AMERICAN RESTAURANT, PLACE FOR A DATE
Flea St. Cafe has been chosen by Almanac readers as their favorite in two categories: best American restaurant and best place for a date. Owner Jesse Cool says that customers love the restaurant's warm, caring, and professional atmosphere, as well as the contemporary ingredient-inspired menu that changes with the seasons. Flea St. Cafe is about to celebrate its 38th anniversary this August. Cool says that since its opening, Flea St. has created its menu from ingredients gathered from local farms, fisheries and ranches. And what makes Flea St. such a good place for a date? "Our restaurant is not stuffy, and people can hear each other talk while enjoying delicious food and cocktails," Cool says. Flea St. has recently opened an oysterette on its deck, according to Cool.
3607 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park | (650) 854-1226 | cooleatz.com
CASUAL DINING, OUTDOOR DINING, PLACE TO MEET PEOPLE, INDEPENDENT COFFEE AND TEA HOUSE
Cafe Borrone is truly a gem of the Menlo Park community with its fresh food and scenic outdoor seating. This year, it is again the winner in the categories of best casual dining, outdoor dining, place to meet people, and independent coffee and tea house. Sergio Fuentes, a general manager, says that Cafe Borrone's customers enjoy the restaurant's family-oriented atmosphere, as well as how all of the meals are baked in-house with only organic ingredients. Fuentes says the most popular dish is the chicken salad sandwich. "It is definitely our number-one order," he says.
1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | (650) 327-0830 | cafeborrone.com
Carpaccio is our readers' choice for best Italian restaurant once again. Carpaccio has been in its Menlo Park location since 1988, according to owner Sandra Ferer. She also says, "I think our customers feel that Carpaccio is their home away from home." Asked how Carpaccio has managed to maintain its loyal customers, Ferer responded that consistency plays a part."We are very consistent, both in terms of our food and our staff," she says. It's important that customers are able to get a favorite entree if that's what they wanted when they came in, and not discover that it was rotated off the menu. However, the restaurant does offer weekly specials to keep things interesting.
1120 Crane St., Menlo Park, | (650) 322-1211 | carpaccios.com
Following a motto of "treat every day like it is grand opening day," Chef Chu's has won over readers with its homemade potstickers and annual Chinese New Year festivities. Serena Williams, Steve Young, Justin Bieber and JFK Jr. are among the many real-life superheroes to have dined at Chef Chu's since its opening in 1970. The Beijing duck, cooked in a cast iron Chinese oven, is popular among patrons. Many of the signature dishes feature fish and shellfish, but there's also lamb, chicken and a vegetarian cold plate on the signature menu.
1067 N. San Antonio Road, Los Altos | 650-948-2696 | chefchu.com
FRENCH RESTAURANT, HAPPY HOUR
Left Bank French brasserie has been a longtime winner in the best French restaurant category, but this year readers have also voted it winner for having the best happy hour. Left Bank is a stalwart in the Menlo Park restaurant community, and this year it is celebrating its 20th anniversary. General manager Wesleigh Stoltz says that one reason Left Bank has been around so long is because it's comfortable, and guests feel that they can truly relax while dining. Regarding happy hour, Stoltz says, "Left Bank's happy hour has always been an unspoken secret." With the recent addition of the outdoor terrace, as well as Left Bank's late happy hour from 9 p.m. until closing, the restaurant has drawn more people, he says. Starting this month, Left Bank is also offering a prix fixe family-style menu every Sunday until the end of year. All of the proceeds are going to different Menlo Park community organizations.
635 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | (650) 473-6543
The award for favorite Japanese restaurant once again goes to Palo Alto's Fuki Sushi . The restaurant is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Reflecting on how Fuki Sushi has remained successful for so long, co-owner Lumi Gardner says that customers love its atmosphere and consistency, in addition to the diverse menu. "We have five different kitchens inside Fuki Sushi, each one dedicated to a different food type," Gardner says. In the past year, Gardner says, Fuki Sushi has expanded its catering services, and will continue to offer more in terms of catering in the coming year.
4119 El Camino Real, Palo Alto | (650) 494-9383 | fukisushi.com
The award for best Mexican restaurant goes to first-time winner Amigos Grill. Chef Julio Hernandez says that people keep coming back for the burritos and enchiladas, but the margaritas are also a customer favorite. "People love our margaritas," Hernandez says. In addition to the food, customers also love the casual ambiance. Amigos Grill has no current plans to change its menu, since customers love its dishes, Hernandez says.
3130 Alpine Road, #290, Portola Valley | (650) 851-3997
MOST ROMANTIC RESTAURANT
The award for the most romantic restaurant goes to The Village Pub. With deep-burgundy walls and white-linen-covered tables glowing with candlelight and set far enough apart for intimate conversation, The Pub offers impeccably prepared food and professional service that make it one of the Bay Area's finest restaurants. Executive chef Steven Pelas works with pristine, organic produce from a private five-acre farm, SMIP Ranch, located in Woodside. High-quality meats, fish, and poultry are also a highlight. A recent menu offered such entrees as almond Coleman pork loin with pearl barley and grilled apricots, and pan-seared ocean trout with sweet corn pudding and chanterelle mushrooms.
2967 Woodside Road, Woodside | (650) 851-9888 | thevillagepub.net
DINING WITH KIDS, BREAKFAST
Buck's of Woodside is again the winner in the categories of best dining with kids and best breakfast. Co-owner Jamis MacNiven says kids love Buck's because, "they get to run around, and we give them a treasure hunt with over 500 artifacts to find." As for the food, Buck's has seven different menus and is constantly changing its specials. "We are always experimenting and changing our specials, but we keep the favorites," MacNiven says. Buck's is always busy, getting about 600 to 1,000 customers a day, he says. "Don't come; we are too busy," MacNiven, known for his quick wit, deadpans.
3062 Woodside Road, Woodside | (650) 851-8010 | buckswoodside.com
This year, Cafe Wisteria wins the Almanac Readers' Choice Award for favorite new restaurant. Cafe Wisteria is located at the Allied Arts Guild, surrounded by gardens and flowers. This scenic restaurant offers a California, farm-to-table cuisine in a casual setting. Menu items include a watermelon caprese salad, eggs benedict and apple-brie panini. Customers love the outdoor dining and relaxing environment, complete with the soothing sounds of a fountain.
75 Arbor Road, Menlo Park | (650) 838-9002