The Bay Area is world renowned for being a center of food and drink. Alice Waters pioneered the farm to table movement over in Berkeley, San Francisco seems to have a place worth dining at every block, and I'm told that they grow grapes in the Napa and Sonoma valleys. But when people talk about the best bites in Silicon Valley, usually the conversation is focused on the number of megabytes in the latest technology invention. Silicon Valley? Aren't the best meals in those parts the free ones for employees at Google and Facebook's cafeterias?
Well, I can personally attest that the eating is mighty fine in those cafeterias, but Silicon Valley is definitely a destination for dining itself. To start with this is the ramen belt of the Bay Area, with Orenchi Ramen's superb tonkotsu ramen leading the way. Then there are the two-foot long dosas at Madras Cafe and killer tortas at La Casita Chilanga. Menlo Park's Café Borrone is the grand European café every town wishes it had, complete with a truly mind-blowing whipped cream on top of the mocha, and Tamarine puts a unique spin on Vietnamese cuisine in cosmopolitan surroundings that would be rare in any suburb, period.
It's not just coffee that fuels the programming in these parts. La Bodeguita del Medio boasts a Hemingway-worthy rum collection. The Santa Cruz Mountains above the valley are home to one of California's most underrated wine growing appellations, abundant in Pinot Noir and best known for the Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon from Ridge Vineyards. When it's time for a craft brew, choose from the 31 taps at Steins Beer Garden, and grab a bite, too—the gastropub menu is just as refined as each of the beers.
Choosing just eight things to eat and drink between San Mateo and Los Gatos is no easy task. Consider this an introductory guide, with many opportunities ahead for further sips and bytes.
Check out the slideshow for our top picks here. Where do you like to eat in the Valley?
About the author: Trevor Felch is a Bay Area based food & drink writer for the SF Weekly. Charm him with Oregon Pinot Noir and nutella crêpes. Follow him @TrevorFelch and visit his blog Trev's Bistro.