When Paul Taber opened Hobee's in a former Dairy Belle in Mountain View in 1974, his goal was to make friends. Over the years, he ended up creating an iconic Silicon Valley chain known for its funky vibe and ample breakfasts — including its legendary blueberry coffeecake with crumbly streusel topping. Today, Hobee's is operated by a new generation of owners who have carried on Taber's tradition of healthy food. In addition to the restaurant's established menu items, it also serves sandwiches, salads, tacos, smoothies, gluten-free items and meatless burgers (which are half off on "Meatless Mondays"). As the restaurant celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, it's working to incorporate more grain and veggie options on its breakfast menu.
4224 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, 650-856-6124; hobees.com
Runner-up: Bill's Cafe
Teaspoon Palo Alto offers a variety of specialty drink flavors — from toasted marshmallow to a virgin mojito — made with all-natural golden cane sugar. The shop also offers shaved snow desserts that come in flavors like banana.
2675 Middlefield Road, Suite C, Palo Alto, 650- 272-6734; teaspoonlife.com
Runner-up: Boba Guys
No two burgers at The Counter are the same. The popular restaurant on California Avenue puts a premium on letting you custom-build your burger down to the last detail. The possibilities are endless.
369 California Ave., Palo Alto, 650-321-3900; thecounter.com
Runner-up: Gott's Roadside
The variety of burrito options served at Sancho's Taqueria is well worth savoring. The sky's the limit when it comes to portions and ingredients. Choose from 12 different kinds of burritos with eight different meat options, as well as vegetarian fare.
491 Lytton Ave., Palo Alto, 650-322 8226; sanchostaqueria.com
Runner-up: Como Esta
Specializing in deli-style sandwiches that feature the shop's namesake cheeses, as well as its trade-secret original spread, The Village Cheese House Deli serves some of the best sandwiches in Palo Alto.
855 El Camino Real #157, Palo Alto, 650-326-9251; villagecheesehousedeli.com
Runner-up: Driftwood Sandwiches & Deli Market
Tai Pan features an extensive menu that includes more than 80 different kinds of Hong Kong-style dim sum, classic dumplings and specialty rice-noodle rolls all served in an upscale dining room with white-linen table cloths.
560 Waverley St., Palo Alto, 650-329-9168; taipanpaloalto.com
The Market at Edgewood See ProduceRunner-up: Piazza's
Since opening in 2015, Calave has become the place to go for happy hour. The wine bar offers $2 off all wine (including house-made sangria), beer by the glass and select bar bites every day from 4-6 p.m. And the owners plan to add cocktails and spirits to the menu later this year.
299 California Ave., Palo Alto, 650-521-0443; calave.com
Runner-up: Antonio's Nut House
For more than 40 years, Rick's Rather Rich Ice Creamhas been churning out small-batch ice cream handmade daily at the back of the shop. The menu boasts more than 48 flavors, including creations such as coffee molasses chip and rose and white chocolate ginger.
3946 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 650-493-6553; ricksicecream.com
Runner-up: Salt & Straw
Palo Alto Creamery Fountain & Grill is an old-school diner that has been serving shakes since 1923. Everything here is made from scratch, including the 20-plus milkshake flavors on the menu.
566 Emerson St., Palo Alto, 650-323-3131; paloaltocreamery.com
Runner-up: Peninsula Creamery
Featured: New Food/Drink
Salt & Straw
Salt & Straw was born in Oregon but has made a name for itself on the West Coast with creative flavors made in small batches using local, organic ingredients. Each outpost is of the place it's located, so the Palo Alto shop, which opened in November 2018, serves flavors unique to the Bay Area, such as freckled mint chip made with chocolate from San Francisco's TCHO and another flavor made with Cowgirl Creamery's Mt. Tam cheese, Acme Bread and sour cherry jam. In addition to its regular flavors, such as sea salt with caramel ribbons and honey lavender, the shop also rotates in seasonal flavors on a monthly basis."The idea was always to create an ice cream that had a sense of place," said Tyler Malek, who started the company with his cousin Kim Malek in 2011. Palo Alto marks the company's seventh location.
250 University Ave. #110, Palo Alto, 650-656-9224; saltandstraw.com
Runner-up: Shake Shack
With Neapolitan-style pies baked in a wood-fired oven, Terun provides diners a slice of Italy in Palo Alto. The pizzeria offers a virtually endless choice of creative combinations with toppings like burrata, zucchini, grilled eggplant, artichokes and pears.
448 California Ave., Palo Alto, 650-600-8310; terunpizza.com
Runner-up: Pizzeria Delfina
The Market at Edgewood is a family-owned neighborhood market that offers a large variety of hand-selected produce from local farms and producers, as well as baked goods, a diverse meat section and a dedicated cheese specialist.
2170 W Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, 650-665-7590; marketatedgewood.com
Runner-up: California Avenue Farmers' Market
With a menu that includes made-to-order custom salads, Japanese somen noodles, grilled chicken breast, sandwiches and soups, Sprout Cafe proves that healthy fast food does exist.
168 University Ave., Palo Alto, 650-323-7688; cafesprout.com
Inspired by Vietnamese street food, Asian Box offers diners a 100% gluten-free menu with comforting staples like pho and curry chicken, as well as more eclectic options such as caramel catfish.
855 El Camino Real #21, Palo Alto 650-800-7043; asianbox.com
Runner-up: Oren's Hummus
Chocolate? Mango? Vegan? Gluten-free? You can have it all at Fraiche Yogurt. This yogurt shop makes everything from scratch with its very own small-scale dairy plant — pasteurizing its own milk and culturing yogurts.
200 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto, 650-838-9819; fraiche.strikingly.com