A ceiling of mirrors. A small bouquet of flowers at each table. A breezy, outdoor patio festooned with white trellises and hanging foliage. The decorative accents at the newly redesigned Effie’s Restaurant and Lounge set a handsome backdrop for refined, contemporary American cuisine. In the kitchen, multitalented chefs craft hearty entrees for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—all while juggling wooden mixing spoons. Their culinary repertoire covers everything from brawny burgers topped with mushrooms to sole filets bathing in lemon butter. Effie’s bar and lounge area, meanwhile, morphs into a lively neighborhood hot spot where regulars wet their whistles for karaoke night with sips of beer, specialty cocktails, or wine from Effie’s extensive, five-page drink menu.
The mouthwatering scent of barbecue smoke is responsible for luring many first-timers into Island Fire BBQ at the Spot, a restaurant located beneath the historic Campbell Water Tower. That savory scent drifts from the eatery's kitchen, where chefs prepare smoked meats, buttermilk fried chicken, and seafood specialties such as barbecued Tomales Bay oysters. But these heaped plates of southern cuisine aren't the only reason to stop by; relax with a beer on the huge outdoor patio, dance it out at the onsite music venue, or partake of the 62 feet of HDTVs that broadcast the big game for sports fans or professional athletes who enjoy watching themselves on television.
While it might be fun to watch sports in a rowdy, noisy pub, the owners of The Luxury Box don't believe that the experience has to be unsophisticated. Envisioning the enterprise as more of an upscale sports lounge, the staff specializes in gourmet dishes that invert traditional conceptions of bar cuisine. Executive Chef Kristopher Hallihan creates recipes with locally-sourced products to design dishes such as seared cayenne-dusted sea scallops, racks of wild boar, and caramelized brisket burgers. Each dish features fresh ingredients and house-made sauces and accompaniments.
Cuisine Type: Mediterranean/Greek
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 25?50
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Lamb
Alcohol: Beer and wine only
Delivery / Take-out Available: Yes
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Tucked between the Saratoga Mountains to the west and San Jose to the north east, Santorini Wine & Beer Garden exposes diners from the surrounding city to the wines of the vineyards that dot the area's foothills. The wine list highlights the array of microclimates that lend the area's varietals their distinctive flavors along with the families who have tended the wineries for generations. Wine tastings unfold out in the restaurant's impossibly charming wine garden, where a duo of acoustic guitarists, a central fire pit, and booths covered with trellises lend to the quaint and cozy ambiance.
To soak up the libations, the bistro also serves a selection of Greek tapas, including feta marinated in olive oil and grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice, tomatoes, onions, and red peppers?a gluten-free option. Larger entree helpings take the form of grass-fed lamb shank imported from Santorini and chicken souvlaki.
Saratoga Wine & Beer Garden's menu offers 28 bottled beers, three rotating taps, 21 wines, and an array of mixed drinks and small plates. To go with this ample selection, the kitchen's staff plates colorful assemblies of charcuterie meats, cheeses, olives, and more, though the flavors to be had provide only half of the venue's sensory appeal. The rest comes from the garden. Covered archways over tables combine with intermingling tree branches above to create shady retreats. A fire pit spouts flames that ward off evening chills. Vases on each table display elegantly simple floral arrangements of two or three flowers. Even the pathway to the garden offers natural, shady splendor, curving around the building and wending between hedges, the overhead awning fending off ultraviolet rays and the eyes of the one crow who follows you everywhere, gazing at you knowingly, just waiting.
At Roudon-Smith Winery, winemakers surrounded by unique murals create barrels of rich reds and refreshing white wines using high-quality grapes from the Santa Cruz Mountains and other regions of California. Whether crafting an elegant pinot noir or a richly colored zinfandel, the winemakers follow a philosophy of minimal intervention, seeking to preserve the essential qualities of the fruit.