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Poll: Where’s the Best Sushi in San Carlos?

Sushi

Despite what it may seem, Laurel Street and the rest of the downtown dining district of San Carlos is not just comprised of Italian restaurants.  Among the various culinary delights, there is a surprising number of sushi restaurants that have cropped up in the City of Good Living, which means sushi lovers in San Carlos don’t have to exile to San Mateo, Burlingame,  or even Palo Alto to get their fix anymore.

But how does San Carlos rank on the Sushi scale?   Do we have legitimate contenders, or are we still in the minor leagues?   Cast your vote in the White Oaks Blog Poll in the right sidebar — since there are so many to choose from, you can vote for two of your favorites.     Feel free to give a shout out to your favorite San Carlos place in the comment section below,  or let me know if I missed any restaurant that should be considered in the poll.
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Blue Line Pizza Opens in San Carlos.

Blue Line

Great Food, Great Location.

Downtown San Carlos has put another feather in its culinary cap.   Last Thursday, a very popular Peninsula pizzeria opened its doors on our own restaurant row.   Blue Line Pizza specializes in authentic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, as well as the thin crust pizza that is the trademark of New York.   Pizza lovers in San Carlos are very familiar with Blue Line, and will often trek all the way to their Burlingame or Mountain View locations to indulge in “the real deal”, which is surprisingly still hard to find in the Bay Area.

Aside from their great food, Blue Line San Carlos managed to score one of the hottest locations in downtown San Carlos — 1201 Laurel Street, which is right on the corner of Laurel Street and San Carlos Avenue, directly across from Starbucks.   One would think that it would be monumentally difficult for a restaurant to fail at this location, but Blue Line’s predecessor Mythos succeeded in doing just that.  The layout of the building seems to be far more conducive for an upscale pizzeria than it would be for a more formal sitting environment that Mythos seemed to be striving for.

If last weekend was any indication, Blue Line will be a smashing success in San Carlos.     We ordered takeout on Saturday night, and the place was completely packed, with people waiting out on the sidewalk to be seated.   Not a bad showing for little or no advertising!    The food was ready when promised, and the deep-dish pizza was excellent, with the cornmeal crust being as every bit as good as advertised.

Pizza

Their menu is posted on their website, and they offer online ordering for your convenience.   Be sure to check them out, and to follow them on their Facebook page, too.

Welcome to San Carlos, Blue Line Pizza!!
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5 Great Places to Get Breakfast in San Carlos.

January 15, 2014 Downtown San Carlos, Living in San Carlos Comments Off
Diner

Got Breakfast?

San Carlos gets a lot of attention for its seemingly ever-growing collection of upscale restaurants. Over the past decade, Laurel Street and the adjoining side-streets have been transformed from a sleepy, small town shopping district into a modern-day “restaurant row”. There’s no shortage of fine dining to suit just about anyone’s taste, and this has made downtown San Carlos a destination of choice not only for San Carlos residents, but for many people outside the community when they decide to step out for lunch or dinner.

But what about breakfast? Does anyone even “do” breakfast anymore?   The answer is a resounding “yes”, and San Carlos has some really cool spots to grab a hearty breakfast to fuel your day ahead.   Although I have lived on the Peninsula for most of my life, I originally hail from the mid-west where breakfast is ingrained in the fabric of life, so it’s just as much as a social event as it is a meal.  So just a fair warning that I have a soft spot for down-home hearty breakfast joints.

In this post, I will highlight five places that you can go in San Carlos to get your early morning fix. It’s by no means a complete list, so if you know of a great place that I have not covered below, please feel free to brag about it in the comments. That will simply make this post an even more valuable resource when you want to dash out and grab breakfast.

So in absolutely no particular order….

1- The Depot Cafe

Located at the San Carlos train station, the Depot Cafe has been a San Carlos institution for as long as I can remember.  When I used to take Caltrain every day  to college (many years ago), Friday morning breakfast at the Cafe before the train arrived became a weekly tradition.    It’s a cozy atmosphere, with small tables and hundreds of train photos throughout.   The food is great, and the service is fast — the latter being essential if you are going to service the commuter crowd — and it seems like the owner knows everyone who walks in the door.   Quintessential small-town diner feel..

There are about 50 different variations of omelettes on the menu, but if you can’t find exactly what you want you can simply design your own.   The country potatoes are off the charts, too.

Here’s their review on Yelp:  The Depot Cafe

2- The Omelette House.

If you’re truly a hard-core Midwesterner and miss the visceral sensation of eating in a old-school breakfast diner, then The Omelette House is for you.  The minute you walk through the door, you feel like you’ve been transported in a time machine from chic San Carlos back to a typical Ohio diner in the 60’s (minus the smoke, thank goodness.)    No frills here – just lots of booths and tables, and good food.

The menu at the Omellete House looks similar to the Depot Cafe in that they both have and entire page of omellete variations (you’d expect that with the name).   They also carry some of the more traditional midwest breakfast items, too.   It’s really fun to have a place like this in San Carlos.   The Omelette House is located at 66 El Camino Real in San Carlos — click here for the map.

Here’s their review on Yelp:  The Omelette House

3- My Breakfast House.

You can’t miss the bright red awning on Laurel Street that guides you into My Breakfast House.   In true diner style, this place is all about checkered tablecloths and good breakfasts.  No frills here either, which is a huge plus in my book.  It’s not as heavily omelette oriented as the previous two diners (although the omelettes here are excellent), so you find some great variations of french toast, pancakes and other fare.

Another plus for families with children is that they have a small play room off to the side to keep the little ones occupied while you enjoy a leisurely Saturday morning breakfast.   My Breakfast House is located at 1137 Laurel Street in San Carlos — click here for the map.

Here’s their review on Yelp:  My Breakfast House.

4- Sky Kitchen

If you’re looking for a unique location for breakfast, check out the Sky Kitchen at the San Carlos airport.   What the Depot Cafe is to trains,  the Sky Kitchen is to airplanes.    It’s still one of the best-kept breakfast secrets in San Carlos.  You can eat a great breakfast while you’re watching the planes take off and land from our own commercial airport.    The Sky Kitchen is smaller than the other 3 places, so plan your breakfast time accordingly if you don’t want to wait for a seat.    The Sky Kitchen is located on Airport Way in San Carlos — click here for the map.

Here’s their review on Yelp:   Sky Kitchen.

5- Broiler Express.

As far as location goes, you can’t beat Broiler Express.   They are on the prime corner of Laurel Street and Arroyo Avenue, in the hot part of the San Carlos downtown shopping district.  The comment that seems to resonate about the Broiler Express is that you get great food and it’s cheap.    There are a number of good breakfast options for under $5, which is something you usually won’t find at the other places.   Broiler Express is located at 895 Laurel Street in San Carlos – click here for the map.

Here’s their review on Yelp:  Broiler Express

Honorable Mention:  Stacks

No article on great breakfast spots in San Carlos would be complete without props to Stacks on El Camino.  It’s obviously a favorite for many folks in San Carlos, since it’s so close.  But technically they’re located in Redwood City, and I wanted this post to pay homage (or fromage?) to those places that are truly San Carlos institutions.

Got a Favorite?

Obviously, there are more than 5 places to grab a great breakfast in San Carlos.  I just highlighted 5 of the more established and traditional diner-style breakfast spots.   Do you have a favorite that everyone should know about?  Feel free to show them some love in the comments below!

Bon Apetit!
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San Carlos Holly Street – 101 Interchange Project Update.

September 11, 2013 Downtown San Carlos No Comments
101

September 17.

As you are probably aware, plans have been underway to revamp the Highway 101 interchange at Holly Street.  The older-style cloverleaf interchange that has been in place at Holly Street has shown its flaws in recent years as the traffic volume has increased there — and it only looks to get worse when the new PAMF hospital opens.  It gets a little hairy trying to merge onto 101 in the same lane that other are exiting.  This outdated design has been replaced at interchanges all along 101 in recent years with more modern and efficient solutions, and it appears Holly Street is on tap for a similar make-over.

An update to the Holly St US 101 Interchange Project will be presented for the first time to the public since finalizing the Project Study Report with Caltrans. The presentation will be during the Traffic and Circulation Commission meeting on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @ 7pm in the City Hall Council Chamber (600 Elm St). The presentation will include progress on the environmental and traffic studies to date, pedestrian over crossing project alternatives, and a discussion on the Holly St corridor west of the interchange. Please plan on attending for an update on this exciting project.

Here’s a map of the area in question:

Holly Street-Highway 101 Interchange

Holly Street-Highway 101 Interchange

Background:

Improvements to the Holly Street Interchange with US 101 are required in order to accommodate increased traffic generated by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s San Carlos Center (PAMF) and other anticipated land development.  The PAMF traffic report identified a need for interchange improvements to handle traffic growth. The scope of the project includes reconfiguring the interchange to accommodate increased traffic as well as provide complete streets improvements to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist access through the interchange. Currently the project is currently working through the Caltrans Project Approval/Environmental Document Phase.
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Harmony Frozen Yogurt Closes Its Doors in San Carlos.

harmony

A FroYo Fave.

The loyal fans who embraced the tangy, organic frozen yogurt and the fresh toppings will be sad to learn that Harmony Frozen Yogurt on Laurel Street has closed its doors.   From the person I spoke with today, slower sales and increased competition from other establishments on Laurel Street took its toll on what was a mainstay of the downtown shopping district of San Carlos.   It’s probably not too much of a stretch to think that they lost a big chunk of business when Tutti Frutti opened shop on San Carlos Avenue.

This flies in the face of the common misconception that every business on the hot section of north Laurel Street is a guaranteed home run.    The more shops that open along this stretch, the more it creates competition for the established businesses, regardless if they are direct competition or not.

There’s no word yet on what will take over this prime spot on Laurel Street, or if any of the other Harmony locations will be impacted.   But it certainly is a bummer to see something so uniquely San Carlos quietly slip away.
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Warfighter Brewing Company to Open in San Carlos.

August 23, 2013 Downtown San Carlos 1 Comment
Warfighter

A Micro-Brew with a Purpose.

I haven’t featured a local business or restaurant in quite a while on the blog, but this story was too good to pass up.  (Credit to Paolo Lucchesi of SF Gate for the scoop on this).   In less than a month, Warfighter Brewing Company will open its doors in San Carlos.   What’s the twist that makes Warfighter different than your typical California microbrewery that have sprung up in droves over the last decade?  Warfighter has a distinct armed-forces theme, with anticipated brews such as Honor IPA, Pride cream stout, and Sacrifice cream ale, according to their pre-release info on Yelp.

But the term “service” is far more than just a theme at Warfighter — it’s woven into the DNA of the establishment.  According to the article, the impetus behind the brewery is not only to give armed forces veterans a place to connect, but also provide them with a place of employment.  A safe haven, if you will.   From their website:

A WAR FIGHTER  isn’t just a person who served during combat operations, it’s a statement of the American fighting spirit.   Both a verb and a noun, it embodies the soul of our great Nation that has been tempered through the bravery of men and women who heeded the call to arms, in every ‘clime and place’ that she’s needed them. The word knows no gender, race, creed, color,  or political affiliation, it simple describes a person who is willing to put the needs of many over the needs of his or her own…

This is a business that San Carlos should be proud to call their own, and here’s to hoping it will be a tremendous success.  Warfighter Brewing Company will be located at 360 Industrial Road, Unit E in San Carlos.

When is the grand opening?  Quite fittingly, it is scheduled for September 11, 2013.
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Community Meetings Set for San Carlos Transit Village.

Transit Village

Unveiling Updated Plans.

Legacy Partners Residential, developer of the San Carlos Transit Village project, will be unveiling its new plans for the proposed transit-oriented development at two community meetings to be held on Thursday, May 30, 2013 and Wednesday, June 12, 2013 in the San Carlos Library Conference Room A (second floor) from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.  Cake and coffee will be served.

The proposed project has been the subject of many public meetings before the Planning Commission and City Council over the past two years.  The Planning Commission and City Council have approved the Final Environmental Impact Report for the project in setting the stage for consideration of an application for development and design review.  The new plans will be the subject of hearings before the Commission and City Council starting this summer.

“We encourage the residents in San Carlos to attend these two community meetings as we want to listen to what people have to say in going forward with the formal public process,” said Jeff Byrd, partner with Legacy.  “While we have been fully engaged in a mediation process with representatives of the Greater East San Carlos (GESC) organization and will be making a presentation to their Association on May 22, 2013, we want to make sure that folks throughout the community have an opportunity to view the architectural elevations and site plan now under consideration by the City’s Planning Department.”  Ten mediation sessions were facilitated by a professional mediator retained by the City and involved representatives from Legacy, GESC, Samtrans and the City starting in September 2012.

The site of the proposed Transit Village project would include 280 apartments as well as office and retail uses surrounding the historic train depot.   “There has been a vision for the railroad corridor for many years which crystallized in 2004 when SamTrans in concert with the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board and County Transportation Authority issued a Request for Statement of Qualifications to develop a high quality, mixed use, multi-family development on this undeveloped land north and south of the train station.”  Legacy Partners was ultimately selected through this competitive process and first submitted plans to the City in May of 2007.  “We have spent the last eight years in trying to create the best project possible for this site, one that will fit within the fabric of the community.”  “We are proud to have this opportunity to become part of San Carlos which is truly the City of Good Living.”
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Poll: Is It Time for More Stop Signs on Laurel Street?

stop_sign

Head on a Swivel.

If you’ve ever driven the stretch of Laurel Street in San Carlos between Arroyo and San Carlos Avenues  then you’ll know it has become nothing short of a white-knuckle ride during peak hours of the day.   Between people backing out of parking spots unexpectedly, or hanging illegal U-turns, or having pedestrians crossing at half a dozen spots on the street, you really have to have your head on a swivel to safely navigate this street.  It’s surprising there aren’t more mishaps along this stretch of the road.

But two areas in particular on Laurel always make me grip the wheel just a little bit tighter  — I’m speaking of none other than the intersections on Laurel Street at both Cherry Street and again at Olive Street (one is by Peets Coffee, and the other by Bianchini’s Market.)   As you know, these are not currently 4-way stop intersections — traffic on both Olive and Cherry have stop signs, but not on Laurel.    Here’s a map of that area with the two intersections marked:


View Laurel Street, San Carlos in a larger map

I don’ t know why it is, but it seems like all that good stuff we learned in Driver’s Ed about how to negotiate a stop sign at a two-way intersection seems to have gone out the window at these two intersections.    It’s either drivers on Olive or Cherry who think it’s a 4-way stop,  and then try to cross when they mistakenly think that traffic on Laurel is going to stop.  Or, it’s drivers on Laurel who randomly stop at the intersection thinking it’s a 4-way stop, which confuses just about everyone (cars and pedestrians alike) who are trying to get across.  If there’s a Twilight Zone anywhere in San Carlos, it’s probably at these two intersections.

So at the risk of making Laurel Street look like Broadway in Burlingame (where there seems to be a stop sign every 10 feet) I think it’s time to put stop signs on Laurel Street at both of these intersections.  I think it will eliminate the rampant confusion that seems to overcome many drivers that navigate these intersections every day.

Time for a Poll.

So, what do you think?  Should San Carlos put additional stop signs on Laurel Street at the intersections of Olive Street and Cherry Street?   Or should they leave Laurel Street it as-is?   Register your vote in the poll at the top of the right sidebar of the blog.

Thanks for voting!
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