Hi! Thanks for the responses.
“Is there a particular occasion?” GF and I have a vague work-related reason to get to socal. She’s been down a few times for work in the last month, this time might fall on a day where I can tag along. The special occasion is we’re no longer in our usual haunts.
“but it’s cold”. I’m expecting the norcal / socal 10 degree temp difference, and we’re used to eating out here, and as of tomorrow we get 1 hour earlier of daylight. We’re also used to avoiding the tent-like structures. We bring hats and scarves and a lap blanket. Thursday night was a german beer garden, schnitzel, sausage, and a boot of beer. Last night we tried an indian place we hadn’t been to for a few years but they had a 10 minute wait so we walked 100 feet to comfort-crepe place that was perfectly enjoyable. Lunch yesterday was a high-ish end japanese place where I had sukiyaki in the sun, lunch is nice that way. Thursday lunch was an al pastor specialist that I’d only been to once before, carried over to a little pocket park in the same block. Last weekend we enjoyed a greek place up in the city that friends like. Same friends had a reason to get a proper beijing roast duck from a renound place in sunnyvale, ended up eating it at our place (they’re vaccinated, I offered outdoors, they went with outdoors b/c vaccine). We don’t go to that place because there’s a different “peking” duck place that’s 10 minutes closer - but we’ll be driving the extra 10 minutes from now on. Last friday I think it was a french place that I swear has more tables out in the street than they’ve ever had inside, and they’re doing a nice little jazz combo (a little cheesy with the standards but some of the solos are OK), and the oysters were better than I’ve had in a long time - super crisp. We’re getting back to supporting our locals, more than just takeout.
Still, it’s our usuals, with some branching out. I hadn’t been to that sukiyaki place, nor had we gotten beijing duck from that place before. Now that we’re comfortable driving 20 minutes, our range is broadening.
If you get up this way, the mid-peninsula is now this wonderland of closed streets with a lot of restaurants. Some are closed. Some old favorites are gone. But as of the last two weeks, when we moved back into the red, everyone’s booming. We even got shut out of two places last night. Very little is destination dining, but we love the feeling of being someplace with actual pleasant walking culture and so much to choose from. Castro St Mt View seems the best pickins, with probably 40 restaurants over 3 blocks all into the street with probably more tables than they usually have. The one fine dining there is Chez TJ, haven’t been with the newest chef. Every 5 miles it’s the same, running (south to north) Castro St MV, Cali Ave Palo Alto, University Ave PA, Menlo Park, Broadway RWC, San Carlos Laurel Ave, and those are the ones within a 15 minute drive of my house… I’m leaving out Los Altos, Sunnyvale, there’s more in both directions but I don’t have personal experience because with 6 walking-dining districts, that’s enough to explore. Cali Ave has a one-star, Protoge, and a two-star, Baume, and Protoge’s actually pretty good - it was probably the best meal I had right before the covid times. They have opened a few times during covid, I think they are closed now. Those are the 5 closest to us so it’s where we go, but it’s places where we have eaten regularly for over a decade so one gets a little bored.
“what’s a socal sprit”. Yeah, it’s a hard to pin down. “norcal is similar to socal”, yeah, SF’s destination dining scene is similar to Socal, but in the non-destination areas, I think there’s still a difference, but damned if I can put good words to it ATM. Some of that is in Palo Alto also - a favorite restaurant was converted to an “Indian-Californian” place (ETTAN) which is absolutely trendy and see-and-be-seen, and attempting to strike a whole new pose. That’s Palo Alto for you.
GF has promised to drag me to her favorite cuban bakery while we’re down there, the cuban food here is NOTHING, I am sure it’ll have that spirit. IMHO norcal mexican is within 90% of socal mexican if you know where to go, but in SoCal you don’t even have to know where to go, everywhere is good. Yall simply have a greater range, you know it, I know it.
Korean is a pretty good choice. We do korean OK up here, I tend to think Korean in Oakland and have a few favorite spots, and love my Korean, although Sunnyvale has some good joints, but not like y’all do. Get me some proper LA Kalbi. I don’t think we’ve had Korean in the covid times because it’s a 20 minute drive in almost any direction — however, GF has to be in a hungry mood to accept Korean, it’s so damned tasty and you gobble up the banchan in a proper place they keep bringing you more endlessly THEN THERE’S A HUGE PILE OF IRRESISTABLE MEAT. Hard to not go home a bit bloated.
Armenian is a food we’re short on, and (other than Al Pastor) we’re short on Lebanese too. Those look good. We’ve got a little mini-glut of Georgian places we like, and I think the Armenians and Georgians are bitter enemies, but it’s an area we’re happy to eat more from and learn.
And, italian, maybe. We have probably 3 italian places in rotation, although good neopolitian pizza doesn’t travel the 15 minutes between restaurant and home, so we learned. We do like a good gelato, stopping for gelato after dinner’s perfectly reasonable. I think of Socal Italian as often having that light and airy feel I was trying to describe above, so I’ll look into those.
Thanks! And further thoughts welcome.