Monday, May 28, 2007

Peninsula Fountain & Grill

Monday, May 28, 2007
Lunch with Lizzie

Peninsula is our go-to diner in Palo Alto. Great for brunch or lunch, they have awesome breakfast foods like omelets and potatoes, and they also have the best milk shakes. You might need to be rolled out of the place after one, but the milk shakes are amazing. There can be a wait at prime brunch hours, but never too long. There are cute booths and counter seats in addition to the tables. Totally family friendly, there are always a ton of babies and kids running around. With an aggressive meal of cajun scramble, hashed browns, wheat toast and a cup of Texas chili, it was $16 with tax and tip.

566 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 323-3131

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Shiva's Indian Restaurant and Bar

Saturday, May 26, 2007
Dinner with Lowell

Shiva's is a great Indian place on the corner of Castro and California in Mountain View. We were happy to find that it was full, and with many Indians which is always a good sign. We had an OpenTable reservation which we needed. We sat at a bar for 5 minutes while they cleared a table and we got beer and Kir Royal ($8). At the seat, the waiter was super friendly and helpful.

We ordered a garlic naan (they will bring you more too), veggie platter with two each of Samosa, Aloo Tikki and Sami Dil Ruba (all fried potato type things, really good), Lamb Roganjosh (curry), and a Palak Paneer, which is one of my favorites. All of this with rice was pretty filling to say the least, though their dessert menu looked appetizing. It was also $40 per person including three drinks, tax and tip, which is great.

800 California #100, Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 960-3802

Pier 23 Cafe

Saturday, May 26, 2007
Drinks for Raf and Jenny

Lowell and I stopped by at Pier 23 for a beer with Raf and Jenny who get married tomorrow. I thought it was just a bar from my GSB pre-term scavenger hunt experience, but it turns out there is outdoor seating in the back and a pretty good bar menu. About $5 beers, and they have Blue Moon on tap, yum.

Pier 23 on the Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 362-5125

The Grove Fillmore

Saturday, May 26, 2007
Brunch with Lowell and Charles

The Grove Cafe has outposts around the city apparently, and there is another one on Fillmore. Charles took me and Lowell for brunch. I had Crab a la Dave, which was a wonderful crab cakes Benedict, with two poaches eggs and several slices of avocado. Had a yummy "small" hot chocolate about the size of my head.

I held back on the Bloody Mary this morning, but the other Grove has amazing ones, so I am labelling the Grove here as well.

2016 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 474-1419

The Counter

Friday, May 25, 2007
Lunch with Masashi

The Counter is one of my favorite casual eats in Palo Alto, and my favorite burger place out here along with In-n-Out. They are a "custom burger" joint, where you get to build your own burger from a 5-step menu where you check the kind of meat, how much of it (1/3 lb is the smallest and still pretty hefty), up to four toppings, sauce, and bun. You can specify how your meat is cooked too.

I go for the "burger in a bowl," another option on the checklist. Shown in the picture, it is basically a open-faced burger on top of a salad. The one here is 1/3 lb beef, medium rare, on greens with black bean and corn salsa, grilled onions, jalapenos, guacamole, and southwest caesar dressing. The guac is a +$1 topping so this is $8.99.

Also a must-have is their fries (regular and sweet potato) and onion strings. I happen to not eat fries, but my friends rave about them. The onion strings are amazing, super light and yummy. If you can't decide between the great options, you can get a "fifty-fifty" (shown left) with two of them. Comes with BBQ sauce, ranch and southwest caesar sauce.

Per their site-- "Anti-Established in 2003, The Counter® is the 21st century’s bold answer to the classic burger joint. " Started in Santa Monica, the feel of the place is southern California diner-ish. They have another one open in San Jose, and it looks like there are plans for a ton more, which I am looking forward to!

369 California Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 321-3900

Wahoo's Fish Taco

Thursday, May 24, 2007
Take-out dinner for me

Wahoo's is a new tex-mex place on El Camino right by Stanford. It is surfer-themed, and there are flat panels that play footage around the location. There are all sorts of burritos, enchiladas and the usual Mexican, with a Hawaiian and seafood twist. I am a huge fan of their shrimp quesadilla which comes with a side of guacamole for $7.99. They have good combo platters also.

There is sit down booths and tables inside, and they bring you food on real plates, so it feels a little better than fast food (though it is fast). Take out takes less than 5 minutes.

2305 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 330-1144

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Coupa Cafe

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Tea and paper writing by myself

Coupa Cafe is my favorite Palo Alto coffeeshop. Their speciality is "finest mountain grown single estate coffees from Venezuela," but being a non-coffee drinker, I go there for the tea, dessert, and full menu of wonderful crepes, paninis and salads. Their herbal teas are great, they give you a full teapot and one of those gourmet tea bags for a few bucks. Mexican hot chocolate is another favorite of mine, I am not sure what the real name is but it is a spicy hot cocoa. Sounds weird, but really good kick.

Definitely worth going for food as well. They have great crepes of all kinds. Pesto chicken and the grilled eggplant ones are my favorites. I haven't had the dessert ones yet but those look yummy too. Breakfast foods are also great, as are the salads, paninis and pasta. I got warm pita and hummus to snack on while I wrote my paper. Beer and wine for the late night folks too, they are open 7 days from 7am-11pm.

One of the best things about this place is the free wi-fi. There is covered outdoor seating, small tables and booths inside, and to-go options. Totally a GSB hangout with people jamming away on their laptops. I also have done most of my Dartmouth alumni interviews here. Nice non-Starbucks atmosphere.

538 Ramona Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 322-6872

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Three Seasons

Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Dinner with Tayo

Three Seasons is a trendy Vietnamese place tucked in between Bryant and Ramona off of University Ave. There is outdoor seating and a nice bar, as well as tables upstairs that overlook the bar area.

The food is on the more expensive side, but very good. They have a huge selection of fresh spring rolls and satays to start. We had the Summer Rolls, with Dungeness crab, avocado, cucumber and a ginger soy dipping sauce, quite good. It was cut up into six pieces (probably two bites per piece, so decent size). Their menu also has small and large plates -- we had the Happy Buns, which were four small buns with Peking Duck, cucmber and hoisin sauce, really good.

We were probably aggressive with dinner and got the "Shaking Beef", catfish, and rice. The Shaking Beef is cubes of sauteed (I think) beef with green onions and pepper on a bed of watercress. Catfish comes in a clay pot and is deeply marinated. It's good but pretty strong tasting, I needed some rice with that. Loved the Shaking Beef. Didn't finish it all though. Two appetizers and two large plates with rice was too much.

Three Seasons has a pretty extensive drink and wine list also, glasses in $8-$12 range I think. Dessert menu too, didn't have any but they had Inniskillin ice wine on it which is one of my favorites.

Trendier than your average Palo Alto joint, I think this is a nice date or parent spot.

518 Bryant Street, Palo Alto, CA 93401
(650) 838-0358

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Tofu House

Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Dinner with Rosabel

I had dinner with Rosabel at one of my local favorites, the Tofu House on El Camino. Totally bare bones cafeteria with white walls and seemingly no decoration, but the Korean food is good and cheap.

The menu is really simple -- tofu bowls, cold noodle bowls, BBQ, or bibimbop (rice in stoneware with all sorts of stuff on it). There are several different kinds of each of them. From my few times there and what I've heard, the tofu bowls and bibimbop are the best, BBQ not that great. My current favorite is the dumpling tofu bowl, which has meat dumplings and mochi type rice cakes, along with the tofu soup. I go for the medium spice, and still end up pretty sweaty by the end of dinner. Rosabel had the mushroom tofu bowl which looked good as well, and she went for the spiciest.

No beer here btw, just soft drinks, tea and water.

The best thing about Tofu House (and maybe Korean restaurants in general) are the unending banchan, or side dishes of kimchee, cucumbers, bean sprouts, potatoes, spinach, etc etc. The service is not necessarily fast, but you can always ask for more refills of any or all of the side dishes (we went through three dishes of cucumbers tonight).

Final bill was $20 for the two of us, $24 with tip (they don't take Amex). Awesome, cheap Korean food.

4127 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 424-8805


Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Late lunch after surfing

Lulu's on the Alameda is an awesome, fairly inexpensive Mexican eatery next to the Goose. I went with Tia, Alex and Tom to treat our surf instructors for a late lunch following an awesome morning of surfing in Pacifica. I think it came out to under $9 per person for a pretty filling lunch plus fried chips and great guacamole to munch on in the meantime.

There is a big counter to order to stay or for take out. There are cafeteria-like tables and chairs indoors and some patio furniture with umbrellas out front.

The menu is pretty big from appetizers to a la carte burritos and other goodies to platter meals. The platters can be up to $13 or so, but the burritos are generally around $8 or so. I had the low-carb burrito with the shredded chicken -- low carb means no beans or rice, but it was plenty filling. Chicken was a little bland but they have a salsa bar which you can go nuts with (beware the orange creamy one, really hot...)

Great place to grab am inexpensive and quick lunch or dinner with awesome choices :)

3539 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 854-TACO (8226)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Caffe Riace

Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Dinner with LDP group

So before I start, I will preface my comments with Caffe Riace is a wonderful place to have a lazy lunch on a sunny day. By lazy, I mean service is not fast at all so expect to take your time, but also because Caffe Riace has all outdoor seating and it is wonderful to sit in the sun.

For dinner in Palo Alto though, it gets kind of cold. Especially when there is slow service with everything from ordering to the bill to re-lighting your heat lamp. The last one is important.

Caffe Riace is located right inside the corner of Oregon Expressway and El Camino in the business district. During lunch hour, the parking complex is completely full, as is their patio dining area. The decor is interesting--Romanesque fountains and statues of pontificating naked men all within the inner courtyard of an apartment complex.

The food is pretty good. They have traditional antipasti, I like the melenzane (eggplant) one. Caprese salad and bruschetta are other options. For dinner tonight, I tried to custom order gnocchi with bolognese sauce (gnocchi is on the menu with a different sauce, and the shells with bolognese was a special). It ended up working out, but the waiter tried to push back because they have a small kitchen? I had quite a bit of food envy when Jeff Y and Andrew's seafood linguine came out, it was quite spicy with lots of stuff on top. Sarah also had a great chicken dish.

The antipasti range from $7-$10 and main dishes $15-$25, so we ended up at $35 per person including tax and tip (and without wine).

Overall, Caffe Riace was not that impressive today, though I was happy to spend time with my LDP group again. I recommend going for lunch when you have a lot of time.

200 Sheridan Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 328-0407

Izzy's Brooklyn Bagels

Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Breakfast with Lowell

Izzy's on California Ave has great bagels and other foods. My current favorite happens to be a toasted sun-dried tomato with lox cream cheese ($3.50). Btw, different than the bagel with lox, which is also a great option.

There are other food options at Izzy's, and it looks like all of them are Kosher. Their site says "under rabbinical supervision," and apparently they even have a Kosher pizza. Anyway, I liked the spinach boureka, the kniche-like little filo pie, that I had this morning.

477 California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 329-0700

Mediterranean Wraps

Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Dinner with Julia

Julia and I had a cheap dinner date last night. She wanted a taco salad from Salsa on California Ave and I went to Mediterranean Wraps across the street. I've had the Baba Ghannoush platter before (yum), but I wanted a little more variety so I went for the combo vegetarian plate for $8.95 with hummus, baba ghannoush, tabouleh, 2 falafels, 2 dolmas, Greek salad and pitas. Good deal. One of the cooks gave me a falafel to munch on while I waited for my order, Julia said you always get a free one in line. They also have all sorts of meat dishes, and it was hard to pass on the lamb after watching the rotating tower of kebab meat.

So Julia snuck in her Salsa salad and we staked out a seat in the back corner. One of the owners came over with two hot teas for us. We sheepishly explained that we were split on dinner choices. He said it was ok because they actually owned Salsa as well! Nice!

The tea was great, really sweet and went really well with both of our meals. The food is awesome, the veggie combo platter is all cold except the falafels (perfect amount of seasoning) and the pita. Love the food, and love the super friendly staff.

425 S. California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 321-8189

PS: My favorite cheap eats places in Palo Alto -- Mediterranean Wraps (Greek food, California Ave), Salsa (Tex-Mex, California Ave), Pluto's (huge salads, University Ave), and Rojoz Gourmet Wraps (huge burritos and wraps, Town and Country)