650 Eats: Vietnamese, Moroccan, and Wine
New restaurants are popping up in the 650 (area code), where those lingering wisps of Indian summer beckon. Cheese with wine looks like a still-winning option in San Carlos—imagine some lighter bites in a spot that also has heartier menu depth and breadth for those of us who always seem to crave something meatier with that glass of red or rose. Lucky Mountain View is able to take big bites at a new Vietnamese spot via sandwiches and brothy bowls that heed the siren call of aromatics. And San Mateo is having something of a dedicated Moroccan moment, with a newcomer that ably serves up B'stilla and other Fez-friendly favorites.
Joining the cadre of wine bars while proving yet again that wine with (good) cheese should be a strong concept is TasteVin Wine and Cheese. This new Laurel Street spot in San Carlos opened its doors with a professional yet very go-with-the-flow feel; the cozy and casual spot boasts culinary tastes from chef Cynthia Bloebaum and sips from sommelier Sue Simpson—well rounded pairing ideas abound. Pining for a glass of Beretta or, ready to explore the Tempranillo varietal? They’ve got your back here. Linger over plates of charcuterie and Manchego, gouda and Epoisses cheese. We must mention other taste temptations: Deviled eggs with smoked paprika, juicy meatballs, and truffled mushroom pate. Panini and tartine sandwiches will please those who want to further explore the menu next to by-the-glass options. Save room for a luscious and light dessert of peaches and cream and just right glass of Moscato made from the Muscat blanc grape for a sweet ending. 90 Laurel St., San Carlos; (650) 341- 5273.
Don’t let the funny name keep you away: stretch that mealtime budget and get a fill at Big Bites in Mountain View, home to killer Vietnamese sandwiches that are heftier than similar versions seen elsewhere. Saigon style seasoned pork, grilled beef, and chicken numbers are made fresh with zippy herbs and veggie components throughout—the Big Bites take on crunchy cabbage salad is especially pleasing. Beefy pho soup in an appropriately big bowl to keeps things all hot and steamy; grilled meats can be had over vermicelli noodles as well. The crowds here have heeded the siren call and are in full effect during the lunch rush hours, yet Big Bites keeps an efficient and remarkably clean operation going. Staff remain ready with a smile -- a perfect pairing with any big bite offering. 570 N Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View; (650) 390-0860.
For a night of Moroccan cuisine minus any loud hoopla or bellydancing, turn your bastilla meter to Fassia restaurant in San Mateo. Plates of aromatic couscous and terrific tagines grace the menu here, where the authentically Moroccan menu is turned out by a chef with a French background. You guessed it, there’s a love story here: owner Drissia Rafael is a Fez native. Her husband Jean-Roger Rafael hails from Marseille in France and fine tuned his cooking there and with Drissia’s mother at popular restaurants in Fez. Yes, he also makes the bread, pastries and desserts on site daily, in keeping with our own local and fresh traditions. The couple decided to overhaul the location from a Moroccan meets French bistro called Café Tradition into what is now a full Moorish dining experience. 123 West 25th Street, San Mateo; (650) 345-2233.