It's a question I often ask myself, especially in light of the non-stop influx of well-known SF places opening up on the Peninsula. I tend to think not.
In my experience, some of these San Francisco outposts have actually not tasted quite as good down here (Tacolicious, to be exact, was a total letdown when I first went). Maybe I'm picky; a food snob; restaurants have off days. Who knows.
Though the great San Francisco restaurant migration is exciting for Peninsula foodies, present company included, it also leaves one wondering: Will Palo Alto be taken over by these chain transplants? What about the mom and pops, the individual, non-chain, non-franchised, unique and special places? There are plenty of places of that nature in Palo Alto that have been around for years, but few new ones coming into town. (I was pleased to hear about Scoop Microcreamery, an ice cream shop that opened on University Avenue a few weeks ago and is owned by a couple from New Jersey who call themselves "Mr. and Mrs. Scoop." Sidenote: The ice cream is sublime. Get the bourbon with salted caramel.)
Trevor Felch, a local food writer, aired similar thoughts on the SF Weekly's food blog on Monday, Oct. 21. Read his post: When Will Palo Alto's Dining Scene Step Out of S.F.'s Shadow?
His two cents: what Palo Alto lacks, is "small, passionate, chef-owned concepts," which are pushed out/kept away by the "restaurant expansion culture" that has been dominating the city of late. I totally agree.
I'd be interested to hear what others think. What's your take on the Palo Alto food scene? What about Mountain View, Menlo Park, Redwood City? Will Palo Alto (or the Peninsula's) food scene ever compete with San Francisco's? Does it need to?