Farmers Food and Drink | Best Of 2017 | Palo Alto Online |

Food & Drink

Best BBQ: Dan Gordon


For years, this bustling Brooklyn-themed deli on the corner of California Avenue and El Camino Real has been dishing out pastries, cookies, soups, salads and — naturally — bagels to the famished and caffeine-deprived masses of the California Avenue district. With offerings that range from the traditional (sesame, poppy seed and all that jazz) to the somewhat gnarly (Belgian orange chocolate cream cheese anyone?), Izzy's Brooklyn Bagels is a ruckus of flavors, textures and spreads. Strawberry schmear forever!
477 California Ave., Palo Alto, 650-329-0700
Runner-up: House of Bagels


With its French goods and an American twist, Douce France is the place for Francophiles to get their fix. Get a taste of Paris with the bakery's fluffy croissants dripping with chocolate and dusted cinnamon sugar twists. All can rejoice in the gluten-free options, too. This place is perfect if you have some time on your hands and want to relax with a cup of coffee and pain au chocolate.
3855 El Camino Real #104, Palo Alto, 650-322-3601;
Runner-up: Mayfield Bakery & Cafe
Hall of Fame: Prolific Oven (inducted 2016)


Dan Gordon, a Palo Alto name synonymous with the craft beer movement, has returned to his original Gordon Biersch brewery site with a concept that pairs up two food-industry greats that go together better than black lights and velvet posters — Gordon Biersch beer and oak-fired barbecue. With its 750-pound smoker, Dan Gordon's turns out everything from 18-hour smoked brisket and ribs to smoked chicken wings. There are 11 beers on tap, including Gordon Biersch flagship flavors and new Dan Gordon-line brews, as well as an array of hard-to-find whiskeys and local wines. Those feeling nostalgic can order specialty drinks like "Piece of My Heart" and "Midnight Rider" that pay tribute to an earlier era that put Palo Alto on the psychedelic map.
640 Emerson St., Palo Alto, 650-324-1960;
Runner-up: L&L Hawaiian BBQ
Hall of Fame: Armadillo Willy's (inducted: 2015)

Best Breakfast: Hobee's. Manager Jesus Gonzalez showing off Hobee's Blueberry Coffeecake.


"That's breakfast at Hobee's!"
(To the tune of "So Happy Together")
Imagine farm-fresh eggs — there's two
And golden country-style hashbrowns, and orange juice.
That tall blueberry coffeecake? It's really great.
That's breakfast at Hobee's!

Scrambles, smoothies, ommies and bites that delight
served all day long.
Pancakes and that orange-and-cinnamon tea
that's pretty strong.

Is there more? There's always more.
No matter how you eat your grub, there's lots in store:
From gluten-free French toast to food for herbivores.
That's breakfast at Hobee's!
Let's breakfast at Hobee's!
We're happy at Hobee's!
4224 El Camino Real Palo Alto, 650-856-6124;
Runner-up: Bill's Cafe
Hall of Fame: Joanie's Cafe (inducted 2016)


It's not too late to join the "Counter culture." Burger fans who thought that the most classic of American fare was impossible to serve with any new kind of flare are in for a surprise at The Counter, which offers up a burger that's tailor-made just for you. Virtually any kind of combination is available for even the most eccentric of appetites. You want organic bison? Done. Vegan Veggie? They have that, too. No bun? No problem. And maybe you'd like to try some grilled Anaheim chiles and corn and black bean salsa on your burger, just because you're curious. You can let your creative flag fly here. The Counter also offers shakes, malts, floats and kids' meals.
369 California Ave., Palo Alto, 650-321-3900;
Runner-up: Gott's Roadside

Best Burgers: The Counter.


Need to satisfy your burrito craving, pronto? Head over to Sancho's Taqueria, where the lines run fast, even during lunchtime. You can choose a super burrito that has the typical stuffings you'd find at other taquerias such as rice, beans, cheese and your choice of meat. But if you're feeling like a "Wild Thing," order a Super Surf & Turf (stuffed with carne asada and prawns) or a California Burrito (loaded with french fries and the works). One Yelp reviewer wrote that "their super burritos will knock you out if you finish the whole thing," and another equated them to the size of their face.
491 Lytton Ave., Palo Alto, 650-322-8226; 2723 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 650-324-8226;
Runner-up: LuLu's at Town & Country Village


Man, you just can't miss with the wicked sandwiches at Driftwood Deli & Market. People beat their feet to this El Camino Real lunch spot. Piled-high Rubens; barbecued beef; smoked salmon and vegetarian, plus all of the classics. When's the last time you saw liverwurst on a California menu? It's happenin' here, and it won't cost a lot of scratch. Serving Barron Park for more than 50 years, it's boss!
3450 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, 650-493-4162;
Runner-up: Ada's Cafe

Dim Sum

Serenity and sophistication await at Tai Pan, the downtown dim sum palace with white-linen table cloths and an extensive menu. Among the more than 80 different kinds of Hong Kong-style dim sum (translated as "to touch the heart") are classic dumplings ("siu mai") and specialty rice-noodle rolls ("chee cheong fun") as well as dishes that appeal to a certain palate (chicken feet in black bean sauce). According to the restaurant's owners, a "tai pan" is an individual who excels above all others in their field — and through thoughtful preparation and presentation, that's exactly how they strive to treat all of their patrons.
560 Waverley St., Palo Alto, 650-329-9168;
Runner-up: Steam

Best Grocery Store: Piazza's Fine Foods

Grocery Store

The Midpeninsula has a variety of grocery-shopping options to suit every taste, but Piazza's Fine Foods has been named the cream of the crop. With its delicious deli, old-fashioned market feel (still owned and operated by the Piazza family, whose patriarch modeled the store after those he used to love in his homeland of Sicily) and high-quality food choices, it's no wonder why shoppers love it. What's more, this family market supported eco-friendly practices more than two decades before San Francisco's first hippie even thought about hugging a tree. Piazza's supports the dietary desires of their customers by supplying plenty of organic, Kosher and gluten-free options and promoting healthy eating. After all, the motto is ""Chi mangia bene, vive bene!" (He/she who eats well, lives well).
3922 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 650-494-1629;
Runner-up: Sigona's Farmers Market

Best Happy Hour: Calave

Happy Hour

There's a glass of wine (or beer) for everyone at Calave — and at even better prices during happy hour, Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. Grab a seat outside in the sun, order a wine flight, cheese and charcuterie plate (or an adult grilled cheese with white cheddar and caramelized onions) and settle in and mellow out. The wine bar, which opened in 2015, occupies the site once home to Palo Alto's Mayfield Brewery, which operated from about 1868 until it was shut down during Prohibition.
299 California Ave., Palo Alto, 650-521-0443;
Runner-up: Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

Best Ice Cream/Gelato: Tin Pot Creamery

Ice Cream/Gelato

Tin Pot Creamery continues to churn out some of the best ice cream in town, and that's evidenced by its growth. What started as an ice-cream-of-the-month club eventually grew into owner Becky Sunseri's first scoop shop at Town & Country Village in 2014, and later locations in Los Altos and Campbell (with another in San Mateo on the way). Expect creamy, luscious ice cream flavors that draw on seasonal ingredients. With flavors like Earl Grey, Four Barrel Coffee, Cookie Monster and Sweet Cream with Honey Balsamic, it's easy to chill out here.
855 El Camino Real #121, Palo Alto, 650-327-1715;
Runner-up: Rick's Ice Cream


Santana had already gained legendary status at this downtown hangout four decades before the first Be-In ever took place. We're talking about John Santana — not Carlos — the co-founder of the Peninsula Creamery Dairy Store & Grill where milkshakes are still made in metal cans, the old-fashioned way. For more than 85 years, the Santana family has overseen operations, making sure everything on the menu is made from the highest-quality dairy products. This old-fashioned diner serves everything from ice cream sundaes, banana splits and mint-chip shakes to about 20 different flavors of ice cream and a variety of burgers and sandwiches.
900 High St., Palo Alto, 650-323-3175;
Runner-up: Palo Alto Creamery Fountain & Grill

New Food/Drink Establishment

If you're looking for a far out lunch spot to take a chick, then Lemonade is for you. Not only are the wide varieties of lemonade a hit, but be sure to sample their salads, sandwiches and other hot foods. Modeled on the cafeteria-style flow, with no guidelines or entree sizes, you can pick and choose anything you'd like. Take a seat in their indoor atrium with a view of the outdoors, or head out into the warm sunshine to enjoy your meal.
151 University Ave., Palo Alto 650-524-5028;
Runner-up: Vina Enoteca

Best Pizza: Terún


Terún is the place to free your mind and experience pizza as you like it. This Palo Alto pizzeria offers diners a virtually endless choice of creative combinations with toppings like burrata, zucchini, grilled eggplant, artichokes and pears. With its sleek black-and-white interior decor and its outdoor courtyard seating, Terún is both elegant and casual, with space for a quiet, intimate dinner or a larger group gathering in the covered patio outside. And its wood-fired pizza is perfect for all occasions and times of day, simply because it's delicious. Its pizza is authentic to southern Italy and is fired in a Marra Forni Neapolitan oven.
448 California Ave., Palo Alto, 650-800-8310;
Runner-up: Howie's Artisan Pizza


Few pleasures are greater on a summer morning than strolling over to an open-air market, gazing upon the bounty of fresh, colorful fruits and veggies and making a selection. Perhaps taking a bite of a juicy nectarine or a succulent strawberry as you bask in the sun? It's more than grocery shopping, it's a far-out experience, and the California Avenue Farmer's Market is Weekly readers' favorite way to source their produce. And it doesn't even have to be summer. Unlike some local farmers markets (I'm looking at you, Redwood City), the Cal Ave market is open year 'round, rain or shine. Delicious.
California Avenue (to El Camino), Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.;
Runner-up: Sigona's Farmers Market


You don't have to live in a commune in the mountains to enjoy locally grown, fresh food from the land. Fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen combines a Chipotle service model with farm-to-table sensibilities. The result is quick, but high-quality, salads made from ingredients sourced directly from local farmers. Sweetgreen offers its own salad and warm grain bowl combinations (the menu changes with the seasons), or customers can create their own. The Palo Alto location does not take cash.
581 Ramona St. #120, Palo Alto; 415-212-7385;
Runner-up: Pluto's
Hall of Fame: Sprout Cafe (inducted 2016)


You'll feel the love as soon as you enter Asian Box and get confronted with shouts: "Welcome to the Box!" But while the friendly vibe is a bonus, it's the restaurant's mouthwatering offerings that keep loyal patrons coming back for more. Inspired by Asian street cuisine, this tiny Town & Country treasure allows diners to either craft their own boxes or choose from a menu of "signature boxes" — with a list of ingredients that includes lemongrass-marinated pork, coconut-curry tofu, lime-basil tossed shrimp. Throw in some Asian street dust (the restaurant's special spice mix) and enjoy the trip.
855 El Camino Real #21, Palo Alto, 650-391-9305;
Runner-up: Sancho's Taqueria
Hall of Fame: Su Hong (inducted 2015)

Best Yogurt: Fraiche Yogurt. Pictured (left to right) Cristian Valverde, Jennifer Maltz (Owner), Sandra Lopez, Leela Srinivasan and Mary Katherine Glen.


Looking to indulge but still feel healthy? Get your sweet on at Fraiche Yogurt. This yogurt and frozen yogurt is an organic fix for a summer (or winter's) day. Ask for chocolate toppings, and an employee will shave fresh shards from a giant block of chocolate in front of you. Not a fan of chocolate? There are plenty of other toppings: fresh fruit of all varieties, ginger cookies and even homemade mochi. With local, fresh and even vegan options, Fraiche is a hipper and healthier way to dessert in downtown.
200 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto, 650-838-9819;
Runner-up: Yogurtland