Plus, SF’s Farmhouse Kitchen arrives in Menlo Park, ZombieRunner makes moves and Zadna Bowl brings fast-casual Mediterranean to Palo Alto.

Zareen’s grilled chicken boti served with naan, rice, dal, pickled salad and raita. (Photo by Natalia Nazarova)

There is a lot happening in the world of Peninsula restaurants lately. And this edition of our monthly round-up gives us (well…specifically our stomachs) some hope that local eateries can endure and expand during these trying times.

So get the lowdown on these new openings (nope…not a single closure featured here) and enjoy all the eats that the 6–5–0 has to offer.

Zareen Khan’s third eponymous restaurant is newly open in downtown Redwood City (Images via Yelp)

Garlic naan and sizzling boti: Zareen’s makes long-awaited debut in Redwood City

Zareen’s, one of the Peninsula’s most popular Pakistani-Indian restaurants, has opened a new location at 2039 Broadway St. in downtown Redwood City.

This is owner Zareen Khan’s third restaurant, joining the original location in Mountain View and second outpost in Palo Alto.

The Redwood City Zareen’s is open only in the evenings for takeout and delivery for now but will ramp up to full hours and both indoor and outdoor dining starting on Friday, Oct. 16.
(In San Mateo County, restaurants are now allowed to open their dining rooms at 25% capacity or with 100 people, whichever is fewer.)

The menu is the same as the other Zareen’s locations, with samosas, chicken tikka masala, garlic naan made to order in a clay oven, paratha wraps and other Pakistani and Indian fare. Khan said she may add more tandoori dishes later in the year.

During the coronavirus shutdown, Zareen’s also started selling frozen foods, including naan, samosas, biryani and chicken shami (patties made from slow-cooked chicken and lentils plus egg and herbs).

Zareen Khan, the food activist, owner, and a chef of Zareen’s , cooks chicken in her Mountain View restaurant’s kitchen in 2014. (Photo by Natalia Nazarova)

Khan said she was nervous to open a new restaurant in a new city during a pandemic but received an “outpouring of support” in the first few days of soft opening.

“I am grateful and humbled at the way Redwood City residents have welcomed me to their community,” she said. “I think we will be fine here.”

She said her restaurants were noticeably busy after Zareen’s was named to the San Francisco Chronicle’s annual Best 87 Restaurants list (previously known as the “Top 100” list) last month, one of only a handful of Peninsula eateries to earn the distinction.

Khan, a restaurant owner with a penchant for social justice and activism, is celebrating the restaurant opening by making a $12,000 charitable donation. She’s asking customers to rank their three favorite charities out of seven organizations the restaurant regularly supports, including Doctors Without Borders, the ACLU and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The three charities that receive the most votes will each receive a $4,000 donation. Khan will announce them on Oct. 16.

Pad thai and golden chandeliers, anyone? Inside Farmhouse Kitchen in Menlo Park. (Images via the Farmhouse Kitchen website)

San Francisco’s Farmhouse Kitchen opens glitzy Thai restaurant in Menlo Park, indoor dining included

San Francisco Thai restaurant Farmhouse Kitchen has opened a glitzy new location in Menlo Park, offering limited indoor and outdoor dining, takeout and delivery.

Farmhouse Kitchen has revamped the 4,000-square-foot space at 1165 Merrill St., across from the Caltrain station, decking it out with opulent decorations (including handmade gold Thai chandeliers and flower wall), a private dining room, a lounge area with velvet chairs and gleaming full bar. The restaurant opened barely a week after San Mateo County announced that indoor dining could resume at 25% capacity or with 100 people, whichever is fewer.

But the “new normal guidelines” for dining in at Farmhouse Kitchen includes a health screening, temperature check, masks required when diners aren’t eating or drinking and parties of no more than six people with reservations capped at 90 minutes. The restaurant also charges a $3 “COVID-19 sanitation fee” per table.

Kasem Saengsawang, a native of Thailand, opened his first Farmhouse Kitchen in San Francisco in 2015. The restaurant was inspired by the food he ate and cooked growing up in Loei, a rural province in northeast Thailand, but he spent much of his adult life in Bangkok.

Farmhouse Kitchen serves Northern and Southern Thai food. (Images via Farmhouse Kitchen’s Facebook page)

Saengsawang now runs five restaurants, including one in Portland, Oregon. He recently moved to Menlo Park, so he plans to be a frequent presence at this location.

Saengsawang describes his cooking style as “contemporary.” The Farmhouse Kitchen Menlo Park menu spans Northern and Southern Thailand, including dishes like pineapple fried rice, lobster pad thai, 24-hour beef noodle soup and slow-braised short rib served with panang curry, a dish the menu says is “reminiscent” of the large childhood meals Saengsawang would cook in Thailand for his family.

Desserts include mango sticky rice, Thai tea crepe cake and the very Instagrammable “Thai vacation,” a halved coconut filled with sticky rice, coconut ice cream, coconut cream, peanuts and sesame, garnished with a brightly colored drink umbrella.

The Menlo Park restaurant also serves cocktails, beer and wine.

Farmhouse Kitchen is open Monday–Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5–9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5–10 p.m., Saturday noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday noon to 9 p.m.

Palo Alto’s ZombieRunner is moving down the street and opening cafe №2 in Mountain View. (Images via Yelp)

Coffee favorite ZombieRunner is relocating in Palo Alto; prepping second location in Mountain View

After 12 years of serving coffee from the back of a running store on Palo Alto’s California Avenue, ZombieRunner is moving to a new location — though it’s not going far.

The owners of ZombieRunner have taken over 344 California Ave., a space just down the street last occupied by SunLife Organics. Co-owners Don Lundell and Gillian Robinson said they’ve long had their eye on other spaces on California Avenue and this one — larger, built out just two years ago and recently vacated — made a lot of sense.

“We didn’t want to leave this street,” Robinson said.

They will close the original ZombieRunner at 429 California Ave. in a few weeks and hope to open the new location as soon as possible.

Things will look mostly the same down the street — the same espresso drinks, bottled cold brew, speciality licorice and chocolate bars will be available — though with one exciting addition: pastries. Lundell and Robinson have been sampling their way through local bakeries but haven’t yet settled on one.

There will be no running gear; Lundell and Robinson, both ultrarunners, are focusing wholly on the coffee side of the business (and finally getting back to running in their free time).

They’re also opening a second ZombieRunner at 1980 W. El Camino Real in Mountain View this month.

Get your Korean fried chicken fix at Vons in downtown Redwood City. (Images via Yelp and the Vons RWC website)

Vons, a Korea-born chicken chain, is now open in Redwood City

At Vons (2090 Broadway St.), the main event is arguably the fried chicken, which comes in several variations, including soy-garlic glaze, yang nyeom (tossed in a sweet-spicy sauce made from gochujang and other ingredients), padak (with scallions) and honey butter. There are also oven-cooked chicken dishes, from soy sauce and black vinegar chicken to cheese buldak (spicy boneless chicken and rice cakes topped with melted cheese). Customers can opt for chicken wings, drumsticks or boneless chicken pieces for any of the styles.

Or, splurge on the ssam chicken for $28.99: roasted chicken that you wrap in thinly sliced radish with assorted vegetables and sauces.

Sides at Vons include honey butter fries, onion rings, rice cakes, mandoo (Korean dumplings) and kimchi fried rice.

The first California Vons opened in Sunnyvale in 2014; there are now more than a dozen locations through the Bay Area. Vons is also opening soon in Cupertino, according to the company’s website.

Vons Redwood City replaced The Bap, a fast-casual Korean restaurant.

Vons is open Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until 9:30 p.m. The restaurant has outdoor seating.

Zadna Bowl is now open for takeout and delivery in Palo Alto. (Photo by Elena Kadvany)

Zadna Bowl brings fast-casual Mediterranean to downtown Palo Alto

Redwood City Mediterranean spot Zadna has opened a fast-casual spinoff in downtown Palo Alto called Zadna Bowl.

The restaurant is located at 461 Emerson St., last occupied by Roost House.

At Zadna Bowl, you can create your own adventure from a selection of proteins (including lamb, beef and chicken shawarma; chicken kebab and falafel) over saffron basmati rice, mujadara (a lentils, onions and rice dish), salad, French fries or in a wrap with a selection of toppings and sauces. Sides include dalma, baba ghanoush, hummus and tabouleh.

The Palo Alto location also serves grab-and-go specials, from cauliflower tahini tagine and moussaka to slow-cooked lamb shank.

Zadna Bowl is currently open for takeout and delivery; call 650–384–6111 for current hours.

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Sometimes our work is a collaborative effort, hence the "staff" byline. The best of what to eat, see and do on the SF Peninsula.

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