Browsing Category

San Francisco Peninsula


Bird Dog, Palo Alto

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.

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Stella Alpina Osteria, Burlingame

Stella Alpina Burlingame exterior decor

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.

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Town Restaurant Review, San Carlos

Town San Carlos Exterior Decor

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.

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Taqueria La Cumbre, San Mateo

La Cumbre Mexican Restaurant Exterior

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!

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Sushi Yoshizumi, San Mateo

Sushi Yoshizumi San Mateo restaurant exterior decor

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.

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El Sinaloense, San Mateo

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.

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Locanda Positano, San Carlos

Why did we dine here? – Locanda Positano is the sister restaurant to now closed Acqua Pazza in San Mateo and has received some high accolades on Yelp. We were in the area, love Italian food, and decided to give them a try.

Locanda means inn, in Italian. Positano is a scenic town hugging the Amalfi coast of Southern Italy. We’ve visited there but did not have a meal. Our last visit was in Spring 2017, where we found service had fallen.

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Coconuts Caribbean, Palo Alto

Coconuts Caribbean Restaurant and Bar Exterior

Coconuts Caribbean Restaurant and Bar is an Caribbean Island focused restaurant that has been open since 2008. They focus on Jamaican classics like Jerk Chicken. Some cool Steel drum live music was playing on our 2009 visit, by 2016, the place was so loud on a Friday night, you could not hear much. Its chef also runs the cult classic Back-A-yard restaurant in Menlo Park.

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Shabuway Restaurant Review, San Mateo

Shabuway San Mateo Front

Shabuway is a Japanese hot pot restaurant in San Mateo that opened in 2004.  They also have a location in Mountain View, San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Jose, and Union City. You cook vegetables and thinly sliced beef at your table in a your own boiling pot of watery broth. Shabuway does not take reservations and insists all folks are present when names are called. Our last visit was in 2016, where we get a sense that the business changed hands.

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Himawari Restaurant, San Mateo

Himawari San Mateo Outside

Himawari is a Japanese Ramen Noodle house located in downtown San Mateo. Every block down here has a Japanese restaurant. Their chief rival, a couple miles away, is the legendary Santa Ramen along with its sister Ramen restaurants. They have a broader menu than Santa Ramen, with Rice Bowls, lots of appetizers, and many ramen options. We came on hot day and noted no air conditioning, just ceiling fans cranked up. Last visit September 2017.

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Howie’s Artisan Pizza Restaurant Review, Palo Alto

Howies Artisan pizza Palo Alto exterior decor

Howie’s Artisan Pizza was opened by Howard Bulka in late 2009 into Town & Country Village shopping Center of Palo Alto. He had worked at various restaurants including Marche. Inspired by the New Haven school of East Coast pizza-making and the renaissance of artisanal products including organic, natural, and local ingredients. Our last visit was in the beginning of 2015 when we noticed that pizza prices went up again.

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Espetus Churrascaria Restaurant Review

Espetus Churrascaria Exterior

Espetus Churrascaria is a Brazilian steakhouse serving Rodizio style food. They focus on meats straight from the fire brought to your table, continuously through the meal! You can stop the meat parade by flipping the table card to red. They have a salad and hot plate bar with lots of different options including asparagus, bean salad, eggplant, rice, beans, cod, and much more. Do not eat too much of this stuff otherwise you wonder have room for all the meat. Vegetarians should stay away.
Espetus Churrascaria has locations in San Francisco and San Mateo. We tried the brand new San Mateo location for dinner. It is all you can eat, with lunch going for $25.95 with 7 meat options, $37.95 on weekends. Dinner is $54.95 with 14 meat options. Kids are 50% off. Our last visit was in the Summer of 2014.

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Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay Navio Sunday Brunch Restaurant Review, Half Moon Bay

Best Buffet in the SF Bay Area!

Navio Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay Sunday Brunch Buffet Exterior decor

Best buffet in San Francisco Bay Area? The Navio restaurant is located inside the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay. It serves one of the best Sunday Brunches in the San Francisco vicinity. They have everything from traditional breakfast items, Sushi, caviar!, fresh seafood, prime rib, Dim Sum, cheese, Pastries, and Desserts. The location on the coast is perfect, you get beautiful views of the coast and golf course.

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The Plant Organic Cafe Restaurant Review, Burlingame

The Plant Cafe Organic Burlingame exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – The Plant Organic Cafe is a small local chain of restaurants focusing on organic and vegetarian oriented cuisine. The menu features many vegetarian items along with seafood and even cocktails. They have locations in Mill Valley, San Francisco at Pier 3, Downtown, and the Marina. We dined at their Burlingame location. Next door is a cafe where you can get Blue Bottle Coffee, their trademark smoothies, as well as baked goods. We really enjoyed their selection of vegan cookies, cupcakes, desserts. There are few places with this variety.

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Jeffreys San Mateo Review

jeffreys hamburgers San Mateo outside

Jeffrey’s Hamburgers is a popular burger joint in downtown San Mateo open since 1997. They also have a location in Menlo Park. They serve American fast food including burgers, hot dogs, fish and chips, salads, fries, and shakes. Seems like every town has a place like this, San Francisco has its Mel’s Drive in..

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Little Sichuan Restaurant, San Mateo

Little Sichuan San Mateo Exterior

Little Sichuan is a Sichuan Chinese Restaurant located in Downtown San Mateo next to legendary foodie hangout Draegar’s. It has been around for many years but changed hands in 2007. The former co-owner and chef used to run Classic Sichuan Restaurant in Millbrae. Do not confuse this place with others with similar names. Many folks stopped coming after the change in ownership including ourselves. It was time to check Little Sichuan out again in October 2010, after another year. This is a place to come for Sichuan dishes like noodles, not for generic Americanized Chinese food such as Beef Broccoli. classic Cantonese Chinese dishes that are better down the block at Champagne Seafood or HK Causeway Bay. Our last visit was in March 2014.

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Pacific Catch Restaurant Review, San Mateo

Pacific Catch San Mateo Exterior Decor

Why did we dine here? – Pacific Catch is a small string of restaurants in the Northern California area. They were started by the founders of World Wrapps. The first location open in San Francisco on Chestnut Street in 2003, with the San Mateo branch opening in 2014, right next to the Century Theaters multiplex.

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Yakitori Kokko, San Mateo

Yakitori Kokko San Mateo interior decor

Japanese Izakaya is hot in the SF Bay Area right now.. Yakitori Kokko is a Japanese Izakaya or drinking oriented establishment (like Sumika in the South Bay, Ippuku in Berkeley or Izakaya Mai in San Mateo) that serves casual food focusing on skewers of meat and liquor. It is run by Japanese folks and feels pretty authentic. Yakitori means chicken grill, so the focus is on charcoal grilled meats. The place has gotten some good buzz, so we decided to give it a try. Our last visit was in the summer of 2015.

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The Kitchen Dinner Restaurant Review, Millbrae

The Kitchen Millbrae Exterior

The Kitchen is part of a restaurant group that owns highly regarded Chinese Cantonese restaurants in California including Asian Pearl Peninsula. We’ve been to most of them and find them pretty good. This review concentrates on dinner.  The food here is pretty authentic Chinese Cantonese food, so some may not like this type of more hardcore cuisine. Do not come here for General’s Chicken or Broccoli Beef. Another review covers The Kitchen dim sum lunch. Our last visit for dinner was in 2015, a meal where we found that their quality has improved. We’d consider this #2 behind Koi Palace. The Kitchen has recently remodeled the dining room, making it much more open, spacious, and modern.

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California Pizza Kitchen Restaurant Review

California Pizza Kitchen Exterior Decor

California Pizza Kitchen started back in 1985 in Beverly Hills by two attorneys. It is now International and publicly traded. Their BBQ Chicken pizza is their signature dish. We were passing by the San Mateo location and decided to refresh our memories. Fate has lead us to eat here, more than we would like to admit..

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Seven Hills Restaurant Review, San Francisco

Seven Hills San Francisco Exterior Decor

Why did we dine here? – Seven Hills is a quaint neighborhood restaurant in San Francisco’s Russian Hill. We used to live nearby, had heard all the rave reviews, and finally had an excuse to dine there. They proudly list the various local suppliers they use on their website.
Michael Bauer gave it a 2.5 star, Very good rating in 2013. A high 4.5 stars on Yelp.

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Donato Enoteca Restaurant Review, Redwood City

Donato Enoteca Restaurant Review, Redwood City

Donato Enoteca is an Italian Restaurant in downtown Redwood City, located right next to City Hall. They serve modern Italian focusing on fresh, simple ingredients, and focusing on the chef’s Donata Scotti (formerly of La Strada) Northern Italian roots. Our last visit for dinner outside in 2020 during the Covid 19 Pandemic.

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Yuzu Sushi and Grill Review, San Mateo

Yuzu Sushi and Grill San Mateo Exterior

Yuzu Sushi and Grill is located in a sleepy shopping district in San Mateo across from the former location of Alhana foods. It is a sister restaurant to Burlingame’s well respected and Michelin Bib Gourmand Sakae Sushi. We decided to try it to see if it was a lower cost but similar quality version of Sakae Sushi. Sakae Sushi has lots of exotic seafood air freighted in from Japan. Our last visit was in April 2014.

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Hong Kong Restaurant Review, Palo Alto

Hong Kong Restaurant Palo Alto exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Hong Kong Restaurant opened in 2012 in Palo Alto, where several restaurants including a Thai one had come and gone.
Over the last couple of months, it has established itself as the go to Chinese restaurant in this area. We have eaten there for dinner as well as for a for a fixed menu meal. Our last visit was in February 2014.

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Gorilla BBQ Restaurant Review, Pacifica

Gorilla BBQ Pacifica exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Gorilla BBQ is a restaurant located inside a railroad car on the side of Highway One in Pacifica. We’ve read about this place (it was featured in the Wall Street Journal) and finally got a chance to try it, after driving through the beautiful new Tom Lantos Tunnel.

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Paul Martin’s American Grill Restaurant Review, San Mateo

Paul Martins American Grill San Mateo exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Paul Martin’s American Grill is a new restaurant chain from the P in PF Chang’s. This new dining establishment open in San Mateo’s Hillsdale Mall in July 2013. They have a location in Roseville as well as 3 in southern California. Normally hearing the above would cause us to run, but we were nearby, so we gave it a go.

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Osteria Stellina Restaurant Review, Point Reyes Station

Osteria Stellina Point Reyes Station exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Osteria Stellina is an Italian restaurant Point Reyes Station, just outside beautiful Point Reyes. This tiny town is lucky to have such a high end restaurant. They focus on farm to table dining with lots of local and seasonal ingredients. We’ve read about this restaurant and have passed by many times, but finally dined here.

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Shalizaar Restaurant Review, Belmont

Shalizaar Belmont Exterior decor

Shalizaar is a Persian Cuisine restaurant in Belmont. It moved here from a smaller location in San Mateo, which is now home to another decent restaurant: Tannourine. They specialize in Persian Kabobs and become immensely popular, leading to an expansion of the restaurant. Shalizaar has a large wood fired oven at one end of the dining room constantly making flat bread. Our last visit was in June 2016.

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Fey Restaurant Restaurant Review, Menlo Park

Fey Menlo Park exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Fey Restaurant recently opened in Menlo Park. It has gotten positive buzz, so we decided to give it a try. The owner has owned many different Sichuan Chinese restaurants including Little Sichuan in San Mateo and Classic Sichuan in Millbrae. She has built up a fan base and hopefully has found a restaurant that has some staying power.
The restaurant features somewhat neo-classical lighting and decor, probably from China. They have a small parking lot in the back, so you might have to park on El Camino Real.

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Namu Gaji Restaurant Review, San Francisco

Namu Gaji San Francisco Exterior Decor

Why did we dine here? – Namu Gaji succeeds Namu from the Richmond district. It is smaller and in a much hipper neighborhood. They have received some good press from many reviewers, so we felt it was time to give it a try. This expands this awesome Gourmet Ghetto block with Tartine Bakery, Bi-Rite, Delfina, and Pizzeria Delfina.

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New England Lobster Market and Eatery Restaurant Review, Burlingame

Why did we dine here? – New England Lobster Market and Eatery has been selling Maine lobsters, Dungeness crab and shellfish since 1986. They recently opened an
eatery in Burlingame’s hotel row area, just south of San Francisco Airport (SFO). Being a fan of crustaceans, we had to try this restaurant.

Insider Tip – Great place to purchase shellfish to go

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Inshou Restaurant Review, San Mateo

By Henry Kwan

Inshou Japanese Cuisine_interior decor

Why did we dine here? – Inshou recently opened in the Marina Plaza shopping center, just off Highway 101’s Hillsdale exit. We were shopping at Marina supermarket and decided to give this new place a try.
San Mateo is home to a large Japanese and Asian population making it ground zero for some excellent Japanese restaurants including Hotaru, Yakitori Kokko, and Sushi Sam. Our last visit was in November 2013

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Mokutanya, Burlingame

Mokutanya Burlingame exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Mokutanya is a modern Japanese restaurant located in a non-descript strip mall in sleepy Burlingame. A friend suggested this restaurant, so we were excited to give it a try. The food and atmosphere exceeded our expectations. Kokko and Izakaya Mai is one of the better skewer restaurants in this area and Mokutanya exceeds it in terms of quality and fun.

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Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ Restaurant Review

Big Bubbas Bad BBQ Exterior

Big Bubbas Bad BBQ is a food concession that appears at some of the country’s largest State Fairs, Nascar Races, and Livestock Shows since 1996. You will find them in California, Colorado, and New Mexico. We have eaten their food several times over the years and found it to be pretty good. Our last visit in 2013 was during the Maker’s Faire in San Mateo.

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Osteria Coppa, San Mateo

Unfortunately, Osteria Coppa Closed in June 2016.

Osteria Coppa San Mateo exterior

Osteria Coppa is a new restaurant from the owners of Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay located in the former Pomaroma Cafe location. Osteria in Italian means a place where the owner “hosts” people or an Italian-style eating establishment. They are focusing on artisan pizza and pasta along with a variety of other authentic Italian dishes using local and seasonal ingredients. Seafood is sustainably-fished and the meats we use are antibiotic free. This mirrors places like Pizzaiolo in Oakland, Flour and Water in San Francisco. Founding Executive chef of Osteria Coppa is rising star Chanan Kamen, formerly of Quince, but he left a couple years ago for Mexico. His proteges continue turning out the menu. Our last visit was in 2016.

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Birch Street Restaurant Review, Palo Alto

Birch Street Palo Alto exterior decor

Birch Street is a French-Californian bistro in the California Avenue shopping district of Palo Alto. The focus on local, organic, and sustainable ingredients from the local farmers market. They use to be known as Bistro Elan and were located around the corner. The new restaurant is fairly small and much more casual. We liked the old restaurant, so it was a no brainer to give this one a try.

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