Summer restaurant openings abound

A roundup of what's new in food and drink on the Midpeninsula

Ivan Chavez prepares a latte at Verve Coffee Roasters in Palo Alto on June 18, 2019. Photo by Sinead Chang.

Looking for something new? From vegan fare and organic wine to pho, sushi and pupusas, there are a lot of new places on the Midpeninsula to tempt you. Read on for our roundup of recent openings.

Verve Coffee Roasters, Palo Alto

Verve Coffee Roasters is opening its first Peninsula location this Friday, June 21, at 162 University Ave. in downtown Palo Alto. Verve's coffee is sourced directly from farmers all over the world and roasted in Santa Cruz. The new cafe will have all of the company's typical coffee offerings, plus pastries from Manresa Bread and food like avocado toast, chia seed pudding and a breakfast sandwich. The light-filled, 1,400-square-foot Palo Alto cafe is meant to evoke an Eichler home, with floor-to-ceiling windows, an open floor plan, angular lines and flow between the inside and a large outside patio.

Pizz'a Chicago, Palo Alto

Deep-dish pizza fans, say farewell to the longtime location of Palo Alto's Pizz'a Chicago next week -- and say hello to its new home just down El Camino Real. A three-story mixed-use project has been proposed for the site of the existing 4115 El Camino Real restaurant, so owner Juan Lorenz has moved to 2305 El Camino Real. He plans to close the current location on Monday or Tuesday and open the new one mid- or late-week.

Salvaje, Palo Alto

Natural, small-production wines from France to Chile, Sonoma to the Willamette Valley are on the menu at Salvaje in Palo Alto, the city's first dedicated natural wine bar. Salvaje officially opened to the public on Wednesday at 369 Lytton Ave. The wine bar is a passion project for Kasim Syed, owner of Palo Alto Brewing Co., The Rose and Crown and the Tap Room in Palo Alto and QBB in Mountain View, and his wife Guldem Tanyeri Syed, who love drinking natural wine and wanted to bring it to the Peninsula. Salvaje, which means "wild" in Spanish, offers an ample selection of bubbly, orange, white and red wines by the glass and bottle, as well as snack food like a vegan katsu bao and a potato waffle with crème fraîche, smoked salmon and roe.

Daigo, Palo Alto

The owner of Daigo Sushi in San Francisco has officially expanded south with a new location at 2363 Birch St. in Palo Alto. The dinner menu includes traditional Japanese appetizers, nigiri, sashimi, maki and hand rolls. Omakase is also available, as are daily nigiri and sashimi specials from Japan. At lunch, the restaurant serves donburi and teishoku, a Japanese meal set.

Pupusas El Torogoz, East Palo Alto

This new East Palo Alto food truck, run by two sisters from El Salvador, serves a small menu, with most items less than $3. There are pupusas with cheese, beans, and pork as filling options, plus quesadillas, tamales, tacos -- and hot dogs. The truck is located at 1885 Bay Road and is closed on Sundays.

Crawfish Bros, Mountain View

Throw on a bib and dig into a bag of crawfish at Crawfish Bros at 124 Castro St. in downtown Mountain View. Customers have their pick of crawfish, clams, shrimps, mussels, crab and lobster, which can be made with different sauces (cajun, "torpedo," lemon pepper and garlic butter) and at three spice levels (mild, hot and screaming). If you're feeling ambitious, there's the "ultimate combo," with 3 pounds of crawfish, 3 pounds of head-on shrimp, 1 pound of half-shell mussels and 1 pound of clams with sausage, corn and potatoes for $100.

HeyOEats, Mountain View

The recent surge of companies that make plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products, including the locally founded Impossible Foods, have transformed vegan cooking and eating. For evidence of that, look no further than the 100% vegan menu at the newly opened HeyOEats in Mountain View: vegan beer cheese with pretzels, a vegan Reuben sandwich and biscuits topped with a mushroom and Beyond Meat sausage gravy. HeyOEats is located inside Ava's Market at 340 Castro St.

Menlo Tavern, Menlo Park

What was once Menlo Grill reopened in March with a new name, chef and menu at the Stanford Park Hotel at 100 El Camino Real in Menlo Park. General Manager Patrick Lane said in a previous interview that he decided to run the restaurant as its own business separate from the hotel, which prompted the revamp. Now Menlo Tavern, the updated menu skews toward American comfort food, like skillet cornbread, deviled eggs, cast iron-seared salmon, burgers (including a meatless Impossible Burger), pasta, roasted chicken and filet mignon.

Pho Cabin, Los Altos

Pho Cabin, a traditional Vietnamese restaurant, opened in late April at 200 State St. in Los Altos. Owner Doan Tran is Vietnamese and has worked in restaurants since he was 20 years old. Pho Cabin serves typical Vietnamese fare -- pho, banh mi, rice plates, spring rolls -- but Tran wants to specialize in pho and vermicelli.

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5 people like this
Posted by Dale
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2019 at 6:14 pm

Perhaps I missed it, but has Mike's Cafe reopened?

1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 20, 2019 at 11:02 pm

Mike's rated a whole separate article, also by Elena. -- Web Link

1 person likes this
Posted by midtowngirl
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2019 at 9:07 am

in reply to dale,
mikes was supposed to have opened on thursday june 20.
have not been by to confirm this, but was told by mike's awesome waitstaff at portola kitchen (his other restaurant)last week.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2019 at 9:18 am

South Palo Alto has a dearth of restaurants, particularly for dinner. Bill's would have been a great place for an all day restaurant but the fact that it closes at 3 pm is a big bummer. It is good to have Mike's back. Most of the other places, while the food being good, is not somewhere to go out for dinner where you can sit and be served at the end of a busy day.

I can get excellent take out on my way home, or I can drive to Castro Street or University Avenue. However, that involves the problem of parking and to some extent worrying about whether the car is going to be broken into even if there are no valuables inside it.

I don't think I can be the only one who wants to be able to have a reasonable meal in a reasonable priced restaurant served in a reasonable fashion within a reasonable distance from where I live.

Welcome back Mike and Bill, please consider offering an evening opening.

4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2019 at 9:43 am

fyi - there are many good, reasonably priced, restaurants with easy parking along California Ave and El Camino Real. No need to deal with the traffic jams along University Ave or Castro Street.

2 people like this
Posted by Yum
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 21, 2019 at 11:25 am

Or even better, just ride your bike and leave your car at home.

I can pretty much guarantee you will get there faster on a bike if the distance is under 5 miles. Traffic is redic anymore and the bike infrastructure is getting pretty darn good. I can't remember the last time I drive to dinner at any of our area "downtowns". Parking is horrid and you burn off your beers/wine/dessert while biking:).

Like this comment
Posted by Gluttony Is A Sin
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2019 at 11:32 am

Do Palo Altans think about anything else besides eating out?

Or are these dining establishments primarily geared towards out of town visitors and business travelers?

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