Category Archives: Dining Outside

A Visit to Wild Onion in Palo Alto

Fried chicken at Wild Onion in the Hotel Citrine in Palo Alto.
Fried chicken at Wild Onion in the Hotel Citrine in Palo Alto.

In Silicon Valley, corporate tech campuses proliferate.

But now, there’s also an unusual hotel version of that.

Last year, Palo Alto welcomed the Hotel Citrine and the AC Hotel, both T2 Hospitality properties under the Marriott umbrella, and both located on the same San Antonio Road property.

In fact, the side-by-side hotels share a common driveway and valet parking service.

A communal bar table at Wild Onion.
A communal bar table at Wild Onion.

Though it may seem like a head-scratcher at first, it was designed to offer two different experiences on the same footprint. The AC Hotel is done up in a moody, sophisticated neutral palette, while the Hotel Citrine is all bold colors with a carefree California vibe.

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Dining Outside at Howie’s Artisan Pizza

House-made pastas like this fettuccine bolgonese star at Howie's Artisan Pizza.
House-made pastas like this fettuccine bolgonese star at Howie’s Artisan Pizza.

One of Town & Country Village’s most enduring restaurants is Howie’s Artisan Pizza. But now this popular 13-year-old Palo Alto pizzeria has added handmade pastas to its lineup, too.

Chef-Owner Howard Bulka had plans pre-pandemic to expand the compact kitchen ever so much to accommodate a pasta-making station. Of course, those plans got pushed back with the advent of Covid. But now, his plans have come to fruition.

Not only can you enjoy the new pastas served in the dining room, but also on the pergola-covered outdoor dining area just in front of the restaurant. What’s more, you can even buy fresh pasta ($9), sauces ($9.50 per pint), and even frozen baked ziti ($22), manicotti ($13.95), and lasagna bolognese ($23) to take home.

A meatball, mushroom and broccoli pizza.
A meatball, mushroom and broccoli pizza.

My husband and I chose to enjoy our meal outside on a breezy evening, starting with the chopped salad ($15.25), a crunchy mix of romaine tossed with cubes of salami, Swiss cheese, cucumber, chopped egg, and green onion. With the ranch dressing on the side, you can add as little or as much as you want, controlling just how super-leaded you want your chopped salad to be.

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Dining Outside at Pomet

Smoked Half Moon Bay black cod at Pomet.
Smoked Half Moon Bay black cod at Pomet.

Second-generation farmer Aomboon Deasy admits she never harbored fantasies about owning a restaurant.

After all, being a part of a family-run farm, K&J Orchards in Winters and Yuba City, was work enough. But when the owners of Homestead restaurant in Oakland — longtime buyers of the farm’s produce — approached her about taking over the space, she thought it over for a few weeks, then decided to dive in whole-heartedly.

“It was another challenge, another chapter,” she told me.

And one she obviously couldn’t resist.

The result is Pomet on Piedmont Avenue, which I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant to try last weekend. The cozy establishment takes its name from the Romanian word for “orchard,” a fitting choice for the farm, founded by her parents, whose pristine fruit can be found at farmers markets around the Bay Area, as well as incorporated into dishes at some of the region’s most respected restaurants.

Chef Alan Hsu and Proprietor Aomboon Deasy.
Chef Alan Hsu and Proprietor Aomboon Deasy.

Pomet represents farm-to-table cooking — beyond.

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Dining Outside at Chez TJ

Dry-aged squab with confit mushrooms at Chez TJ.
Dry-aged squab with confit mushrooms at Chez TJ.

Operating a restaurant during the worst of the pandemic has untold challenges. But imagine if it’s one that’s housed in a historic circa-1894 Victorian with small rooms and tight hallways, and a tiny kitchen geared toward turning out exquisite upscale tasting-menus, not takeout fare in cardboard boxes.

Michelin-starred Chez TJ in downtown Mountain View not only weathered all of that, but also made a big chef change mid-pandemic, remodeled its interior, and even added a splashy outdoor dining area complete with modern fire pit, and a snazzy louvered roof that can close in inclement weather.

It remains a lovely and special experience, as always, as I found when I dined outside last week.

Owner George Aviet has a gift for spotting talent. Among the celebrated chefs who have headed Chez TJ early in their careers are: Joshua Skenes, who went on to open San Francisco’s Saison and Angler; Christopher Kostow, who went on to earn three Michelin stars at The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena; Bruno Chemel, who later opened his award-winning Baume in Palo Alto; Scott Nishiyama, who worked at the French Laundry, and is expected to open Ethel’s Fancy in Palo Alto this year; and most recently, Jarad Gallagher, who left to open Smoke Point BBQ in San Juan Bautista.

You can see the new outdoor dining area to the right.
You can see the new outdoor dining area to the right.

Christopher Lemerand took over in summer 2020, bringing along an equally impressive background, having cooked on the team at Atelier Crenn in San Francisco when it received its second Michelin star, and at Coi in San Francisco when it received its third Michelin star.

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Dining Outside At Bao Bei Inside State Street Market

A trio of baos from Bao Bei. (Front to back: pork belly, fried chicken, and smoked mushroom.)
A trio of baos from Bao Bei. (Front to back: pork belly, fried chicken, and smoked mushroom.)

When a friend and I met up recently to finally check out the massive food hall in downtown Los Altos known as State Street Market, we made a beeline for the one vendor we’d been most wanting to try: Bao Bei by the former husband-and-wife team behind the Michelin-starred, upscale Korean restaurant, Maum in Palo Alto, which shuttered during the pandemic.

Chefs Meichih and Michael Kim named this casual spot after a Mandarin term of endearment they lovingly call their young son. It specializes in a blend of Korean-Taiwanese street fare. With a dearth of progressive Asian restaurants in Los Altos, it’s a welcome find, too.

The 33,000-square-foot space has plenty of seating, both indoors and out. Inside, you’ll find half a dozen vendors to choose from. More are on the way, too.

The bear that greets you at the front of State Street Market.
The bear that greets you at the front of State Street Market.

Bao Bei is located inside on the left-hand side. You order at a touch-screen kiosk, choosing your items, paying with a credit card, and then entering your phone number to receive a text alert when it’s all ready.

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