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Steamed Turkmen dumplings over garlic yogurt drizzled with paprika butter at Meyhouse in Palo Alto.
Steamed Turkmen dumplings over garlic yogurt drizzled with paprika butter at Meyhouse in Palo Alto.
Joseph Weaver Photography

25 Essential Peninsula Restaurants

The best places to eat from South San Francisco to Mountain View

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Steamed Turkmen dumplings over garlic yogurt drizzled with paprika butter at Meyhouse in Palo Alto.
| Joseph Weaver Photography

Nestled under San Francisco lies the Bay Area Peninsula, a nearly 30-mile stretch of land between the city and the South Bay Area. The dining options in the region span everything from fine-dining restaurants to takeout spots where diners can grab a quick bite on the go. The lively downtown hubs of cities including San Mateo and Palo Alto make for a rather dynamic dining scene, where visitors can find a seemingly limitless variety of restaurants. Some are tried-and-true eateries that have stood the test of time, while other more recent establishments may lean more contemporary and modern. For those living or venturing south of San Francisco, here are the most compelling places to eat in San Mateo, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Half Moon Bay, and more.

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Taqueria San Bruno

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Taqueria San Bruno is a worthy pitstop located near the San Francisco Airport. The neon green taqueria is hard to miss, and though the building itself may be tiny, the burritos and tacos are quite the opposite: hefty and loaded. The burritos, which are packed with generous heaps of seasoned meat, rice, and beans, often draw big crowds of patrons who are eager to swarm the self-serve salsa bar. Protein options run the gamut, but some of the most beloved choices include grilled shrimp, blackened fish, carne asada, tripas, and spicy chorizo. Fruity agua frescas are a refreshing pairing to the meal. 

Nick's Rockaway

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At the Sea Breeze Motel in Pacifica lies Nick’s Rockaway, a historic casual seafood spot with grand views of the Pacific Ocean. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, the restaurant’s menu is noticeably expansive, offering a large variety of seafood entrees, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and pasta. The prawn cocktails and fried prawns are popular choices among the appetizers, while many customers visit just for the famous grilled crab sandwich, which features Dungeness crab with tomato on grilled Wedemeyer sourdough. The atmosphere is especially lively on Fridays and Saturdays when live music and dancing take over the bar and lounge area. 

New England Lobster Market & Eatery

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New England Lobster Market & Eatery brings the East Coast seafood dining experience to the Bay Area. Though the shop opened as a wholesale shellfish distributor in 1987, it’s since expanded to a restaurant location in Burlingame, which serves an extensive menu of seafood platters, salads, and other fare. All the fish served at the restaurant was caught no more than two days prior. Even with the impressive array of seafood offerings, lobster reigns supreme — the lobster roll, lobster corn chowder soup, and lobster tail platters are the most frequently ordered dishes. 

Ben Tre Restaurant

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Family-owned Ben Tre has made a name for itself for delicious Vietnamese street food on the Peninsula. The restaurant stays true to its name, serving food from the Southern region of Vietnam — the Ben Tre province, from which the family owners originate. The menu is notably expansive, with a range of hearty noodle dishes, soups, rice platters, and appetizers. But Ben Tre is most well-known for five-spice chicken, which is marinated for 48 hours, then baked, deep fried, and grilled. The garlic noodles and pho both make solid pairings with the chicken, though the shaking beef is another enticing option. 

Sushi Yoshizumi

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Sushi Yoshizumi is one of the most coveted reservations in the Bay Area and for good reason. Chef Akira Yoshizumi specializes in the centuries-old Edomae style of sushi from Japan, which refers to a style of food preservation that doesn’t rely on refrigeration. This subsequently affects how cuts of fish are specially cured and how rice is prepared with akazu, an aged red vinegar. Yoshizumi’s intimate omakase experience embodies an unexpected simplicity that lets the fish speak for itself. Though the courses feel more down-to-earth than most other high-end sushi spots, that’s not to say there is a lack of intricacy in Yoshizumi’s work. He hand-selects all of the fish and crafts each course based on seasonal ingredients. 

Pausa Bar & Cookery

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For those looking for a unique variety of pizza and pasta, Pausa has you covered. The restaurant relies on local, organic ingredients while staying true to the Italian craft of pizza making. All of the pasta, bread, and pizza dough are made in-house with flour imported from Italy, in a dedicated “dough room” that guests can peer into. Pausa is also the third restaurant in California that’s licensed to produce its own cured meats, so don’t skip out on the Butcher’s Board, a selection of various salumi cuts. The menu changes seasonally, but some of the consistent favorites are the Margherita pizza and pork sausage ragu.

Backhaus

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With its naturally leavened bread and freshly baked pastries, Backhaus embodies a creative but unpretentious approach to breadmaking. Though it started in a home kitchen, the bakery now cranks out an impressive variety of sourdough loaves baked directly on the stone decks of a bread oven. Most visitors opt for the country or seeded sourdough loaves due to their versatility. For those swinging by for breakfast, the Speck & Egg is an obvious choice — a savory pastry made with a flakey, buttery croissant dough and filled with smokey Italian speck and a jammy egg. Among the sweet pastries, the pistachio raspberry croissant is a standout. It features a house-made raspberry jam and pistachio filling. 

Alana Ippolito

Taishoken Ramen

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As the originator of the Japanese dipping noodle dish known as tsukemen, Taishoken is the real deal. Though the restaurant was founded in 1951 in Japan, this location in San Mateo is the first in the U.S. In demonstrating a commitment to the craft, the noodles at the San Mateo location are made fresh every day in a designated temperature and humidity-controlled room that houses machines imported from Japan. The Tokusei tsukemen is the signature menu item — fresh, cold, thick noodles are served with a rich dipping broth and topped with two cuts of sous vide Berkshire pork and a soft-boiled egg.

Falafelle

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For tasty vegetarian street food, Falafelle is well worth a visit. Though the shop may appear snug and unassuming, this no-frills pick-up counter is known for fluffy pita pockets and falafel balls made from a signature blend of minced garbanzo and fava beans. The top-selling pita pocket comes with five falafel, zesty cabbage, sauerkraut, roasted red peppers, house salad, pickled vegetables, and sumac onions — resulting in a veggie flavor bomb. Another vegan fan-favorite is the Heaven’s Pita Pocket,” stuffed with eggplant, cauliflower, fried potato spheres, hummus, walnut pesto, and sun-dried tomato sauce. The ultra-smooth and creamy hummus is made from dry garbanzo beans that are soaked and slow-cooked each day.  

Town serves a breadth of classic American staples in a homey, woody setting. With locally sourced wood-fired rotisserie chicken, hand-cut steaks, and fresh seafood, the protein-forward entrees take center stage. In fact, the restaurant’s sister company, Rancho Alena Cattle Co., raises purebred Black Angus cattle. This, in turn, results in premium quality steaks and chops — including filet mignon, wagyu flank steak, and bone-in rib eye – which are all seared at 1400 degrees. Weekend brunch is a busy time for Town, during which classic dishes like French toast, egg scrambles, chilaquiles, and chicken and waffles are popular choices.

La Costanera

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La Costanera is a beloved contemporary Peruvian restaurant with a stunning oceanfront location just north of Half Moon Bay. Featuring decor that incorporates thoughtful nods to Peruvian culture, La Costanera blends a breadth of Indigenous, African, European, and Asian influences. Chef Carlos Altamirano, who was raised in southern Peru, marries native Peruvian produce, like choclo and aji panca, with Californian flare to create dishes like pulpo a la parrilla and Scallops Carlitos, a dish made with fresh East Coast scallops topped with corn, nori, and togarashi. Lomo saltado is another wok-fired staple, and the cebiche tasting features a trio of fresh fish. 

Sam's Chowder House

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Sam’s Chowder House is the spot for those in search of homey, New England-style seafood and stunning views. Every seat at Sam’s offers a view of the Pacific Ocean and offers a family-friendly fish house experience. When the restaurant was founded in 2006, it was one of the first to bring lobster rolls to the west coast. Today, the rolls remain the forte, as they’re served with a generous portion of fresh lobster on a soft, brioche bun. The New England clam chowder is also a hit for its light, creamy, and flavorful broth, and the daily fish specials are made with sustainable, locally sourced seafood and seasonal ingredients.

Breakwater Barbecue

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Northern California native Wyatt Fields opened Breakwater Barbecue in his seaside hometown just outside Half Moon Bay in 2020. Three years later, the restaurant has become nationally known for its menu of Texas-style barbecue including slow-smoked brisket with onyx-colored bark and snappy house-made sausages. In 2023, the restaurant earned a nod in the Michelin Guide, which praised dishes including the smoky-spicy chili and sides of potato salad and beans. For a non-barbecue option, try the burger, which sports a “semi-smashed” patty of ground brisket. 

The Refuge (San Carlos)

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Meat lovers, look no further. As an East Coast-style gastropub, The Refuge specializes in hand-carved navel pastrami, Philly-style cheesesteaks, house-ground burgers, and Belgian beer. Since the husband and wife team first opened in San Carlos in 2008, the restaurant has garnered notoriety for its boldly flavored, ultra-tender pastrami, which is the star in the popular Reuben sandwich, the pastrami chopped salad, and the “Toasted Slaw #19” — a special take on coleslaw. Out of their infamous cheesesteaks, the Champ Cheesesteak reigns supreme for its flavorful additions of mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers, and provolone.

With a commitment to locally sourced and organic ingredients, Vesta offers a simple approach to wood-fired pizzas. The family-style menu boasts an assortment of salads, vegetable dishes, and both red and white pies. The arugula salad features a special preserve from Frog Hollow Farms in an apricot vinaigrette dressing, and the mushroom toast features buttery, creamy sauteed mushrooms on grilled bread. The sausage and honey pizza is a medley of sweet and savory with a hint of spice, while the green olive pizza has a distinct burst of flavors from the Castelvetrano green olives, garlic, chili flakes, mozzarella, and pecorino. 

Sushi Shin

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With over 20 years of experience specializing in sushi, chef Jason Zhan opened Sushi Shin in early 2020 as a quaint spot serving premium ocean delicacies. The restaurant, which has since navigated a pandemic and earned a Michelin star, houses just nine seats for an omakase menu, with only two seatings per night. The dining experience is notably intimate but refined, as Zhan prepares and slices an array of fresh fish, shellfish, and seafood in front of guests. With the utmost attention to quality, he sources the fish and crafts the menu each night based on what is prime in the market. 

Dad's Luncheonette

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In a train caboose on Highway 1, Dad’s Luncheonette serves reinvented American roadside classics, made with ingredients that showcase the best of coastal farms in the area. Chef Scott Clark, who comes from the world of fine dining, founded the joint after he felt compelled to craft more simplistic but still delicious bites and move closer to the coast. Aligned with the minimalism of serving fare from a railroad car, there are only two entrees on the menu: a hamburger sandwich and a vegetarian mushroom sandwich. Both come with a soft fried egg, housemade pickled red onions, locally grown lettuce, and a layer of “Dad’s sauce.” The potato chips, which are hand sliced every day, make a worthy side. 

Tamarine

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Tamarine keenly fuses California’s produce with a modern interpretation of Vietnamese cuisine. Started by sisters in 2002, the restaurant has become one of the most renowned in downtown Palo Alto for its refined approach to Southeast Asian flavors. Some of the most popular dishes include the shaking beef — made with filet mignon — as well as the Ha Long Bay Soup, which calls to mind the waters of Vietnam with the incorporation of fresh blue crab. The clay pot cod and the Tamarine prawns are other standout seafood options, while the banh mi roti is a favorite among appetizers. The striking decor of the restaurant even features a contemporary Vietnamese fine art collection. 

BIRD DOG

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Since opening its doors in downtown Palo Alto eight years ago, Bird Dog has remained committed to striking a balance between comfort and adventure — evident through chef Robbie Wilson’s inventive takes on simple, humble ingredients. Many of the restaurant’s dishes, infused with Asian influences, offer a welcome departure from what diners might expect from California cuisine. The wood-grilled avocado with yuzu ponzu brings forth a burst of sweetness, umami, and charred flavor, while the maitake mushroom offers an amalgam of textural elements with its flaky, crispy exterior and a rich, accompanying rosé Béarnaise. The wagyu fillet hits the mark on meat quality, and the chicken thighs encapsulate an elevated take on popcorn chicken. Sophisticated decor and thoughtfully crafted cocktails complete the experience. 

Chef Srijith Gopinathan has been regarded as one of the Bay Area’s top Indian chefs for years and his Palo Alto restaurant Ettan makes it easy to see why. The airy bi-level space makes a stunning backdrop for a menu that exemplifies the best of California Indian cuisine made using seasonal ingredients such as peas, kale, and pear. At the Michelin Guide-listed restaurant, you can order caviar service and local oysters as well as Kerala fried chicken, paneer makhani, and edamame vada. Cocktails also incorporate Southeast Asian flavors such as cardamom and marigold. 

Ettan Patricia Chang

Meyhouse

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Entrepreneur-turned-restaurateur Omer Artun, who was born in Turkey, brought Meyhouse restaurant to Silicon Valley in mid-2023. The restaurant draws inspiration from Turkish meyhanes and serves a lengthy menu of small plates meant to be enjoyed alongside a glass of wine. It’s a seafood-heavy list and many dishes spend time on the restaurant’s wood-fried grill. Don’t miss the lakerda, a salt-cured bonito dish, and the Turkmen mantisi, a plate of tender dumplings served over tangy garlic yogurt drizzled with paprika butter.

Food. Joseph Weaver Photograph

The Village Pub

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Nestled in Woodside, the Village Pub is a fine dining restaurant that serves a prix-fixe menu rooted in French and Mediterranean culinary traditions. It changes based on the season’s offerings and features fresh ingredients from local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and purveyors. Since opening its doors in 2001, The Village Pub has been awarded a Michelin star for 12 consecutive years. Yet, despite its more upscale reputation, the restaurant also houses a more laid-back and casual pub and lounge area, which serves an a la carte menu. The “Pub Burger” — a half-pound of custom blend served atop a house-made English muffin bun with remoulade sauce and turmeric pickles – is a hit.

Zareen's Palo Alto

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Located in the hub of downtown Palo Alto, Zareen’s is a casual spot with eclectic, contemporary decor and a menu of classic Pakistani-Indian dishes. Though founder Zareen Khan first started her business with cooking classes and catered lunches, her restaurants now have locations up the Peninsula. Zareen’s is most notorious for its chicken tikka masala, speciality grilled items like the chicken boti sizzler and the beef chapli kabab sizzlers, and the chicken samosas, which are made from a family recipe. All entrees pair well with a side of hot-out-of-the-oven naan, which come in garlic, sesame and jalapeño-cheese renditions. The creamy mango lassi serves as a refreshing, sweet accompaniment.

Terún was born 10 years ago from a mission to make the best Neopolitan pizza in California. Though the name of the restaurant insinuates a more pejorative term toward people of Southern Italy, the founders wanted to redefine that word — paying homage to their hometown with a classic Italian menu of pasta, steak, fish, cocktails, and a great selection of wines. The wood-fired pizzas are the stars of the show, as they feature imported salsiccia, mozzarella, and tomato sauce, along with the high-quality Farina Petra flour. Customers also frequently order the gnocchi in taleggio cheese sauce, brussel sprouts, rigatoni bolognese, and short rib ravioli. 

Nadia Andreini

Alice's Restaurant

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Located in a cabin among Redwoods trees, Alice’s Restaurant frequently plays host to motorcyclists, hikers, tourists, and locals. It was first constructed in the 1900s as Four Corners, a general store for logging supplies. Decades later, it was transformed into a restaurant named after both the famous Arlo Guthrie song and a previous owner named Alice. Today, the rustic restaurant remains family-owned and operated. Breakfast and lunch on the weekends get quite busy, with customers who rave about the egg scrambles, sandwiches, specialty burgers, and Texas-style BBQ. 

Taqueria San Bruno

Taqueria San Bruno is a worthy pitstop located near the San Francisco Airport. The neon green taqueria is hard to miss, and though the building itself may be tiny, the burritos and tacos are quite the opposite: hefty and loaded. The burritos, which are packed with generous heaps of seasoned meat, rice, and beans, often draw big crowds of patrons who are eager to swarm the self-serve salsa bar. Protein options run the gamut, but some of the most beloved choices include grilled shrimp, blackened fish, carne asada, tripas, and spicy chorizo. Fruity agua frescas are a refreshing pairing to the meal. 

Nick's Rockaway

At the Sea Breeze Motel in Pacifica lies Nick’s Rockaway, a historic casual seafood spot with grand views of the Pacific Ocean. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, the restaurant’s menu is noticeably expansive, offering a large variety of seafood entrees, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and pasta. The prawn cocktails and fried prawns are popular choices among the appetizers, while many customers visit just for the famous grilled crab sandwich, which features Dungeness crab with tomato on grilled Wedemeyer sourdough. The atmosphere is especially lively on Fridays and Saturdays when live music and dancing take over the bar and lounge area. 

New England Lobster Market & Eatery

New England Lobster Market & Eatery brings the East Coast seafood dining experience to the Bay Area. Though the shop opened as a wholesale shellfish distributor in 1987, it’s since expanded to a restaurant location in Burlingame, which serves an extensive menu of seafood platters, salads, and other fare. All the fish served at the restaurant was caught no more than two days prior. Even with the impressive array of seafood offerings, lobster reigns supreme — the lobster roll, lobster corn chowder soup, and lobster tail platters are the most frequently ordered dishes. 

Ben Tre Restaurant

Family-owned Ben Tre has made a name for itself for delicious Vietnamese street food on the Peninsula. The restaurant stays true to its name, serving food from the Southern region of Vietnam — the Ben Tre province, from which the family owners originate. The menu is notably expansive, with a range of hearty noodle dishes, soups, rice platters, and appetizers. But Ben Tre is most well-known for five-spice chicken, which is marinated for 48 hours, then baked, deep fried, and grilled. The garlic noodles and pho both make solid pairings with the chicken, though the shaking beef is another enticing option. 

Sushi Yoshizumi

Sushi Yoshizumi is one of the most coveted reservations in the Bay Area and for good reason. Chef Akira Yoshizumi specializes in the centuries-old Edomae style of sushi from Japan, which refers to a style of food preservation that doesn’t rely on refrigeration. This subsequently affects how cuts of fish are specially cured and how rice is prepared with akazu, an aged red vinegar. Yoshizumi’s intimate omakase experience embodies an unexpected simplicity that lets the fish speak for itself. Though the courses feel more down-to-earth than most other high-end sushi spots, that’s not to say there is a lack of intricacy in Yoshizumi’s work. He hand-selects all of the fish and crafts each course based on seasonal ingredients. 

Pausa Bar & Cookery

For those looking for a unique variety of pizza and pasta, Pausa has you covered. The restaurant relies on local, organic ingredients while staying true to the Italian craft of pizza making. All of the pasta, bread, and pizza dough are made in-house with flour imported from Italy, in a dedicated “dough room” that guests can peer into. Pausa is also the third restaurant in California that’s licensed to produce its own cured meats, so don’t skip out on the Butcher’s Board, a selection of various salumi cuts. The menu changes seasonally, but some of the consistent favorites are the Margherita pizza and pork sausage ragu.

Backhaus

With its naturally leavened bread and freshly baked pastries, Backhaus embodies a creative but unpretentious approach to breadmaking. Though it started in a home kitchen, the bakery now cranks out an impressive variety of sourdough loaves baked directly on the stone decks of a bread oven. Most visitors opt for the country or seeded sourdough loaves due to their versatility. For those swinging by for breakfast, the Speck & Egg is an obvious choice — a savory pastry made with a flakey, buttery croissant dough and filled with smokey Italian speck and a jammy egg. Among the sweet pastries, the pistachio raspberry croissant is a standout. It features a house-made raspberry jam and pistachio filling. 

Alana Ippolito

Taishoken Ramen

As the originator of the Japanese dipping noodle dish known as tsukemen, Taishoken is the real deal. Though the restaurant was founded in 1951 in Japan, this location in San Mateo is the first in the U.S. In demonstrating a commitment to the craft, the noodles at the San Mateo location are made fresh every day in a designated temperature and humidity-controlled room that houses machines imported from Japan. The Tokusei tsukemen is the signature menu item — fresh, cold, thick noodles are served with a rich dipping broth and topped with two cuts of sous vide Berkshire pork and a soft-boiled egg.

Falafelle

For tasty vegetarian street food, Falafelle is well worth a visit. Though the shop may appear snug and unassuming, this no-frills pick-up counter is known for fluffy pita pockets and falafel balls made from a signature blend of minced garbanzo and fava beans. The top-selling pita pocket comes with five falafel, zesty cabbage, sauerkraut, roasted red peppers, house salad, pickled vegetables, and sumac onions — resulting in a veggie flavor bomb. Another vegan fan-favorite is the Heaven’s Pita Pocket,” stuffed with eggplant, cauliflower, fried potato spheres, hummus, walnut pesto, and sun-dried tomato sauce. The ultra-smooth and creamy hummus is made from dry garbanzo beans that are soaked and slow-cooked each day.  

Town

Town serves a breadth of classic American staples in a homey, woody setting. With locally sourced wood-fired rotisserie chicken, hand-cut steaks, and fresh seafood, the protein-forward entrees take center stage. In fact, the restaurant’s sister company, Rancho Alena Cattle Co., raises purebred Black Angus cattle. This, in turn, results in premium quality steaks and chops — including filet mignon, wagyu flank steak, and bone-in rib eye – which are all seared at 1400 degrees. Weekend brunch is a busy time for Town, during which classic dishes like French toast, egg scrambles, chilaquiles, and chicken and waffles are popular choices.

La Costanera

La Costanera is a beloved contemporary Peruvian restaurant with a stunning oceanfront location just north of Half Moon Bay. Featuring decor that incorporates thoughtful nods to Peruvian culture, La Costanera blends a breadth of Indigenous, African, European, and Asian influences. Chef Carlos Altamirano, who was raised in southern Peru, marries native Peruvian produce, like choclo and aji panca, with Californian flare to create dishes like pulpo a la parrilla and Scallops Carlitos, a dish made with fresh East Coast scallops topped with corn, nori, and togarashi. Lomo saltado is another wok-fired staple, and the cebiche tasting features a trio of fresh fish. 

Sam's Chowder House

Sam’s Chowder House is the spot for those in search of homey, New England-style seafood and stunning views. Every seat at Sam’s offers a view of the Pacific Ocean and offers a family-friendly fish house experience. When the restaurant was founded in 2006, it was one of the first to bring lobster rolls to the west coast. Today, the rolls remain the forte, as they’re served with a generous portion of fresh lobster on a soft, brioche bun. The New England clam chowder is also a hit for its light, creamy, and flavorful broth, and the daily fish specials are made with sustainable, locally sourced seafood and seasonal ingredients.

Breakwater Barbecue

Northern California native Wyatt Fields opened Breakwater Barbecue in his seaside hometown just outside Half Moon Bay in 2020. Three years later, the restaurant has become nationally known for its menu of Texas-style barbecue including slow-smoked brisket with onyx-colored bark and snappy house-made sausages. In 2023, the restaurant earned a nod in the Michelin Guide, which praised dishes including the smoky-spicy chili and sides of potato salad and beans. For a non-barbecue option, try the burger, which sports a “semi-smashed” patty of ground brisket. 

The Refuge (San Carlos)

Meat lovers, look no further. As an East Coast-style gastropub, The Refuge specializes in hand-carved navel pastrami, Philly-style cheesesteaks, house-ground burgers, and Belgian beer. Since the husband and wife team first opened in San Carlos in 2008, the restaurant has garnered notoriety for its boldly flavored, ultra-tender pastrami, which is the star in the popular Reuben sandwich, the pastrami chopped salad, and the “Toasted Slaw #19” — a special take on coleslaw. Out of their infamous cheesesteaks, the Champ Cheesesteak reigns supreme for its flavorful additions of mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers, and provolone.

Vesta

With a commitment to locally sourced and organic ingredients, Vesta offers a simple approach to wood-fired pizzas. The family-style menu boasts an assortment of salads, vegetable dishes, and both red and white pies. The arugula salad features a special preserve from Frog Hollow Farms in an apricot vinaigrette dressing, and the mushroom toast features buttery, creamy sauteed mushrooms on grilled bread. The sausage and honey pizza is a medley of sweet and savory with a hint of spice, while the green olive pizza has a distinct burst of flavors from the Castelvetrano green olives, garlic, chili flakes, mozzarella, and pecorino. 

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Sushi Shin

With over 20 years of experience specializing in sushi, chef Jason Zhan opened Sushi Shin in early 2020 as a quaint spot serving premium ocean delicacies. The restaurant, which has since navigated a pandemic and earned a Michelin star, houses just nine seats for an omakase menu, with only two seatings per night. The dining experience is notably intimate but refined, as Zhan prepares and slices an array of fresh fish, shellfish, and seafood in front of guests. With the utmost attention to quality, he sources the fish and crafts the menu each night based on what is prime in the market. 

Dad's Luncheonette

In a train caboose on Highway 1, Dad’s Luncheonette serves reinvented American roadside classics, made with ingredients that showcase the best of coastal farms in the area. Chef Scott Clark, who comes from the world of fine dining, founded the joint after he felt compelled to craft more simplistic but still delicious bites and move closer to the coast. Aligned with the minimalism of serving fare from a railroad car, there are only two entrees on the menu: a hamburger sandwich and a vegetarian mushroom sandwich. Both come with a soft fried egg, housemade pickled red onions, locally grown lettuce, and a layer of “Dad’s sauce.” The potato chips, which are hand sliced every day, make a worthy side. 

Tamarine

Tamarine keenly fuses California’s produce with a modern interpretation of Vietnamese cuisine. Started by sisters in 2002, the restaurant has become one of the most renowned in downtown Palo Alto for its refined approach to Southeast Asian flavors. Some of the most popular dishes include the shaking beef — made with filet mignon — as well as the Ha Long Bay Soup, which calls to mind the waters of Vietnam with the incorporation of fresh blue crab. The clay pot cod and the Tamarine prawns are other standout seafood options, while the banh mi roti is a favorite among appetizers. The striking decor of the restaurant even features a contemporary Vietnamese fine art collection.