle Eastern" indeed -- Afghani House is a landmark. Some of the "dot-com" boom was plotted within its walls.
Afghani House (1103 E. ECR near the Sunnyvale border, which runs through the block, maybe even the building, so many people are unsure if it is in Santa Clare or Sunnyvale) -- and also near ECR's Korean restaurant cluster-- opened as spin-off of two other, older, Afghani restaurants north, both called Kabul, all run by relatives. Yes, kebabs are a famous specialty, but you can make a meal of the elegant comforting appetizers alone, or the stir-fries. Kabul established itself as more elegant than its familial predecessors and in perhaps 150 restaurant meals of related cuisines in Peninsula and S. Bay in 20-plus years, it has stood out as most memorable. (I hope old Ali T. hasn't retired, his perfectionism and old-world wisdom were part of what made the place.)
I recommend Euro Grill at 980 El Camino, Santa Clara (http://www.eurogrillsantaclara.com).
Inside might be a bit less informal than you're looking for, but the outside tables are informal.
The main dishes are cevapi ('sausage sandwich') and burek (pastres with various fillings, many vegetarian), I believe.
The sausages are excellent, and the bread is outstanding. There are wonderful condiments (mustard, a sweet pepper relish, sliced onions, and what I think is a yogurt-based sauce).
There's an excellent cevapi sampler, in case you're not sure what to order.