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robyn

Palo Alto/San Jose Etc.

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My husband and I are doing our first mileage run this year. I just picked a place that was the right number of miles - and not too hard to get home from if there's a hurricane. Picked San Jose airport - Four Seasons in Palo Alto. Never been there before. Any restaurant recommendations - high end - low end - middle of the road? Either in the immediate area - or places we might eat lunch on day trips from the area. The point of this trip is to get our miles and have a good time. So eating is somewhat secondary :wink: . Still - I love California - and don't want to waste a single calorie. Note that we have been in San Francisco recently - no need to go over the restaurants there. Robyn

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You really should go to Manresa in Los Gatos. San Jose isn't exactly full of good places to eat - there are some good Indian and Vietnamese places, and a great Falafel place, most of the other places I've been in the area are mediocre.

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there's this thread on silicon valley eats.

then there's this thread on palo alto...aimed at "fine dining".

and also if you're in the mood for silicon valley steakhouses

i second the recommendation of manresa, but that really is a "big night out" kind of place and if you're just relaxing for the miles, you might not want to do that...(of course if you get miles for using the credit card it might be worth it :wink: ).

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oh yeah...i just ate in palo alto last night a solidly "middle of the road" place called la bodeguita del medio, sort of a cuban-ish place. the food was decent, flavorful and the restaurant itself was loud...but i liked it. entrees decent sized and relatively inexpensive.

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Hi Robyn-

I can whole-heartedly reccomend dining at Manresa in Los Gatos. Its about a 30 minute drive if I remember correctly. They do fabulous tasting menus in the style of Ferran Adria (though not nearly as cutting-edge or dare I say radical), who the executive chef's idol according to most recent server. Service is warm, pleasant, and not at all haughty. The atmosphere is elegant but very comfortable and welcoming, and the cuisine is fun, imaginative and delicious.


Edited by Macarons&Mozart (log)

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Since ludja quoted my post before I deleted it, I am reposting in the interest of thread continuity:

Is there a particular reason you're staying in Palo Alto? If not, you might want to re-think the Four Seasons. It is in one of the "sketchier" areas of the Bay Area, East Palo Alto. Check out this link for further information, and also this article from the San Francisco Chronicle. Again, unless you have reasons to stay in Palo Alto, you might want to consider something else. The Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose is very upscale and quite nice; The Cypress Hotel in Cupertino is a lovely botique hotel operated by the Kimpton Group. I can make further recs if you'd like.

As far as restaurants in San Jose, it isn't San Francisco by any means, but it also isn't the wasteland that previous posters have intimated. Le Papillon on Saratoga Ave. near I 280 is quite upscale and good, as is its sister property, La Foret in the Almaden Valley. Manresa is a must, as other posters have indicated. Also quite good are Emile's in downtown San Jose, Parcel 104, a Bradley Ogden restaurant at the Marriott Hotel in Santa Clara, and The Plumed Horse in Saratoga. These are all fairly high-end places. As Melkor points out, there are a number of ethnic places too numerous to mention...good Asian and Indian cuisine all over the South Bay. Anothr place you might want to check out is Santana Row in West San Jose. It has a myriad of choices, from pizza to Asian to French bistro.

If you do get to Palo Alto, Alana is correct on the number of good places. Two of our favorites are Evvia (if you go you HAVE to try the grilled octopus!) and Lavanda.

Hope these help, and that you have a nice time in the Bay Area. Be aware that our traffic STINKS!!!, so make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to reach your destinations.

Enjoy!

PS Hapacooking's suggestion of the Valencia Hotel is a good one!


Edited by samgiovese (log)

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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Is there a particular reason you're staying in Palo Alto?  If not, you might want to re-think the Four Seasons.  It is in one of the "sketchier" areas of the Bay Area, East Palo Alto.  Check out this link for further information, and also this article from the San Francisco Chronicle.  Again, unless you have reasons to stay in Palo Alto, you might want to consider something else.  The Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose is very upscale and quite nice; The Cypress Hotel in Cupertino is a lovely botique hotel operated by the Kimpton Group.  I can make further recs if you'd like.

...

It is thoughtful to bring up this point, sangiovese, for an out of towner not familiar with the area.

However, The Four Seasons Hotel is on the west side of 101, right off the highway, and while it is technically located in East Palo Alto it is not located, I think, near any area that would now be considered 'sketchy'. It is located in a completely redevloped area on the very edge of East Palo Alto. It is a five minute drive from downtown Palo Alto. We had some great innovative cocktails recently at the beautiful bar at the Four Seasons. The attached restaurant is very nice looking as well and the menu looked interesting.

Personally, I would rather be based near Palo Alto than San Jose as I think there is more interesting sights and dining located around Palo Alto. Being close to downtown Palo Alto puts it, I think, in a great location although you will need to drive to go anywhere besides the hotel. It is pleasant to walk around Palo Alto to see the shops and scope the restaurants and cafes. Menlo Park which is the next town north also has a nice little downtown. If you go to Menlo Park consider stopping in at Kepler's, a great independent bookstore at the cross roads of El Camino and Santa Cruz Ave that has served Stanford and the surrounding community for 50 years. There is a nice cafe right next door. Across the street is Santa Cruz Ave, the Main St for Menlo Park. There are a few nice french restaurants there--The Left Bank and another that I don't know the name of. Further down the street is a branch of Peet's Coffee, a bay area landmark.

A new restaurant in Palo Alto that has been getting some buzz and that some of friends has enjoyed is a high end Indian fusion restaurant downtown--I can't think of the name right now but will try to find out the name and report back.

Two casual places in Palo Alto that I like are located near a separate food/business center in Palo Alto on California St--Cafe Riaci and Cafe Brioche. The first has a wonderful outside dining area and serves great fresh Italian food. There antipasti platter is very good and they always have a good selection of fresh, grilled fish. The second is a French-Cal inspired type of place.

Trader Vic's in Palo Alto (on El Camino Real) is a nice place to go for cocktails--both the drinks and the atmosphere are very good. I'd skip the food there though and maybe just get a few appetizers.

Are you also interested in some less fancy places? There are many good options for casual Mexican, Chinese, Afghan, Middle Eastern and Indian...

Are you interested in visiting some wineries in the Santa Cruz mountains? There are some really great ones to visit.

There are also many nice farmer's markets in almost each town on the weekends--Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, for example. Besides offering all the great fruit now available many of them have other prepared food that could be fun to eat or take home.


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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The Four Seasons hotel although is on the "right" side of 101, it is within a stones throw, no pun intended, of East PA. It is a business person's hotel built to support the hightech/VC community. It is not within walking distance of anything interesting. The hotel bar is nice, cocktails are expensive but everytime I have been there I get the feeling that everyone is conducting business and not relaxing.

The food scene in PA and Menlo Park is interesting but for a first-time traveller to Silicon Valley, I suggest staying at the Hotel Valancia in Santana Row in San Jose. You have several interesting restaurants right outside your door, a farmers market every Sunday right outside your door and access to two major freeways which can take you to Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, Palo Alto within minutes.

Regarding Manresa, my comments of my last experince can be found at that thread.

have fun

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Ludja - we are really interested in everything (we've been to San Francisco - and the Monterey peninsula - and Napa - but never to the San Jose/Palo Alto area). We will have a car - and I think I understand now that if we stay at the Four Seasons - we won't be taking any "after dinner" strolls around the neighborhood (I like to window shop during after-dinner walks - but I don't think Ikea is suitable for that :smile: ).

Just in terms of the best place to stay to minimize driving distances - especially for dinners - and shopping (I'd like to do some of that too) - where would all of you say the best location is? Somewhere in/near Palo Alto - or San Jose (I am a Marriott frequent stayer and there is a big Marriott in San Jose). In terms of shopping - I saw that there are stores like Bloomingdales - Nordstrom - etc. in the general area. I'd like to be close enough so I can run over for an hour in the afternoon if my husband decides to take a swim or a nap. Perhaps it is just a toss-up - a matter of personal preference?

Are there wineries in the general area (I think I recall seeing a reference to the J Lohr winery)? My husband likes to go to wineries - but I don't think we want to make a 150+ mile round trip to Napa. Robyn

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the santana row rec would suit your needs perfectly i think (hotel valencia?)...not only restaurants, but movie theaters, shopping and valley fair mall across the street. also, much closer to the airport (10minute drive) than palo alto.

however, palo alto is more quaint with a little more pedestrian access like california street and university ave, etc. as noted above.

but it is also a quick drive from the san jose area, so you can have your cake and eat it too.

as you said, it is just personal preference.

my aunt stayed at the cypress hotel and she thought it was wonderful. but it isn't close to much walking-wise. driving-wise, it is just down the street from santana row and valley fair mall. actually that end of stevens creek blvd is more convenient to palo alto. i live on the same property and it was a quick 15 minutes on the freeway to palo alto the other night for dinner on california street. we're also close to mountain view, etc. i do know that we have great chinese food in our area and not far away in milpitas some great islamic chinese food (halal meats, etc).

if you're bored while you're here, give me a call!

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Just in terms of the best place to stay to minimize driving distances - especially for dinners - and shopping (I'd like to do some of that too) - where would all of you say the best location is?  Somewhere in/near Palo Alto - or San Jose (I am a Marriott frequent stayer and there is a big Marriott in San Jose).  In terms of shopping - I saw that there are stores like Bloomingdales - Nordstrom - etc. in the general area.  I'd like to be close enough so I can run over for an hour in the afternoon if my husband decides to take a swim or a nap.  Perhaps it is just a toss-up - a matter of personal preference?

Palo Alto has some great shopping at Stanford Mall, but nowhere nice to stay that is close. Downtown San Jose also lacks any upscale shopping...in fact, a massive subsidized effort several years ago called The Pavillion went B/K not too many years after it opened, and was converted into mixed use...so there is really no shopping per se in downtown.

Santana Row & The Valencia Hotel have everything you want...upscale shopping right in Santana Row and across the street at Westfield Valley Fair Mall; a nice pool for hubby to relax at while you spend some money, 18 restaurants on-site, and close access to hwy 880/17 and Hwy 280. I don't think you can go wrong here.

Are there wineries in the general area (I think I recall seeing a reference to the J Lohr winery)?  My husband likes to go to wineries - but I don't think we want to make a 150+ mile round trip to Napa.  Robyn

There are several wineries near Cupertino, Saratoga & Los Gatos:

Ridge Winery is on Montebello Rd. in Cupertino, as is the historic Picchetti Winery. In the Saratoga hills, you'll find the Cooper-Garrod Winery, and in Los Gatos, there's the Jensen's Testarossa Winery.

Also, in the Santa Cruz mountains just south of Los Gatos are David Bruce Winery and Byington Winery, both on Bear Creek Rd. off Hwy 17.

For a more complete list, check out this link.


Edited by samgiovese (log)

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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my aunt stayed at the cypress hotel and she thought it was wonderful.  but it isn't close to much walking-wise.  driving-wise, it is just down the street from santana row and valley fair mall.  actually that end of stevens creek blvd is more convenient to palo alto. 

Gee, I heard from a reliable source that Valley Fair is a short walk from The Cypress and downtown Cupertino!!! :laugh::laugh::laugh:


"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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i was gonna say something about that... :blush:

maybe robyn wants to take a leisurely walk with me to valley fair :laugh:


Edited by alanamoana (log)

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i was gonna say something about that... :blush:

maybe robyn wants to take a leisurely walk with me to valley fair  :laugh:

You're a good sport! :wink:


"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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For more low key ethnic food:

For Indian - I've always really liked Saravan Bhavan in Sunnyvale - a fairly close drive from PA. Great vegetarian Indian - dosas, tiffins, etc... Its one of the places that I really miss from living in the Area.

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i was gonna say something about that... :blush:

maybe robyn wants to take a leisurely walk with me to valley fair  :laugh:

You can't walk to a mall! Where would you put the stuff you buy :wink: ?

I've read some of your other messages - and it seems like perhaps you cook for a living - maybe a pastry chef?

If you haven't read any of my restaurant write-ups - you should know that I am a huge dessert fan (how anyone can go to a good - much less a great - restaurant - and say they don't have room for dessert is beyond me). I hate these places where they fill you up with so much stuff you don't have room for dessert. So an afternoon shopping - drinks and dinner (not too filling) - and then a wonderful dessert. What could be better :smile: ? It's a date! Robyn

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seeing as i'm an unemployed pastry chef, i don't buy much. samgiovese was teasing me because when i first moved here i walked to the mall from my apartment, thinking it was only a fifteen minute drive...so it couldn't be too far, right? well, it turned out to be five miles each way! :laugh:

there's a cute little patisserie at santana row...haven't tried their stuff yet. also a pretty famous pastry chef opened a little place in los gatos (a twenty minute drive at the most), near manresa, called fleur de cocoa.

lots of options! pm me for contact information if you'd like company :smile:

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For more low key ethnic food:

For Indian - I've always really liked Saravan Bhavan in Sunnyvale - a fairly close drive from PA.  Great vegetarian Indian - dosas, tiffins, etc...    Its one of the places that I really miss from living in the Area.

Tell me about it! Man, I loved that place.

I will also second the recommendation for Evvia in Palo Alto. We also used to enjoy Gambardella's in Menlo Park.

Santana Row has a much different vibe than downtown Palo Alto. Santana Row has that "fresh off the laser writer" feel to it; Palo Alto is a real town. I'd stick with Palo Alto, personally.

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Just in terms of the best place to stay to minimize driving distances - especially for dinners - and shopping (I'd like to do some of that too) - where would all of you say the best location is?  Somewhere in/near Palo Alto - or San Jose (I am a Marriott frequent stayer and there is a big Marriott in San Jose). 

try the garden court hotel - it's right in dowtown palo alto, on cowper (1/2 block off university ave).


________________

Stu Fisher - Owner

Tastee Cheese

www.tasteecheese.com

stu@tasteecheese.com

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Santana Row has a much different vibe than downtown Palo Alto.  Santana Row has that "fresh off the laser writer" feel to it; Palo Alto is a real town.  I'd stick with Palo Alto, personally.

i agree - SR is like a high-end Disney village. Great if you're looking for a manufactured experience; if you want quaint, stick with P.A.

if you're driving, right off 280 (from P.A., go east/left when you reach the Wolfe Rd exit - about 12 miles), about 1/2 mile on your left (@ pruneridge) will be a shopping center that has mostly chinese and vietnamese shops & restaurants. some very good dim sum can be had at the main restaurant in the center of the 'center' - i forget the name. telltale sign that it's good - a lot of chinese people are actually eating there, and my chinese friends from hong kong like it.

also, in mountain view (el camino real) is Amber India - good lunch buffet.


________________

Stu Fisher - Owner

Tastee Cheese

www.tasteecheese.com

stu@tasteecheese.com

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that would be cupertino village...my husband eats lunch there at least once a week as his work is just down the street.

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Santana Row has a much different vibe than downtown Palo Alto.  Santana Row has that "fresh off the laser writer" feel to it; Palo Alto is a real town.  I'd stick with Palo Alto, personally.

i agree - SR is like a high-end Disney village. Great if you're looking for a manufactured experience; if you want quaint, stick with P.A.

if you're driving, right off 280 (from P.A., go east/left when you reach the Wolfe Rd exit - about 12 miles), about 1/2 mile on your left (@ pruneridge) will be a shopping center that has mostly chinese and vietnamese shops & restaurants. some very good dim sum can be had at the main restaurant in the center of the 'center' - i forget the name. telltale sign that it's good - a lot of chinese people are actually eating there, and my chinese friends from hong kong like it.

also, in mountain view (el camino real) is Amber India - good lunch buffet.

Although I agree PA is quaint but parking is a nightmare, beggars on the streets, restaurants are nothing special and if you read the police blotter in the San Jose Mercury News everyday, downtown PA leads in petty crimes. As a long time resident in SV, I remember when Stanford Shopping Center opened and it was called 'Disneyland-like' because of its open-aired feel. Santana Row is new and clean and with its European look, I guess you could call it a 'Disney-village'.

BTW the shopping center I think you are talking about in Sunnyvale is on the corner of Wolfe and Homestead, It has the '99 Ranch' chinese grocery store at it.

and yes the Amber India in Mt. View is good, slightly better that the Santana Row one in terms of food but the Santana Row one is much nicer in terms of decor.

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I travel to PA/Menlo Park for work regularly and am always looking for some place interesting to eat. There is a swell Turkish/mediterranean restaurant, just opened a few months ago, on El Camino in Menlo Park. A great, and very different for the area, experience: family run, a bit quaint, but delicious and interesting food. Highly recommended. Also not pricey.

Sultana restaurant

1149 El Camino Real

Menlo Park, CA 94025

Phone: (650)322-4343

On a related note: if you're from an actual, thriving and multidimensional urban area, PA itself, while lovely in some ways and more interesting than most tighty-whitey suburbs (and certainly not dangerous, difficult, or dirty, for God's sake) is not exactly a hotbed of new or interesting culture unless you get a bit off the beaten path. The good news is that you can do that just by keeping your eyes open for the right little storefronts here and there, tucked in with the chains, stores wanting to be chains, and oh-so-modern-in-the-same-way restaurants.


Richard W. Mockler

Seattle

I will, in fact, eat anything once.

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there's a cute little patisserie at santana row.

Yuck! Everytime I've made a purchase at this place, the product has been stale. And they aren't nice about replacing it with one that isn't. :wacko:

Beggars on the streets.

Yeah, like three tops.

Take in a classic film at the Stanford Theatre. We have the Packard's to thank for that gem. :biggrin:

It's been mentioned - Four Season's is barely in East Palo Alto and certainly not the "sketchy" area AND you have a car. Have fun!

Fleur de Cocao in Los Gatos for sure!! I'd give anything to have that shop in the area I live in. Los Gatos is charming and you might run in to Peggy Fleming! :wink:


Edited by Brioche57 (log)

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