Diners in San Mateo

Select Local Merchants

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).

4224 El Camino Real
Palo Alto,
CA
US

Almost anything could happen to a chicken wing in PS Eatery’s kitchen. The culinary team could crisply fry it and dunk it in buffalo spices, or prepare it Asian-style, tossing it in fish sauce. The eatery specializes in comfort food with a twist, adding flavorful touches and Asian influences to its classic platters. The mac and cheese, for instance, comes crowned in Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs and mixed with spicy tuna. Grilled pork loins arrive sided with tasty tangles of spaghetti chow mein, and even the humble veggie burger is reinvented with six layers of yellow squash, eggplant, and zucchini, rather than the standard autumn leaves.

1330 Park St
Alameda,
CA
US

In 1947, owners Mel Weiss and Harold Dobbs assembled a staff of 14 carhops to serve passing motorists at the first Mel's Drive-In. For the next two decades, customers partial to automobile dining flocked to the chain’s 11 California locations, eager to wash down grass-fed half-pound burgers with thick milk shakes. As fast-food outlets outpaced the drive-in's once-speedy service, its popularity declined, and it was eventually scheduled for demolition. The building got a temporary reprieve, however, when filmmaker George Lucas decided to use the drive-in's original location on Lombard Street as the colorful backdrop for his film American Graffiti. As bulldozers destroyed the last remnants of the historic drive-in, American Graffiti opened in theaters.

A decade later, though, Mel's son Steven reopened Mel's Drive-In in an attempt to carry on his father's dream. Steven restored the drive-in's multiple locations to mirror their original motif by stocking each with midcentury must-haves such as illuminated marquees, jukeboxes, and Elvis-themed WiFi passwords. The drive-in’s menu, meanwhile, balances period-appropriate fare, such as hot dogs and burgers, with healthy options, such as the Haven’s Famous vegetarian sandwich, two slices of nine-grain bread topped with avocado, sprouts, and tomatoes.

3355 Geary Blvd
San Francisco,
CA
US

When Ronn Teitelbaum opened the first Johnny Rockets location in 1986, his goal was to create a restaurant where people could escape the postmodern blues of everyday life and experience a taste of time-honored Americana. The name itself is a nod to this ideal?it combines the star of a classic American fable, Johnny Appleseed, and a classic car, Oldsmobile?s beefy Rocket 88. The chain now makes itself at home in America's cultural landmarks, including Yankee Stadium and the Flamingo Hotel.

During dinners at the famous burger joints, you?ll see signs of simpler times, starting with the cooks and servers. Dressed head to toe in white, including white paper hats, they look like they?ve fallen out of a wormhole from the 1950s ready to sling shakes and cook up some eats. Behind a stainless-steel bar lined with red leather stools they tend to their traditional diner fare, including burgers and melts with sides such as chili-cheese fries and onion rings. Riding sidecar to each meal is a collection of hand-dipped and hand-spun floats, shakes, and malts topped with whipped cream.

1946 Fillmore Street
San Francisco,
CA
US

1435 17th St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Louis’ Restaurant: A User’s Guide

Waterfront, Cliff-Top Dining | 80 Years of History | Organic, Local, Fair-Trade Ingredients | Diner Menu

Sample Menu:

  • Breakfast: coffee with a cheddar-filled, chili-stuffed omelet
  • Lunch: Shrimp Louis salad
  • Dinner: 8-ounce new york steak sandwich
  • Beer: Anchor Steam
  • Dessert: locally baked pie served à la mode

The Setting: Louis' is nestled in the craggy, fog-blanketed cliffs of the Pacific Ocean. Massive windows not only showcase this stunning, panoramic landscape—with a red-streaked sunset if you time your visit right—but also indigenous and 19th-century ruins. This view, especially if taken in through the glass-walled corner booth, makes visitors feel like they're savoring their tuna melt in a fairy tale.

The Ingredients

  • Eggs: cage-free, and sourced from within 100 miles
  • Produce: certified organic, and sourced from within 200 miles
  • Meat: natural, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed, humanely-raised
  • Bread: sourced from within 25 miles
  • Desserts: sourced from within 25 miles
  • Coffee: certified organic and certified fair trade

Green Stuff: Louis’ prides itself on being an eco-friendly establishment, from its 55% recycled tiled floors to its compostable takeout containers, and most everything in between.

History

  • Valentine's Day, 1937: Married Greek immigrants Louis and Helen Hontalas open shop. In addition to a full menu of dine-in options, they sell peanuts and popcorn from wagons outside.
  • 1939: Their son Constantine, third after John and Jim, is welcomed as the newest Hontalas.
  • 1947: 27-year-old Rachel "Rosie" Lelchuk, wearing her signature flower in her hair, begins her 55-year career as a Louis' Restaurant server.
  • 1973: The National Park Service acquires the land Louis' sits on, making the restaurant an official NPS concessioner.
  • 1975: Jim, now the owner, dramatically renovates the building.
  • 1988: The NPS opts to shutter Louis' Restaurant—but thousands upon thousands of customer-written postcards convince officials not to go through with it.
  • 1997: Jim retires, and his sons Bill and Tom step in.
  • 2002: Rosie retires at the age of 82.
  • 2010: Another remodel gives the place a whole new look, and a contract with the NPS keeps the Hontalas family in charge for at least another 10 years.

902 Point Lobos Ave
San Francisco,
CA
US