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Rock on, Readers' Choice

Original post made on Aug 24, 2011

Readers pick their favorite local restaurants, shops and services. ==B Photo:== Klara Turner, owner of Los Salonez in Menlo Park, won for favorite hair salon.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 23, 2011, 2:18 PM

Comments (58)

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Su Hong To Go? It's gotten pretty bad. Where are peoples' taste buds? We've been customers for years, but rarely go now. LuLu's for MExican food?? And Stacks for breakfast? Menlo needs some new competition!

Posted by Colleen
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 25, 2011 at 12:11 am

Try Phils Treasure Pot over by the Post Office. They have amazing food dine in or carry out. Family run, and the love they put in shows.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Thanks, Colleen. I forgot about Phil's! It's very good.

What's the deal w/considering Carpaccio best Italian food? The best thing at Carpaccio's are the bartenders ;-) Some of the food's decent, but the best Italian? C'mon, people!

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm


unfortunately I don't think there is better for italian than Carpaccios. Angelo Mio sucks. The italian restaurants I've eaten at in Palo Alto aren't very good either. Palermo had them beat when they were still in business, but that was becasue they had Dal Boffo's old chef. Since Palermo is gone it's pretty much down to Carpaccio for decent italian. You have a better suggestion?

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2011 at 10:40 am

I do have a better suggestion, MV: In short, my home cooking! My dad's too.

I was also a fan of Palermo, & miss it. Surprisingly, I've had a couple of good meals at Pasta? I've had past good meals at Spalti, also, but haven't been there in several years. I've had consistently good meals at Il Fornaio, but their menu strikes me as limited.

I like the salads & apps at Howie's at Town & Country, espec. their polenta in its sauce & my DH loves their meatballs. I'm not a fan of their pizza, though. I like the Caesar Salad at Amici. So I guess I can't say that there's local Italian where I like most of their dishes.

I like Caffe Riace for southern Italian & of course, the outdoor patio.

I still miss Dal Baffo.

Carpaccio's seems too stuffy/heavy in a lot of ways, but it's good in cold weather. It just seems so dated. What do you like there?

Posted by Jenny
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I have always been a huge Su Hong to go fan but now my heart is with Phil and his treasure pot! He has fabulous food! If you haven't tried it, you should def give him a chance. We are sold! He's also a super super nice guy too.

Can I rant on the Mexican? Seriously people? Lulu's? I splurge on some things but the overpriced mexican food at Lulu's is not one of them. The food isn't bad. It's horribly overpriced for what it is though and you don't get that authentic mexican food feel. Has anyone been to Cafe Del Sol? What about (and even better....) El Cerrito- the hidden gem of Sharon Heights! I'm not sure how this voting is done but it always seems like these places win because they are the most trendy or centrally located, but do they have the best food?

I will agree with Carpaccio, thier food is excellent and consistant. I assume Left Bank wins because they are the 'only' French restaurant in Menlo. Everytime I go in there I order two drinks at a time because it takes an hour to get my first one. My wine has come after my food on two different occasions. (and skimpy skimpy pours...). What a love about Carpaccio is you get a full glass of wine. A "real" glass, the kind you pour at home in your kitchen, not the 3 oz premeasured pour.

What else can I talk about now that I am fully into this....I guess I agree with most other things, but best breakfast? Stacks is overpacked, overplated and overrated. You can't pay me to stand out there on a Saturday or a Sunday, I prefer Ann's or, what most people dont' know is that the BBC has an amazing Brunch (I'm sure you are picturing the old post drinking, day after BBC when the carpets smelled like beer and vomit but I promise it isn't that anymore- I do suggst eating outside though). A new ownership and chef combo the last few years has made it an excellent place for brunch. Other places I like (If anyone cares.....):

Trellis rooftop in the summertime
Pizza at the Oasis
The Ice Cream Truck that circles menlo park playing home on the range.
NAKS MARKET! (Where is the love?) They have so much fun stuff.
The park ave salon (across from stacks) does an excellent Mani-pedi combo for $45 and Calvin and his wife Tina, who own it will always take you and they are darling. Tina does the best eyebrow waxing around.
Other beauty needs? Waxing, facials and massages? Try Linda at Bella Day spa who needs a nod.

and sandwiches? Woodside Deli - If we are going that far, I assume because I saw woodside bakery, that we are. And, although most people will toss out a big "yeah right" ... give Luttekins a chance. Yes, they were on thier way out, horribly outdated and the reviews weren't great, but they did an awesome remodel - not just on the interior, on the menu as well. We have had excellent sandwhiches twice there.

Give my boy Phil a chance at the Treasure pot. Tell him Jenny sent you and maybe he'll toss me a free side of those awesome steamed pork buns I've been craving.

My work here is done. Back to work....

Posted by Jenny
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Wait, I'm not finished. I am commenting on Hmmmm's comments now. I love Caffe Riace . Great suggestion. Everytime I am at Carpaccio I get the meat and cheese plate (whatever it's called and it serves like 4 people). The Asiago oysters are yummy and the carpaccio itself is good. They have this banana mazadamia nut cream pie that is fabulous. It pretty much is the only Italian left standing though. My BF loves the Calzones. I love the martinis.

I hear Howie's Pizza at Town and Country is amazing. I won't do Amici's, I don't get the hype, I think it's terrible.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm


my wife is italian and I learned to cook italian from my mother in law, so when I want really good italian I cook it myself just like you. But for restaurants, I haven't found any other than Carpaccios that is as good and consistent. I quit going to Il Fornaio a couple years ago as it seemed their quality had slipped and they just weren't consistent.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Wow, all this input is appreciated!

I think Jenny's right in some cases: places are voted on due to location or because they're known, not because they're the best. I did a major eye roll w/Lulu's, also - not because it's bad, but because it's overpriced & not the best. Del Sol is decent & their family-owned group of restaurants are good.

As for Il Fornaio, we had a banquet there last summer that was marvelous - I was surprised at the high quality. I got bored of it during the .bomb era because I "took" so many (yawn!) meetings there. I used to like their butternut ravioli w/brown butter sage. They also have a decent Happy Hour. For awhile, Zibibbo was excellent. I hosted a small luncheon there last year that was nice, but not spectacular. We had a good sized party at Iberia a few years ago & it was stunningly good. Subsequent meals have fallen short in service & quality, unfortunately.

I'm not a big drinker, but I like knowing where a good bar is, & Carpaccio definitely has it. So does The Four Seasons in EPA - & they make a good Caesar, too.

I guess I like specific things at specific places but don't feel like any of them are truly excellent, all around, when it comes to Italian. Howie's decor is boring & it's rife w/loud families, so we go at off times, or get to go & eat at the park. The salads are marvelousy fresh & feed more than one. Their pizza bores me, but their plain flatbread w/hummus is a feast - & the flatbread as a side is just $2. But it's not a special place like Carpaccio. But then, I've had some bummer deals at Carpaccio w/uneven service & seriously - loud, screaming hooker types w/their men out front to navigate through on more than one occasion. Now, that was pretty David Lynch-like. But that said, we had a memorable family NYE dinner one year...I guess I think it just needs a bit of new blood, a shot of new espresso, if you will. Some memorable times at Carpaccio have been w/old time realtors who've been customers for years & know how to live it up.

I forgot about Trellis! Must take DH there -it's a lovely summer indulgence. I agree about Amici's in a lot of ways, but their Caesar Salad is consistently good. I think it's nice that families can go there - they aren't stuck w/Chuck E. Cheese or an overpriced fancy place - it's a good in between for them.

Good to know about the brunch at BBC - we'll have to try that.

I miss that little French place - I mean, tiny - that was in downtown Shallow Alto some years back - on Bryant, maybe? L'Amie Dona, I think it was. So not into Left Bank.

How about the new fro yo place on WIllow just west of 101, in that place that was vacant for years? I'm just glad to see a new biz there & still miss its predecessor - Luxie-Q. Great blue crab crab cakes & marvelous desserts...

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2011 at 7:46 pm


that little french place you're talking about was great. My wife and I used to eat there. the owner (I think her name was Annie) was a very nice woman and the food was fabulous. Unfortunately, it is gone. victim of the bad economy.

I have spent a lot of time learning to cook and I do so with much less salt so my wife would rather eat my cooking than go out (not bragging, just what it is).

Ther are some things we like at The Left Bank, but we only go there on occasion. Sorry to say, Bistro Vida, just down the street, just doesn't cut it. Downtown Menlo is iffy for a nice sit down dinner these days it seems.

Posted by Jenny
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 29, 2011 at 7:47 pm

I guess when I think of Readers choice in the MP almanac, I just think of Menlo Park, PV, Atherton and woodside, the area's the paper covers, if we could go into Palo Alto (Il Fornio is definitley great and the Four Seaons, I could go on and on).

No one mentioned Flea Street. Very Pricey - but VERY worth it for a really nice date night out. I was never a fan of Jesse Cool's place on Santa Cruz ave (the cool cafe or cool eatz) the deli style cafe but Flea Street in pretty phenomonal.

About Breakfast, If Alice's in consider Woodside, they are off the hook. It's definitley a 20 minute hike up the hill but if you get there early enough on a Saturday morning (or anytime on a weekday) then it is well worth it. Mike's cafe (both locations) are great.

If you go to Trellis make sure to get susan's downfall - the walnut gorgonzola ravioli - it's super rich so split it as an appetizer, you only get about 6 pillows.

A few things I forgot.....

Su Hong (Dine in) has a great dine in at the bar deal for lunch, it's like $8.99 and you get an entree, chow mein, soup, salad etc. . . Andy will make you a mean Tokyo tea too.

BBC has excellent Nachos and I love thier baked Garlic. I also forgot to talk about the Eggplant Parmesean at Carpaccio - that's my favorite entree. Ericks deli in Sharon heights also makes great panini style sandwiches (the melty kind). Unamas (although they are a chain *cringe*) has a foghead burrito that is different and great. Back to the goose, you really can't go wrong with any of thier specials. People will say the burger has lost it's ooomph there, but I think it's great still. Esp the Grilled Cheeseburger. Not Cheeseburger - a "grilled cheese" with a patty in the middle. Bomb!

I'm over Iberia, but I used to love to go there for the tapas - specifiacally the bacon wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo. I know this is a stretch because it's redwood city - but it you want a great sushi place "Higuma" on El camino is a hidden gem. I love all the new frozen yogurt places in Menlo, they actually don't seem too overpriced. I paid $10 for two double scoops after a late night craving we had the other night at B&R, that suprised me. The place that caught on fire next door to Posh Bagel never had much business (cafe Silan) which was too bad, because I thought it was cute and I loved thier little mediterannian plates. I would love to see a little medd/greek place go in downtown.

And I would love to see a pub. Like an old fashioned PUB. Just saying. I love sharing all these comments/opinions It's good to hear about new things/share opinions.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I'm surprised Evvia doesn't come up. They have great food. Their lamb shank is incredible! Make reservations at least two weeks in advance if you want to eat between 7 and 9.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2011 at 8:32 pm

MV, what do you make Italian-wise?

I don't recall how long ago that nice French bistro disappeared, but it was a gem.

Jenny, you should be a restaurant reviewer! You show a lot of enthusiasm and balance it w/reality - good combo. Thanks for what you've shared.

I recall, when they opened the MP Mike's Cafe, they had a lovely tomato bisque. Simple, creamy, tart/sweet. It was only for a short while. Their club sandwich is a classic. Had first date brunch w/DH there, so we're a bit sentimental about it. I'm not into their whole sports bar "ethos" - annoying. My parents still enjoy Mike's when they're in town. I have friends who loooove their baked 2 cheese pasta thing w/breadcrumbs - it's their total comfort food.

Jenny's right about limiting the coverage for Best Of, but I think The Four Seasons, since it's EPA, should be an Alamanac option.

I love the tortas at Los Gallos- I prefer torta meat chopped, which they do.

I agree, Jenny, about the bacon-wrapped dates w/chorizo at Iberia - wow! A mouth full of flavor.

I wish downtown MP would get a snappin' Indian place. Something w/Darbar's quality, not as fancy as Amber, w/some great standard fare as well as their own twists on things - something like a Menlo version of Shiva's in Mt. View.

I've found the redo of Lutticken's a nice surprise. When I'm in that 'hood it's a nice stopping point. I never knew The Goose had a grilled cheeseburger - it sounds pretty filling. I haven't been there in years...

DH had a hard time adjusting to The O - he's not from around here. But once he tasted the burgers, he grokked it completely.

Thanks for the rec at Trellis - I've only had lighter fare, not pasta, so looking forward to it.

What about bargain bites? My bargain deal is taqueria food, or, as mentioned, Los Gallos, but split the sandwich or a chicken platter.

Flea Street of course is non-bargain, but truly lovely. I don't really like the Stanford Museum Cafe - it's ok, but overpriced.

Jenny, if you go to Howie's & like polenta, you'll love their baked polenta wedges in a sundried tomato sauce. Delish. The meatball app comes w/greasy, rich, pungently marvelous garlic bread.

How about Jonathan's Fish & Chips on Willow for a trip to southern-style comfort food?

How about that egg salad/tuna salad double sandwich at Draeger's? I have old friends who go in there just for that when visiting.

How about Jason's on ECR in MP for brunch? I haven't been.

Our family past fave go-tos for special occasions, besides Flea Street: John Bentley's, & Chantilly, Carpaccio. My parents used to enjoy Pear Williams.

If MV or Jenny want to email me any suggestions that you don't want to add here, you can email me: hmmm (at) yahoo. Thanks!

Posted by Jenny
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 30, 2011 at 8:26 am

Thanks for the compliment - I can talk about food all day, I wish I was a restaurant reviewer! I seriously need a new path.

I could say a lot about bargain bites, but I have to say I am truly impressed with your comment about the double decker egg and tuna sando at Draegers, I used to eat it at least once a week. (on the dark rye).

I've been to Jason's and it's ok. I Just never think to go there, the breakfast is good. They have good pancakes. I used to like the Burger place that was there before (same owners as Clarks I think, they made some great onion rings.). I love Bentley's fois gras, they make it with these sweet and sour cherries on toast points and it's really good if you are into fois gras.

I grew up going there when it was Fabbro's in the 80's I rememeber they had the best Fettuccine Alfredo, my family also used to frequent the Acorn, which I loved too up until it closed. I LOVE Evvia. I've had the lamb shank - it's amazing, if you go for lunch you need to get the roated lamb sandwich, it's made with homemade tzatziki (sp?) and pita. The lamb riblets are also great. Someone was telling me the other day that the best thing on that menu (aside from the lamb shank is their whole fish that is baked with lemon and herbs, I have yet to try it but I plan to.

Back to brgain bites... I'm a big "el camino El Grulense fan" they have awesome carne asada taco's for just about a buck a piece. This whole conversation has prompted me to think about all my favorite dishes in Menlo/Woodside/PV/ATherton area. So here she goes:

Note: I know these posts are getting long, clearly those who don't care don't have to read them but I am also hoping this inspires people to go out and try these great things. I'm a foodie, but I don't discriminate.. I love everything from The boat scallops at the Village Pub to the taco truck that parks outside the construction site across from my place downtown. (Great egg rolls and tacos). Anyway, If you make it by any of these places my recomendation would be:

BBC-brioche french toast with banana and carmelized pecans
The chicken nachos
Bentley's-Fois Gras
Su Hong - Hot & Sour Soup
Triple mushroom chicken
Flea Street- the menu changes but they have an heirloom tomato,
peach and burrata salad
El Cerrito (sharon Heights) - the super street tacos
Alice's - make your own omelette's - they are all great
Dutch Goose - Grilled cheese burger, eggs and hot pastrami
Applewood pizza- makes the best hawaiian pizza I've had.
Woodside Deli - THe godfather sando
Harry's Hofbarau - the Prime rib french dip and the enchiladas
Mex to Go (El Camino) - Chilli Relleno's (when they have them)
Ann's - French toast combo and great pies.
Carpaccio - the oysters asisago
Draegers - they will make banana pancakes there on request, it's not on the menu and they are awesome. I also love the glazed shortbread Frog cookies in the bakery.

That is all for now. Probably should get some work done this morning. . . .

Posted by Judy
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Jenny, I love your recommendations and enthusiasm as well! Maybe you should write a 'special' column for the Almanac :) I'm sure the entire community can use these recommendations, we don't get out much anymore and I love to keep up on where to go and what to eat. In the meantime, I'll be going by Draegers today and I'll pick up one of those egg and tuna sandwiches!

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 30, 2011 at 7:58 pm

St. Michael's Alley for brunch.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Was just talking to a friend about SMA for brunch! Do you mean the old one, MV?

Had a lovely sandwich today from San Benito House in Half Moon Bay. Love the bread.

Yes, the Draeger's egg salad/tuna salad on dark rye Jenny - that's how I do it, too. But can't eat all of it. Perfect to split w/someone.

MV, I also love Evvia. It wins every year in various categories, I think. It's the only lamb I'll eat - not a big lamb fan.

Jenny, do you know which taco truck parks near your place? I used to like The Flying Taco that parked near Palo Alto Airport. Never see it anymore :-(

Remember Fontana's? Who was it that made the excellent chicken rollatini - The Acorn? It was a place on ECR.

Which place was the old fogey restaurant near The Acorn on ECR that may have predated Fontana's or it was nearby? We used to get stuffed lobster there. I recall one of their bad live musicians actually used a BUBBLE machine. We were the only kids in there & still laugh about it. It was like live elevator music!

When I was a kid, a lot of FBI used to eat at Ann's, dunno why. My friend's dad would take us & we'd try to listen in on their convos.

What a Shiok! Is it still good? I recall pricey lunches, iirc.

How about that Menlo breakfast place just down a bit from Stacks? I've never been.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 30, 2011 at 9:37 pm


the only St. Michaels Alley I know is in Palo Alto on Emerson right near Whole Foods.

Where's the breakfast place near Stacks? Stacks is too crowded and the food just isn't worth the wait.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 12:30 pm

MV, it's called Menlo Station, on Santa Cruz, just past the alley behind Stacks. I haven't been there. The Yelp reviews for Jason's are pretty good - maybe you've tried it?

As for SMA, when they moved to their new, uber modern location, they kept their brunch at old location. I just checked & they still have brunch at the old location, on Emerson. The new, non-brunch one's on Homer.

I think a Wing Stop would be a huge hit in dowtown MP.

Posted by Dawn
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 31, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Where's the love for awesome jerk takeout at Back-A-Yard? The only reason it isn't the best take-out is because not enough people have tried it, IMHO. I take that over Su Hongs any day of the week.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Dawn - I totally forgot about Back-A-Yard but we love their to go. We like to surprise our spice-loving Indians friends w/Back-A-Yard & they adore it. Thanks for the reminder :-)

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 31, 2011 at 4:37 pm

EDITOR - two things...

1. What an excellent thread! This is the best thread on the Town Square Forum in a very long time. No politics. No scandal. Just fun!

2. Editor, you are crazy if you don't hire Jenny, Hmmm and Menlo Voter to write restaurant reviews for you. I think this would be a real winner for The Almanac! I will be trying new places just on their advice.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 31, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I agree POGO. Although I have a fear that someone is going to try to insert politics in here somewhere. The real restaurant reviewers here are Jenny and Hmmm. It's obvious they go to many more restaurants than I. I must say though, writing reviews would be an excellent excuse to go out more!

Posted by MMR
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 31, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Cafe del Sol for Mexican--Food is terrific, Luis is very nice. Takeout is as good as eating there. Ceviche delicious!
Menlo Cafe--great "Wild and Nutty" sandwich!

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Aw, shucks, thanks POGO. I agree that MV should also be a reviewer, even if he doesn't get out as often. I walked by Coconuts today in Shallow Alto & thought, "Fun interior, looks interesting, sheesh, have never been & gotta get out more!"

Jenny really knows her stuff. I don't think I'd eat foie gras- she's a little more adventurous :-) I'm not a "see & be seen" kind of diner at all - but I really appreciate what goes into a good meal.

Thanks, MMR, for your recs. I'd forgotten how good the Sol ceviche is, & I normally am not a big ceviche fan.

For me, the politics involved in food have to do w/sourcing it. I try, at least at home, to cook & eat organic as much as possible. I'm not happy w/the influence factory farming has had on my life. I know it doesn't matter to some people, but it matters to me. Shifting the focus to quality rather than quantity is ongoing for us. I am digressing from the main subject, but I am aware of & respect how expensive it is for restaurants to create good, affordable meals - & when we eat out, we often don't know the source of our meal. So I try to at least be aware when eating at home.

But back to the main subject...I've heard the pizza at Pizza Primo is good, but never had it. Anyone?

And what about cafeterias, like airport & courthouse style places? Are they all gone now?

I think it's time to re-watch Doris Day's That Touch of Mink - love the automat scenes.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 31, 2011 at 9:33 pm

I love foi gras. The best place for it isn't even in town - Le Papillon in San Jose. A favorite for at least thirty years. Will be having dinner there next saturday.

Posted by Jenny
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 31, 2011 at 9:38 pm

This has been super fun for me, given the opportunity I would write about food all day long! No politics here, I don't discriminate when it comes to local restaurants, I'll try them all. Thanks for the compliment POGO.

I don't know the name of the Taco trucks, the construction is complete on the new townhomes, so the taco truck hasn't been by for a few months (it is greatly missed!). I was between jobs at the time, so I really enjoyed taking a few steps off my porch to grab a couple carne asada tacos.

What is this Menlo Station and why haven't I even heard of it? I am going to make it my mission to check it out this weekend. There is a new little polish place across from Phil's Treasure pot that my friend told me about. I've never tried polish food, I am going to put it on the list for "date night" sometime this month and I'll let you all know how it goes. I hope we can keep this thing going (if I don't get my weekly food column in the almanac of course....)

Hmmmm - here is the deal on Cafeteria style. Harry's Hofbrau is still where it's at. The place is amazing. Yes, it looks like the kind of place my grandparents ate at 5pm sharp every night, but don't let the ambiance fool you. First of all. They have a great bar!! Isn't it nice to get a cocktail for $5.00 still? A $3 beer? The older men place dice, the Giants game is on in the corner and if you get there right around 4:30 the chef puts out a free happy hour appetizer that will cater to any taste bud. Last time I was in there it was chicken enchilada Quesadillas.They were awesome, Penny is a great bartender and sometimes you'll get the older guy who tells really bad (but funny) jokes.

I love getting the turkey/cranberry sandwich or the french dip. You can mound their home made stuffing on top. They always have the perfect seasoning in that stuff, it's addictive. You can't go wrong with ANYTHING on this menu. Mac and cheese - awesome. They even make a killer (and huge, enough for two) Turkey Cobb salad. They have great small salads, the kind that my grandma made (shredded carrot/raisin, ambrosia) and the pies.... lot of pies.

Go mid afternoon or around 11 or the line tends to get pretty long.

Across from Harry's in the Thai house which I also love for you Thai fans out there.

Now, will someone go into detail about this back-a-yard place that I have never heard of?

The small french place that was mentioned early in this string was that Pot au Feu or something like that? I vaguely remember my parents going there. . .

What about Little Copenhagen? Their Ghostly remains linger on El Camino but they are open in that strip mall where Lucky's is on Woodside Road. They are hit or miss I think. Their Reuben is one of the best I've ever had and the breakfast is good. It's pretty quiet and I just never think to go there.

Breakers Cafe is over there too for breakfast. Reminds me of a perfect mix between Ann's and Stacks. The food is ok, I wish the outside seating were better so I can sit and listen to the Parrot who will chat your ear off out there. Next time your over there, walk by. You'll hear him, he's hilarious.

All for now! Please though - do give the scoop on the "back-a-yard"

Posted by Dawn
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Back-A-Yard is the much smaller sibling of Coconuts in PA. Its on the MP side of Willow just after you cross 101 towards the bay. Its super easy to miss - and I only do take out there - but its well worth the effort. The corn festivals are probably not very good for me, but I love them. The jerk chicken is just so good. I think its location is why more folks don't know about it, but hopefully this will help. I've gotten a couple of good ideas out of this thread.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Okay, some responses - to MV:

How is the foie gras at Le Papillon done? That's a family fave place, but I haven't been.

To Jenny:

-MV & I weren't thinking of Le Pot au Feu, but a place in Shallow Alto called L'Amie Donia, on Emerson. Not sure why it closed down - maybe post-9/11 finances. This thread made me think on that place & I did a lil nosing around, & found the owner's website: Web Link

I went to Le Pot au Feu as a kid & liked it, but don't recall specifics.

As for Harry's, haven't been in years! I do recall their turkey & stuffing. I've never had a drink there, but that shall soon be rectified - it fits in w/bargain bites. I must take DH - thanks for the reminder. I used to work not far from there & we'd all go there & Thai House, enjoying both. And of course, La Azteca.

Yes, the ghostly remains of Copenhagen - makes me sad, but I've heard their Reuben, still obtainable at current location, is kickin'.

How about good Vietnamese? I've been to the place in downtown RWC. I haven't found any local places that make shrimp cupcake...not a fan of Tamarine due to rude service, so they don't count. But doesn't this place in Redwood City look good, menu-wise? Web Link

Never been to Breakers - might be worth a trip to RWC. How about the former Pete's Harbor place? I've heard it is awful - not that that the original was that great, but you could get an app & beer & sit upstairs.

So Back-A-Yard is Caribbean. It's on Willow Rd, just east of 101, on the left side. I love it fresh, but get it to go mostly cuz it's so small there. Here's their site: Web Link Get read y for their theme song! Coconuts in downtown PA is their sister restaurant - ambience, higher prices, larger, supposed to be good. It's right across from the city hall parking garage. Theoretically, it's a safer neighborhood. I say theoretically because there was a notorious homicide right nearby a couple years ago.

As for Menlo Station, here are reviews: Web Link
I think it's overshadowed by Ann's & Stacks. Gotta go try it.

Jenny, I know of several sets of townhouses being built in downtown MP. What's kinda weird is that one of my friend's lives on a street where they just finished some places on her street, another set are in progress further town, the house she lived in 5 years ago has been razed & townhouses are being built & to get to her current place, I'd often drive by a new bunch of townhouses that I think are just finished. So maybe you live near one of those locations - small world.

I used to get the bbq chickens, done outdoors in front of that market/taqueria on Willow Rd east, on the left. LE friends of mine said that health inspectors said the restaurant kitchen was clean, so I frequented it. Post-911, when I lost my job, "going out to eat" meant taco trucks & taqueria food.

As for the Polish food- the Yelp reviews are interesting & give hints on what you might want to avoid. Sounds like the cheese crepes w/blueberry sauce are a delish dessert. Given the heaviness of Polish/Hungarian food, I may wait to go when the weather's cooler. I look forward to your review!

Happy eating, everyone. We live in an area filled w/true gastronomic diversity & we also have the weather to grow food all year along - we're very lucky.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I don't claim to be a restaurant critic (as you'll quickly tell) but here are few comments.

1. Coconuts. I've been twice and liked it. Very fun, especially for Sunday lunch when the Haitian and Jamaican church crowd arrives! I like the whole fried snapper - it's huge - but order with all the stuff they put on it "on the side."

2. Harry's. Call me pedestrian, but I still like this place where it's still 1960. I like turkey (dark meat) on Dutch crunch with the bread dipped in au jus. Unbelievable. I've never had the courage to order any sides - it looks like they'll give me a heart attack.

3. Vietnamese/Asian. I like Tamarine but Three Seasons is always good. I also like their whole fried snapper, garlic crab and shaking beef - order those three for a party of six and you'll be fine!

4. Thai. I go to Bangkok Bay in RWC and Karakade on Woodside Road, but only for lunch. Both are quite good and Karakade has excellent food presentation.

5. My favorite local restaurants are Evvia (PA) and Town (San Carlos). I've never had a bad meal at any of them.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Has anyone ever checked out Restaurant dot com? They offer coupons where you can buy a gift certificate, usually for $25, for only $10. Not bad!

They have special sales where these $25 certificates sell for just $2. Yes, two dollars! There can be restrictions such as using just one certificate per meal or one certificate per month or you have to purchase at least $35 worth of food. But they do work!

Check it out. If they happen to apply to one of your favorite restaurants, you're going to save a bunch of money.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Oh, POGO, thanks for the info! Will try it. We recently tired & it worked really well. No hefty fee like Waiters On Wheels; the restaurant from which you order actually does the delivery.

POGO, do you have local favorite places to eat that you can recommend?

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 1, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I mentioned some favorites above.

Sticking to the Peninsula, Evvia and Town are regulars. We also go to Fish Market, all of the Mike's Cafes and Lobster Shack.

We go to Oak City, Carpaccio, Tamarine, Three Seasons, Astaria, John Bentley's, Ming's, Cascal, Jeffrey's, Cantankerous Fish, Caffe Riace - the usual suspects for everyone, I suspect.

Pretty pedestrian.

My restaurant choices in San Francisco would be - hopefully - more impressive.

Posted by Jenny
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 1, 2011 at 8:51 pm

I Love this thread.

Last night I let my boyfriend of two years read this and he just turned an looked at me. "You mention every restaurant in a 5 mile radius of us but you forget to mention Pampas?"

It's where we had our first date and our anniversary - I don't think he cares what I say about it, I just can't believe I didn't mention it. So Pampas- the Brazillian Meathouse in PA is impressive - but it all depends on how you go about it. The only way to really go about it is to order the $49 a head plate. You get all the sides - the hot and cold bar - and then more meat than anyone could every handle.

So... here is what is great - if you love meat, and you save your appetite (I mean, don't eat ALL day) you will love this place. All the meat that is shaved off spit is always cooked perfectly and everything from Lamb, Prime rib, chicken, Duck, you name it. . . is at your table as often as you want it.

Where they make their money. They bank on you filling up at the pre-side bar so you eat less of the $$$ meat, and although I know this, I usually always do it anyway. Why? Because, even though I can't stand buffets/ salad bars - this one is done lovely. Beautiful artisan cheeses, Fresh roasted beets, fruit, meats, hummus, grilled veggies, on and on and on - they don't skimp on the quality of the food, but like any buffet, if it sits long enough, it might appear/feel less that what it is. I won't say it's the greatest place to go, but you should experience it once. . . when you are super Hungry.

I have to tell you about the best turkey sando I've ever had. After my meeting in San Carlos today (POGO- I love TOWN too) I wandered over to a place that she suggested called "gracies catering" they roast home made turkeys every morning and serve turkey on Homemade Oatmeal Rolls. If you have never had this - you need to go. It's phenomenal. I had a roast Turkey on the oatmeal roll with swiss, cranberry and red onion and mayo. We were there at 11:15. The word is by 12:30 the line is out the door and they run out of this bread. The REFUGE is across the street - that is an entire separate post. . chime in if you have been there. It's $$ for a sandwich , but you won't have a pastrami like it ever again.

Posted by Jenny
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 1, 2011 at 8:52 pm

POGO what is Cantankerous Fish?

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 1, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Thanks, Jenny - I'll try Gracie's!

Cantankerous Fish is next door to Cascal's in Mountain View. Decent - I only mentioned it because we ate there last week. It's similar to Scott's... it won't knock your socks off.

If you're on Castro Street, Cascal's serves tapas, has a great atmosphere and wonderful white wine sangria.

Posted by Jenny
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 2, 2011 at 8:27 am

Seriously, can we talk about timing? Get it while it's hot! 50% at Trellis. It's so nice to dine on the rooftop.

Web Link

Posted by Jenny
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 2, 2011 at 11:16 am

HMMMM/Pogo/Voter.....Here is the link Web Link for 50% off at Trellis.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Thanks, Jenny!

Hey, y'all, how could we forget Kaygetsu?! See article here that it's closing next month, but the chef, thankfully, will stay on. It's not affordable for us very often, but we've found it to be a wonderful experience.

And a steakhouse replacing Marche. I miss Marche.

What happened to that salumi-ish & wine place on Oak Grove? I tried a bunch of times to buy a gift certificate there, to no avail. That struck me as very strange. Perhaps they just never had a real chance in this economy.

Jenny's sandwich adventures remind me of a caterer we used at use at my former employer in Redwood City. They had a turkey/cranberry/stuffing sandwich that was incredible. Of course, you couldn't eat the whole thing. One half w/salad was more than enough. I am not kidding - people would wait for a meeting to be done, then swarm the conference room to have a chance at those sandwiches!

Jenny, I'm in SC frequently, so will check out your recs. Howzabout Rumi? I haven't been there in awhile. I had the opportunity to have convos w/the chef & owner a few years back & it was very interesting.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 2, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Thanks Jenny.

I'll have to try the place in San Carlos for roast turkey sandwich. There's a little sandwich shop across the tracks from the train station in Menlo Park that does a roast turkey sandwich like that. They're fantastic!

Hopefully the new steak house in the Marche location will be good. As long is it's along the lines of a Forbes Mill in Los Gatos.

Posted by SM
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 2, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Flea Street.

What's it been, 30 years?

Had a bad patch years ago, of course, but back to lovely.

Posted by Italian food expert
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 2, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I enjoyed everyone's remarks. If you are looking for authentic Italian cuisine prepared by two fine Italian chefs, you should take the short drive to these two great places: Donato's (formerly from La Strada in PA) in Redwood City between Jefferson and Main streets, and Divino's in the first block off of El Camino in Belmont.
Buon Appetito!

Posted by Ugh!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 3, 2011 at 8:48 am

Cannot agree more on the Su Hong bashing. Their food is a complete abomination but we are beholden ever since Yuen Yung's closed. Still miss them. Around our house, we call it "Spray Hong."

Lulu's is a complete joke. They're trying to pass themselves off as authentic mexican when they're just about as authentic as Taco Bell. Oh, but you'll pay 10x what you pay at Taco Bell.

I spent $80+ on an order for the family. While we were waiting for it, I asked for chips and salsa. They said sure...for $1.50. Really guys?

I've been here all my life and love the discussion about the old joints. Fabbro's defines old school joint.

Before Celia's, before Fontana's, it was Luv's Menlo House. Good and fine place but still a tough location.



Scotty Campbell's

But you can NEVER go wrong with the ol' standby...Goose!

Cheers gang.

Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 5, 2011 at 9:59 am

If you are a New York ex-pat then Amici's has the best Pizza. But you should try some of their other dishes. The Anti-pasto salad is terrific. Also the pesto e vongole (my favorite)is out of this world.

Caffe Riacce is also terrific. It makes a pollo parmesano that will melt in your mouth. It is the perfect fusion of chicken, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and parmesano reggiano.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2011 at 10:32 am

MV: Do you think MP can support a steakhouse? If it can be a destination place, like Marche, I think it can. Otherwise, it might just be short-lived trend or people will continue going - where? To Fleming's? I also like the deli on Alma by the train tracks, owned by Iberia. I also pick up Spanish food supplies at times there.

I agree w/Hank on some of the Amici's fare, but I am not into their pizza or pasta. This is what I like there:

-Gnocchi w/butter & parm (side dish, great w/salad, generous portion)
-Spinach, Caesar or panzanella salad (the latter is rustic & quite filling)
-Oven-roasted veggies (side dish)
-Broccoli w/EVOO & lemon (side dish)

As for Riace, we'll have to try the pollo parm - it sounds great!
Love their arancine, salmon & polenta.

Just figured out that Cool Cafe moved to the business park in east Menlo, so will try their organic fare. They're only open M-F for lunch.

Really glad that Kaygetsu chef will remain. It's not cheap fare, but it's made w/respect for the ingredients & their origin - I appreciate the un-fussy, clear-headed artistry that goes into their food.

We tried Thai Orchid Organic this weekend. Not bad & I understand a higher price point for organic. Maybe it was because our order was to go that we were less than thrilled, but chicken was underdone & the coconut rice so mushy couldn't eat it - & paid extra for it. Also paid extra for basic jasmine rice. DH liked his curry a lot, though. They do have brown rice which is a nice option & I've noticed a lot of Asian restaurants do that now.

Anyway, it wasn't nearly as good as what I threw together for a late lunch on Sat: plain, packaged linguini w/some various fresh ground black & pink peppers & a bit of salt tossed on, then some crumbled bleu & long, thin shards of parm cheese thrown on the freshly drained noodles, add back a couple tablespoons of the pasta water, swiftly tossed w/a super thick, homemade veggie red sauce on the side (all the veggies in it in tiny bits to thicken, plenty of garlic of course). Served w/a side of fruit, it was delish.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 6, 2011 at 12:34 pm


I think MP can support a steak house. It needs to be done right though. It can't be along the lines of the place that was in the Jefferies space. It needs to be upscale and white table cloth like Forbes Mill in Los Gatos. If you're ever down that way give them a try.

Posted by M.K.
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 6, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Great thread. Some good ideas for a couple new places to try- thanks for the tips.

Speaking of new places, anyone tried the Menlo Grill? Have heard some good things, but no one has seemed to mention it above.

Posted by The most Interesting Man in the World
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I usually drink Dos Equis; but whenever I am in Menlo Park I go to my favorite watering hole in the Willows, operated by a former Menlo Park mayor, for a mind jolting libation made famous by former Menlo Park resident Kenny K.

Posted by Jenny
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Wow, I've been on vacation, a lot happened over the weekend! I would love a steakhouse in Menlo but I think with Flemmings and Sundance, it would have a tough time surviving. Maybe not though......

One of my regrets is never going up to Kaygetsu, I've heard it is awesome. I will miss Marche too. It's too bad they closed. I ate there a couple times and it was fabulous. I really enjoyed just having a martini and an appetizer at the bar and moving on. You could do that and not spend a ton of money.

GC's Wine and cheese shop was on Oak Grove - I frequented it. I loved those guys, they were so nice and they had the BEST thing going....and they killed it. I don't know how they didn't see that for such a great place the ambiance was a train wreck. Great cheese plates, great wines at great prices, cute things for sale.... but it was lit with bright neon lights like a 7-11 and there was outdoor patio furniture in there that was soo uncomfortable. If they would have changed the mood - lighting, candles, loungy feel (at night) then I think they would have had more of a following. I purposly stopped going there with groups because of that - and I feel bad they had to close because you could tell that store was his passion

Ugh! mentioned Barbarosa, my family was friends with Gary who owned that and he wound up opening a great italian place in Belmont - I don't think it's still there anymore and I am curious now. He was an excellent chef.

Need to try the Menlo Grill for sure. And the new place going into Marche. Then I'm organizing a happy hour for us all to meet up there and talk food, where we will write the first review of the place! :)

Posted by Alfred E Newman
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 6, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Best steak?

I tool on up the road to Flea Street.

Don't understand why more folks don't know about it. Also one of my favorite places for a martini.

Posted by Jenny
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 7, 2011 at 10:39 am

I am HUGE Flea Street Fan, her food is excellent. They have a strawberry/jalepeno martini that is awesome. I have her cookbooks as well. I've made a ton of dishes and they turned out great.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I'll be trying Ms. Cool's cafe at Menlo Business Park this week. Anything to recover from a thoughtless visit to The Sizzler over the weekend. Jenny - we shoulda hit The Carvery instead! In addition to a disgusting restroom, we were followed out of the "restaurant" by a couple. The man let out a belch that would've caused dogs to howl if any were around. I still haven't recovered from that experience...

Posted by Jenny
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 12, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I don't know if it will be the same as Flea - (not sure of the business park location) Let me know what you think? I am not going to comment on your experience.... I have made several trips to the McDonald's on El Camino (vanilla cones and egg mcmuffins), and I actually loved the Chili's over by Ravenswood before they closed... so I don't knock the chain. . . . .

But......Sizzler?? Really? Give a review, I went to the sizzler after basketball tourneys in high school, after a bout with food poisoning that almost cost me the state game..... I gave it up. Is there anything worth trying? The all you can eat shrimp?

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Ahhh, Jenny, we didn't go to Cool Eatz; we went to Mike's in MP. I had soup & salad, nothing wild, but my friend loved her chicken parm. They used a panko & parm crust that she really liked. The patio was pleasant, but as is common, the service was uneven. Still to go: Cool Eatz!

As for The that I'm recovered from Mr. Belch-o-rino. I can report in: mediocrity at it's most celebrated is The Sizzler. I had salad. My Mister had steak & chicken w/endless salad. The chicken, a boneless, skinless breast, was just bad- he didn't bother finishing it. We watched people eating pile after pile of food from the salad bar & frankly, it was a little disturbing. People were eating like it was their last meal - & it's not like it's great food. They now have a soft serve icea cream bar, a cookies & cream dessert that we indulged in, soups & some kind of scary looking taco bar. Very middle America & not in a good way. I regret that we didn't remember to go to The Carvery instead!

The restroom was frightening & of course, our visit was topped off by The Belch doing his thing upon exit. Arrrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhh!!!!!!

Posted by Alfred E Newman
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Loved Cool Eatz on Santa Cruz. My kids loved it more. Hand made potatoe chips!!

Want something WAY different? try:

Off The Grid on Monday nights AT the San Mateo train station. White table cloths it ain't!!!!

A dozen food trucks.

Funky. Different. Variety. Worth a try when you're in the right mood. If I had young kids still, I'd make a special trip on the train and make a mini event out of it. Much conversation ceases when the 7:30 freight or the babybullet/express's ROAR through or when the locals stop. Not quiet!!

Stay away from the Kara's cupcake truck!!

Looking for "real" food up there? Ostrio Coppa (sp?) was stellar the time I tried it.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Alfie, thanks for the suggestion. We have Edgewood Eats down the street on Monday eves. You should try it! It's at the junky, empty shopping center on Embarcadero & Channing & St. Francis, near 101. Of course, you have to be brave enough to venture into Shallow Alto & there're no chairs, etc. We've brought our own before. Lotsa good food trucks to try & you might spot Zuckerberg - or you can drive past his house & point it out to your kids.

The current Cool Eatz is only open for lunch in Menlo Business Park, so that's a bummer.

We'll be indulging in wonderful chai at Raman's Chai in Half Moon Bay this weekend, as well as the delish sandwiches on the fresh baked bread at San Benito House deli.

Posted by Pam
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jan 14, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Reading the favorites makes me wonder if these 'choices' are rigged somehow. Every year it's the same-old, same-old choices with only a few changes. Disappointing. As for Carpaccio and Left Bank--pretentious with mediocre food and service. Llu's--that's a joke.

Posted by Of course it's rigged
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 14, 2012 at 11:37 pm

There are a few merchants who actively campaign for these awards. And the strategy works! I went to Klara Turner because I didn't know better (no knocks against that salon, but it's nothing special) and they are begging customers to vote. Other salons don't even seem to care.

The merchants who win are the ones who put some energy into promoting the awards. But I'm not sure they even matter any more. I'd go by Yelp rather than these semi-bogus awards.

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