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650 Eats: Lobster Rolls, Sushi and Burroti

Lobster from Sam's Chowder House

New restaurants with seafaring menus are popping up in the 650 and the neighboring 408. Nab a taste of Maine via lobster rolls, which are the starting stars at a new chowder spot in Palo Alto. Further afield, a new and big shopping center dining space gives way to upgraded “get-yer-fill” possibilities, which always crosses our mind after meticulously scouting the best retail finds. In the "that's so adventurous" category, monkfish liver fans may want to partake in a taste of ankimo as part of the sushi scene at a new spot in Burlingame.

Some famous lobster rolls have come in from the foggy coast: Sam’s Chowder House just opened in Palo Alto, which means a potential seafood boon for those who can’t trek to the original Half Moon Bay location or hunt down Sam’s via the three popular Chowder Mobiles. At the new University Avenue restaurant, there’s a heady bar scene and familiar dishes from the sea: oysters, prawn cocktail, chowder and a not-to-be-missed crisp and hot version of fish and chips. Chef Robert Holt (Boulevard, Acquerello, Marzano) has the keys to the kitchen here, and has added dishes for the new location that aren’t (yet) found at the other locations: barbequed shrimp po' boy sandwiches, blue crab and artichoke fritters, and pork spareribs. Fittingly, Holt was the chef de cuisine at Primo restaurant in Rockland, Maine and grew up in rural Texas, where his father was a farmer and fisherman--in other words, he knows his stuff. 185 University Ave., Palo Alto; (650) 614-1177.

Ah, those mall girl memories remain: fluorescent lighting, chicken nuggets, and Debbie Gibson tunes. Thankfully, today’s shopping mall scene gives shoppers way better fuel to match the retail offerings. In Santa Clara (technically the 408), the Westfield Valley Fair shopping center this month launched a new 23,00- square-foot dining terrace that gives a more stylish setting next to nearby Ferragamo, Miu Miu, Burberry, and Louis Vuitton boutiques. While admittedly one can still find a McRib in the dining offerings here, there are more intriguing meals to be had at Loving Hut (vegan with a decidedly International feel), Old Port Lobster, Pizza Vino, Sajj Mediterranean, Tava Indian Kitchen, and Super Duper (burgers). The burroti from Tava is a wrap slash burrito, which is generously portioned and fresh—yet somehow manages to give a lighter finish than expected for the genre. It probably helps that Tava also roasts and grinds all spices in house. Maine-iacs are somewhat taken to the scene at Old Port Lobster, for an edited menu of buttery lobster rolls, chowder, cole slaw, fries and Allagash white suds to wash it all down. Lounge seating, alfresco patio and fire pits are added bonuses in this shopping meal break. 2855 Stevens Creek Blvd., Santa Clara.

Burlingame has a new sushi hidden gem with Sushi Sada, a smallish yet clean and welcoming space for fresh fish, sashimi, premium sushi rolls, and even ankimo, which is a delicacy made with monk fish liver that has been meticulously salted, cleaned and steamed. Before opening this spot, the owners were the operators of the popular Nagano Sushi up north in San Francisco. 1861 El Camino Real, Burlingame; (650) 692-6938

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