Bars in Palo Alto

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At Pasta Q, chefs roll out homemade pastas and gnocchi and douse their doughy exteriors with creamy sauces and redolent spices. Eighteen diverse pasta renditions share table space with classic Italian-style meats buffered by roasted potatoes. An eclectic selection of imported Italian wines pair with bites, and homemade desserts ease the burden of spaghetti strands trying to shape themselves into the form of tiramisu. The menu’s Mediterranean flourishes extend to the décor, with its deep-burgundy and mustard-yellow walls punctuated by mosaic-tiled benches and billowy white fabric suspended from the ceiling.

326 University Ave
Palo Alto,
CA
US

Fresh seafood and dry-aged steaks shape the menu at Scott's Seafood, which brings an elegant, marina-style setting to a sunny corner of Palo Alto. White linens swath every tabletop, their pristine hue imperiled by forkfuls of clam linguini tossed in garlic wine sauce and blackened red snapper served with salsa and lime sour cream. Roasted red potatoes and vegetables accompany Scott's Maine lobster tail, which diners splash into saucers of decadent drawn butter. Though the seafood shines, it shares the limelight with filet mignon, ribeye, and New York strip steaks—cuts of Angus beef dry-aged and grilled to perfection. Tastefully clad in white button-downs and ties, Scott's waiters make knowledgeable recommendations for pairings from the wine list, which emphasizes California vintages but also includes bottles from France, Italy, and Australia. Scott's also maintains a handsome, fully-stocked bar with mahogany-stained woodwork, leather-upholstered stools, and flat-panel TVs for watching the latest weather reports.

855 El Camino Real
Palo Alto,
CA
US

At Menlo Hub, both food and art find a place on the menu. The modern restaurant's walls are blanketed in original contemporary paintings, and on some nights, the dining space reverberates with music from live bands and solo musicians. But even on nights with performances, the main attraction is always found in the kitchen. Here, chefs design casual American dishes sprinkled with elements of Mediterranean cooking.

The menus focus on simple steaks and seafood, complemented by organic produce sourced from nearby sustainable farms. The artfully plated dishes include California sea bass, New York steaks with gorgonzola demi-glace, and eggplant-wrapped lamb shanks. While most visitors sample the cuisine in the airy main dining space, private groups eat in a secluded room warmed by a corner fireplace.

At the lively bar, flat-screen TVs broadcast sporting events as bartenders mix fruit-infused martinis and pour a range of California wines, which are made from grapes that are just thankful that they never became California raisins.

1029 El Camino Real
Menlo Park,
CA
US

Sunlight pours through the large windows of Maltby's Restaurant, illuminating the wood accents and English-pub-inspired decor that populates the restaurant’s spacious bar and dining room. But, even as the interior screams "authentic pub," the menu slyly mouths "eclectic cuisine." While traditional pub dishes such as fish 'n' chips and beer-battered onion rings comfort tongues with familiar flavors, other dishes work with less predictable tastes. Beds of fries welcome dashes of gourmet ingredients, including grilled jalapeños, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, and sea salt infused with chipotle and truffle oil. All-natural Niman Ranch beef patties cozy up to buns in each of the pub’s burgers, and large salads sport only locally sourced, organic leafy greens. The restaurant's tavern specials mix it up by serving steaming plates of barbecue baby back ribs and spicy risotto jambalaya, whereas the weekend brunch menu pairs classic English and American breakfast platters with tequila sunrises, bloody marys, and Pimm’s Cups.

101 Plz N
Los Altos,
CA
US

Fox Theatre lures crowds and musical acts alike with an auditorium drenched in the glimmer and charm of theater’s history. Surrounding a proscenium stage draped in red is enough gold to please a group of kings or outfit one rapper with his requisite bling. Bas-reliefs and intricate patterns line the walls while below, rows of seats on the floor and balcony beckon with simple comfort.

2215 Broadway St
Redwood City,
CA
US

A musician strums a ukulele onstage as hips sway around him in a hula dance. Laughing heartily with his friends at a nearby table, one man pinches seaweed-wrapped squares of sushi rice—authentic Hawaiian musubi—from shared plates as he talks up his latest adventures. At another table, the diners sing along with the ukulele player, eyes twinkling as the melody calls up memories of home.

This feeling of camaraderie, the spirit of aloha, is what owner Peter Be and his wife, Rena, wanted to capture when they opened Da Kine Cafe in 2010. When Rena, who was born in the Kalihi Valley on the island of Oahu, craved true Hawaiian eats, her choices were limited to lackluster mainland-style interpretations, such as lau lau wrapped in a tortilla instead of taro leaves. She put together a menu of authentic Hawaiian cuisine, with 10 variations of the hot noodle soup called saimin and 10 types of poke, which the head chef of the mainland's most famous Hawaiian restaurant dubbed the best in town. Classics such as the gravy-soaked beef patty of the loco moco fill the menu, waiting to be washed down with fresh-fruit smoothies and on-tap ales from the islands or local microbreweries. Gluten-free options are also available.

The décor reproduces the laid-back Hawaiian feel that Rena and Peter remember, so that even the restaurant’s stage wears a grass skirt. On Ohana Saturdays, visiting musicians take the stage, many of them winners of the Hawaiian islands' most prestigious music accolades, the Na Hoku Hanohano awards. Performers include slack-key-guitar player LT Smooth as well as the singer Mailani, accompanied by esteemed ukulele player Dr. Trey. Starting in the springtime, weekly festivals celebrate Hawaii's music, its dance styles, and its excessive number of festivals.

153 E Fremont Ave
Sunnyvale,
CA
US