The Van's has earned the admiration of diners and drinkers since 1947, though its historic teahouse structure dates even farther back—to 1915 when constructed to house a portion of the Japanese Exhibition at the Panama Pacific International Exposition. The restaurant's dining rooms offer panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay and close-ups of crisp white linens, complemented by rich, ethnic-inspired eats and select wines. The restaurant's bar area boasts the original wallpaper from 1915, as well as historic photographs showing the Peninsula.
The winner of Palo Alto Weekly's Best Breakfast award for more than 20 years, Hobee's remains a Silicon Valley institution where night owls and early birds flock together over generous portions of home-cooked delectables in a cozy, casual atmosphere. Browse the menu for a breakfast of three sweet-potato pancakes ($6.75), any of six hash-brown varieties ($7.97), or the Hi Hat Ommie—a combination of diced ham and jack and cheddar cheeses, with country-style hash browns hidden inside like human dignity inside a San Diego Chicken costume ($9.75). Otherwise, prop up eyelids with a simmering cup of Hobee's famous cinnamon orange tea ($2.35) paired with its equally famous blueberry coffee cake ($2.50). Late arrivals to Hobee's can still tickle their taste buds with a bouquet of options such as the honey-pineapple teriyaki salmon ($10.95), the grilled chicken with tropical fruit salsa ($10.95), or the Very Gouda BBQ burger piled high with caramelized onions, rich barbeque sauce, and a Wisconsin's worth of gouda ($9.25).
Hola! Mexican Restaurant & Cantina fills its patrons with authentic Mexican food cooked up on mesquite grills and crafted with fresh ingredients. Start lunch with a tostada salad ($7.45), and follow it with a crab enchilada ($8.95) or sope, a corn masa pillow plumped with your choice of meat or cheese and topped with the likely leafy suspects ($8.65). Dinner diners can begin with three quesadillas fritas—corn turnovers filled with cheese, potatoes, and bell peppers ($7.25)—followed by the house specialty, arroz con pollo, a dish of sautéed boneless chicken breast drenched with chile-tomato sauce and served atop Mexican rice ($13.25), then molded into the shape of guests' auras. The bar at each location offers plenty of wines and more than 100 specialty tequilas, which can be conjured into margarita classicas ($8.25) or real fruit margaritas ($8.75) made with strawberry, mango, pineapple, and more, crafted to meet your blood-alcohol level's recommended daily serving of fermented agave juice.
Each pasta entree at Caprino's Restaurant begins as a mound of fresh dough. From there, chefs turn it into linguine and spaghetti and tuck butternut squash into ravioli pockets. The stuff that goes on top is also house-made, naturally: meatballs, garlic-basil cream, olive-oil/chardonnay sauce.
Pasta may reign supreme, but the menu also holds other hearty entrees, including grilled-to-order rib eye, prosciutto pizza, and chicken marsala. Sunday brunch even departs from this Italian template a bit, adding southwest-inspired dishes and catfish and grits to red-white-and-green-flecked sandwiches and scrambles.
Caprino's handsome, wood-accented dining room is equally welcoming to adults and adults-in-training. There's a full bar and, naturally, a deep wine list, split about evenly between Italy and California. But there's also a kids' menu with fun options such as mini burgers and a "dirty mashed potato" topped with bacon, cheese, and, eventually, tiny fingerprints.
After bringing menus to each table, servers ask if anyone would like to sign a waiver. Without endorsing one of these forms, diners can't order the devil's chicken or vegetables, two formidable entrees made with fiery ghost chilies.
On request, chefs can tone down the heat of various entrees, which combine the culinary traditions of India and China. Relying on locally sourced ingredients when possible, cooks prepare each dish for family-style serving, which encourages diners to split piles of poultry with visiting friends or every member of the Channel 5 news team. Though braised beef and sautéed chicken are prominent on the menu, the kitchen also creates vegetarian- and vegan-friendly dishes that rely on the same regional sauces for their piquant flavor.
On one side of the main dining room, red vinyl booths add a splash of color to the restaurant's sleek gray walls and modern décor. The restaurant's bar keeps tables full of libations, including craft beers and glasses of food-friendly wine from winemakers on both sides of the equator and the center of the Earth.
Candles nestled in chandeliers cast a flickering glow upon saffron-colored walls, exposed stonework, and iron accents. The light dimly illuminates the white tablecloths on the main dining floor and the overlooking mezzanine level, helping weave the aura of otherworldliness that Mythos's name suggests. Amid this visual backdrop, the aromas of West Coast and Mediterranean spices and sauces dance, hinting at the local seafood and produce that the chefs use in their menu. Taking advantage of the local bounty, the grill masters turn their eyes toward the culinary aesthetic of Greece as they braise lamb shanks, flame bathe house-ground burgers and 6-ounce skirt steaks, and sauté vegan plates.
Against a wall of windows, bartenders and stewards pair dishes with handpicked Northern Californian and Greek wines as well as 11 ouzos. They also mix cocktails from eclectic ingredients, such as vegetables pickled in-house and imported pomegranate juice, so diners don’t have to add Mediterranean authenticity by sifting their drinks through a Greek flag.