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Category Archives: soul food

Dining in Silicon Valley: My top five Bay Area restaurants (so far!)

The Cioppino at Tarragon in Sunnyvale.

The Cioppino at Tarragon in Sunnyvale.

I can’t believe it’s already been a year since I took that cross-country trek from Michigan to my new home of California.

Over the year, I have discovered some delicious entrees from many restaurants in the Silicon Valley/Bay Area – from Indian-style tacos to apple pie crepes to prime rib Shepherd’s Pie. My focus has been mostly on the San Jose area, and I plan to expand more northbound (San Francisco and beyond) this upcoming year.

Here are my top favorite restaurants that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in Silicon Valley in my first year. These eateries are in no particular order because they are all great in their own way:

Tarragon, 140 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale

I have never been disappointed in the food and service at Tarragon. The cioppino is to die for – jam-packed with fresh mussels, clams and shrimp in a rich tomato sauce, perfect for dipping with the garlic bread.

The Collard Greens at Lillie Mae's House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

The Collard Greens at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

Seafood-lovers – or just lovers of top-quality food at a reasonable price – should visit Tarragon on downtown Sunnyvale’s Historic Murphy Avenue.

Check out: Delicious seafood stew can be found at Sunnyvale’s Tarragon, which touts “farm-to-table” cuisine

Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food, 1290 Coleman Ave., Santa Clara

I had some of the best Southern cooking that I’ve ever tried at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food, about two miles away from the Mineta San Jose International Airport.

You can smell the smoked meats and other soul food favorites piping from the restaurant as you drive down Coleman Ave. The fried chicken is tender with perfectly crispy skin, moist and thick cornbread, and collard greens that you can tell have been stewing for hours.

The building is not fancy, resembling an large wooden shack, but it delivers on succulent Southern cooking.

Check out: Fried chicken, collard greens satisfy at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food

The World-Famous Blueberry Coffeecake at Hobee's in Sunnyvale.

The World-Famous Blueberry Coffeecake at Hobee’s in Sunnyvale.

Hobee’s, 800 W. Ahwanee Ave., Sunnyvale

Hobee’s in Sunnyvale is clearly a popular weekend-brunch spot: Most customers have to park at the nearby Motel 6 or on the street, and that place fills up fast, so expect a wait.

However, the wait is worth it just to try the restaurant’s World-Famous Blueberry Coffeecake. This cake is moist, thick and big enough for two people, in my opinion. And that pat of butter on top makes the coffee cake that much more scrumptious.

For those who are watching what they eat, the local restaurant chain is also known for its more health-conscious menu that includes vegetarian options such as the Hobee’s Tofu Scramble.

Check out: “World-Famous” blueberry coffee cake a popular go-to at Hobee’s in Sunnyvale

B Street & Vine, 320 S. B Street, San Mateo

Bruschetta is more than just toasted bread with tomatoes on top. I expanded my bruschetta horizons at San Mateo’s B Street & Vine, a popular wine cafe in the Bay Area.

On a recent visit, my friends and I enjoyed many delicious combinations of ingredients, including the salami with feta and pesto, and the mango, tomato, cilantro and avocado. Bruschetta lovers need to make a trip here.

The bruschetta appetizer at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

The bruschetta appetizer at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

B Street & Vine also has good half-off wine specials during the week, patio dining and live music.

Check out: Vibrant combinations of bruschetta please the eyes and palate at San Mateo wine cafe

Jonathan’s Fish & Chips, 840 Willow Road, Menlo Park

When my dad says he is picking up Jonathan’s Fish & Chips on the way home from work, I can’t help but develop a big smile.

Not counting my dad’s recipe, the best fried catfish in the Silicon Valley area can be found at this Menlo Park restaurant.

The Large Fish & Chips entree at Jonathan's Fish & Chips in Menlo Park.

The Large Fish & Chips entree at Jonathan’s Fish & Chips in Menlo Park.

This modest, mom-and-pop restaurant delivers on Cajun-style, cornmeal-battered fish that comes fresh and hot out of the fryer. The fish is always flaky and lightly seasoned, and the fried okra is cooked in the same delicious way.

I also like the owner, who is always friendly and takes the time to talk to all of her guests. It’s a very welcoming place to eat.

Check out: Cajun-style fish and chips, and best fried okra around, at Jonathan’s in Menlo Park

I’m also looking for some food barbecue, Thai and Korean restaurants in the Bay Area, so please leave your suggestions below 🙂

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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in brunch, food, seafood, soul food, wine bar

 

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Fried chicken, collard greens satisfy at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food

The Fried Chicken at Lillie Mae's House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

The Fried Chicken at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

Last week was a week of firsts.

It was the first time I had seen a handful of my relatives from my dad’s side since I was six months old. It was their first time visiting California and enjoying its weather, coastline and festivities.

It was also the first time I indulged in the Southern home cooking of Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

Many times I’ve driven by this place, which looks like an old, large wooden shack that gives off aromas of smoked meat through the air. How I resisted this long is beyond me.

So my dad treated all of us to a meal of fried chicken, collard greens and other Southern-cooking delights.

Dish of Choice

I ordered the No. 7 dinner combination, which came with fried chicken and hot sausage links. The combo dinners are served with two sides and cornbread or hushpuppies. I chose collard greens, macaroni and cheese and cornbread. My portion of the meal cost $16.95 before tax.

The Macaroni and Cheese at Lillie Mae's House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

The Macaroni and Cheese at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

The Taste

This was one satisfying and indulgent meal with enough food to take home – if you don’t want to overstuff yourself.

The chicken was juicy, had a great crunch to the skin and just the right amount of salt and seasoning. I loved the mac and cheese, which had crispy, baked pieces of cheese throughout the soft, creamy noodles. The cornbread was thick, moist and had a subtle sweetness and golden-brown top.

The collard greens were seasoned just right and tasted like they had been stewing all day. The hot links were covered in a smoky, spicy sauce that gradually built up in heat as I ate. It was the kind of heat you feel right before you start getting sweat on your forehead.

I would highly recommend ordering one of the combo dinners to get a variety of soul food favorites.

The Collard Greens at Lillie Mae's House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

The Collard Greens at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

Other Details

My relatives loved Lillie Mae’s so much that they returned for one last meal before heading back to the East Coast. I was a little irritated that they went without me.

However, my dad brought me home two pieces of fried catfish, fried okra and a container of rich, thick and creamy banana pudding with crisp vanilla wafers on top. I wasn’t so irritated after that ;-).

Lillie Mae’s, located at 1290 Coleman Ave., is celebrating its fifth anniversary Saturday, Aug. 1 from 12 noon to 5 p.m. in the restaurant’s parking lot, according to its Facebook page. The celebration will feature a $5 menu of chicken and waffles, catfish, pork ribs and drinks, along with R&B music performed by J.C. Smith & Band.

For more information about Lillie Mae’s, call 408-227-7685 or visit www.lilliemaeshouse.com.

 

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