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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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San Jose’s Vyne Bistro offers great $5 happy hour specials

The Flatbread with Shrimp at Vyne Bistro in San Jose.

The Flatbread with Shrimp at Vyne Bistro in San Jose.

I introduced myself to a group of women through Meetup.com as a way to get acquainted with fellow 30- and 40-somethings in the area, and we decided to meet at Vyne Bistro in downtown San Jose. Before I arrived, I checked out the wine bar’s menu online. Vyne Bistro has a variety of small plates, salads and house specialities, made with several organic ingredients. No prices were listed, so I was going in blind on how much I would be spending. However, I don’t mind paying a little more if the quality of the food meets or exceeds the price.

Dish of Choice

Vyne Bistro has a great happy hour menu that includes $5 glasses of wine and small plates from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday (drinks only). I chose two small plates: the flatbread with shrimp, which included green and black olives, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese; and Suya beef, which was cut into strips, seasoned with lightly roasted African spices and ground peanut and placed on bed of arugula, red onions and cherry tomatoes. I also ordered a glass of the house red blend. My bill came out to about $16.

The Suya Beef at Vyne Bistro in San Jose.

The Suya Beef at Vyne Bistro in San Jose.

The Taste

The flatbread had plenty of ingredients and flavor, and any dish that has cheese and shrimp makes me happy. The Suya beef had a nice spicy bite to it, but I never would have guessed that ground peanut was used in the recipe. I think the arugula and red onion greatly complemented the dish. The price of the small plates was a great value for what I got.

The Ambiance

Vyne Bistro has a modern, yet relaxed feel to it. The wine bar has modular seating and is dimly lit to create an intimate atmosphere. It also has an electric fireplace near the lounge and a small bar area. It is a great place to get together for a low-key night with friends. Vyne Bistro also has an extensive drink list, which includes red, white, rose, sparkling and dessert wine, as well as cider, sake, wine cocktails and bottled beers.

Other Details

Vyne Bistro is located at 110 Paseo de San Antonio, between 3rd and 4th streets, in downtown San Jose. Hours are 3 to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. The wine bar validates parking at the 2nd & San Carlos Street parking garage, according to its website. For more information, call (408) 375-2618 or visit vynebistrosj.com.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2014 in wine bar

 

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