With the 100th edition of the Peninsula Foodist newsletter out April 19, we decided to survey our readers on their all-time favorite bite from a Peninsula eatery. The responses offered an array of dishes covering a wide swath of communities, price points and cuisines.
While we’ve featured many of the restaurants readers mentioned in previous coverage, we have written relatively little about these specific dishes before, indicating that there’s always more to explore on the menus of even the most popular local restaurants.
Readers offered a wide range of explanations for why they love these dishes — some prefer salty or citrus flavors, while others described their favorites in terms of textures, using words like tender, fluffy, flaky and crispy to characterize these special menu items. The descriptions made my mouth water and left me eager to try these reader favorites.
Here are your responses, which have been edited for clarity.
Whole fish, Evvia, Palo Alto
Clean, healthy, beautiful and delicious.
Diane Wexler, Portola Valley
Crab pot pie, The Village Bakery, Woodside
Incredibly light puff pastry top and creamy crab below.
Timi B. Most, Menlo Park
Poke appetizer, Saint Michael’s Alley, Palo Alto
Fresh flavors. Tuna plus wasabi and spices with a couple of chips.
Iris Korol, Palo Alto
Cacio e pepe, iTalico (available Wednesdays and Thursdays), Palo Alto
I had always heard about this pasta dish but never tried it. At iTalico they make it tableside in a carved-out Parmesan wheel. Very dramatic and so much fun!
Melinda, Palo Alto
Petrale sole, Mezza Luna, Half Moon Bay
Love white fish and their light lemon sauce. Yum.
Kathryn Murdock, Half Moon Bay
Beef Wellington, La Fontaine, Mountain View
The perfectly medium-rare cut of beef, the crispy pastry, the truffle mashed potatoes, the amazing mushroom gravy ... it is warm and filling and pairs beautifully with a Rutherford Ranch merlot. It is the definition of French comfort food.
Mark, Mountain View
Bianca pizza, Pazzo, San Carlos
I love pizza and it’s my favorite pizza from my favorite pizza place.
Hugo Traeger, Palo Alto
Chinese chicken salad, Chef Chu’s, Los Altos
Perfect ratio of chicken (which is crispy), bite-size lettuce, crunchy noodles and peanuts. The dressing is not very heavy (and) they carefully prep the ingredients. Plus it was my deceased mother’s favorite dish at Chef Chu’s and I will always order it to keep her spirit near.
Mary Gloner, San Jose
Octopus, Evvia, Palo Alto
Grilled to perfection. Salty and tender.
Andrea Carlson, Hillsborough
Carpaccio, Carpaccio’s, Menlo Park
It is the perfect combination of raw beef, onions, capers, mustard and lemon juice.
David Pasta, Palo Alto
Scallion pancakes, China Stix, Santa Clara
Traditional Taiwanese-style scallion pancakes rarely found in the Bay Area! They are soft, fluffy, flavorful and not too greasy.
Kelly Tsai, Los Altos
Honey yuzu scallops, Nobu, Palo Alto
Plump, perfectly cooked scallops, crispy mushroom chips and the best sauce.
Francine Taylor, Redwood City
Blueberry biscuits, Cafe Borrone, Menlo Park
Moist and flaky but not overly sweet.
Linda Seekins, Brisbane
Pork tenderloin with onions, Bistro Vida, Menlo Park
The onions are perfectly cooked, the meat is tender and the sauce is so tasty.
Carine Schneider, Menlo Park
Sweetbreads, The Village Pub, Woodside
Perfectly cooked; melts in your mouth.
Brian S. Higgins, Burlingame
Whole wheat pasta with mushrooms, Donato Enoteca, Redwood City
Lyn Anderson, Redwood City
Chile rellenos caseros, Quinto Sol, Redwood City
This dish is two delicately roasted, queso-filled rellenos served in a scrumptious hominy and potato broth — very unusual and very delicious! What a delight with chips, salsa and a margarita!
Susan Spinrad Esterly, Palo Alto
Birria tacos, San Agus Cocina Urbana & Cocktails, Palo Alto
Wonderful flavors and it melts in your mouth.
Karen White, Palo Alto
Steamed Chilean sea bass with ginger and green onion, Chef Chu’s, Los Altos
Its simplicity demands high-quality ingredients and perfect execution. No one in the area does it this well.
Michael Wolfe, Menlo Park
Ramen, Dohatsuten, Palo Alto
It's hearty, rich and perfect for rainy, stormy weather.
Bozhena Orekhova, Palo Alto
Veggie ramen, Hironori, multiple locations
Great flavors (and) ample variety of veggies!
Doreen Fong, Belmont
Cioppino, Duarte’s Tavern, Pescadero
Incredible melange of the tastes and textures of the sea. Perfectly fresh, perfectly seasoned.
Chris Lunt, Mountain View
Chicken mole enchiladas or a plate of tacos, Taqueria La Cazuela, East Palo Alto
This is peak comfort food for us. When the pandemic hit, we would sign off at the end of the workday on Friday and ride our bikes to Taqueria La Cazuela, then eat our takeout in the backyard, at a local park or at the Oval at Stanford. For those few hours in the fresh air, eating the best Mexican food in town (and the best chips and salsa, too), we could momentarily forget the state of the world and just enjoy delicious food and good (socially distanced) company. We continue to frequent Taqueria La Cazuela on Fridays after work. The staff is always friendly, and the food is consistently fresh and tasty!
Stacy Arevalo, East Palo Alto
Couscous, Bistro Vida, Menlo Park
Real couscous, spicy merguez (sausage), lots of veggies.
Marcel Gani, Atherton
Barbecue pork wonton soup, Chef Kwan's, Menlo Park
The soup is chock-full of wontons, chicken, barbecue pork, veggies and more.
Ruth M Yamawaki, Palo Alto
Mole poblano, Vive Sol, Mountain View
I’ve tried everyone’s mole and theirs is the best!
Dena Hill, Palo Alto
Carbonara pizza, Pizzeria Delfina, Palo Alto and Burlingame
The perfect marriage of crispy/chewy crust to luscious toppings, which don’t get goopy.
Sylvia Tarbell, Los Altos
1 pound bindle of barbecue ribs, La Bodeguita Del Medio, Palo Alto
It starts with the presentation, which consists of multiple plates for your large portion of ribs, the yuca fries and the side of Caribbean slaw. It feels like a production. Then you dig into the meal and find that the meat is mouthwateringly tender as it falls off the bone. The guava barbecue sauce is rich, sweet and tangy. The fried yuca chips with spicy homemade ketchup is a perfect companion, and the slaw with special house aioli helps to balance out the bold flavors of the rest of the meal. La Bodeguita is a favorite restaurant for large friend and family dinners, and the barbecue ribs dish is inextricably tied in my mind to fun and leisurely dinners with good company.
Evan Johnson, Palo Alto
Moules frites, Cuisinett Bistro and Market, San Carlos
Rustic, simple, perfect execution. Reminds me of what can be achieved with strong skills and great ingredients.
Nick Shah, San Carlos
Lamb chops, Evvia, Palo Alto
Love the taste, the quality, the seasonings (and) the lemony potatoes.
Susan G. Block, Palo Alto
Oyako Don, Sumika Grill, Los Altos
The classic Japanese dish is only made here like it is in Japan: exquisitely runny egg yolks mixed with tender chicken meat in the perfect-sized rice bowl.
Vito's Calabrian, Speederia Pizzeria, Redwood City
Great combo of the spicy peppers, sausage, and creamy ricotta cheese. Put a little hot honey on it ... mmm.
Jacob Ballon, Redwood City
Arancini, La Stanza Cucina Italiana, Menlo Park
Crunchy exterior with creamy interior swimming in a delicious tomato sauce.
Patricia Jones, Palo Alto
Beet ravioli with lemon cream sauce, Pasta Moon, Half Moon Bay
The flavor was heavenly and it was beautiful to look at.
Patti A Colevas, Stanford
Gazpacho, Cascal, Mountain View
It is fresh, spicy and delicious.
Barbara Brosh, Mountain View
French onion soup and steak frites, Bistro Vida, Menlo Park
No other restaurant presents this classic as well as Bistro Vida: I feel as though I am in Paris.
Barbara Carroll, Menlo Park
Hamburger, Menlo Tavern in Stanford Park Hotel, Menlo Park
It is very juicy and all components are delicious.
Judith Wolf Harris, Palo Alto
Fish and chips, Dinah's Poolside Restaurant, Palo Alto
The fish is always very fresh tasting. The batter coating is light and crisp, and the chips are excellent.
Ruth King, Palo Alto
Susan’s Downfall, Cafe Pro Bono, Palo Alto
Rich, decadent ravioli.
Tess Byler, Palo Alto
Chicken piccata, Original Joe’s, multiple locations
I have been eating this dish for decades. It’s the perfect combination of perfectly cooked chicken, tangy lemon sauce and briny capers. I love it with creamy mashed potatoes.
Karen Swinehart, Palo Alto
Grandma’s special enchiladas, La Fiesta, Mountain View
It is the ultimate comfort food. Creamy, spicy, perfectly balanced.
Tom Purcell, Mountain View
Khachapuri adjaruli, Bevri, Los Altos and Palo Alto
Boat-shaped cheese bread with butter and an egg. Unusual egg, cheese and bread combination.
John Edwards, Palo Alto
Fiochetti aurora, La Stanza Cucina Italiana, Menlo Park
Pear-stuffed pasta in a creamy sauce. Unusual.
Joy Kosobayashi, Menlo Park
Twice-cooked tofu, Fey Restaurant, Menlo Park
This dish happens to be vegetarian – it might even be vegan – but everyone in our family, veggie or non-veggie, loves it. Silky slabs of tofu are lightly battered and then added to a stir-fry of assertive flavors and textures – bell peppers, cabbage and chilis. We always ask for "less hot" and it is always plenty hot. Tip: It is part of Fey's set vegetarian dinner for four, so if you want a lot of delicious vegetarian food, this is a great way to go. I think we ordered this meal every other week during the height of the pandemic.
Lydia Lee, Menlo Park
Buffalo cauliflower, Timber & Salt, Redwood City
The buffalo cauliflower from Timber & Salt is a mix between traditional fried and tempura fried, managing a crispness and a tenderness that's absolutely magical. I don't know how they do it, but I'm here for it!
It comes coated with enough buffalo hot sauce and some sort of ranch drizzle, achieving buffalo hot wing flavors without the meat. My partner and I can never say no to ordering it when we dine at Timber & Salt, and it always feels like a special treat for us to enjoy. I've had buffalo cauliflower at other eateries and nobody does it quite like Timber & Salt.
Jason Shugars, Redwood City
Garides Skordates, Evvia, Palo Alto
Such incredible flavor! And Evvia is like the Peninsula — understated and not showy but very high quality.
Lauren Lax, Mountain View
Milk bread with sweet potato and brown butter dip, Ethel's Fancy, Palo Alto
It's a creative twist on a nostalgic Japanese bread that sets the tone for the rest of the dishes to come.
Kim Kawamura, Palo Alto
Shoutouts to former eateries:
#DatEggDoe, Nom Burger, Sunnyvale
The way the jalapeños were fried with the egg.
Skipljh To, Mountain View
Pork chop, John Bentley's, Redwood City
Flavorful, moist, nice panko crust.
James G. Ochsner, Redwood City
Omelets, Hearts, Palo Alto
There used to be these amazing omelets from a place called Hearts on California Ave. in Palo Alto (30 years ago). They were to die for. Healthy-ish, customizable, brunch-friendly.
Lara Hoyem, Menlo Park
The Realness 2.0 sandwich, Ace of Sandwiches, Palo Alto
It was the best sandwich in the Bay: perfectly toasted Dutch crunch bread, meat and cheese to veggie ratio was aces. Well-constructed sandwich that didn't fall apart or get soggy. They had an extensive menu but (I) would always return to this sandwich over 13 years. Roast beef, buffalo chicken, bacon, pepper jack, avocado, lettuce (not shredded!), onion, tomato, pickles, mayo, mustard and Cajun sauce.
Eugene O., Menlo Park
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