What’s to Eat?

On Tuesday I attended the Planning Commission meeting at which the eight-story, 350-unit apartment building proposed for 1409 El Camino Real (the section between Diller Street and the Chain Reaction Bicycles/Security Public Storage building) was once again brought up for consideration. After hearing from various members of the public, and a somewhat heated discussion between some of the commission members, the Planning Commission approved the project on a 4-1 vote. This project, the fourth in the immediate area being built by Greystar Development, will be their largest (Franklin 299, the first that they built in this part of town, sports some 305 apartments; Greystar II, currently under construction, will contain 175 apartments; and Greystar III, rising at the former location of Redwood Trading Post, will have 137). Although Greystar Development currently has two projects well underway, and is probably itching to get going on this one, too, given what I heard at the meeting I’m guessing that the approval will be appealed or a lawsuit seeking a modification of the project will be filed. Thus, although the property has been mostly surrounded by construction fencing for some months now, I don’t expect them to actually break ground for some time to come. Whatever happens, you can bet I’ll be keeping an eye on things and will let you know when the next step, whatever that is, is taken.

I enjoy a home-cooked meal as much as the next guy, but when offered a chance to eat out I usually take it. Some 28 years ago when my wife and I first moved to Redwood City, there weren’t too many memorable restaurants in Redwood City proper. Most often when we went out to eat we did so in San Carlos, in Menlo Park, or in Palo Alto. But the transformation that Redwood City has undergone over the past half-dozen years has not only brought us jobs and housing, it has also brought us countless restaurants and entertainment offerings. Those restaurants run the gamut from simple coffee houses to highly rated dining establishments. I’ve written about many of these before, but just as Redwood City’s skyline keeps changing, so does its supply of restaurants. It seems that hardly a week goes by without a new one popping up. Because they can be hard to keep track of, this week I thought it would be a good idea to go over some restaurant-related news.

First off, one of our better restaurants—the four-star (on Yelp) rated Broadway Masala—has been offline since a fire gutted the place back in December 2015. For more than a year now I’ve been watching the activity at the restaurant site, hoping to learn when it would finally reopen. For a time the contractors were making visible progress, and at one point signs went up proclaiming that Broadway Masala would reopen in the summer of 2016. But seemingly due to issues with how the work was being carried out, for some months the rebuild came to a screeching halt. Work stopped for long enough that I was starting to give up hope of them ever reopening. But the contractors apparently managed to sort things out: lately there has been a great deal of construction activity at the site.

Although construction walls make progress very hard to see, the wooden headers atop the three left-hand large openings were put up very recently. While taking these pictures I observed a carpenter working on the studs filling the right-most opening, and from the sounds of it others were working elsewhere within the new, much larger restaurant space. While there is still no indication of just when they will be done—clearly they have a long way to go—the fact that contractors are once again making progress, plus the fact that Broadway Masala’s web site now proclaims that “Broadway is still on the way” gives me confidence for their future. Broadway Masala really was one of our better restaurants, and thus its return will be a real plus for Redwood City’s restaurant scene.

Close by, on Hamilton Street, the Go Fish Poke Bar seems very close to opening. This week a liquor license application notice appeared on their door, and they recently applied for a permit to add a sign to the exterior of the building. The builders have been doing a pretty good job keeping outsiders from looking in during construction, but last week I managed to snap a picture through a gap in the plastic covering the windows:

As you can see, the floors and the counter seem mostly done, and some sort of large appliance was ready to be installed. Watch for them if you are into Japanese cuisine! I expect them to be a nice addition to our current restaurant lineup. I should note that back on October 29 they opened a Go Fish Poke Bar in the Stanford Shopping Center (and they still have their original location in San Jose), so interested residents don’t actually have to wait to get a Poke bowl fix. Don’t know what a Poke bowl is? Check out the description on their website. As for their Redwood City location, when Go Fish does open you’ll find them at 823 Hamilton Street, just a couple of doors down from our downtown Starbucks.

While reading one of the many emails put out by the City of Redwood City, I stumbled across a link that purported to list the most popular restaurants in town. Although I found the list to be somewhat incomplete, I was surprised to see that the first restaurant on the list was one with which I was not familiar. I thought I knew every restaurant in Redwood City, but this one was new to me. Which is a bit surprising, given that although it is in a somewhat out-of-the-way location for most Redwood City residents, I walk past it every time I head down to the intersection of Broadway and Woodside Road. The restaurant I’m talking about? It’s called Cari Blue, and you’ll find it at 1660 Broadway, next to Vision Mundial Ministries:

In my defense, there is no signage on the building (it’s the little white one in the center of the above photo) and I don’t think that the tall “Restaurant” flag has been out on the sidewalk for long. In any case, they claim that they have “the best Caribbean food in The Bay Area,” and they currently have five stars on Yelp. I have yet to try them, and frankly I’d be hard pressed to give them a proper review since I have no idea what Caribbean food is supposed to taste like. But their menu looks interesting, so I expect I’ll drop in and have lunch there one of these days. Oh, and they cater. So to all of the other types of food on offer in Redwood City, I guess we can add Caribbean…

While we’re in the area, let me just put in a quick plug for another of the restaurants in this area. While many of us just regard this section of Broadway as something to be endured while traveling between downtown and the Highway 101/Woodside Road interchange, its stores and restaurants should not be overlooked. In addition to Cari Blue, La Viga is just down the street at 1772 Broadway. La Viga is the sister restaurant to LV Mar, and serves up Latin cuisine with an emphasis on seafood dishes. It may not look fancy, but don’t let appearances fool you: they are rated 4.5 stars on Yelp, and I can personally attest to the quality of their food.

Getting back to downtown, the ever popular Yokohama Japanese Bistro has completed their move; they are no longer squeezed in between Talk of Broadway and May’s Vietnamese Restaurant. They can now be found at 2050 Broadway, just half a block from their old location, in the much larger space previously occupied by Downtown. Again, I haven’t tried them, but apparently a lot of Redwood City residents have. This new location looks nicer and should improve the dining experience greatly.

In a similar vein, Sakura Teppanyaki and Sushi continues to expand. Their first and perhaps most well-known location is right across Broadway from the Century Theaters building in downtown Redwood City. Some time ago they opened a second location fairly close by, at 373 Main Street—in the old Straw Hat Pizza building just behind the Carl’s Jr. That location must be doing well enough, because Sakura is now in the process of remodeling a space at 744 Laurel Street in San Carlos for “Sakura 3”:

As you can probably tell, this newest location is right next door to the Bank of America, in the middle of the block between Olive and Cherry streets.

Next, I just got an email from Howard Bulka of Howie’s Artisan Pizza fame. It seems that Howie is itching to start a new project in downtown Redwood City and is looking for partners. While he doesn’t actually say that it is a restaurant, it likely is. I’m guessing that he plans to open this new venture in the currently shuttered Howie’s Artisan Pizza location on Jefferson. He says that he has “a vision of something unique and wonderful.” If this piques your interest and you’d like to know more, get in touch with him. He can be reached via email at chezhowie@gmail.com.

Finally, remember when the City Council approved these little six-wheeled delivery robots for testing within the city? Expect to see them on our sidewalks in a couple of weeks. The company that is developing them, Starship, has set up partnership agreements with DoorDash and Postmates for food delivery. They anticipate the beginning of live testing within weeks, and real deliveries within a couple of months. For more information, see this article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal. And if you work downtown and order lunch for delivery using either DoorDash or Postmates, don’t be surprised if the little guy pictured above shows up at your door, rather than the normal human being.

Redwood City’s ever-changing restaurant scene continues to improve our options for dining within the city. Although neighboring communities have their share of good restaurants from which to choose, increasingly there is no reason to go beyond our city’s borders when searching for just about any style of cuisine. These days when your spouse, or your kids, or your friends ask you “What’s to eat?”, tell them to just look around: Redwood City surely has something that will satisfy any appetite.

8 thoughts on “What’s to Eat?

  1. Greg, I had an email exchange with the owner of Broadway Masala back in early December. At that time he predicted a mid-February reopening. We’ll see…

    As for CariBlue, I have also been curious about that place, given its high scores on Yelp. I plan to check it out for lunch in the next week or so. Let me know if you want to join me.


    • No way is he going to make mid-February. But whenever he re-opens, I’ll be there! As for CariBlue (or Cari Blue, however it is truly spelled), I’m not sure when I’ll get there but I’ll try to make it soon…

      • I checked in with Broadway Masala again since it was clear that “mid-February” wasn’t happening. They are now saying “first week of April”. Fingers crossed…

      • Thanks for the update. “First week of April” seems a bit aggressive to me, but perhaps they’ll make it. I’m crossing my fingers along with you!

  2. Greg, CariBlue is very very good. I was getting new tires down the block in early January 2016 and walked down to see what I could find for a quick lunch. I’m from the east coast and have been to the Caribbean about 10 times. The owner Abel’s cooking has been exceptional in the four times I’ve been back, authentically on par with local restaurants in places like the Bahamas, St Martin, Guadeloupe, Barbados, etc. I even convinced my office manager to have CariBlue cater a 120 person lunch but the company went with EatClub before Abel had a chance to contract with them. I think Abel said he was from one of the Central American countries (Nicaragua?) and after having had *many* occupations (including licensed electrician), he wanted to make people happy with food. Anyway, he struggled a bit last year finding a consumer space from which he could also continue his catering business. He actually rents the space from the Ministries and shares it with them on Saturday mornings/afternoons for a Bread of Life program that helps feed the poor and homeless. Please do stop by for a meal sometime…you won’t regret it!

    • Are you referring to the Highway 101 underpass? The informal walkway that lets people walk from the Bair Island area to downtown via the Toys R Us parking lot? I did write about that; search for my post “All Together Now.” Or are you referring to something else?

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