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on Jan 14, 2014
Does anyone know if there are plans for the old Sizzler location? Is Applebees still considering it?
How about the old Hunan Gourmet (corner of Castro & Evelyn) ???
That lot next to the Country Gourmet is sure desolate. It could use some businesses to move in to fill-up the gap between buildings. That would be a nice "Grease-Truck" hangout on Monday or Fridays.
The old Hunan Chili will be replaced with a Little Sheep Hot Pot, which has locations in San Mateo and Cupertino. Very popular place.
Note that Chik Fil A is always busy in Sunnyvale. More traffic at a significant level? Maybe. There's certainly more taxes at a significant level going to Sunnyvale....
Also not that the old Country Way or whatever, just down the street from Sizzler is going to be a Five Guys. Which is quite popular all over. Far to popular to have only that tiny parking lot.... So much for the preposterous reason of "too much traffic" for denying Chik Fil A
Bigger Mac - I take it you haven't seen the horrendous impact Chick-fil-a has had on Sunnyvale traffic. Nothingpreposterous about that. What is preposterous is having a Five Guys at El Camino an Rengstorff. I love them, but there will be a traffic nightmare, just as with Chick-fil-a.
Well, somehow I think that maybe, just maybe, if Chick-fil-A wasn't evangelical-run, MV may have found a way to permit them to open here. But no, no, no -- traffic! Oh, the traffic!
Just remember: Five Guys = acceptable traffic; Chick-fil-A = TRAFFIC!
@Anon: Cooking Papa, a fairly popular Asian restaurant in Santa Clara and Foster City, aims to open in the old Sizzler space by March 2014.
Any update on the rumor that a Le Boulange will open up in the old scientology building?
According to an article in the Voice a few months ago, it seems like Tartine is opening up in that space. Not sure if it's the same Tartine as in SF.
There's a 5 guys burgers by my work. Think I'll check it out. My coworkers have been giving it thumbs up. Glad its not a chic-fil-a. All politics aside, even as a teen I wasn't able to stomach that stuff. They had one in the old Sunnyvale Town Center.
The "Tartine" going into 331 Castro is unknown. It could be the famous SF business, however I'm not sure if Mountain View would be their first choice. I would think that Palo Alto would be a better first foray on the Peninsula, although the presence of La Boulange might make it very tough.
There's also an unrelated "Cafe La Tartine" in Redwood City -- more like a Panera Bread in terms of quality. That's a possibly for the old Scientology location.
It sure would be nice to have a better breakfast coffee place in downtown MV though.
Jay Park: While many people today already find good options for breakfast and coffee in downtown Mountain View between Crepevine, Bean Scene Cafe, Dana St. Roasting Co., Cafe Olympus (which bakes on site), Los Charros (traditional American breakfasts), and the four other espresso houses (two independent and two chain) that have at least some pastry selection -- have you tried all of those nine options yet? -- you're in luck, because not just 331 Castro but now also 209 Castro are in line for new European-style pastry shops: Web Link
Those suggestions are great for a grab-n-go/quickie bite (I'm a longtime Dana St/Red Rock person), but I'm thinking more of a place like the actual Tartine Bakery in the Mission District (18th & Guerrero, if I remember correctly). The baked goods at the MV places mentioned are simply a step below. There are plenty of good reasons why the coffee shops you mentioned exist, I'm just hopeful that there's something a step up.
I will not hesitate to mention that I am not a La Boulange fan; I've been left with several poor impressions of that local chain (now owned by Starbucks), mostly from poor experiences with some of their SF shops.
The only location you mentioned that I haven't been to for breakfast is Crepevine. I think Dana Street's coffee is stellar though.
I am looking forward to the Alexander's Patisserie, hope they can pull it together.
I cannot compare SF's Tartine personally having never tried it, but I have some idea what you mean from lots of experience elsewhere.
Grab-n-go aside, some of those places I mention have long offered full, cooked-to-order breakfasts. Crepevine filled a real need and is extremely popular, but Bean Scene (at the Performing Arts Center) offered crepes and other meals well before Crepevine, and of course Los Charros on Dana has been the continuous, inexpensive, traditional hot breakfast restaurant downtown longer than any of the others. There is a funny, longtime tradition of people in downtown MV grousing about lack of interesting hot breakfast options, but then not patronizing those that do offer them, which, naturally, go out of business. SteakOut (now Bierhaus) and Scratch both experimented with full breakfast menus in recent years, then gave up for lack of demand. Several years before Crepevine, a very creative European breakfast crepe place operated for a while in the front of what's now Monte Carlo nightclub but similarly closed for lack of business. Other places from earlier decades are long gone. So I wanted to at least mention some existing options.
I apologize also for omitting earlier Le Boulanger (the SOUTH-Bay chain) which is a full bakery, and Hong Kong Bakery, which does not offer coffee or seating but has fresh diverse pastries to go, and fast hot dim sum on weekends -- bit of a locals' secret. One former downtown-area resident had a ritual of getting dim sum take-out at HK bakery, then repairing to Dana St. Roasting to have some coffee with it.
My lament was not about the lack of breakfast places (there are quite a few), but the specific lack in the premium bakery category. There are plenty of middling places where you can get your ersatz commercially-baked scone/croissant/bagel with your morning beverage.
Tartine Bakery (SF) is one of the finest bakeries in all of the Bay Area, but their wholesale distribution is very limited due to the limited capacity.
The other thing that's missing is an old school American-style diner, like Ann's Coffee Shop in downtown Menlo Park. That would be definitely something I would patronize. Alas, I would be a fool to expect something like that to appear in the near future.
Jay: to clarify, the remark of yours that I responded to was "Those suggestions are great for a grab-n-go/quickie bite" (some of the restaurants named go well beyond that). My further comment on the no-downtown-breakfast-options myth was general, not a response to anything posted here.
We're in complete agreement about "ersatz commercially-baked" pastries -- cheap imitations of what some of these products can be when conscientiously made.
Sugar Butter Flour is another small, and nearer, example of a quality local bakery (nearest site just across the border in Sunnyvale). One telltale of premium or very traditional bakeries is that they never employ the industrially hydrogenated vegetable fats containing trans-bond fatty acids, which (a) essentially don't occur in natural foods (we are evolved to metabolize cis-type fatty acids instead), (b) taste rather like soap, (c) are a cornerstone of hokey commercial US baking and fast foods; and (d) are on the way "out" at long long last, though researchers have correlated these synthetic fats with serious illness since Ancel Kays raised concerns about heart disease in 1958. ("The edible oil industry was very swift in their squelching of that information," reported U. of Maryland edible-fats expert Dr. Mary Enig in 2000; "they shifted the emphasis to 'saturated' fat and started the unwarranted attack on meat and dairy fats. It has taken 30 years for research to get back on track.")
Thanks Max for the recommendation, I'll have to check out Sugar Butter Flour one of these days.
My yardsticks for judging bakeries are pretty simple: the croissant and the levain-style bread loaf.
Hey, let us know when you find a decent bagel shop!
Two relevant pieces of information picked up downtown today:
Tartine's baking cookbooks (a third volume recently appeared) are well known at Books Inc. where they are "the best-selling cookbooks we currently carry" and are impressive to look at, too. Tartine is a national, not just regional, standout. The New York Times (a month ago today) called it "one of the most admired bakeries in the country."
And, one of my best informed Sources among the many downtown restaurateurs, when I mentioned uncertainty re exactly which business planned to occupy 331 Castro, told me about reading a news item about plans by SF's Tartine to expand "down the peninsula." But could not recall the exact source. We can at least hope it wasn't just this same comment thread, feeding on itself. :-)
(Typo earlier: pioneering researcher on trans-fatty acid health effects was Ancel Keys, not Kays.)
'What's new in Mountain View's thriving restaurant scene? We have the skinny on new eateries coming to town in early 2014.' If the restaurant scene is so thriving, then why do these eateries close after a year or less? Bring back Der Weinersnitzel. That eatery was in that one building for over 30 years. Its replacement has been replaced at least TWICE since. Is that 'thriving'???
I hope that Boston Market comes back to Mountain View by taking over the site of the former Sizzler. We need Boston Market back in Mountain View---or at least I need them back...Good food for sure...
I would also consider for the now vacant Sizzler building a 'Jeffrey's' eatery like the one on El Camino in Menlo Park. I am sure Jeffrey's would be a success here in our fair city where restaurants come and go so quickly!!!
tommy, since you asked: I am told you can thank the City for Der Wienerschnitzel's demise -- that the owner needed to do some facilities upgrades, but that City planning staff imposed design modification requirements so expensive that the business could not afford them, and closed instead. Similar unexpected design-change demands (beyond the dictates of published guidelines) have been independently reported by founders of several recently opened restaurants.
And we now have over 100 restaurant spaces downtown where 20 years ago we had about 70. Despite turnover (which has occurred steadily for decades, not just recently), downtown MV has developed a denser concentration of highly diverse restaurants than almost anywhere, maybe literally anywhere, else in the nine Bay-Area counties.
(That this will, still, never be enough to satisfy some folks, no matter what kinds of restaurants open, is a venerable principle already established years ago in these Town Square comment sections.)
Hello 'Burger Luva', years ago, my brother and I ate at the Chick-fil-A at the Sunnyvale Town Center. Within an hour, he got food poisoning and nauseated his entire lunch. We never ate there again!!!
We don't need another burger joint. We already have the one on castro that resides where the hot dog place was. We have Clarks and that new one on the corner of El Camino and San Antonio. Now 5 guys?
We lost the best restaurants with American (or whatever) food. Country Gourmet, Sizzler and Marie Calender's. International food is great sometimes, but I like meat and potatoes that are not at astronomical prices.
I dislike Le Boulanger to for the record. Bad move on Starbuck's part.
I love Weinerschnitzel. Yes, I know, but I still do anyway. Everything in moderation.
@My 2 cents:
Starbucks did not acquire the long-time Le Boulanger chain of bakery/coffee shops. They acquired more recent, smaller SF chain of La Boulange (which is a meaningless word in French) bakeries. There's a Le Boulanger on Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park, and a La Boulange on University Avenue in Palo Alto.
The two chains are totally unrelated.
Sigh, more yuppie restaurants on Castro.
It would be nice to have something between the fast food on El Camino and the yuppie places on Castro.
There is, you are just not bothering to open your eyes. There are taquerias, ramen shops, pho noodles, a burger stand (recently relaunched Bierhaus), some mediocre Chinese (of course some better Chinese too), some mediocre sushi (and some better sushi as well), none of which would be considered "yuppie."
In any case, the clientele determines what sort of place restaurateurs decide to open. Mountain View has changed considerably in the past twenty years. Back in the early Nineties, downtown Mountain View was basically one utterly forgettable Asian restaurant after another: Food Street, Golden Wok, etc.
Personally, I wish there was more retail on Castro than more restaurants.
"Back in the early Nineties, downtown Mountain View was basically one utterly forgettable Asian restaurant after another: Food Street, Golden Wok, etc."
Whoa. I have the same factual-accuracy problem with that characterization as with the stubborn myths mindlessly repeated on this site, like "no breakfast restaurants" (vividly untrue for many years), or "nothing but Asian restaurants" (it's around 40% Asian -- I've checked -- and to get that many requires the actual, inclusive meaning of "Asia" -- not just India, China, Japan, Korean, and Thailand).
I checked out most of downtown's restaurants in the early 90s, and still have not just their business cards, but many of their menus.
Without even exploring side streets (thus places like Austin's BBQ and the venerable El Calderon, praised even by SF's legendary Herb Caen -- the guy who "discovered" Trader Vic in Oakland in 1936), what about Jacqueline's Bistro (185 Castro)? Castro has had no such casual French café since it closed. Castro St. Bar & Grill was the first place locally where I saw the hip healthy practice of EVOO and balsamic vinegar (instead of butter) offered with bread. Florentine's was the old-school inexpensive Italian place. Fogg's was the beer-geek hangout (100-plus beers on my menu copy) with pub food.
Sue's Indian Cuisine was a "destination" Indian restaurant (Sue Sista herself a Grande Dame among Bay Area Indian-émigré restaurateurs, interviewed in magazines). She memorably aided at least one eater's education on how hot vindaloo must be. Your casual comment does little justice to some well-respected other Asian restaurants too. Tien Fu expanded from SF to 176 Castro in 1991 to good press, opening jointly with Castro St. Bar & Grill (they shared a bar). Many of us enjoyed fine Chinese specialties at Tien Fu, Szechuan Garden, and the venerable Kirin, a Cantonese restaurant with in-depth menu, which survived the downtown's downturn and is still going strong, offering conspicuously non-yuppie south-Chinese specialties and inexpensive hearty lunches.
In the pre-Revitalization 1980s after "stores abandoned downtown" (Nick Perry' s phrase) -- four Castro traffic lanes, few pedestrians, the perpetually vacant 444-Castro IED Building nicknamed "Dog City" -- there was, in fact, more retail; but it was closed, driven out of business in the shopping-mall era. The 1989-90 Revitalization project, and the arrival of restaurants to replace vanished retail, are precisely what brought the downtown back. The look and feel of today's downtown have palpably more in common with the early 1990s -- which BEGAN the current era -- than with the depressed pre-Revitalization downtown of the 1970s and 80s.
FYI, my Cassell's French Dictionary defines "boulange" as a feminine noun: "Bakery, bread-making, selling, etc."
I'd still contend that there's a dearth of breakfast places if you're looking for an omelette or a Hobee's-type breakfast. Los Charros is the one place that comes to mind...but frankly the portions are small and the food isn't that good. Is there another diner/Hobees-type breakfast place?
1. Update: 331 Castro (the "former Scientology site," remodeled 2013 into offices in back, bakery in front) now has a directory plaque that includes
Suite 100: La Tartine bakery
More than that your correspondent knoweth not.
2. "Breakfast:" Today I looked in at two places that I know offer breakfast omelettes. Crepevine has a menu of five or six, along with its dozens of savory and sweet, good-value crêpes. (Crepevine is one of the places I send people for real value: you can get a creative, main-meal-of-the-day sized plate of crêpe, sandwich or wrap, salad, and potatoes for $10.) Bean Scene (which has offered freshly made crêpes since before Crepevine opened) has one or two omelettes. Cafe Olympus (which replaced Neto -- which also offered similar breakfast items for years before Crepevine) has an omelette menu:
There are probably others on Castro. I named further breakfast restaurants (upthread here) that dropped it, for lack of demand. Obviously, if you want exactly Hobee's, you can always go to Hobee's -- nearest one is not far away, on Central.
3. Max's Downtown-MV Restaurants Rule #1 (MDMVR1):
That someone can always cite some "yes, but" dish or genre they haven't found downtown has never been in question. Years of Town Square comments demonstrate it. The issue, rather, is whether MOST people can find something (dish, style, price) to satisfy themselves there. My experience is, they can. Further evidence is the many things people have grumbled about not finding downtown that were, actually, available there, had they bothered to look.
Disappointing to hear that Cooking Papa is taking the old Sizzler spot. Chick-Fil-A would have been absolutely perfect there. The whole notion of keeping drive-thrus out of MV on El Camino is absurd. It's a traffic thoroughfare, should remain one, and it's ignorant to try and change that. But then they allow Five Guys to move in down the street with a parking lot five times too small... talk about hypocrisy. Five Guys has to be the worst of the fast casual burger places out there as well; it's overpriced food that's nothing special.
I really wish Boston Market would come back, but I just don't see it happening sadly. That Sizzler spot would have been perfect for it as well.
And in the related vicinity... allow me to slam yet again the awful new intersection at El Camino & Clark. What was the point of adding a traffic light there again? If you were just going to force people to turn right, add a sign and that cheap barricade and save the city some money. There's zero reason to prevent left turns now that there's a traffic light installed. As is, that single intersection has added 5 minutes to my daily work commute. It's terrible.
Sem: "As is, that single intersection has added 5 minutes to my daily work commute. It's terrible."
Just wait 'til Margaret Abe-Koga and her VTA associates finally manage to turn the proposed B(us) R(apid) T(ransit) lanes on El Camino Real into a reality. BRT lanes combined with the hundreds of additional housing units which are being built and/or are part of the ECR precise plane vision (or whatever it's called) ... yeah, good luck to drivers who use state highway 82 aka, El Camino Real, daily. Figure what may have been a 12 minute drive up/down ECR in 2013 will take at least double that amount of time once the combined impact of over-development and the VTA's boondoggle project comes to fruition. But have no fear, SIX additional stoplights on El Camino Real between Grant Road and Shoreline Blvd is all it will take for the dedicated lane BRT to run that distance.
Boondoggle: noun: "an expensive and wasteful project usually paid for with public money"
To quote what former Mountain View city council member, Laura Macias, wrote:
"Dedicated flow ( preferred by VTA staff ) along El Camino is designed in a linear traffic mode-- how fast to get the bus from point A to C. This means that also proposed are elimination of left turn lanes on Clark, Ortega, and Escuela. The first iteration that I saw on the BRT VTA subcommittee that I serve on, also limits cross bike and ped traffic across El Camino. It is hard to see the benefits. VTA's own traffic projection showed worse traffic grades on all but 2 of 16 Mtn View intersections with the ded implementation."
Mixed flow BRT as VTA calls it, is using the BRT and regular bus svc shared with regular traffic lanes That is doable. We can and should see about installing bike lanes. VTA has stated that there will be no bike lane funding without ded flow BRT."
If they succeed in putting in bus only lanes, the side street will be over-taxed and the city will be a mess. Personally, I have never seen a less intelligent pack than the City Council. The only one with a lick of business sense with respect to the RESIDENTS who pay for things is John Inks. The rest just want to foist their version of social engineering on us without our consent. Abe-Koga is the worst of the lot. The taxpayers are just a means to an end for her.
The intersection at Clark is an impediment that the taxpayers funded but are now punished by it. Popular restaurants are not allowed because they don't meet the social engineering standard, but the rules are bent for personal favorites. It is shameful.
I too walked by the old Scientology property and can confirm that the address placard says "La Tartine Bakery."
This does not bode well for anyone hoping for the SF bakery to come to Mountain View. The Tartine Bakery in San Francisco never uses the French "la" article.
Most likely the upcoming Mountain View operation is a new business with no connection whatsoever to the famous SF bakery or the forgettable Redwood City coffee shop.
Thanks SEM for your vote for Boston Market. At any rate, talking about Der Weinerschnitzel, there is one in South San Jose at the corner of Pearl Ave and Branham Lane that I drive by whenever I visit my uncle. Whenever I go in there and eat, I reminisce about my childhood on Castro when I went to the eatery there.
Now Five Guys is coming to town, and their bag full of fries!!!
Redwood City's Cafe La Tartine (830 Middlefield) was formerly listed publicly as "La Tartine," a bakery. But personnel there assured me, when I asked recently, that it's a single-site business unrelated to the new "La Tartine bakery" at 331 Castro, Mountain View.
[Tartine: French, n.f. "Slice of bread (with butter, jam, etc.); (colloq.) tirade, rigmarole." -- Cassell's]
So the Council allows Cooking Papa and Five Guys, but not Chick Fil A? Seems like it's less about healthy food and traffic, and more about political ideology. Such a shame, since Chick Fil A is much better!
Mountain View Restaurant scene is real Bad. Has not been the same since we lost Tony Romas, and Harry's Hofbrau. These flash in the pan places on castro are embarrassing to downtown. Is Mountain View not enticing enough for say a Macaroni Grill, or an Olive garden. How about a Steakhouse? The only good food in Mt. View is Mexican taqueria places like Los Altos Taqueria, or Taco mania.
Hey yea, that is right; Mountain View should get back Harry's Hofbrau. Mountain View has lost lots of great eateries where people loved to congregate and have great meals; Sizzler, Harry's Hofbrau, The Menu Tree, etc. These eateries were great to sit, eat, and socialize and even conduct business meetings, or other types of meetings. I do not think 'Cooking Papa' will be a major mainstay here in our fair city.
@ Max Hauser
I'm glad you still remember most of the restaurants in Mountain View from the 90's and may still have their business cards.
I have been trying to remember the name of this Chinese restaurant on Castro that I used to go to with my family. It is close to Evelyn Ave. And then there is this other Chinese restaurant on El Camino that's been long gone and converted to housing now- at 5100 El Camino, sort of across the street from Chevy's. That used to be a chinese restaurant but I can't remember the name of it.
I'm really hoping you can help me to figure the names of these restaurants that I used to go to. I would love it if you could name as many restaurants that used to be in Mountain View as you can. Thank you so much!
Greetings Helen. I'm more familiar with downtown restaurant history than the whole city's, but popular 1990s Chinese restaurants on Castro near Evelyn (100 block Castro, west side) were Hunan Gourmet and Szechuan Garden. Maybe one other, I'd have to check further.
I posted a list of downtown restaurants that closed since the 1990s on this forum in late 2011. 7th comment on Town Square item linked below. Not fully complete, but it has most of them.
Wow, thanks, Max Hauser! Thanks for the web link. You are so knowledgeable about downtown Mtn. View restaurants past and present although I didn't see on the list a name that sounded familiar to the place I was thinking of. It was a cantonese restaurant. But I really appreciate you responding so quickly!
Helen, one of the Chinese restaurants that operated on the W side 100 Castro block was very old, dating from late 1930s, a point that surfaced when it was reviewed in the Voice, maybe 2002 or 2004 or so. Much of that info is archived here on the web site, and you can search for it if you are willing to spend a little time.
I don't suppose you are thinking of HanGen (still there, under newish ownership) or Fu Lam Mum? Fu Lam Mum was on the W side of Castro, even-numbered 100 block, for most of its history (I have the old address saved, but not handy) until it moved to its current quarters across the street, at 153-155 Castro, a few years ago. One of those two might have even been the restaurant that started in the 1930s, although I don't know offhand.
i am so excited with seeing new restaurant eateries popping up on castro st. mountain view, especially with Doppio Zero, buffalo, and the soon to come Orens hummus and Pattiserrie by Alexander's.
One place I had ofter wondered about is the former (new China delight) #360 Castro St. it has been vacant for sometime- its a great space and i wonder why no one has set forward in acquiring that space? Does anyone know the inside scoop? Similar fate with the new Buffalo space that has sewer issues for years. Great location i hope a new chinese (higher-end chinese)restaurant will occupy that space.
any news i look forward to hear?
NCD at 360 Castro closed for business in 2010. There's been sporadic activity on the site since then. I walk by there several times a week, and if something develops I'll certainly mention it on the usual Old Mtn View media, such as neighborhood newsletter and Nextdoor, maybe Town Square too.
Spice Islands, 210 Hope at Villa, has been closed since 2009.
With storefront restaurant properties of these sizes now leasing for $5000 to $10000 monthly, sometimes even more, a property owner needs a good reason to leave the space idle. Evidently the former Food Street (now Buffalo) property owner got busy with repairs and turned that space back onto the market.
Helen, Is it possible the Chinese restaurant on Castro that you are trying to remember is Qui Hing Lo or Andy's? Qui Hing Lo used to serve not only fortune cookies, but also candied coconut strips at the end of the meal. I think the restaurant you are referring to across from Chevy's was the Grand China. Lots of good memories at all 3 places for me!
MVresident: It could be Grand China..What I remember is that it had a fireplace inside it. Qui HIng Lo doesn't sound familiar to me. I know my kids had to ask for fortune cookies at the end of the meal so I know that can't be the place then. LOL. Andy"s? I'm not sure.
Do you remember what used to be at Chevy's location anyway?
Max Hauser: The Mountain View History Center has old phone books, etc. in their library where I can search for old restaurants. They are open on Tuesdays 1-5 pm. I'm going to do some digging there.
Cooking Papa is coming soon. I see they've got their sign up on the building.
The Chinese restaurant on Castro near Evelyn was 2 doors down from Andy's - it was The House of Yee and our favorite place. We still misss it!
Why are there NO Jewish delis in the entire area? One is badly needed.
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