Shop Talk | August 13, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - August 13, 2010

Shop Talk

by Daryl Savage

OAXACAN KITCHEN CLOSING ... The popular Mexican eatery near California Avenue in Palo Alto is calling it quits. It was a good two-year run for Ron and Zaida Kent, owners of Oaxacan Kitchen at 2323 Birch St. The Kents' main focus will now be on farmers markets and expanding into the wholesale business. "We're in six different farmers markets right now and we'll be moving into a commercial kitchen," Kent said. Ironically, Oaxacan Kitchen is reviewed in the August issue of San Francisco Magazine. It noted the restaurant's 23-ingredient mole sauce and its thick hot-chocolate dessert drink. Oaxacan Kitchen plans to serve its last meal in early September and a new restaurant, Birch Street Mediterranean, is slated take its place.

JUST A BLOW-DRY, PLEASE ... This is not just a lot of hot air, but the latest hair sensation is coming to Palo Alto, says Los Altos resident Rosemary Camposano, who is poised to open Halo, A Blow-Dry Bar. "For the last 10 years, I've been living in South and Central America and nobody there would ever think of drying their own hair. Blow-dry bars are everywhere, sometimes three in one block. It's a cultural thing," Camposano said. So is Palo Alto ready for this cultural phenomenon? "Absolutely. Blow-dry bars are loud and they're fun. ... No appointments — you just walk in and there's a cacophony of blow dryers and talking women and it's a very social 30 minutes. It's like a shot of adrenaline," she said. This particular shot is scheduled to open Sept. 17 in Town & Country Village. The location is next to Books Inc., in the former site of Panache Petals. Halo will have a menu of five hair styles from which to choose, including the Runway (big flouncy hair) and the City Slicker (sleek and straight). Cost for the half-hour blow-dry, which includes a shampoo and scalp massage, is $25-$30. Although the blow-dry bar is for all ages, Camposano is hoping to attract high school and college students by offering a little something called hair tinsels. "We can flat-iron colored tinsels on to a few strands of your hair and we can do them in your school colors," she said.

GOODBYE TO SATURA ... Green-tea cream puffs, chestnut Mont Blanc, strawberry shortcake: all of them gone. Satura Cakes closed its doors at 320 University Ave. in Palo Alto on July 31 after two years. The pastry shop with its pricey, high-quality confections also closed its Campbell store last weekend. Still remaining is its flagship store at 200 Main St. in Los Altos, which has undergone a change of ownership.

A LITTLE LESS GOODWILL ... The Los Altos Goodwill store, called a boutique because it generally carried higher-end items than the Palo Alto Goodwill, is closing its thrifty doors at 251 Main St. "It looks like we'll be gone sometime in early October," said Rose Montevaldo, who has managed the shop for almost all of its seven years in downtown Los Altos. "There were a few problems. We could never take donations because we don't have a backroom and we've outgrown this store," she said. But Montevaldo offers advice to her customers: "We will definitely reopen. We're looking for a new location."

CLOSED: NEW SAFFRON ... The 2-year-old New Saffron restaurant, which featured the popular $9.99 Indian buffet lunch, has closed. Located across the street from Lozano's Car Wash and sharing a parking lot with Holiday Inn Express at 2700 El Camino Real on the Palo Alto/Mountain View border, the restaurant went dark last month. There has been talk that it will reopen under a new name and new owner. Industry insiders noted that this particular site changes its name every few years, but it always remains an Indian restaurant. The former name was Southern Spice; the name before that was Dastoor; and, about four years ago, it was called Swagat.

Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business? E-mail Daryl Savage at 


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Blow Dry Bar??? Isn't this a step backwards when ladies of leisure had time for a once a week trip for a shampoo, blue rinse and set? Or am I just showing my age?

Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2010 at 9:48 am

We heard that restaurant was good but when we tried it everything tasted just like what you get in any burrito place. Not bad but also nothing special. We didn't return. Sorry they didn't make it but it takes more than a decent burrito to pay Palo Alto rents. We would have gone back for a unique and delicious experience. Good luck to the owners.

Posted by Rosemary, a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 22, 2010 at 11:37 am

To the comment above about taking a step backwards - the answer is NO, we are taking a step forward! In our area women take better care of themselves beginning younger and lasting well into what used to be considered, "old age". HA, to old age. We want to look fabulous ALOT of the time. Halo will make that possible at an affordable price! Try might like it!

Posted by David B., a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 29, 2010 at 1:26 pm

We love Oaxacan Kitchen, and will miss it dearly. In response to a comment above, the food there was FAR better than a typical burrito place - complex and delicious moles, excellent seafood, unique salads, nice wine list, and incredible desserts, all for reasonable prices. What bad news!

Posted by ethnic food, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2010 at 6:23 pm

The problem is that Palo Alto diners are not very adventurous when it comes to ethnic food. They order Americanized food like burritos and miss out on the more complex and delicious authentic food that the better quality restaurants have to offer.

Same applies to Asian-style restaurants that use authentic recipes, then have a hard time competing with the bland Americanized "fusion" restaurants that serve food that looks Asian but tastes Caucasian.

The authentic restaurants would thrive in San Francisco where diners are more sophisticated and appreciative.

Posted by great, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 3, 2010 at 9:11 pm

that was best mexican food than just about anywhere. very tasty and real tasting.

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