Restaurants

Best Italian Restaurant: Carpaccio. Pictured (left to right) Leo, Juan Carlos and Roberto. Photo by Sandra Ferer.

ITALIAN RESTAURANT

Once again, Carpaccio wins the Almanac Readers' Choice Award for favorite Italian restaurant. "In our 30th year, we have an incredible staff and loyal customers," co-owner Sandra Ferer says. "I think the community sees Carpaccio as their second kitchen." Some of the recipes go back decades to when she and her husband, Aaron, bought the restaurant, or were involved in two others, Capellini and Buffalo Grill. The chef offers six different pizzas cooked in the wood-burning oven, and a range of regional dishes. Weekly specials are based on what's seasonally available. Fresh fish such as the sand dabs are so popular, she says, diners drive from across the Bay when they appear on the menu.
1120 Crane St., Menlo Park | (650) 322-1211 | carpaccios.com

AMERICAN FOOD & LIVE MUSIC

Menlo Grill Bistro and Bar has been selected for the 2017 Readers' Choice awards in two categories: favorite places for American food and live music. Located at the Stanford Park Hotel, Menlo Grill is comfortable and cordial, yet sophisticated. The dining room has dark oak floors, natural light from the large windows, leather banquettes and club chairs. The bar area has a brick fireplace and cozy atmosphere. Open from 6:30 a.m. to midnight, Menlo Grill offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and dessert menus, not to mention a wine selection that earned it an "Award of Excellence" from the national organization, the Wine Spectator, in 2016. One of the only restaurants in the area that offers late night dining, Menlo Grill has established itself as a local favorite.
100 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | (650) 330-2790 | menlogrill.com

CASUAL DINING, OUTDOOR DINING, PLACE TO MEET PEOPLE, INDEPENDENT COFFEE AND TEA HOUSE

Cafe Borrone and its menu classics — among them chicken salad sandwiches, minestrone soup and frosted mochas — have been a culinary fixture for almost 30 years in Menlo Park. Cafe owner Marina Borrone, who began spending time at the family cafe when she was 9-years-old and it was located in Redwood City, says the cafe is a place that anybody, at any age, or any background, can enjoy at any time of day. Ms. Borrone comes from a family of local restaurateurs — her brother owns Vesta and her sister owns Kristi Marie's, both in Redwood City. Her father and mother still help out at the cafe. A highlight of running the cafe, she says, is working with small farmers to source seasonal ingredients for the dinner menu. Cafe Borrone shares its building with longtime Menlo Park bookstore Kepler's. Of the cafe's neighbor, she says: "It's a great marriage between an independent bookstore and an independent cafe," she says. The cafe's three biggest fans? Her three sons, ages 14, 12, and 8, says Ms. Borrone.
1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | (650) 327-0830 | cafeborrone.com

CHINESE RESTAURANT, TAKEOUT

Chef Kwan's takes home the Readers' Choice award in two categories this year: favorite Chinese restaurant and favorite takeout. The restaurant is owned by Jason Kwan, whom the restaurant is named after, and it offers Mandarin and Szechwan-style Chinese dishes. Mr. Kwan says the restaurant is known for high quality, fresh ingredients. To the relief of those who loved the former Su Hong to-go at the site, Chef Kwan's uses the same recipes. The most popular dishes are General's Chicken, Chinese chicken salad and dry sauteed string beans, he says.
630 Menlo Ave., Menlo Park | (650) 322-4631 | chefkwans.com

FRENCH RESTAURANT

Left Bank French brasserie is our readers' choice for best French restaurant once again. The perennial favorite has been even more popular with local diners since it added outdoor seating on "The Terrace," which was further expanded and upgraded in 2017. Opened in 1998, the restaurant was completely remodeled in 2008. Classic brasserie items including steak frites, onion soup, steak tartare and cheese fondue are available year-round. However, Chef Brendy Monsada changes his seasonal menu items every month with local and organic produce, sustainable seafood and natural meats. The restaurant offers items such as "poulet grand mere," a Rocky Jr. natural roasted half chicken, served with artisan mixed greens, pommes frites and chicken jus, and the Dungeness crab cake Benedict served at brunch.
635 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | 635 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park

Best Japanese Restaurant: Fuki Sushi. Pictured (left to right) Lumi Gardner, Koji, Hiro, Jake, Daisuke, Yoichi, Makoto and Yuki.

JAPANESE RESTAURANT

Located on El Camino Real since 1978, Fuki Sushi continues to be our readers' go-to Japanese restaurant for everything from sushi bar seating to private tatami rooms. Co-owner Lumi Gardner says it's all about offering consistent quality and service, and that "we do our best to stay in line with traditional, and incorporate ingredients from the area, as well." Most of the chefs are trained in Japan and bring their different talents to crafting a diverse menu that is often inspired by seasonal offerings, and sauces and spice mixes made in-house. Some vegan and gluten-free dishes are now available.
4119 El Camino Real, Palo Alto | (650) 494-9383 | fukisushi.com

MEXICAN RESTAURANT

The award for favorite Mexican restaurant once again goes to downtown Menlo Park's Cafe Del Sol. Owner Leonel Diaz says the restaurant's menu goes far beyond tacos and burritos, focusing on seafood, including the restaurant's poblano relleno — roasted poblano peppers stuffed with grilled seafood — and camarones a la diabla — spicy shrimp sauteed in chile de arbol — as well as entrees featuring halibut and red snapper. Of course, the restaurant also has chicken and beef dishes. The restaurant gets its fish and produce locally, mostly purchased in Menlo Park, Mr. Diaz said. The restaurant has been in Menlo Park under the same ownership since 2003.
1010 Doyle St., #1, Menlo Park | (650) 326-2501 | cafedelsolmenlo.com

NEW RESTAURANT

The winner in this year's new restaurant category, Jason Kwan's latest food venture in Menlo Park, Yum Cha Palace, offers dim sum and other Chinese dishes. According to Mr. Kwan, the chef is from Hong Kong and uses authentic recipes. The most popular dim sum items are the shrimp dumplings, pork dumplings and the steamed barbecue pork buns. The restaurant opened in January 2017 at the site of the former Su Hong's sit-down restaurant, which closed for renovations in 2012 and never reopened. Mr. Kwan also owns Jason's Cafe and the former Su Hong to-go location (now called Chef Kwan's) in Menlo Park.
1039 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025 | (650) 752-6173 | yumchamenlopark.com

Best Romantic Restaurant and Place for a Date: The Village Pub. The Filet Foie Truffle.

ROMANTIC RESTAURANT, PLACE FOR A DATE

The Village Pub, with deep-burgundy walls and white-linen-covered tables glowing with candlelight — and set far enough apart for intimate conversation — has been chosen by Almanac readers as their favorite in two categories: romantic restaurant and place for a date. Beyond the handsome decor, the Pub offers impeccable food and professional service that make it one of the Bay Area's highest-rated restaurants. Executive chef John Madriaga works with fresh produce from the five-acre SMIP Ranch in Woodside, high quality meat, fish and other ingredients. A recent menu offered such entrees as almond wood-grilled Rancho Llano Seco pork with stone fruit and Sicilian pistachios, and pan-seared big eye tuna with sweet peas and green garlic bagna cauda.
2967 Woodside Road, Woodside | (650) 851-9888 | thevillagepub.net