San Francisco Peninsula
Alexander’s Steakhouse is a high end steak restaurant located in an outdoor mall, situated in Cupertino, just off highway 280. They moved in 2016 to this new outdoor mall. Parking is surprisingly difficult! It was recently featured on Check Please and feature 28-day aged prime steaks. They opened a San Francisco outpost in Bacar’s former digs, in mid September 2010. We hadn’t been there in many years, so it was time for a revisit.
Old school dim sum charm. Zen Peninsula is a Cantonese Chinese restaurant in Millbrae. Millbrae is ground zero for some of the best Chinese food in the SF Bay area with spots like:
Solid Chinese Food in Millbrae.
Asian Pearl Peninsula in Millbrae was at one time, part of the same Culinary Wonderland group that owned the highly rated The Kitchen in Millbrae, hence the same menu. We’ve been to this location a couple times and have found it to offer very good Cantonese Chinese cuisine, in fact some of the better ones the San Francisco Bay Area. In recent years, upstarts HL Peninsula, Grand Harbour, and Dragon Beaux have stole its thunder.
Redefining top notch dim sum and Chinese food near San Francisco.
Why did we dine here? – Grand Harbor is a Chinese restaurant in Burlingame, California, located right by the San Francisco Bay. (Next door to Benihana) It has a grand view of the Bay and the San Francisco Airport to the north. Leisurely watch planes landing all meal long. Our Last visit was in the Summer of 2019.
Izakaya Mai is a Japanese Izakaya or Japanese drinking establishment that also serves food. They are more small plate oriented restaurants. This restaurant has an extensive drink menu. They’ve been here for years. Several similar restaurants have opened over the years, but this still packs them in.. (Izakaya Ginji, Kokko)
Best Restaurant on the SF Peninsula!
Why did we dine here? – Protege Palo Alto is a New American restaurant from French Laundry Alum Chef Anthony Secviar and Alum Dennis Kelly, Wine Master. This anxiously awaited restaurant was sure to amp up the fairly mundane local dining scene on the Peninsula. They received one Michelin Star in 2019. Our last visit was in the summer of 2020 after they reopened the patio.
Newly Crowned Best Chinese Restaurant in San Francisco?
Why did we dine here? – Rasa is a One Michelin Star Indian restaurant in Burlingame, California, just south of the San Francisco airport. We have dined here many years ago, so it was time to try it again.
The owner also runs Saffron Indian Bistro in San Carlos, serving traditional North Indian food.
Why did we dine here? – Pho Ha Noi is a Vietnamese restuarant located in an outdoor mall Vietnam Town Plaza in San Jose. The area is full of high quality Asian restaurants and shops. Their pho is some of the best in the SF Bay Area.
Santa Ramen has a new owner in 2020.
Santa Ramen is a very popular Japanese noodle Ramen restaurant in San Mateo. Mr. Kazunori Kobayashi sold this location in 2020 but continues to be the proprietor of nearby Ramen Dojo and Parlor. Located in a small shopping mall with a Diddams Ninja Japanese supermarket, Party Supply and JoAnn’s Fabric, the restaurant has achieved a legendary cult following and has long lines at both dinner and lunch times. We have eaten here many times with our last visit in 2020.
Koi Palace has been the #1 Chinese Dim Sum restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Peninsula is ground zero for some of the best Chinese food in the San Francisco Bay Area. Around 2018, new upcomers with opulent interiors and modern menu have challenged them.
Why did we dine here? – La Bodeguita Del Medio is a popular Cuban restaurant in Palo Alto. We have been meaning to dine here for dinner for quite a while. One of us recently visited Cuba, so we had a valid excuse to kindle some memories. The place is pretty busy, so you need to reserve in advance.
Elegant Vietnamese in Palo Alto.
Tamarine is a popular Vietnamese contemporary restaurant in downtown Palo Alto on busy University Avenue. They focus on small plates and serve food family style. Tamarine features light, but flavor-intensive culinary delicacies of Vietnam. This place is similar to Slanted Door or Xanh in Mountain View. We find the food pretty accessible with many items for mainstream palates. The owners family runs the more traditional Vietnamese restaurant Vung Tau in San Jose and a more casual spot Tam Tam in Palo Alto. Our last visit was in 2020.
Foster City is a suburb of San Francisco and not known for its food. Here are a couple worthy spots.
Last Update: November 2019
We are big fans of Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup. Slowly but surely, we have eaten at many of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best Pho restaurants. Here’s our constantly evolving list of the top 10 in search of the Best Pho San Francisco and beyond. Please leave comments with suggestions for other places we should try.
- Hit List: More San Jose Pho Places – Do you have favorites we should try?
Napoletana Pizzeria is a new Naples style pizzeria in Mountain View. This unlikely strip mall location (Next to Cost Plus World Market), houses a low key, authentic thin crust Neapolitan pizza place. We first learned about this place from a thread on Chowhound. As the waitress put it, these authentic pizzas cook for about 90 seconds in their 900° wood burning oven. Our last visit was Summer 2019.
Joy, aka 5 Joy Restaurant is a small restaurant in the Beach Park plaza strip mall bordering the San Francisco Bay in Foster City, just south of the Highway 92 San Mateo Bridge. A hidden gem in the middle of no where.
Top Chinese in SF. The Kitchen is part of a restaurant group that owns Chinese Cantonese restaurants in California including Asian Pearl Peninsula. We have dined at many of them and find the food pretty very good. In recent years, they have slipped. New upstarts like HL Peninsula and Dragon Beaux has carried the torch forward.
China Village Seafood Restaurant is a Chinese restaurant in Belmont, California just off the Highway 101 Ralston Exit. They have been around since 1996, serving dim sum during both lunch and dinner, as well as standard Cantonese Chinese cuisine.
Why did we dine here? – Taverna is a recently opened Greek restaurant in Palo Alto by some alumni of nearby Evvia restaurant. They brought in a Chef from Village Pub to execute their dream. We had good experiences at Evvia so we decided to give this less formal place a try.
We review the San Francisco Master Foodie’s Michael Bauer’s Top 100 2018 list. This is probably his last..
Why did we dine here? – Top Italian on the Peninsula! Vesta is a California Italian restaurant in downtown Redwood City. They tried to support local and organic suppliers. It has an extremely high 4.5 stars on Yelp and was mentioned in San Francisco magazine as having great pizza. These two facts were enough to pique our interest. We finally got a chance to try them at the end of 2013 and returned in 2019.
Why did we dine here? – Evvia is the sister restaurant of popular Kokkari in San Francisco. Our last visit here was over 10 years ago, so it was time for a refresher. Reservations are not easy to come by at this small restaurant, just off University Avenue.
Photo Courtesy LV Mar
Why did we dine here? – LV Mar is a Latin focus restaurant in downtown Redwood City that serves Elevated Latin tapas, platters & cocktails in a modern, comfortably upscale dining room and sidewalk patio. They also run the nearby La Viga, which is a more casual. We had a good experience at La Viga, so it was natural for us to try this restaurant. Last visit was for dinner in 2018
Rave Burger is a burger joint that opened October 2008 in downtown San Mateo. We were walking by and decided to give it a try to see how it rated. The provide sit down service in addition to to go food. They serve hamburgers, vegan burgers, hot dogs, and salads and a lots more now. We have been to Rave Burger several times over the years with our last visit in 2019.
Why did we dine here? – Wonderful food at great prices. La Viga derives from the massive central seafood market in Mexico City where our chef Manuel Martinez (Left Bank, Reposado) comes from. They focus food with local sustainable ingredients and draw a huge crowd. This restaurant has a high 4.5 rating on Yelp from almost 1000 reviewers. A friend tipped us off.
Best Shanghainese Chinese restaurant in San Francisco? Little Shanghai Restaurant is a family run Shanghainese Chinese Restaurant in San Mateo near the San Mateo Fairgrounds. They have the usual Americanized Chinese dishes along with a fair amount of Traditional Shanghai dishes not served in most restaurants. Our last visit was in Fall 2017.
Why did we dine here? – Sushi Maruyama is the latest Japanese spot to give this corner a go. They are not related to the last place. The last 2 came and went over the years. This Japanese restaurant joins a ton of others on virtually every block of downtown San Mateo. The town is now home to some top spots including Wakuriya, Sushi Sam, and Sushi Yoshizumi.
Why did we dine here? – One of those hidden local gems. Andes Cafe is a small Peruvian restaurant on a non descript stretch of El Camino Real in San Mateo. A friend tipped us off that their food was legit, so we had to give it a try. One of us recently returned from Peru, so it was a good time to compare this restaurant to the real deal.
Why did we dine here? – Cooking Papa is a popular Hong Kong style casual Chinese restaurant with locations in Foster City and Santa Clara. We have dined at the Foster City location several times. There is a line much of the time, a testing to the popularity of this restaurant. People typically wait at least 30 minutes during peak times. Our last visit was in the winter of 2018.
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot is a hot pot restaurant in downtown San Mateo, right across from Walgreen’s. Their soup base options have recently become more acceptable for mainstream Americans. This company has a couple locations in the USA and many more in Asia. Yum Asia (KFC, Taco Bell) actually owns this company.
Koi Palace is a popular Cantonese Chinese restaurant in Daly City, California. (Just south of San Francisco) The Peninsula is ground zero for some of the best Chinese food in the SF Bay area. It has been around since 1997 and specializes in wide selection of Dim Sum for lunch and special dishes for dinner.
This restaurant also has locations in Dublin and at Thunder Valley Casino. We came for dinner and have previously reviewed Koi Palace dim sum lunch. Our return trips included the latest in 2018. Yelp reviews emphasize lunch and do not factor in where this place falls in the Chinese restaurant pecking order.
Why did we dine here? – Ben Tre (A city in Vietnam) has three locations on the San Francisco Peninsula.
We review the San Francisco Master Foodie’s Michael Bauers Top 100 2017 list.
Aina’s Spam Musubi
Shanghai Dumpling Shop is a popular Shanghainese Chinese restaurant in Millbrae’s Broadway shopping district. While they have all the ‘standard’ Chinese restaurant dishes, they are specifically known for dishes from Shanghai, including dumplings even though the staff can be heard belting out Cantonese Chinese. Our last visit was in the Spring 2017.
Last Update: July 2017
We love Xiao Long Bao (XLB) aka Shanghai Steamed Soup Dumplings and have eaten all over the world seeking the best. Are you a Xiao Long Bao addict too? Read on.
One tip: If you are looking for good XLB, do not order them from a Cantonese Chinese restaurant. You are almost always guaranteed disappointing results even at the Best Chinese Restaurant in San Francisco: Koi Palace. Order these little balls of wonder from a Shanghainese Chinese restaurant.
Il Fornaio (The Baker in Italian) is an Italian restaurant serving “creatively prepared, premium-quality Italian cuisine based on authentic regional Italian recipes.” They have 21 locations, many in California. They have been around since 1972, initially starting as a baking school. Now they are owned by a Private Equity group, no doubt trying to squeeze out profits.
ABC Cafe is a casual Chinese eatery with two locations in San Francisco and a new one in downtown San Mateo. The parent company also owns ABC Seafood restaurants. We went to the new location about a week after it opened. They serve Hong Kong style Chinese American food. ABC Cafe is open into the wee hours of the morning. We have been here multiple times with our last visit in 2018. They have fallen to a lousy 2.5 stars on Yelp.
Why did we dine here? – Bird Dog is a popular new restaurant in downtown Palo Alto. This brings some sophisticated SF style innovative dining to the Peninsula. The interior is impressive, especially for a restaurant down here. Robbie Wilson was the chef of Matsuhisa in Aspen, Colo., and most recently headed up the kitchen at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos (Santa Barbara County)
Insider Tip – On the fence? Especially about the prices. Eat at the bar.
Gnocchi and Salmon to die for. Stella Alpina Osteria is a small Italian restaurant located a block from the main Burlingame Avenue shopping area. Located below ground level, most people would never know it was here. The restaurant opened in May 2005, and was featured on PBS’ Check Please TV show. This was our 3rd time dining here.
Palo Alto Creamery has been serving up classic burger joint food since 1988 when Robert Fischer took over the business. They used to have 2 locations in Palo Alto, with the downtown location open since 1923 in previously known as the Peninsula Creamery. Stanford Shopping Center location closed in 2013.
Steak on the Peninsula. Town Restaurant is a steakhouse serving American comfort food in downtown San Carlos. It opened in 2006 and has gotten positive press, so we figured we would see how it stacks up. Over the years, this restaurant has been consistently busy. Town is definitely a hit with the locals, many of which can just walk over for a meal. Our last visit was in December 2015. It is so busy, we had to make a reservation over a week in advance.
Taqueria La Cumbre Mexican Restaurant has a location in San Francisco and San Mateo. We tried the one in San Mateo, located near Caltrain. They have everything from burritos to tacos to caldos to plates. The San Francisco location has lines often times. Our last visit was in 2017. The great thing about his place is the parking lot!
Why did we dine here? – Best Sushi in the San Francisco? Sushi Yoshizumi, San Mateo, California is a new One Michelin Star receipient for 2016. They serve the expert crafted omakase menu of Chef Akira Yoshizumi. Ingredients are sourced both domestically and internationally (Tokyo) for his Edomae sushi style cuisine.
Why did we dine here? – El Sinaloense is a hidden gem of a Mexican restaurant in San Mateo that few know about, but those that come, return. Tucked away behind a Safeway, this place is one of the top Mexican restaurants in San Mateo, if not the best. Lots of locals and families come here for dinner. A friend recommended this spot, so we gave it a try. It is actually difficult to find a good Mexican restaurant. Forget about recommending Chevy’s.
Insider Tip – Service can be slow, so do not come in a hurry.