Posted by Arlene Imagawa, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on May 18, 2009 at 2:10 pm
I thought the comment by Forbes magazine that there was a lack of restaurants in Mountain View to be very strange. We have a wealth of wonderful places to eat here! In fact, we used to go to San Francisco many years ago to find places to eat, but no more...did the magazine actually walk down Castro street and the side streets around here?
Posted by Brent Harrison, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 18, 2009 at 2:14 pm
Problem with data aggregation with little/no human intervention. Miss the obvious that Mtn View is a mecca of diverse cuisine. I don't know if anyone (Yelp? UrbanSpoon?) has a firm count of restaurants. I'm guessing 50 or so in the downtown core alone. Wonder what constitutes "a lot" of restaurants is for a city of 75k?
Posted by Snakefinger, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on May 18, 2009 at 2:17 pm
While it's very nice for Mountain View to be rated so highly, Forbes' contention that our town lacks restaurants and entertainment is so off the mark that it's practically surreal. Did no one from their team visit downtown Castro Street? And if not, how accurate is their judging criteria?
Posted by Max, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 18, 2009 at 2:22 pm
Exact downtown restaurant count has been tracked for years by a local family interested in the subject. It was written up in the Voice in the past. In recent years, this count has hovered around 93, in and near the downtown blocks of Castro St., counting everything offering food (from coffee houses to Michelin-starred fine dining).
The URL is below (though at the moment, the site doesn't seem to be functioning normally). It has long been a valuable community resource, indexed optionally by name, "cuisine," etc., and with location maps and links to the restaurants' own Web sites (if any).
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 18, 2009 at 3:52 pm
I've lived here since 1989. My wife and I moved here because we liked the look of the place and the then not-too-high real estate costs. In short, we got what we were looking for.
We didn't care what the population was, and for the Bay Area, like most modern urban sprawls, where the only way you know what city you're in is by the color of the street signs, I can't imagine that anyone looks at a city's population to decide where to live.
It's nice that Forbes likes MV, but that kind of praise is strictly by the numbers, and is really meaningless.
If they want a meaningful indicator, they should poll residents about the overall quality of life here, and not just count items in categories. MV is a fine place to live, but not because we have a lot of x and a fair amount of y and z. I pity people who simply count quantities in life and not the quality of life.
Posted by JB, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on May 18, 2009 at 6:36 pm
Perhaps Forbes should have qualified their statement about a dearth of restaurants with the word "great" or "excellent." Then I would agree. As others have pointed out, there are lots of restaurants in MV, plenty of which are "good," but I have yet to find any that are "excellent" and on par with 5 or 6 restaurants located in our big brother to the north, San Francicso. Don't tell me Cascal, or even Chez TJ, Michelin rating notwithstanding, where I twice blew $350 on a meal not worth $100.
Nevertheless, I think my hometown rocks and is worth the high rating and notoriety by Forbes no matter how it was determined.
Posted by Neil, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on May 18, 2009 at 7:48 pm
It is a shame that Forbes has given MV such a favorable rating. All it will do is inspire the Forbes class, those who lust for power and prestige, to start looking around here for a place to live. Who needs 'em. They'll only degrade the neighborhood.
Posted by Andrew, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on May 18, 2009 at 10:21 pm
These top 10, top 50, top 100 surveys of places to live by any of these magazines are all junk. I stopped paying attention long ago. People like these articles because of their competitive natures, but as many commenters have noted, the articles are just detached from reality. And for good reason, I mean, who could seriously evaluate all the possible towns that could make the top 25?
Posted by Karen, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on May 19, 2009 at 11:17 am
Have lived here 55 years---great place, but would like some restaurants like Applebys, Lyons type and other medium priced places in the area. To many of the same type of places on Castro Street. I liked it when there was less people and more open spaces in the area.
Posted by old timer, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on May 19, 2009 at 11:59 am
I completely agree with Karen. I have lived in MV since 1966 and while there are definately plenty of restaurants in town, there really aren't very many casual affordable "American" places to eat. We used to have Denny's, Bob's Big Boy, Ken's House of Pancakes, Linda's Drive in, Mervyn's Restaurant, Walkers Wagon Wheel (back when it was a decent restaurant), and so many more. Now if we want affordable American food, we have to go outside of Mountain View. I would love to see them bring Applbees or Lyons to MV. I would also love to have a nice little family owned bakery in town again like we used to have when California Bakery was on Castro Street. They were awesome!
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on May 19, 2009 at 12:04 pm
Speaking of Google.... It is great to have them in town, but the fact about Google is that they have actually pushed quite a few restaurants out of business. Ever since they took over the entire Shoreline side of town, and started feeding their employees for free, the restaurants on that side of town have suffered for it. There used to be many companies in the space that Google now takes up and the local restaurants relied on the business that came from those companies.
Posted by Max, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 19, 2009 at 1:19 pm
Understand some people might like the style of restaurants like Applebee's and Denny's, but I don't understand at all the posted complaints here about "many of the same type" of restaurants on Castro St., let alone lack of "medium-priced" places. I suggest trying more of them, because affordability and diversity are what Castro St. is now famous for. They are the reasons my friends, and many other people, choose to meet there to eat, instead of in their own neighborhoods. Of the 90-plus current restaurants (up from around 70 just a few years ago), a few are high-end, high-price, but the vast majority are notable for value -- you can get an interesting satisfying lunch for a few dollars. "Same type" ?? Which type is that??? Many towns of the size would envy the ability to find multiple choices EACH of quality pizza, Vietnamese, seafood, Indian, Mexican, Thai, sandwiches, Korean, fast food, Chinese, Italian, Middle-Eastern grills, and Japanese, including TWO genuine Japanese noodle-soup houses (Ryowa and Maru Ichi -- international extreme comfort food with wide appeal). All within four blocks.
Posted by USA, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 19, 2009 at 2:55 pm USA is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
The Bay Area a seriously messed up ideas abut diversity. For all the caterwauling about racism, “diversity” here means a variety of skin colors instead of a variety of ideas. Don’t think so? Try espousing ideas not in-line with the politically correct view and see how far that “Free Speech” will go.
With that mucked-up mindset, it is no wonder people here think that Castro Street has a diversity of restaurants. Chinese, Mongolian, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Indian, and Japanese is not diversity. It is Asian. If you want diversity, how about having some good French and Italian places on Castro? How about a steak house? A burger and fries place. A family restaurant. Some Tex-Mex? A BBQ pit. A bar for us over-30 types? How about a bakery (a real one)? A decent vegetarian/vegan place s sorely needed, too. While we are at it, could we get a place that is open after 9:00 where we can get an actual meal?
It is a sad state of affairs when the food courts at the shopping malls have more diversity.
Posted by Max, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 19, 2009 at 3:36 pm
USA's "Chinese, Mongolian, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Indian, and Japanese is not diversity," although it embraces some excellent downtown restaurants by wide agreement, also omits the two American, eight bakery/deli/cafe, nine coffee/tea/juice, three fast-food, four ice-cream parlor, four Italian, six each "Mediterranean" and Mexican, three Pizza, three "Pub," and one each Salvadorian, Spanish and French places mentioned in a recent snapshot of the downtown restaurant directory I cited earlier. The majority of Castro St. restaurants are not even classed as Asian cuisines. It also omits at least three neighborhood bars (with good food too) popular with many of us locals over 30 (at Cantankerous Fish, Kapp's, and Zucca). It asks "How about a steak house?" but doesn't mention the one that opened a few years ago on Castro, then closed from lack of business. Getting the restaurants you want requires more than lip service.
Posted by Carolyn, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on May 19, 2009 at 6:11 pm
USA, there is now a Taqueria La Bamba on Castro. Almost as good as the original.
I find it mind boggling that people want a Crapplebees in Mountain View. There are plenty of reasonably priced options around. Would love more diversity of options though, as USA points out most are Asian.
Posted by kanan krishnan, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 19, 2009 at 9:27 pm
i have been living here since 1991. i accidently moved here from newyork city. a really nice place to live. unfortunately it got crowded and very expensive. thanks to google and other big companies for making it expensive and decent middle class people to live. it has become a stinking expensive and yuppy place in the last 5+ years. i hope google moves out and the middle class people start moving in.
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community, on May 20, 2009 at 7:57 am
Right on Mtn View, i live in Napa where we have lots of places to eat, but most of way too pricey, Applebees, IHOP and Dennys, just ok, Mtn View needs a Black Bear Diner based out of the redding area.
I grew up there and can say we have always been a good place to live, even with the illegals, we have good schools, good parks, Stevens Creeks, Shoreline Park, Cuesta Park and Eagle Park, really nice train station, good places to perform lkive music, outdooor stage, Charleston Park, i remeber New Orleans by the Bay, decent tennis, and lots of places to work out and get fit, a really good hospital. A library that to rates very high from what i have seen. A City Hall that needs explaining, great lobby and inter stairwell, street festivals. As for the rest of the area, Living in that area a short drive to everything else you would want, need or desire.
Posted by eric, a resident of another community, on May 20, 2009 at 9:44 am
I dont disagree with you that the variety of Asian cuisine on Castro is difficult to define as 'diverse' (though, as I'm sure you know, Thai and Japanese are very different, though clearly in the same broad category). Recall, though, that even 10 years ago, there was virtually nothing BUT Asian food on Castro. Good French? Dude, Chez TJ is considered one of the best Bay Area restaurants outside of SF! There IS great Mexican, decent Italian, a good burger place, pseudo-Spanish, adequate seafood, good (and bad) pizza, etc.
I agree that there are some holes in the downtown offering, but Castro is a lot smaller than University Ave, so expectations should be tempered. I'm really hoping that a quality operator with a good concept (and a decent bar...) takes over the uwink site. I'll buy the first round when that happens, USA!
Posted by eric, a resident of another community, on May 20, 2009 at 9:51 am
Seperate topic, seperate post.
I'm not sure that I personally would define 'diversity' just as political stance. I view it as more of a cultural thing (and I agree that skin color alone doesnt count). Mtn View has that sort of diversity by the bucketful.
On the political front, though, may I suggest that the fact there is lively debate and disagreement suggests a diversity of thought. Just because your wrong-headed views are in the minority doesnt mean that they dont broaden the conversation ;-)
Posted by Lucy, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on May 20, 2009 at 11:53 am
I think it is great that we were recognised by Forbes, regardless of how accurate their statements might be. As a city, it is a wonderful recognition. I have lived in this wonderful town for more than 40 years, most of my life, and I have seen many great restaurants come and go. I can't think of many that are around today that were here 40 years ago. But one thing that I do agree with is that regardless of how some people feel about the "lack of diversity" in the restaurants on Castro Street, it is definately much more diverse than it was 20 years ago. When I was growing up in the 70's and 80's Castro Street was pretty much considered a mini Chinatown. I know that many people want to see other types of restaurants there, but sadly enough, many other types have tried to succeed and failed. Such as the Roadhouse Steakhouse. There are some great places to eat downtown, and I would eat there much more often if I could afford to. I do like the other types of "Family restaurants" like Applebees and IHOP, but we do have some great places to eat right here in town too. The one negative comment that I would have to say about dining on Castro Street is the parking. Especially for older people. To dine in downtown, you usually have to be willing to park a little farther from the restaurant and walk. Especially if you are trying to have a late dinner on a weekend. This is fine for some, but not for everyone. But I know that this is the case in just about any downtown area that you go to.
Posted by USA, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 20, 2009 at 1:17 pm USA is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Max -- I had forgotten about Don Giovanni, so that is certainly one for the Italian column. Chez TJ is close enough to Castro to also add. However, I think a number of Max's category assignments are are bit generous. There is no real bakery, no real neighborhood bar, and no real steak place. For example. the Roadhouse was a great place in a bad spot. I liked going there with my family. I liked the bar there (without kids). But, the Roadhouse was not a steak place like Ruth Chris.
Anyway, it is not worth belaboring the points. I suppose if it needed a label I would call it Yuppy Fare for the 20/30-something crowd.
It is certainly better than it was 20 years ago when if was almost all low/mid-cost Chinese.
Posted by USA, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 20, 2009 at 1:22 pm USA is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Carolyn -- I tried the food at the Mexican restaurant that was there before. It was so-so. When the Roadhouse closed, the bartender from the Roadhouse set up a bar at the back of the place which had a nice everybody-know-your-name kind of feel. When the place changed over to La Bamba, the new bartenders were so grossly incompetent that I never tried the food nor went back. It has been a while. I'll give it a shot again.
Posted by Bruno, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 20, 2009 at 5:03 pm
I can't believe it USA, we actually agree here. Calling the food on Castro "diverse" is a bit of an overstatement. I'm not big into Asian food aside from Chinese and Teppanyaki, so there's quite a few open spots on Castro that just don't gather my interest. What I'd really like to see downtown is a Peninsula Creamery or a similar diner type place. Bring back the Scuttlebutt!
The taqueria you mention "El Grullense" (a lot of them share that name) was a great taco spot before LaBamba took over. LaBamba has great burritos, but their tacos need some serious work. Also the bartender who aquired the rights to serve in the small bar in the back got totally screwed over when LaBamba took over. He told me about it one night at Mervyn's and he was pretty let down. Now that bar just sits there in the back unattended.
Posted by mtnviewvj, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 20, 2009 at 8:18 pm
Forbes writer must have been asleep and snoring hard when going past the restaurant area. As a matter of fact, the restaurant selection here is FAR better than in San Jose. Just go downtown and there's a gigantic choice there, and from many parts of the world.
Posted by Max, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 21, 2009 at 9:53 am
First, regardless of preference, people who continue to assume that downtown MV restaurants are "mostly Asian" are factually mistaken, according to the categories by which not I, but the independent operators of the mountainviewca.net downtown restaurant index, classify restaurants -- information public for years. As of a few months ago, that index totaled 41 downtown restaurants in "Asian" categories and 52 in the non-"Asian" that I detailed above. Obviously you can nit-pick the categories if you really want to, or in other ways miss the larger realities, such as: Sweeping complaints about "no real bakery" and "no real neighborhood bar," without explaining what you've personally disliked in your implied thorough experience of all the existing ones in each category, convey more about the complainer than the restaurants. As does missing the huge irony in a comment like "Chinese, Mongolian, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Indian, and Japanese is not diversity" (after all, "Asian" only covers 60% of the world's people, and a wider range of cuisines than anywhere else!) or the deeper reality that so many of those 41 "Asian" restaurants are GOOD by wide consensus -- and moderately priced, family-friendly, etc. Or other assertions that deny current realities: "How about a steak house? A burger and fries place. A family restaurant. Some Tex-Mex?" Um, several restaurants downtown serve good burgers and fries, Kapp's even uses US Prime beef. (Their "Francisco" burger is something like a half pound, French roll.) Clarke's, the locally-owned independent grill and one of the "American" places I earlier enumerated, is popular for burgers (with its extensive self-service condiments bar) and various grilled sausages (grilled split, served on a French roll, tomatoes optional). Cantankerous Fish, name notwithstanding, has served excellent steaks, and French fries that many French bistros would envy. Speaking of which, if we broaden "downtown" to include El Camino just past Shoreline, that adds Le Petit Bistro, a genuine French neighborhood restaurant (French-immigrant-run, moderately priced) and next door to it, El Paso Cafe, which is explicitly Tex-Mex.
I'd forgotten the departed Roadhouse. The closed Castro St. steakhouse I cited above was Babbo, 2001-2003 I think, a specialty steak chain "like Ruth's Chris." Neither got enough business to remain. It's ironic that people call for things like steak houses (and breakfast places) downtown after they, on the whole, didn't patronize the ones that did open, enough to keep them open. If you don't see this, I suggest opening your own!
Posted by USA, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 21, 2009 at 10:25 am USA is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Max - Relax. It is not worth getting that worked up about. I frequented the Roadhouse. Bad management, despite the generally good staff, was its undoing. Ditto for uWinks. There have been excellent suggestions for the well run Peninsula Creamery or Black Bear for that location.
Bruno - Is Dave working at Mervyns or did you just run into him there?
Mtnviewvj - I imagine that the Forbes people are thinking about places like the River Walk (San Antonio), 6th Street (Austin), and Beale Street (Memphis) when they evaluate places. Thankfully, we are a lot more interesting and "happening" than San Jose.
Posted by USA, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 21, 2009 at 11:03 am USA is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Eric - Point taken on political vs. cultural diversity. However, cultural diversity in this area is also a fraud. I imagine that many of your neighbors in the Silicon Valley, co-workers, and circle of friends are foreign-born, come from varied cultures, and speak many different languages. But I but that nearly all of them come from mid to well to-do families, are college educated, and believe that educations and hard work are the keys to success in the US. Though they be different in several superficial ways, they are not all that different than the whitebread suburbanites in communities throughout the US. As such they are subject to the same myopia.
Contrast your world with Los Angles where there is a 50% dropout rate in the school district. Half the people entering the job force there do not even have a high school diploma. That is a different culture. That is a group with different needs, different desires, and different view points.
If you really want diversity here, spend the day talking with the guy who sweeps the floors at your office, not the guy who develops Java code down the hall.
Posted by Designman, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on May 21, 2009 at 11:11 am
Bravo Max. Yes, there are a lot of asian restaurants on and off Castro, but hello, not all asian cuisine is the same like not all asians are the same. They are in business because the community keeps them in business and they serve decent food backed by good service. I'd be thrilled if a new steakhouse, or non even a restaurant chain set up shop... as long as it was good! That is the true test.
Posted by Bruno, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 21, 2009 at 11:36 am
USA - No I just run into him there from time to time but I haven't seen him in months.
Why are people so upset at the categorizing of Asian food? It may be interesting that they cover 60% of the world's people, but we are talking about Mtn. View right? Just because some of us would like some more options downtown doesn't mean that we think "all Asians are the same". I know these spots downtown can be very busy, but I think you are not factoring in all of the people from other cities that come to Mtn. View for the famous Asian cuisine. They keep the businesses going and that's why it's not unusual to see 3 Thai restaurants within 5 doors of each other. That doesn't mean that that's what Mtn. View residents want.
And counting Clarke's, which has gone downhill in my eyes, and the El Paso Cafe as downtown is a stretch.
Posted by Max, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 21, 2009 at 2:21 pm
Bruno ('doesn't mean that we think "all Asians are the same" '), please recall it was USA's first posting that complained "people here think that Castro Street has a diversity of restaurants" and lumped all Asian cuisines together as "not diversity" (i.e., the same) -- so, take it up with USA. Along with implying that downtown MV restaurants are essentially all "Asian," and other assertions about downtown restaurants that are similarly inaccurate. When basic facts are inaccurate, what are we to think of arguments based on them? Also, if the current restaurant population is not "what Mtn. View residents want," then why did those residents reject, by not patronizing, several of the now-closed "more options downtown," including the steakhouses and others?
KFC in fact is in the downtown restaurant index I mentioned (as "Fast food"), along with Clarke's -- both are within a couple blocks of Castro. Like Le Petit Bistro and El Paso Cafe, in the other direction, which for some reason aren't included. Any complaints should go to the lists's authors. Oh, and Kapp's Francisco Burger is indeed a half pound, and can be ordered rare if you like -- and the steak-type fries were as usual excellently crisp, when I got that combination at noon today, inspired by these discussions.
Posted by Nick, a resident of another community, on May 21, 2009 at 3:43 pm
Arguments about diversity aside, I agree that if someone has the money and know how, I'm sure they could make huge business by opening a branch of one of following on Castro Street:
1. Peninsula/Palo Alto Creamery
2. Brian's (in Rancho Shopping Center, Los Altos)www.briansrestaurantlosaltos.com
4. Toast (Noe Valley/SF)
5. Chow (SF, Lafayette)
You know, a fairly standard American diner where you can get a good pancake breakfast, BLT lunch, and burger and shake dinner. Since Meryvn's Diner closed, a classic "American" restaurant has been the most gaping hole in Downtown's scene - which is odd given that MV's tech-geeks, young families, and late-night bar hoppers all probably love the type of comfort food these kinda places dish up. The homey atmosphere of our historic downtown just screams for a place like this.
SO. How bout we stop whining about it here and get the Old Mtn. View Neighborhood Association to start a letter writing campaign to get one of these restaurants to open a location on Castro? Business recruitment! Sometimes that's all it takes.
Posted by USA, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 21, 2009 at 4:05 pm USA is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Max -- I should be able to collectively refer to Hunan and Szechuan as Chinese without the PC police getting bent out of shape. Likewise, I should also be able to refer to Japanese, Chinese, Thai, etc. collectively as Asian.
If you want to include restaurants off of Castro and call things like KFC a restaurant, then fine, we have diversity.
The important thing we need to remember out of all of this is that Eric is buying the next round.