Hall of Fame: Second Year
This Brooklyn-flavored favorite is more than just a bagel shop. Its new and expanded menu includes kosher delights such as the noodle kugel and the Brooklyn babka, as well as a healthy array of knishes and challahs. Still, main draw for this popular California Avenue establishment remains its trove of bagels and cream cheeses, including mouth-watering spreads such as sun-dried tomato, cucumber scallion and green olive-and-garlic. Izzy's Brooklyn Bagels has been winning voters' hearts and pleasing their palates for years — qualities that bought it a ticket to the Hall of Fame. 477 S. California Ave., Palo Alto; 650-329-0700. izzysbrooklynbagels.com
Our vocabulary owes French for the word "dessert," so it's no surprise that Douce France induces a sugar rush par excellence. In addition to serving non-sweet treats like the scrumptious "buffarella" — buffalo mozzarella — lunch sandwich, the snug bakery and cafe entices with decadent cakes and cookies, chocolaty beverages, miniature fruit-topped tarts, wispy meringues and a colorful selection of macaroons, including a blushing, fanciful pink that'll have you living la vie en rose. #104 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto; 650-322-3601.
Perhaps a treasured item on Hobee's menu says it all: the Best Darn Breakfast In Town. At all three Hobee's locations, the BDBIT comes with two eggs, served your way; "Country Style" hashbrowns; and toast or the blueberry coffeecake people line up for. But there's much more on the menu, from omelets and scrambles (from the Stanford Cardinal Omelet with chicken, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, spinach and cheese to the Tofu Scramble, spiced with cumin) to light bites (an oatmeal bar and a seasonal fruit plate). Hobee's also took the top prize in the Dining With Kids category. #67 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto; 650-327-4111. www.hobees.com/Stanford; 4224 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, 650-856-6124. www.hobees.com/menu.html; 2312 Central Expressway, Mountain View, 650-968-6050. www.hobees.com/mtnview.html.
A glance at a menu at The Counter is a lesson in the evolution of the burger. The sea of options is enough to make the most fervent vegetarians salivate (or, at the very least, order a veggie burger). Want cheese? Options include Tillamook Cheddar or Soft Ripened Brie. Would you prefer Tzatziki or peanut sauce? Then there's the sea of toppings, from grilled pineapple and roasted green chilies to smoked bacon and fried onion strings. It's not your grandpa's burger, but so what? Our readers agreed, once again, that this bustling joint is the city's top burger destination. 369 S. California Ave., Palo Alto; 650-321-3900. thecounterburger/paloalto
If it could change the world, Chipotle would be the sunlight in everyone's burrito universe. And it might change the world. In addition to being customizable, fresh, fast and out-and-out delicious, Chipotle's burritos have integrity. The chain has found its way into Palo Alto's hearts by supporting sustainable family farms that treat their land and animals with respect. 2675 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; 650-462-9154. chipotle.com
A good sandwich can make your taste buds sing, but a great sandwich elicits an orchestra of savory sensations. Enter The Village Cheese House, the Mozart of sandwich-makers. With a cornucopia of breads, meats, cheeses and veggies to choose from, the Village Cheese House has the right deli delicacies to satisfy a clientele as diverse as the Village People. #157 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto; 650-326-9251. thevch.com
Calling Trader Joe's a "grocery store" is kind of like calling Elvis "the guy with the sideburns." Yes, it's true that this earthy, quirky and increasingly ubiquitous chain has all the bare necessities a kitchen may require. But it's the unusual, palate-expanding products — the mango butter, the habanera-and-lime salsa, the mojito salmon — that have made TJ's a local superstar. A relative newcomer to Palo Alto, the supermarket is now a flagship destination at the Town & Country Village and, according to readers, the local King of Groceries. #140 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto; 650-327-7018. traderjoes.com
Care for some jalapeno cornbread and Cajun calamari with that raspberry mojito? How about a ginger julep to fill your soul with some Bourbon Street cheer? This bustling downtown joint with New Orleans flavor, flavorful Hurricanes, funky art and a generous beer selection can cure the deepest case of the blues. Not surprisingly, readers chose Nola as the city's finest happy-hour joint. Bottoms up! 535 Ramona St., Palo Alto; 650-328-2722. nolas.com
You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream. That is especially true when the ice cream is dished out by Gelato Classico. Gelato, a traditional Italian dessert that has gained huge popularity in the United States, tantalizes the taste buds like no other style of ice cream. And Gelato Classico has a rich selection of flavors, from Green Tea and Hazelnut to Vanilla Bean and Caramello Chocolate Crunch. Grab a spoon. 435 Emerson St., Palo Alto; 650-327-1317. caffeclassicofoods.com
Hall of Fame: Second Year
Elvis might be the king of rock, but Rick is the king of ice cream. Rick's Rather Rich Ice Cream has satisfied Peninsula eaters for the better part of four decades, one of the reasons it has earned honors in the Best Of Palo Alto Hall of Fame. Rick's features 48 flavors of rich and creamy ice cream, including Banana Ripple, Caramel Praline and White Chocolate Ginger. Rick's even caters and offers ice cream cakes and novelties. Elvis has left the building, but Rick's is right around the corner. 3946 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto; 650-493-6553. ricksicecream.com
Not to be confused with its similarly named diner cousin, the richly historied Peninsula Creamery Dairy Store & Grill predates most Palo Altans. Distant as 1923 may seem from the present, this beloved checker-floored throwback continues to take care of business in the down-to-earth way it always has, creating superbly priced sandwiches, soups, salads, breakfasts and, of course, indulgent ice cream concoctions. 900 High St., Palo Alto; 650-323-3175. peninsulacreamery.com
Hall of Fame: First Year
With its nostalgic interior and show-stopping lineup of most-craved comfort foods, the upbeat Palo Alto Creamery Fountain & Grill rocks on as an iconic tween hangout, family favorite and general go-to eatery. While it's an ideal place to hone ketchup-dispensing skills or tackle a positively mammoth burger, the consensus is that there's something supremely special about settling into a booth and sharing the ultimate wickedly thick milkshake. 566 Emerson St., Palo Alto; 650-323-3131; and #2A Stanford Shopping Center, Stanford; 650-327-3141. paloaltocreamery.com
New Food/Drink Establishment
"I haven't been this thrilled about a chocolate shop since going to the Max Brenner in Union Square, NYC," a local Yelper wrote of Monique's Chocolates. And readers agree. Peanut butter and jelly chocolates, chai truffle with milk chocolate and salted caramel are but a few selections of these single-origin treats. Super-rich chocolate beverages with mint, hazelnut milk chocolate, plus specialties such as torched French s'mores make Monique's a great place to taste chocolates from different parts of the world. 539 Bryant St., Palo Alto; 650-323-9669.
The pizza as work of art is what Howard Bulka's creative restaurant, Howie's Artisan Pizza, is about. Each bite sings — it's a symphony of flavors brought to life and still steaming from the wood-fired oven. Howie's embraces local, fresh ingredients. Choose from the classic pizza Margherita to baked potato pizza with crisp bacon and Gruyere cheese — or build your own. #60 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto; 650-327-4992. howiesartisanpizza.com.
Hall of Fame: Second Year
Applewood Pizza is enjoying its second year in the Best Of Palo Alto Hall of Fame. The impressive menu offers numerous signature pizzas, as well as the opportunity to concoct your own pizza. The bar flaunts 37 imported beers, yet the restaurant maintains a family-friendly atmosphere where people can go to relax and enjoy a flavorful meal. Some of their lesser-known specialty sides include Hungarian goulash and langos, which is Hungarian fried bread. The restaurant also has the option of ordering online, which comes with the choice of take-out or delivery. 1001 El Camino Real, Menlo Park; 650-324-3486. applewoodpizza.com
Sometimes finding the best fruits and veggies around can be difficult, but Palo Altans are in luck. Whole Foods Market and Sigona's tied for top produce honors. Sigona's offers a wide selection of organic and commercial produce. The store also serves as a regular grocery store and carries a line of products branded with its own Sigona Signature label. Whole Foods also offers an incredible variety of produce along with its full-service grocery. And with the fruits and veggies from these stores, you are guaranteed to be in for good eating. Whole Foods: 774 Emerson St., Palo Alto; 650-326-8676. wholefoodsmarket.com; Sigona's: #399 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto; 650-329-1340. sigonas.com
Some swear by the Southwestern, while other prefer the Somen. But whether Weekly readers prefer bacon and avocado or Japanese somen noodles and caramelized shallots on their salads, many agree that the best local salads are to be found at Sprout in downtown Palo Alto. Diners can choose signature salads with predetermined combinations, or assemble their own ingredients. For some extra protein, put tri-tip steak, salmon or ahi tuna on top. 168 University Ave., Palo Alto; 650-323-7688. cafesprout.com
Best Of voters' selection for Best Seafood might not ever feature the band Phish, but it certainly has plenty of the underwater variety. The Fish Market can satisfy hungry customers with its school of delicious offerings. Try Pacific Ahi sashimi, mesquite-grilled Alaskan Halibut or steamed Canadian Black Mussels. With a rotating menu of ocean-fetched fare, you're always getting the freshest food at the Fish Market. Dive into something delicious. 3150 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; 650-493-8862. thefishmarket.com
For those who wish to have a relaxing dinner at home with their families or just kick back by themselves on the sofa and indulge in a carton of authentic Chinese food, one particular place should come to mind. Su Hong has yet again dominated the takeout world for its yummy variety of Mandarin- and Szechwan-styled cuisine. Whether you are craving the popular combination rice plates, barbecue pork or chicken chow mein, your cravings will certainly be satisfied.
Simple, local, natural ingredients bring regular or frozen yogurt-lovers flocking to Fraiche, whether they're attracted to the "natural" flavor, soy option or are suckers for chocolate. Toppings range from chocolate shaved off a large bar to fresh berries or chopped fruit — in season. Lavender-flavored biscotti or chocolate-chip cookies — or organic oatmeal for the health aficionados — make it a meal. The owners are passionate about organic, healthy food, extending that to their Blue Bottle coffee offerings. 644 Emerson St., Palo Alto; 650-566-0055. www.fraicheyogurt.com
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