Now Playing

The Best of the South Bay 2017

Totes from Morocco, wine on a ridge, and burgers on a caboose: Even Silicon Valley knows how to unplug.

SLIDESHOW

Dad’s Luncheonette.

Photo: Courtesy of Dad’s Luncheonette.

(1 of 3)

Devan Vincent.

Photo: Courtesy of Devan Vincent.

(2 of 3)

Ridge Vineyards.

Photo: Courtesy of Ridge Vineyards.

(3 of 3)

Read more Best of San Francisco 2017 here.


EAT

Bread: Mayfield Bakery
Town & Country Village, 855 El Camino Real (near Embarcadero Rd.), Palo Alto, 650-853-9201
Even in Silicon Valley’s booming artisanal bread scene, Mayfield stands out. The amped-up flavor of the baguettes, loaves, and rolls comes from slow-proofing—letting the dough rest for at least 24 hours. While it’s tough to pick one item here, the sourdough round studded with cranberries ($4.25), with its chewy bite and distinctive tang, deserves a shout-out.
Runner-up: Manresa Bread, Los Altos

Beer Garden: Ludwig’s German Table
261 N. 2nd St. (at Devine St.), San Jose, 408-771-9871
This biergarten is so legit, it’s located right inside San Jose’s Germania Hall. Dine in the 1890s Victorian or hunker down at a beer bench and order a bratwurst ($12) or a jäger schnitzel made with organic pork loin ($11.50). All well worth raising your stein for.
Runner-up: Gourmet Haus Stadt, Redwood City 

Power Lunch: Madera
Rosewood Sand Hill, 2825 Sand Hill Rd., Menlo Park, 650-561-1540
You’ll know them by the UberBlacks piling up at the curb: The tech elite flock to Michelin-starred Madera for lunch. Chef Reylon Agustin recently took the reins in the kitchen, where local ingredients remain a focus, and his offerings revolve around the wood-fired grill and hearth: See the Liberty Farms roasted duck ($34) and the Sand Hill burger ($20).
Runner-up: the Village Pub, Woodside

Space-Age Ice Cream: Scoop Microcreamery
203 University Ave. (at Emerson St.), Palo Alto, 650-323-1203
Mom-and-pop shop Scoop makes small batches of ice cream by flash freezing with liquid nitrogen (which locks in an extra-creamy texture). Sure, it has chocolate, but the more idiosyncratic options—saffron, Hella Nutella—really delight. The shop even makes its own vanilla extract, which takes a star turn in the bourbon vanilla with salted-caramel swirl.
Runner-up: Smitten Ice Cream, San Jose 

Non-Meat Burger: Vina Enoteca
700 Welch Rd. (near Quarry Rd.), Palo Alto, 650-646-3477
At lunchtime, Vina Enoteca serves a pair of faux-beef Impossible Burger vegan sliders, which come deliciously crisp-edged and layered with sun-dried tomatoes, cavolo nero, and sun-dried-tomato mayo ($16). In lieu of fries comes a stack of marble potatoes and caper salt. If this is the future of food, it’s going to taste mighty fine.
Runner-up: Veggie Grill, multiple locations

Hidden Gem: Tapas Tokki
1998 Homestead Rd. (at Scott Blvd.), No. 113, Santa Clara, 408-216-9805
Morimoto alum Jin Jeong dishes out Korean tapas with Japanese and Italian influences. Halibut sashimi with fresh mozzarella and marinated tomatoes? Elsewhere, it might be a no-no; here, it’s a signature dish ($13). Another riff on an Italian classic features clams with ramen and a soft-poached egg ($17). It’s enough to make you forget you’re dining in the side alley of a strip mall.
Runner-up: Kumino, Mountain View

Roadside Stop: Dad’s Luncheonette
225 Cabrillo Hwy. S. (near Kelly Ave.), Half Moon Bay, 650-560-9832
From their kitchen inside a historic caboose, Saison alum Scott Clark and his girlfriend, Beacon Coffee & Pantry co-owner Alexis Liu, do wonders with both burgers ($12) and veggies (the $11 mushroom sandwich with egg and cheese on grilled bread is a revelation). A word to the hungry: Dad’s has been known to run out of food early, so plan your arrival with train-schedule precision.
Runner-up: Alice’s Restaurant, Woodside

Splurge: Hiroshi
328 Main St. (near 2nd St.), Los Altos, 650-332-8332
Think of this as your own private restaurant. Chef Hiroshi Kimura treats you and your group of eight to 8 to 10 courses tailored to your cravings (from $395 per person). His specialty: well-marbled Wagyu beef and seafood from Japan. The dining room—anchored by a 16-foot table cut from an 800-year-old Japanese zelkova tree—is as exquisite as the fare.
Runner-up: Baumé, Palo Alto

Craft Cocktails: Jack Rose Libation House
18840 Saratoga Los Gatos Rd. (near Austin Way), Los Gatos, 408-395-3500
Jack Rose gets the details right, from cocktails with housemade syrups to the rustic-chic decor (think birds fashioned from book pages). Order up a literary-themed highball—the eponymous drink ($12) is a hat tip to the applejack cocktail in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises—or a summery Jackelope ($14), with Nolet’s gin, fresh cantaloupe, lemon, and agave. The patio beer garden is the perfect place to kick back in sunny weather. Bonus: Dogs are welcome.
Runner-up: Haberdasher, San Jose 

SHOP

Candy Store: Lolli and Pops
35 N. Santa Cruz Ave. (near Elm St.), Los Gatos, 408-395-5200
At this South Bay answer to Willy Wonka, the gummy bear selection alone is stupendous (novelty flavors range from ripe mango to sparkling rosé champagne). There are sections devoted to the sweet and spicy (among them Sriracha and Tabasco treats), candies from Mexico and Japan, and so many categories you’ve never considered (like “toxic waste,” which includes a thing called Smog Balls).
Runner-up: Rocket Fizz, multiple locations

Women’s Boutique: Angela
1129 Chestnut St. (near Santa Cruz Ave.), Menlo Park, 650-323-7410
Proprietor Angela Hensler stocks classics with a twist sourced from European and American designers. Her racks are filled with labels you probably haven’t heard of, such as Dorothee Schumacher, Peter Cohen, and Herno—half the fun of browsing here. Hensler buys a limited quantity of the styles she carries, so whatever you purchase feels that much more special.
Runner-up: Cielo, Palo Alto

Bespoke Menswear: Devan Vincent
1375 Burlingame Ave. (at Primrose Rd.), Ste. 202B, Burlingame, 650-539-8920
When another hoodie ensemble just won’t cut it, Devan Vincent Rosdahl is your guy. He offers made-to-measure and bespoke service from his by-appointment Burlingame showroom. To round out your snappy look, he recently launched a line of footwear—dress shoes, tailored boots, and leather sneakers—all custom-made by hand in Spain.
Runner-up: Franco Másoma, San Jose and surrounding areas

Toy Store: Cheeky Monkey Toys
640 Santa Cruz Ave. (near El Camino Real), Menlo Park, 650-328-7975
For analog toys that stand a chance against the iPad, look no further than Cheeky Monkey’s stock of musical instruments, costumes, puzzles, Legos, puppets, and water and sand toys. There’s so much good stuff that if you’re pressed for time, you’re best off asking the über-friendly staff for help. Regular story times, crafting workshops, and special events have made this more than a toy emporium: It’s a gathering place.
Runner-up: Ambassador Toys, Palo Alto 

Gifts: Emily Joubert
3036 Woodside Rd. (at Cañada Rd.), Woodside, 650-851-3520 
Through her extensive travels and eye for local talent, owner Judy Sieber has built a boutique with a selection you won’t find anywhere else. There are baby items by Germany’s Litolff (from $127); pom-pom-adorned straw totes from Morocco ($65); Marie Michielssen–designed paper vases, inspired by 19th-century pieces; and a Portola Valley–based line of artisanal salts. And that’s just inside. Outside you’ll find vibrant Fermob furniture, Tissage de Luz striped cushions ($58), and all manner of planters.
Runner-up: Ladera Garden & Gifts, Portola Valley 

Bookstore: Kepler’s Books
1010 El Camino Real (near Ravenswood Ave.), Menlo Park, 650-324-4321
There’s always something magical about an indie neighborhood bookstore. Kepler’s has been winning hearts and minds for 60-plus years; many local bibliophiles recall going as youngsters, and they carry on the tradition of perusing and playing among the shelves with their own kids now. Nostalgia aside, the staff and in-store programming are excellent. Flip through the staff recs (they truly know their stuff) or queue up for one of the popular author events, which have brought everyone from Alton Brown to Chelsea Clinton.
Runner-up: Books Inc., multiple locations

PLAY

Alfresco Art: Stanford University
arts.stanford.edu
Where else can you see a massive Ellsworth Kelly along with David Byrne’s bike racks and a slew of Rodins? Stanford’s handy online map points out everything from Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone River—made of sandstone from campus buildings lost in the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes—to the four figures of George Segal’s Gay Liberation sculpture, leaning into one another with easygoing intimacy.
Runner-up: Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Woodside 

Concert Series: Music on the Square
Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway (at Hamilton St.), Redwood City, redwoodcityevents.com
Music on the Square’s free Friday-night shows draw crowds with a diverse lineup (everything from Beatles and Michael Jackson covers to soul). But it’s as much about the socializing and the energy of the crowd as it is about who’s onstage. Come with a picnic or take advantage of the restaurants near the square. (Get a pizza from Vesta!)
Runner-up: Jazz on the Plazz, Los Gatos 

Winery with a View: Ridge Vineyards
17100 Monte Bello Rd. (off Stevens Canyon Rd.), Cupertino, 408-867-3233
Head into the Santa Cruz Mountains for a tasting ($10 to $55) of some of America’s best cabernet sauvignon. The incredible vistas of the Santa Clara Valley are reason enough to traverse the narrow and windy road (one that’s shared with cyclists). Pack a picnic, pick up a bottle of Ridge, and stake out a table with a view.
Runner-up: Thomas Fogarty, Woodside

Pop-Up Party: Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company
935 Washington St. (near Bayport Ave.), San Carlos, 650-592-2739
Beer Garden Friday goes down weekly from 4 to 10 p.m., bringing food trucks and live music to craft beer standby Devil’s Canyon. On the last Friday of every month, it’s a big blowout: The party lasts until 11 p.m. and features extra food trucks and entertainment. And for the kiddos, there’s Devil’s Canyon root beer.
Runner-up: Taylor Street + Night Market, San Jose 

HELP

Cut and Shave: Shane’s Barbershop & Shave Parlour
302 E. 5th Ave. (near S. Railroad Ave.), San Mateo, 650-347-3762
From the moment you settle into one of Shane Nesbitt’s vintage chairs, surrounded by walls covered in skate decks and art, you’ll know that you’re in good hands. Nesbitt runs a full-service shop—haircut, mustache or beard trim, hot shave with a straight razor—emphasis on the word service. Although the official opening hour is 5:30 a.m., Nesbitt has been known to accommodate special requests in the middle of the night.
Runner-up: Crewners, San Jose

Library: Portola Valley Library
765 Portola Rd. (near Farm Rd.), Portola Valley, 650-851-0560
Sizewise, this modernist library isn’t especially grand, but design-wise, it’s hard to beat. Read or work beneath the wood-slatted ceilings, lounge in the light-filled reading areas, or reserve a 3-D printer. On the patio, revel in views of the redwoods (and don’t worry, the Wi-Fi is still strong outside).
Runner-up: Los Gatos Library

Coworking Space: HanaHaus
456 University Ave. (near Kipling St.), Palo Alto, 650-326-1263
Situated in a 1920s-era former movie house, HanaHaus does double duty as a coffee shop and an office away from home: Hang in the public area and sip Blue Bottle coffee, or pay to use the coworking space (from $3 an hour), where options like whiteboards and meeting rooms are at your disposal. Bonus for commitmentphobes: no membership required.
Runner-up: Spaces by Santana Row, San Jose

Hands-on Classes: TechShop
2415 Bay Rd. (near Douglas Ave.), Redwood City, 650-521-9027
You can hone analog skills like knitting and woodworking at TechShop, but the high-tech courses are the real draw here. Want to laser-cut your name in acrylic or leather? Go for it. You don’t need a membership to enroll, but you do need one (from $150) to reserve time with the machines. Tinker away!
Runner-up: the City of Palo Alto’s Enjoy! program 

Boutique Hotel: The Epiphany Hotel
180 Hamilton Ave. (at Emerson St.), Palo Alto, 650-666-3311
With Stanford minutes away—as well as Pace Gallery, the farmers’ market, and myriad shops and restaurants within walking distance—the Epiphany is an ideal spot to put up out-of-towners. Guests can expect contemporary decor and tech-savvy accommodations like the Revo SuperConnect Internet radio.
Runner-up: Enchanté Boutique Hotel, Los Altos

 

Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco

Have feedback? Email us at letterssf@sanfranmag.com
Follow us on Twitter
@sanfranmag