Walking into Menara doesn’t feel like walking into other restaurants. Instead, it feels like walking into a Moroccan palace. Menara’s ornate tiles, padded benches festooned with colorful pillows, and pièce de résistance, a tiny blue pool in the middle of the room, transport guests into another world across the globe. The food is authentically Moroccan too. There are tagines, cornish hens with preserved lemon, B’stillas, and prawns in chermoula sauce. And of course, meals wrap up with pieces of baklava and glasses of mint tea. After dinner, many guests retire to the hookah lounge for a leisurely smoke.
Just because you want to eat vegan food, doesn’t mean you don’t want to have any fun. The owners of Good Karma scoff at the tired notion that being vegan means being boring—their cafe and beer-hub proves that it just isn’t true. They ply guests with tasty plant-based eats, including Jamaican jerk tofu smothered with a spicy caribbean jerk seasoning, and chili verde made with veggies and a house-roasted tomatillo-jalapeño verde sauce. They also curate the craft beers in their taps, selecting brews from across the country, but especially California.
Back a Yard, Jamaican slang for "the way things are done back home," is one of the best downtown San Jose restaurants. In fact, it’s been praised by the Michelin Guide for its delicious Jamaican comfort food, including tender jerk chicken with just the right amount of smoke and spice, hearty curry goat, and sweet potato pudding. Even better? The beers and sangria are cheap at less than $4 each. If you can’t make it downtown, Back a Yard has two other locations in Menlo Park and Gould Shopping Center off Capitol Expressway.
In the late ’70s, it was common to see executives from such tech companies as Apple and Intel dining at Le Papillon. Nowadays, Silicon Valley execs still head to this fine French restaurant for gorgeously plated French cuisine, albeit French cuisine that has been updated with modern flavors. There are grilled beef medallions topped with butter-poached prawns and grilled noisettes of lamb in rich cabernet jus paired with dried sour cherries. There are also pieces of swordfish with coconut curry and mango chutney.
Though he’s no Earl of Sandwich, Italian count Camillo Negroni invented something pretty cool, too—the negroni cocktail. Negroni was born into a wealthy family to an Italian father and an English mother. He was a world traveler and a consummate drinker, as people who invent cocktails tend to be.
Legend has it that Count Negroni asked a bartender at Caffè Casoni in Florence to make him a stronger version of a drink known locally as the Americano. The Americano was a blend of Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda. It was named after American expats in Italy after World War 1, who kept ordering the mix of Italian aperitifs sweetened with soda. Count Negroni supposedly asked the Caffè Casoni bartender to make him something with a little more “oomph.” That oomph? Gin.
It proved to be such a hit that locals kept asking for their Americanos “the Negroni way.” And now, the Negroni is one of the most popular cocktails in the world.
Growing up, Ed Rael spent time at his grandfather's Mexican deli in the Mission District of San Francisco. Later, Ed moved to Hawaii, and for 15 years, he learned what it meant to cook fish fresh from the sea while working at his beach stand. He now combines his expertise into one passion, cooking up tacos and burritos and seafood fillings at his own Mavericks Grill.
Mavericks gets great reviews for the food, as well as the ambience. The cute eatery boasts colorful murals of underwater scenes and Mayan and Aztec history, all of which were painted by a local artist.