Best American Restaurant & Best Place for a Date: Flea Street Cafe


It’s not easy to label the Bay Area fresh, seasonal, sustainably grown food movement with a single word. American? “The more I thought about it, the more I liked (the designation),” says Jesse Cool, owner of Flea Street Cafe, which won awards in two categories. If patrons think of Flea Street’s food as “American,” why not? The menu features “whatever was produced by local farmers, old-fashioned simple recipes, with a modern twist and some slight ethnic influences,” she says. Flea Street is entering its 35th year, and Ms. Cool and chef Carlos Canada continue their work with “respect for the old and the new ... and the integrity of the ingredient, (and) the people who raise or harvest it for us.” Half Moon Bay grilled sardines, Pacific Coast oysters, sweet corn agnolotti, and chicken, beef and lamb raised humanely and sustainably are examples of items on a recent menu. Ms. Cool says she’s seeing a trend in young people dining at Flea Street “because they want to know where their food comes from.”
3607 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park | 854-1226


Cafe Borrone once again sweeps five categories, all signifying its place at the heart of downtown Menlo Park’s social life for the past 25 years. Opened by Roy and Rose Borrone, the restaurant is now under the guidance of their daughter, Marina, and her husband, Chef Josh Pebbles. “It has become an institution,” Ms. Borrone said. “It holds a dear spot in many hearts and it is such a part of the community. We take serving the community of guests and our staff seriously and have worked hard to continue to keep it fresh with new offerings while keeping the cafe favorites. It’s a wonderful place.” Looks like Almanac readers agree. Hot chocolate with real whipped cream and scones are breakfast staples, while soups, salads and Italian entrees round out lunch and dinner. And when not on tour, the All-Stars jazz band can often be found playing at the cafe on Friday nights.
1010 El Camino Real, #110, Menlo Park, (650) 327-0830


Su Hong To-Go is the Readers’ Choice winner for both favorite takeout and Chinese restaurant. The Su Hong business, including the former restaurant on El Camino Real, has been around for 37 years and has held the title of favorite Chinese restaurant with Almanac readers for two decades now. Owner Bee King said that diners enjoy the quality food and reasonable prices. “We use quality ingredients and make our items fresh every day,” she said. Among some of the most popular items on the menu are the Chinese chicken salad, pot stickers, orange chicken and Mongolian beef.
630 Menlo Ave., Menlo Park | 322-4631


Almanac readers have voted Jeffrey’s Hamburgers, Menlo Park’s comfort-food diner, their favorite place to go for a meal with kids. Manager Stephen Friebel said the restaurant appeals to a range of customers. “Not only do we have traditional hamburgers that customers can order off the menu, we have a burger bar, where people are able to make their burger just the way they like it,” he said. Jeffrey’s also offers a wide selection of milkshakes. “The lively atmosphere of Jeffrey’s is the perfect place for families and kids alike to munch on their homemade burger, or sip on a vanilla shake,” Mr. Friebel said. “You really don’t see many places like Jeffrey’s anymore.”
888 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | 322-1959

Best French Restaurant: Left Bank


Left Bank prides itself on its Mediterranean cuisine served in the atmosphere of a true French brasserie. Local diners appreciate its authentic cuisine, lively happy hour, handsome interior, and outdoor sidewalk seating. Chef Brendy Monsada serves classic brasserie items, such as onion soup, escargot, steak frites, and mussels, along with seasonal specialties such as heirloom tomato salad and sweet corn fricassee. The restaurant has been hosting “Tap Takeover” beer events where a local brewery’s offerings are served from all the restaurants taps for a weekend. In May the restaurant’s fried-in-duck-fat French fries were named as one of the country’s top 15 fries by People magazine.
635 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park; (650) 473-6543


Diners double their pleasure at Carpaccio in downtown Menlo Park, feasting on food our readers find the best in Italian cuisine while feasting their eyes on the vibrant decor. Managing partner Ciya Martorana is the longtime familiar figure greeting patrons most days, and chef Jorges Cortes continues to offer specialties such as the Ostriche Asagio — baked oysters with spinach and asiago cheese — and a range of pastas, fish, and meat dishes. Soups, salads, pizzas and desserts round out the menu.
1120 Crane St., Menlo Park | 322-1211


Fuki Sushi pays attention to detail. With decor that gives the feeling of being transported to Japan, and a menu that honors authentic traditions, it’s clear why Almanac readers have identified the restaurant as their favorite place for sushi. Lumi Gardner, general manager, says her restaurant keeps guests coming back because of a focus on quality and a refusal to bow to the more Americanized sushi trend of giant rolls filled with ingredients like cream cheese. “Sushi is supposed to be a bite-sized meat cuisine,” she says. “That’s the whole point.”
4119 El Camino Real, Palo Alto | 494-9383


The award for this year’s favorite Mexican restaurant goes to the vibrantly colored and lively Cafe Del Sol, known for the authenticity of its traditional Mexican menu. Owner Lionel Diaz notes that the restaurant values the tasty freshness of its food, and says: “Everything we do is fresh. We get everything from a local produce.” The restaurant has established a reputation for bringing the rich flavors of Mexican cuisine to its customers.
1010 Doyle St #1, Menlo Park | 326-2501

Best New Restaurant: Borrone MarketBar


Borrone MarketBar won as favorite new restaurant in the Readers’ Choice 2014 poll. “We love our work,” says owner Marina Borrone, who calls her family’s new endeavor “our little gem,” located next to the family’s Cafe Borrone. “We designed the new MarketBar not to repeat (Cafe Borrone) but to be reflective of our time in Italy,” she says. Patrons can either enjoy a cocktail and a full-service menu that changes daily, or take home offerings such as lamb sausage prepared that morning or fresh spinach fettuccine with pesto.
1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, (650) 600-8095

Best Romantic Restaurant: The Village Pub


Our readers aren’t the only ones who appreciate The Village Pub. In 2013 the Pub received Wine Spectator magazine’s Grand Award for its wine list, the magazine’s highest honor, which currently is bestowed on only 73 restaurants in the world. The Pub’s wine list, Wine Spectator said, takes a “global approach, offering an adventurous, food-friendly mix of classic labels, rising stars and underdogs yet to be discovered.” The Pub’s menu, as prepared by executive chef Dmitry Elperin, is contemporary American food rooted in the culinary traditions of France and the Mediterranean and featuring hand-selected, seasonal ingredients. The restaurant is owned by Tim Stannard, Mark Sullivan and Andrew Green. They received a coveted Michelin star in 2009 and every year since. Pub owner Tim Stannard says the secret to the restaurant’s success as the perfect place for a date is “a combination of many elements that come together effortlessly: ambiance, cuisine, unparalleled service, and attention to detail.” That detail, he says, includes the restaurant’s walls, which are wrapped in burgundy-colored mohair; tables impeccably set and draped in crisp white linens, and glowing with candlelight — all of which set the mood. “The menu features impeccably prepared produce from our restaurant’s private farm, SMIP Ranch, as well as the finest meats, fish, and ingredients available, and one of the most award-wining wine lists in the world,” Mr. Stannard says. “All of these details lend themselves to the most romantic dining experience in the area, and quite possibly, the country.”
2967 Woodside Road, Woodside | 851-9888