Eat here: The Fish Market in Palo Alto
Some things don’t change, and that can be a very good thing.
I first devoured grilled halibut, cole slaw and au gratin potatoes at The Fish Market in Palo Alto more than 30 years ago.
The food was excellent then and it remains so. The fish is fresh (the market has its own fishing fleet and processing operation) and quite varied. The menu changes daily, but typically includes such delicacies as poke, sashimi, linguine with clams, skewers of red snapper, crab, lobster and cioppino — and much more.
The preparation of fish, over mesquite grills, is both appetizing and entertaining.
With vintage photos of fish and fisherman adorning the walls, the place is casual and slightly nostalgic.
Small things make a difference here. The basket of warm bread always arrives quickly, accompanied by pats of butter. The Fish Market still offers complimentary boxes of matches to customers. The cole slaw is always crunchy-fresh.
Nearly all seafood outlets offer New England clam chowder, but the Fish Market still offers the Manhattan-style (red) chowder, too. (Dip a buttered slice of bread into the chowder and get ready for some major mouth-bliss.)
Along with the restaurant, there is a fresh fish market for those who’d prefer to take out their oysters, salmon steaks and smoked trout to enjoy at home.
The people behind the Fish Market do something quite difficult offering the freshest seafood day in, day out and making it look easy.
The skinny: Beyond the first location at 3150 El Camino Real, there are locations in Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Diego, San Jose and Del Mar.
Prices: Can change daily. Considering the quality of seafood, prices are reasonable. A recent menu offered red snapper with a choice of two sides for $12.95 to Canadian lobster tail for $43.75.
More information: www.thefishmarket.com.
— Rich Hanner
Eat here: F. McLintocks Saloon and Dining House in Pismo
Where: Located on the hillside of Pismo Beach with a perfect ocean view is F. McLintocks Saloon and Dining House. Set in a ranch-style atmosphere, you can enjoy an authentic Western meal.
What to eat: You may want to come with an appetite because you get a lot of food. You can choose from a variety of steaks, ribs, seafood, burgers or other main dishes. Dinners include family-size servings of onion rings with salsa to start out with; and trail camp beans, garlic bread and ranch fried potatoes with the main course. Dinners are topped off with a choice of an after-dinner liqueur, or sherbet or ice cream.
What I have enjoyed: My family and I have been there four times. I have enjoyed the filet mignon, the barbecue pork ribs and the chicken marsala. The chicken marsala was good, but if you want to take advantage of the family-size side dishes, I recommend sticking with the steaks or ribs.
Unique tidbits about the restaurant: While you wait to be seated, you can view the numerous photos of people who have celebrated special occasions at the restaurant. Once you are seated, be prepared to be entertained while your water is poured. The busboys hold their water jugs up high and pour the water with their arms extended up. It is fascinating to watch them make it into the glass.
Where: 750 Mattie Road in Shell Beach.
More information: 805-773-1892, www.mclintocks.com.
— Pam Bauserman
Eat here: Splash Cafe and El Mirador in Pismo Beach
Whenever my family and I travel to Pismo to get away from the heat of summer, we can’t leave without grabbing a bowl of clam chowder from the Splash Café. There is ALWAYS a line wrapped around the building. Served in a grilled bread bowl, the perfect clam chowder is heaven. For as long as I can remember, my family, including my grandparents, have been migrating to Pismo for decades. I remember always checking out the clam murals that decorate the building and asking when we’d get to eat.
I don’t remember my first experience of tasting the chowder, but I do remember my kids’ first. My daughter is someone who can turn her nose up at any new food. My son is more adventurous. I asked if they wanted a bite. My mistake! My daughter’s eyes grew big and I knew she was in love. My son exclaimed, “That is SO good!”
The kids ate probably 75 percent of my bowl plus their own fish and chips. Now we have to order an extra bowl. My sister even buys frozen chowder to bring home.
Food just seems to taste better the closer you are to the beach. The other place we love to go while in Pismo is El Mirador. Where else can you work up an appetite on the beach and then devour 15 tacos for $10? We had been walking back from the pier, and in the window we read the menu next to the article by Sunset Magazine. It is your basic hole-in-the-wall taqueria, but the tacos are so flavorful. It is a must when visiting Pismo.
Where: Splash Café is located at 197 Pomeroy Ave. in Pismo Beach, and El Mirador is located at 187 Pomeroy St. in Pismo.
More information: Splash (805-773-4653, www.splashcafe.com); El Mirador (805-773-1972).
— Jennifer M. Howell
Eat here: Garden Fresh in Mountain View and Palo Alto
These restaurants have nothing but vegan cuisine. I’ve only eaten at the Mountain View location. The food is delicious, but don’t look for a lot of ambiance.
Not only are all dishes meatless, but you will see posters and brochures on why some celebrities believe you shouldn’t eat meat, dairy products or eggs.
There is tremendous variety, and they taste like the chicken and pork dishes common at many Chinese restaurants. Menu items include veggie beef, veggie chicken, veggie ham, tofu, veggie duck, even veggie steak. There are also a variety of soups and appetizers like potstickers, dumplings, veggie sushi and vegan desserts. The entrees will fill you up.
Prices: All dishes are under $10 at Mountain View; some exceed $10 in Palo Alto.
Where: Garden Fresh has two locations — 1245 W. El Camino Real in Mountain View and 460 Ramona St. in Palo Alto.
More information: www.gardenfresh.us.
— Ross Farrow
Eat here: Yen Du Restaurant in Stockton
Yen Du Restaurant in Stockton is a little hidden gem. You seriously don’t know good Chinese food until you’ve eaten there. The first time I ate there was mine and my husband’s second date. It was then that I discovered sizzling rice soup. I didn’t understand why we were driving to Stockton for Chinese, but now I know, and it is totally worth the drive. Yen Du is probably the cleanest Chinese restaurant I’ve seen, and has some of the best customer service around. The kids ask us to take them at least once a week.
Where: Yen Du Restaurant is located at 702 Porter Ave. No. E in Stockton.
More information: 209-951-3748
— Wendy Brandt