Since its first pizzeria opened in 1978 in Palo Alto, Mountain Mike’s Pizza has stretched to encompass more than 150 restaurants throughout the West Coast. From the meat-laden Pike’s Peak to the vegetarian-friendly Mt. Veggiemore, 12 specialty pizzas—most of them named after mountains—arrive in portions from small to extra large, which can feed up to eight patrons or spark nostalgia in homesick, city-dwelling mountain goats. Diners can also choose their own conglomeration of ingredients, ranging from Louisiana-style hot links to sun-dried tomatoes, and supplement pies with an all-you-can-eat salad bar or a quintet of appetizer options including wings and jalapeño poppers.
Though technically a collection of dishes, the menu at Whipper Snapper is more like the story of chef Bill Higgins’s culinary career. His first job was on a farm in upstate New York, and it was there that he developed a devotion to using all-natural, organic ingredients in his meals. He and his wife Debra once lived in Florida, and they adopted the tropical flavors of the Cuban and Latin foods often served there. He eventually relocated to California, and spent years honing his skills in the kitchen at Le Petite Chaya in Los Angeles and as the executive chef at Cha Cha Cha in San Francisco.
Now, in his first solo venture, Bill blends the experiences of his epicurean history to serve tapas dishes such as Cuban Cigars (spring rolls filled with organic beef) and fried sweet plantains. Full entrees include fish tacos made with Pacific rock cod or Bill’s zarzuela, a stew-like mixture of shrimp, calamari, mussels, fish, chilies, and jasmine rice. After dinner, guests can delight in Bill’s chocolaty version of bread pudding, which earned a spot on Marin magazine’s list of six favorite desserts in 2012.
The first thing guests see when they enter My Thai Restaurant is a woman sitting in prayer as water rains down on her, surrounded by foliage. The fountain carving, along with gold- and burgundy-striped walls, infuses the eatery with what the San Rafael Patch dubs a “trendy, modern, and comfortable” atmosphere.
The menu includes both traditional and eclectic dishes, including curries, noodles, fried rice, and barbecue dishes. To contrast orders of panang curry with chicken and barbecue roasted duck, the kitchen also churns out more than a dozen seafood-specific dishes, including the popular "healthy bowl" with grilled salmon, mixed grains, shredded green mango, avocado, pickled ginger, and dried cherries and blueberries.
The Hummingbird's skilled chefs use almost entirely local, farm-fresh ingredients to craft classic New Orleans dishes such as beignets, shrimp creole, and towering muffuletta sandwiches. The only nonlocal items in the kitchen are alligator and sausages culled directly from The Big Easy and a wooden spoon whittled from a North Pole spruce tree. In addition to slinging lunch and dinner dishes, The Hummingbird serves Cajun-inspired breakfast fare, including plates of chicken and waffles and cups of traditional chicory coffee. The casual café slakes sweet cravings with milkshakes and pies.
Amid traditional Chinese imagery of twisting dragons and carp, splashes of bright red bring Uncle Wing’s casual interior to life—and perhaps serve as a visual warning to diners who are about to dip into meals speckled with fiery peppers. The restaurant’s chefs specialize in seafood and duck entrees, which come stewed in a range of spicy, chili-filled sauces as well as curries as complex as a Rubik's Cube during its teen years. While they primarily cook Mandarin and Szechuan dishes, chefs channel the cuisine of various regions with plates such as Shanghai’s egg foo young; Shandong’s mu-shu meats, served inside thin, Chinese pancakes; and the small portions of dim sum popular in Hong Kong.
Cocoyo concocts an alluring range of icy indulgences made with fresh fruit and nutritious ingredients, starting with its calcium-rich frozen yogurt ($2.95–$4.95). Bursting with live active cultures to boost the immune system and improve stomach-party attendance, Cocoyo’s fro-yo comes in flavors spanning from blueberry to pomegranate while donning a variety of tempting toppings. Scoop a spoonful of creamy Italian-style gelato ($3.45–$6.45) in varieties such as cookies 'n' cream, caramel balsamic, strawberry, creme brulee, or Guinness, or savor fat- and dairy-free sorbetto infused with imported fruits and nuts. For more drinkable delicacies, fresh-fruit smoothies ($4.75) invade taste buds with flavors such as strawberry banana, mango coconut, mixed berry and pineapple coconut, infused with added boosts of vitamins, energy, or the superhuman ability to know every lyric to the Boys II Men catalogue.
Broken Drum Brewery & Wood Grill's brew masters whip up froth-topped beers, served in-house or to-go in growlers and kegs, to provide a counterbalance to its hefty selection of Southwestern-inspired pub grub. Home brewers channel German brewing tradition to craft obsidian batches of malty bock beers as well as the Terrifico, which fills pint glasses with crisp mexican lager. The grill's platters include chicken mole, which arrives snuggled beneath a blanket of robust mole sauce and melted jack and cheddar cheeses, and grilled mahi-mahi tostadas topped with mango salsa, black beans, and coleslaw. Broken Drum's patio provides a location for sipping libations, and ample opportunities for tossing table scraps to fire hydrants.