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Ettan
Patricia Chang/Eater SF

Where to Eat and Drink in Palo Alto

From high-end restaurants where you’ll bump elbows with tech execs to hummus and curries for students on a budget

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Ettan
| Patricia Chang/Eater SF

As a well-heeled suburb, Palo Alto has always served classic steaks and chops in comfortable bars and grills. But as big tech booms, wallets are getting fatter and appetites more ambitious, attracting a few world-class chefs who are setting out serious tasting menus. That said, this is still a college town filled with hungry students, and not to mention, some software engineers are simply allergic to overpaying for lunch. From high-end Californian and Indian restaurants where you’ll bump elbows with tech execs to hummus and curries for students on a budget, here’s where to eat in Palo Alto.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Tamarine Restaurant & Gallery

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546 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 325-8500
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This modern Vietnamese restaurant at the top end of University Avenue has been serving shaking beef, lemongrass sea bass, and hoisin lamb chops since 2002. Owned by two sisters, the space is also a rotating art gallery and a power spot for cocktails. The menu includes a few rotating favorites from Tam Tam, the slightly more casual spot they opened in 2019, while they look for a new location for the spinoff.

Tamarine

2. Oren's Hummus

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261 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 752-6492
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At the other budget extreme from the highest-end spots in town, there’s good hummus to be had. Palo Alto is the original location for this wildly popular mini chain, which now ranges down to Cupertino and up to San Francisco. Chef Oren Dobronsky, who’s originally from Tel Aviv, specializes in hummus bowls topped with fried eggplant, roasted cauliflower, and spiced lamb, with plenty of pita for scooping.

3. Bird Dog

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420 Ramona St
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 656-8180
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Chef Robbie Wilson (French Laundry, Mattei’s Tavern) brought fine-dining pedigree to Palo Alto when he opened Bird Dog in 2015, and the Chronicle declared it “one of the brightest spots on the Peninsula.” The menu ranges from raw fish and fatty meats to locally farmed vegetables and grains, highlighting ingredients like bone marrow, amberjack, and Arrowhead cabbage.

4. Ramen Nagi Palo Alto

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541 Bryant St
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Palo Alto was the first U.S. location for this popular ramen chain in 2018, and fans have been lining up ever since. They get handed menus and markers, and pick out noodle thickness and firmness, as well as garlic and chile levels. The ramen bowls come in four variations: the “original king” with creamy tonkotsu pork broth, the “green king” with fresh basil pesto, the “red king” laced with chiles, and the “black king” darkened with squid ink.  

Ramen Nagi

5. Bevri

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530 Bryant St
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 384-6500
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Bevri had the distinction of being the first Georgian restaurant in the Bay Area, and it’s hard to resist the khachapuri (bread shaped like a canoe and filled with melted cheese), let alone the plump khinkali dumplings. Don’t miss the wine list — Georgian wines are having a moment, but as the restaurant points out, the tradition goes back 8,000 years.

Bevri

6. Ettan

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518 Bryant St
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 752-6281
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Ettan brings Michelin-pedigreed California-Indian cuisine to Palo Alto in a bright, colorful patterned space serving “grazing” snacks of oysters topped with a fennel and curry leaf ponzu and sliders filled with jackfruit. For dinner, plates of sambal shrimp and sesame leaves are piled with mint, tamarind, and crispy bits, and entrees like a whole red snapper make a full feast for two to three people and a meal worthy of a special occasion.

Patricia Chang

7. Evvia Estiatorio

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420 Emerson St
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 326-0983
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Not to name drop big city sisters, but Evvia in Palo Alto is the sibling of Kokkari in San Francisco, and for anyone who’s cozied up by the fire and feasted on flame-licked lamb, it has the same warmth and charm. Menu highlights include the dolmathes, grilled octopus, and lamb riblets — but, really, anything twirling over the big hearth.

Evvia

8. Nola

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535 Ramona St
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 328-2722
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With an emphasis on booze, blues, and New Orleans–style bon temps, Nola is a favorite among Stanford students, now with an even larger outdoor setup for lingering brunches. The three-story restaurant meant to resemble a French Quarter building serves Louisiana classics like gumbo and jambalaya, as well as distinctly non-Louisiana dishes like roasted cauliflower tacos and hot chicken sliders. The drinks are really the star here, with hurricanes, sazeracs, mojitos, and palomas all available in pitchers, as well as a menu of mini and zero-proof cocktails.

Nola

9. Coconuts

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642 Ramona St
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 329-9533
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Originally from Jamaica, chef Robert Simpson brought jerk chicken, coconut shrimp, and goat curry to sunny Palo Alto. His colorful restaurant is actually affordable enough for students, and the skinny side patio is criss-crossed with twinkling lights.

Coconuts

10. The Palo Alto Creamery

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566 Emerson St
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Stanford kids, software engineers, and actual children can’t resist the charms of this old-school soda fountain, which boasts a big wraparound counter and red booths. It’s classic California, originally opened in 1923, and still serving burgers, shakes, and damn good pie.

The Creamery

11. Saint Michael's Alley

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140 Homer Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 326-2530
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Though it originally opened as a bohemian coffee shop in 1959, Saint Michael’s Alley has since been turned into an upscale Californian restaurant by its current owners in 1993. And even though it’s moved around the corner to a new space, it’s still an intimate setting to cozy up with a date.

Saint Michael’s Alley

12. Telefèric Barcelona

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855 El Camino Real #130
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 321-0512
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This tapas powerhouse from Barcelona opened its first U.S. location in Walnut Creek in 2015, and Palo Alto followed a few years after. If it’s a chain, it’s a fun one, with a splashy tiled space in Town & Country, where diners can feast on pintxos, paella, octopus, and gin and tonics.

Telefèric Barcelona

13. Sundance the Steakhouse

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1921 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 321-6798
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If Saint Michael’s Alley is where students can take their parents, Sundance might be the right reservation for grandparents. It’s the tried-and-true steakhouse going five decades strong, with stiff drinks, clam chowder, wedge salads, prime beef, and lobster tails.

Sundance the Steakhouse

14. Protégé

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250 California Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 494-4181
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When two French Laundry alums opened Protégé in 2018, the town buzzed with excitement. Reserve the dining room for the tasting menu experience, featuring five to seven courses and culminating with a cheese cart wheeled tableside. First-timers can also feast on crab and caviar, crudo, wagyu ribeye, and Bavarian pretzels a la carte on the heated outdoor patio.

Protégé

15. Zareen's

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365 California Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 600-8438
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This fast-casual Pakistani and Indian spot always often has a line, but it moves at a good clip, as engineers in hoodies and sneakers load up on kebabs and curries, served on metal plates with lots of exciting compartments.

Zareen’s

16. Palo Alto Sol

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408 N California Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 328-8840
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For really good tacos, locals drive north to Redwood City. But tucked away on the slightly sleepier California Avenue, Palo Alto Sol is a comfort nonetheless, serving home-style mole, saucy enchiladas, and fresh salsas.

Palo Alto Sol

17. Terún

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448 California Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 600-8310
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San Francisco is known for excellent Neapolitan-style pizza, with pillowy and chewy doughs blistered in roaring ovens. But Palo Alto started throwing down when Terún moved into town. With a wood-fired oven that’s stoked and burning bright, these pies are the real deal, as certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (aka the pizza police).

Terún

18. La Bodeguita del Medio

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463 California Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 326-7762
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For more than 20 years, La Bodeguita has been a Cuban hideaway over on Cal Ave, complete with rum and cigars. The ropa vieja is the star: skirt steak served shredded and saucy with sweet plantains and yellow rice. But the empanadas dipped in coconut-jalapeño sauce also can’t be missed.

La Bodeguita del Medio

1. Tamarine Restaurant & Gallery

546 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Tamarine

This modern Vietnamese restaurant at the top end of University Avenue has been serving shaking beef, lemongrass sea bass, and hoisin lamb chops since 2002. Owned by two sisters, the space is also a rotating art gallery and a power spot for cocktails. The menu includes a few rotating favorites from Tam Tam, the slightly more casual spot they opened in 2019, while they look for a new location for the spinoff.

546 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301

2. Oren's Hummus

261 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

At the other budget extreme from the highest-end spots in town, there’s good hummus to be had. Palo Alto is the original location for this wildly popular mini chain, which now ranges down to Cupertino and up to San Francisco. Chef Oren Dobronsky, who’s originally from Tel Aviv, specializes in hummus bowls topped with fried eggplant, roasted cauliflower, and spiced lamb, with plenty of pita for scooping.

261 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301

3. Bird Dog

420 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

Chef Robbie Wilson (French Laundry, Mattei’s Tavern) brought fine-dining pedigree to Palo Alto when he opened Bird Dog in 2015, and the Chronicle declared it “one of the brightest spots on the Peninsula.” The menu ranges from raw fish and fatty meats to locally farmed vegetables and grains, highlighting ingredients like bone marrow, amberjack, and Arrowhead cabbage.

420 Ramona St
Palo Alto, CA 94301

4. Ramen Nagi Palo Alto

541 Bryant St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Ramen Nagi

Palo Alto was the first U.S. location for this popular ramen chain in 2018, and fans have been lining up ever since. They get handed menus and markers, and pick out noodle thickness and firmness, as well as garlic and chile levels. The ramen bowls come in four variations: the “original king” with creamy tonkotsu pork broth, the “green king” with fresh basil pesto, the “red king” laced with chiles, and the “black king” darkened with squid ink.  

541 Bryant St
Palo Alto, CA 94301

5. Bevri

530 Bryant St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Bevri

Bevri had the distinction of being the first Georgian restaurant in the Bay Area, and it’s hard to resist the khachapuri (bread shaped like a canoe and filled with melted cheese), let alone the plump khinkali dumplings. Don’t miss the wine list — Georgian wines are having a moment, but as the restaurant points out, the tradition goes back 8,000 years.

530 Bryant St
Palo Alto, CA 94301

6. Ettan

518 Bryant St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Patricia Chang

Ettan brings Michelin-pedigreed California-Indian cuisine to Palo Alto in a bright, colorful patterned space serving “grazing” snacks of oysters topped with a fennel and curry leaf ponzu and sliders filled with jackfruit. For dinner, plates of sambal shrimp and sesame leaves are piled with mint, tamarind, and crispy bits, and entrees like a whole red snapper make a full feast for two to three people and a meal worthy of a special occasion.

518 Bryant St
Palo Alto, CA 94301

7. Evvia Estiatorio

420 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Evvia

Not to name drop big city sisters, but Evvia in Palo Alto is the sibling of Kokkari in San Francisco, and for anyone who’s cozied up by the fire and feasted on flame-licked lamb, it has the same warmth and charm. Menu highlights include the dolmathes, grilled octopus, and lamb riblets — but, really, anything twirling over the big hearth.

420 Emerson St
Palo Alto, CA 94301

8. Nola

535 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Nola

With an emphasis on booze, blues, and New Orleans–style bon temps, Nola is a favorite among Stanford students, now with an even larger outdoor setup for lingering brunches. The three-story restaurant meant to resemble a French Quarter building serves Louisiana classics like gumbo and jambalaya, as well as distinctly non-Louisiana dishes like roasted cauliflower tacos and hot chicken sliders. The drinks are really the star here, with hurricanes, sazeracs, mojitos, and palomas all available in pitchers, as well as a menu of mini and zero-proof cocktails.

535 Ramona St
Palo Alto, CA 94301

9. Coconuts

642 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Coconuts

Originally from Jamaica, chef Robert Simpson brought jerk chicken, coconut shrimp, and goat curry to sunny Palo Alto. His colorful restaurant is actually affordable enough for students, and the skinny side patio is criss-crossed with twinkling lights.

642 Ramona St
Palo Alto, CA 94301

10. The Palo Alto Creamery

566 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
The Creamery

Stanford kids, software engineers, and actual children can’t resist the charms of this old-school soda fountain, which boasts a big wraparound counter and red booths. It’s classic California, originally opened in 1923, and still serving burgers, shakes, and damn good pie.

566 Emerson St
Palo Alto, CA 94301

11. Saint Michael's Alley

140 Homer Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Saint Michael’s Alley

Though it originally opened as a bohemian coffee shop in 1959, Saint Michael’s Alley has since been turned into an upscale Californian restaurant by its current owners in 1993. And even though it’s moved around the corner to a new space, it’s still an intimate setting to cozy up with a date.

140 Homer Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301

12. Telefèric Barcelona

855 El Camino Real #130, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Telefèric Barcelona

This tapas powerhouse from Barcelona opened its first U.S. location in Walnut Creek in 2015, and Palo Alto followed a few years after. If it’s a chain, it’s a fun one, with a splashy tiled space in Town & Country, where diners can feast on pintxos, paella, octopus, and gin and tonics.

855 El Camino Real #130
Palo Alto, CA 94301

13. Sundance the Steakhouse

1921 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Sundance the Steakhouse

If Saint Michael’s Alley is where students can take their parents, Sundance might be the right reservation for grandparents. It’s the tried-and-true steakhouse going five decades strong, with stiff drinks, clam chowder, wedge salads, prime beef, and lobster tails.

1921 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306

14. Protégé

250 California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Protégé

When two French Laundry alums opened Protégé in 2018, the town buzzed with excitement. Reserve the dining room for the tasting menu experience, featuring five to seven courses and culminating with a cheese cart wheeled tableside. First-timers can also feast on crab and caviar, crudo, wagyu ribeye, and Bavarian pretzels a la carte on the heated outdoor patio.

250 California Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94306

15. Zareen's

365 California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Zareen’s

This fast-casual Pakistani and Indian spot always often has a line, but it moves at a good clip, as engineers in hoodies and sneakers load up on kebabs and curries, served on metal plates with lots of exciting compartments.

365 California Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Related Maps

16. Palo Alto Sol

408 N California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Palo Alto Sol

For really good tacos, locals drive north to Redwood City. But tucked away on the slightly sleepier California Avenue, Palo Alto Sol is a comfort nonetheless, serving home-style mole, saucy enchiladas, and fresh salsas.

408 N California Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94306

17. Terún

448 California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Terún

San Francisco is known for excellent Neapolitan-style pizza, with pillowy and chewy doughs blistered in roaring ovens. But Palo Alto started throwing down when Terún moved into town. With a wood-fired oven that’s stoked and burning bright, these pies are the real deal, as certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (aka the pizza police).

448 California Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94306

18. La Bodeguita del Medio

463 California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
La Bodeguita del Medio

For more than 20 years, La Bodeguita has been a Cuban hideaway over on Cal Ave, complete with rum and cigars. The ropa vieja is the star: skirt steak served shredded and saucy with sweet plantains and yellow rice. But the empanadas dipped in coconut-jalapeño sauce also can’t be missed.

463 California Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Related Maps