San Mateo‘s location in the middle of the Peninsula in California grants it easy access to both San Francisco and the South Bay. Hidden beside Highway 92 is a place filled with culture and history, which is best experienced in the great restaurants. Here’s ten must-visit places to eat in San Mateo.
Bar, Restaurant, Asian, Philippine, Chinese, Korean, $$$
Up through a small bar and a quick flight of stairs is Attic, a restaurant that offers modern twists to popular Asian cuisine, most notably from the Philippines, Southeast Asia, China, and Korea. Their ‘Ahi Tuna Poke’ on gyoza chips, ‘Adobo Wing Lollipops’, ‘Long Life Garlic Noodles’, and ‘Kimchee Fried Rice’ are standouts of the menu. The connected bar downstairs, Under the Attic, offers a relaxing environment to grab a drink with friends.
Good things come in small packages, and Ramen Dojo is a prime example. With a maximum capacity of 24 people, there are usually long lines but the food here is worth the wait. The shoyu ramen is the star of the menu that helps you appreciate traditional ramen. If you’re not willing to wait queue, owner Kazunori Kobayashi has also opened seafood and modern ramen shop, Ramen Parlor, just around the corner
Brunch is a way of life in San Mateo, and Three Restaurant and Bar is the best place to sample what’s on offer for a late breakfast in the city. Priding themselves with a regionally Californian menu, they strive to recreate the state’s diverse and eclectic personality in their food. Items are offered as either individual orders or as family plates, making Three a great place for both more intimate occasions and large gatherings.
Opened in 1906 by Japanese immigrants, Takahashi Market began as a store catering towards the Japanese-American population in San Mateo. In 2006, a kitchen was added where the chefs produce one of the best spam musubis in the Bay Area, as well as other Hawaiian-style plates. Takahashi Market serves as a landmark for early 20th century Asian-American culture, which still holds strong after more than 100 years.
Immediately presenting itself with a rustic interior, 31st Union offers a very Californian, farm-to-table approach to their artisanal food. They pride themselves for acquiring their ingredients locally within the state only, offering recipes and dishes of the highest quality. With a menu that brandishes a charcuterie, artisanal cheeses, and modern food plates, 31st Union is a Bay Area native’s dream.
One of the hottest food trends popping up around the Bay Area are build-your-own pokē bowl spots and Pokeatery brings this special taste to San Mateo. Opened in October 2015, they offer pokē plates of varying protein choices (tuna, salmon, hamachi, shrimp, octopus, and tofu), bases, sauces, and toppings, but what separates them is the inclusion of sides and Dole Whip floats. The space is small so seating is limited, but Pokeatery is worth a visit for getting some quick and easy island flavor.
A staple for sandwiches along the Peninsula, Mr. Pickle’s San Mateo location feels very much a part of the community. Many of their specialty sandwiches are named after local high schools, and they feature photos of the locals, giving customers a feeling of the city’s identity. The sandwiches themselves are hearty, packed with meat and stuffing, so it is best to come hungry.
There are many sushi restaurants that lay throughout San Mateo, but Sushi Sam’s Edomata stands out for its mix of traditional sushi and classic styles with modern twists. They are very popular, lines tend to get crazy long during meal hours with waits as long as a few hours, so patience is key to getting in. The seafood is always fresh and service always speedy, making Sushi Sam’s a necessary stop for high quality sushi.
Starting as a food truck in 2009, Curry Up Now has been a staple in Bay Area for Indian fusion cuisine. Now they have grown as a business that includes five trucks and four brick and mortar locations. The San Mateo restaurant has the usual selections of Indian style tacos, burritos, and street foods, all of which can also be ordered at its connecting cocktail bar Mortar & Pestle.
For a fulfilling nightlife experience, B Street & Vine is the wine bar to visit. A description of this restaurant can be narrowed down to three aspects: great wine, great bruschetta, and great live music. They also offer paninis and salads as meals, making B Street & Vine a perfect destination for a light meal with loved ones paired with a fun, lighthearted environment.