Best restaurants in Palo Alto
In the middle of shopping mall blandness near the Stanford campus, Vina Enoteca is a respite of Italian authenticity housed in a striking, brick-walled, 1800s barn. The menus features wood-fired pizzas and handmade pastas like cacio e pepe and rabbit agnolotti. Bar manager Massimo Stronati serves up elegant, Italian-influenced cocktails featuring local ingredients.
The sister restaurant to SF’s Kokkari, Greek restaurant Evvia Estiatorio dishes out juicy lamb chops, whole grilled fish, spanakotiro pita (phyllo stuffed with spinach, leeks, feta and dill) and plump gigantes (wood oven-baked giant beans in tomato sauce) in a rustic, hearthfire-warmed dining room.
Chef Zareen Khan calls on her Pakistani and Indian roots for this order-at-the-counter restaurant featuring family recipes like masala fries, creamy curries and aloo samosa burgers (a smashed potato samosa layered with cheese and chutneys on a toasted bun) alongside salads and sandwiches.
Modern Vietnamese dishes are the focus here, like the taro root rolls, crab and garlic glass noodles, claypot cod and soy, garlic and onion-seared shaking beef.
Bird Dog brings a hip, mid-range dining experience to Palo Alto. The lunch menu showcases uni and crudo alongside Wagyu striploin and short rib. Wood-grilled avocado in ponzu and real wasabi are the house specialties. Wine pairings include European and California varieties alongside stiff cocktails like the English Patient (barrel-aged gin, Maurin Quina Aperitif, saffron and Suze).
Two Michelin-starred Baume is Palo Alto’s special occasion destination housed in a nondescript 1970s building. In the intimate, elegant space, the tasting-menu–only restaurant showcases seasonal ingredients in dishes like the 62-degree sous-vide egg topped with wild mushroom and dry vermouth foam and paired with shots of fresh celery, rosemary and lime juice.
The original location of this Bay Area mini-chain opened in 2011. The affordable, order-at-the-counter cafe offers Israeli and Middle Eastern fare like shakshuka in both traditional tomato sauce or green kale and spinach sauce. Hummus comes in a number of different varieties, of course.
Bevri delights khachapuri fans who now have a local source for the traditional Georgian dish (a massive “boat” of bread filled with cheese and egg). Bevri also serves other Eastern European and Georgian dishes like shashlik (skewered meat), borscht soup and khinakli soup dumplings. Don’t forget to pair with Georgia’s other great export: fascinating, funky and elegant natural wines.
Head to this South Bay gem for quality Cuban food and cigars. At the cozy, dim cafe, regulars sip mojitos or rum, smoke cigars and fill up on Cubano sandwiches, arroz con pollo and ropa vieja.
Chef Yu Min Lin shows off seafood in dishes like black sesame-laced tartare, squid risotto and grilled lobster with leeks and Peruvian potatoes at this pricey, seafood-centric steakhouse. For beef fans, try Alexander’s memorable Wagyu trio with different salts.