Best Ambiance, Bar/Lounge, Latin American Restaurant, Outdoor Dining, Romantic La Bodeguita del Medio
With its Cuban-influenced menu, elegant dining room and heated patio, La Bodeguita del Medio has been a Best Of winner in various categories year after year. The restaurant offers robust meat dishes, fresh seafood, flavorful vegetarian entrees and specialty cocktails inspired by the legendary La Bodeguita in Havana.
What's new: The restaurant hosts Cuban Social Hours "CSH" ("our version of Happy Hour") in its outdoor cantina from 3-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday.
463 S. California Ave., Palo Alto; labodeguita.com; 650-326-7762
Best California Cuisine
Saint Michael's Alley
Originally founded as a coffeehouse with a bohemian vibe when it opened in 1959, Saint Michael's Alley has since developed into a refined restaurant with upscale ambiance and a menu rooted in local, fresh ingredients that includes entrees such as roasted sea bass, red curry roasted duck breast and pan-roasted halibut.
140 Homer Ave., Palo Alto; stmikes.com; 650-326-2530
Best Chinese Restaurant
Since opening in 1970, Chef Chu's specialty dishes, including its homemade potstickers and Beijing duck cooked in a cast-iron Chinese oven, have attracted a who's who list of diners from near and far, including Serena Williams, Steve Young, Justin Bieber and JFK Jr.
What's new: The restaurant has expanded its services to include takeout and no-contact delivery ·
1067 N. San Antonio Road, Los Altos; chefchu.com; 650-948-2696
Best Coffeehouse, Best Solo Dining
With its free Wi-Fi and casual setting, Coupa Cafe is more than a place that serves organic fair-trade coffee and food. Since opening in 2004, the family-owned business has evolved into a landmark destination for entrepreneurs looking for an informal sit down outside the office: The cafe has served as a testing ground for more than 20 products from local startups. (It is even referenced in the 2010 film "The Social Network".) The cafe offers tableside ordering, curbside pickup and outdoor dining.
What's new: "We will keep pedestrian-friendly outdoor dining on Ramona Street that so many of our customers enjoy while taking advantage of our great California weather."
538 Ramona St., Palo Alto; coupacafe.com; 650-322-6872
Best French Restaurant
Left Bank serves classic French dishes, such as onion soup, escargot, and steak frites and mussels in the atmosphere of a true French brasserie. The Menlo Park restaurant's fried-in-duck-fat french fries were named as one of the country's top 15 fries by People magazine in 2014. Every July, the restaurant celebrates Bastille Day with a special menu and entertainment.
635 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park; leftbank.com; 650-473-6543
Best Fusion Restaurant
From ginger-beef pho and wok-flashed rice noodles to steamed wild snapper in banana leaves, Tamarine Restaurant serves thoughtfully crafted Vietnamese cuisine that makes every dish a work of art in this fine dining establishment. Takeout, delivery and indoor and outdoor dining are available.
546 University Ave., Palo Alto; tamarinerestaurant.com; 650-325-8500
Best Indian Restaurant
Zareen's is a Michelin Guide restaurant that serves traditional and fusion-style Pakistani and Indian food, including samosas, kebabs and a Punjabi chicken burger with spicy fries made in small batches around the clock.
365 S. California Ave., Palo Alto; zareensrestaurant.com; 650-600-8438
Best Italian Restaurant
Cafe Pro Bono
With its authentic Italian dishes (grilled polenta, veal piccata, rigatoni mancini), white tablecloths and casual setting, Cafe Pro Bono has been a favorite local dining destination for more than 27 years, even attracting notable guests such as Secretary of State George Shultz and Condoleezza Rice. Dine-in, curbside pickup and delivery are available.
What's new: "Now that the pandemic crisis is mostly behind us, we're hoping to have some wine tastings and special events."
2437 Birch St, Palo Alto; cafeprobono.com; 650-326-1626
Best Kids Menu
After opening in the 1970s, Hobee's quickly evolved into an iconic Silicon Valley chain known for its funky vibe, healthy menu items and ample breakfasts — including its legendary blueberry coffee cake with crumbly streusel topping. The Kids menu, which doubles as a coloring page, includes an array of fun and healthy items, including the cheesy scramble, smiley potatoes, chicken dunkers, fruit dippers and a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. Kids eat free on Wednesdays.
What's new: "We just rolled out out a new menu, and are working with our landlords to create a more inviting patio area for al fresco dining."
4224 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; hobees.com; 650-856-6124
Best Meal Under $20
See Food & Drink, Best Bakery/Desserts
Best Mediterranean Restaurant, Best Restaurant to Splurge
Evvia Estiatorio offers classic Greek dishes in a lively surrounding. The longtime restaurant manages to combine fine dining with comfort as an open kitchen with a wood-burning oven turns out traditional Greek fare. Be prepared to be treated not as a diner but more like a long-lost relative when you walk through the doors.
420 Emerson St., Palo Alto; evvia.net; 650-326-0983
Best Mexican Restaurant
Reposado is much more than tacos and cerveza. The eatery offers specialty dishes like marinated pork that's slowly been braised in banana leaves as well as a fabulous array of appetizers, including a plate of four different street tacos. Full plates come with house-made tortillas and offer inventive twists on vegetables, chicken, seafood, steak, pork and tofu. The restaurant also offers dozens of artisanal tequilas and specialty cocktails. Food is available for pickup and on-site dining.
Best New Restaurant
See Food & Drink, Best New Food/Drink Establishment
Best Seafood Restaurant
The Fish Market
For more than four decades, The Fish Market has been an El Camino Real mainstay serving up traditional fare to satisfy the hardiest of sea-faring souls — fish and chips, dungeness crab cioppino and clam chowder — as well as dishes for the edgier palate. The restaurant also features a retail market showcasing the same fresh seafood served on its menu.
What's new: Jeremy Loomis joined the restaurant as corporate chef in 2021 and introduced new seasonal menu items, such as the Nashville Hot Halibut sandwich, Peruvian-inspired Rockfish Ceviche and Salmon Crudo. He is set to introduce more items to the menu in coming months.
3150 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; thefishmarket.com; 650-493-9188
Sundance The Steakhouse
Sundance The Steakhouse has been a culinary constant in Palo Alto since 1974. The family-owned restaurant exudes old-school charm, both in feel and food. Don't miss the house specialty, prime rib slow roasted for eight hours, or any of the prime-graded steaks. Fresh seafood, chicken or appetizers meet Sundance standards. Wash it all down with your drink of choice at the lively bar.
Staying power: "Our recipe for success is consistency paired with quality at a fair price. We pivoted to takeout and outdoor dining to keep us going through the pandemic. We are now stronger than ever."
1921 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; sundancethesteakhouse.com; 650-312-6798
Best Sunday Brunch
See Food & Drink, Best Breakfast
Best Sushi/Japanese Restaurant
With chefs trained in Japan, Fuki Sushi executes delicately crafted sushi rolls with well-cooked rice and fresh seafood. Entrees include Japanese comfort food like chawanmushi, noodle dishes, sukiyaki, tempura and gluten-free dishes. The restaurant features private tatami rooms and offers takeout and delivery.
What's new: The restaurant recently removed red meat from its menu as part of its longtime focus on sustainability. For decades, it has provided sustainable options, such as offering only biodynamic/sustainably farmed wines that are local and compostable takeout packaging.
4119 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; fukisushi.com; 650-494-9383
Best Thai Restaurant
Lotus Thai Bistro
Lotus Thai Bistro is a family owned and operated restaurant that boasts an impressive lunch and dinner menu with everything from pad thai to crispy duck to pumpkin curry and spicy stir fry to Thai barbecue. In addition to serving patrons in the restaurant, the owners also make monthly meal donations to those in need at the WeHOPE shelter in East Palo Alto.The restaurant is open for indoor and outdoor dining, takeout and catering.
What's new: The restaurant introduced a street food menu that includes many Thai favorites, such as khao soi noodle, crab omelet over rice, barbecue chicken and papaya salad.
425 California Ave, Palo Alto; lotusthaibistro.com; 650-289-0907
Best Vegetarian/Vegan Cuisine
True Food Kitchen
The menu at True Food Kitchen draws from an anti-inflammatory diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, whole grains, seafood, healthy fats and other items, which are sourced locally and regularly rotated on the menu with the seasons.
180 El Camino Real, #1140, Palo Alto; truefoodkitchen.com; 650-272-5157