From milestone meals to surprise interactions with chefs, here are your stories.

Former Chez TJ chef Jared Gallagher, right, preps lamb for the evening’s dinner menu. Photo by Michelle Le.

To celebrate the Peninsula Foodist’s 100th newsletter, we asked our readers to respond to the following question in a survey: “What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had at a Peninsula restaurant? Tell us your story!”

From a chef’s pride in the octopus he served to fried chicken so popular it became a burger topping, readers shared unique memories of dining out in the 650.

Here are your stories, which have been edited for clarity and grammar: 

A server speaks with guests at Terùn in Palo Alto. Photo by Devin Roberts.

Recently, a huge family dinner at Terún that seemed almost magical. We ordered all the appetizers, had cocktails and quite a few pizzas, and enjoyed the evening together for hours it seemed.

Susan Spinrad Esterly, Palo Alto

Chef Irvin gave us a pair of kitchen scissors for dining at Ichika the first week it was open.

Linda Seekins, Brisbane

My 80th birthday party at Mezza Luna – astonished at how many people (attended) and that some drove many miles to be there.

Kathryn Murdock, Half Moon Bay

Ran into (former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver) Jerry Rice at the cafe in Neiman Marcus. Nice to catch up on 49ers news.

Carine Schneider, Menlo Park

A dear friend a couple of weeks before she died took me for a birthday lunch at Evvia. We sat outside, the weather was warm, the conversation was sweet and the food perfect. What a lovely memory. 

Diane Wexler, Portola Valley

Multiple readers recalled memorable meals at Ettan in Palo Alto. Photo by Devin Roberts.

A wonderful family outing at Ettan

Hugo Traeger, Palo Alto

Ethel’s Fancy serves the most innovative take on Japanese flavors that I’ve seen in a long time. The dishes are very creative and mix ingredients in unexpected combinations that really deliver in flavor. It’s not a Japanese restaurant or a “fusion” restaurant, but seems to offer a hint of Japanese nostalgic tastes in completely unique dishes. Everything is prepared to perfection, including the caramelization and tenderness of the ribs and steaks. I’ve been back twice since the first dinner and hope to go again soon. The menu is seasonal and the dishes change, so sometimes it’s hard to go back and find one of your favorite dishes is no longer on the menu, but there are plenty of other options to choose from.

Kim Kawamura, Palo Alto

I love sweetbreads (the organ meat), but it’s hard to find. It is occasionally a special at Le Petit Bistro in Mountain View and it is always spectacular.

David Pasta, Palo Alto

A selection of tacos from La Viga. Photo by Veronica Weber.

La Viga in Redwood City, where we enjoyed Mexican street foods and then won a gift card to eat at another restaurant by the same owner.

Kelly Tsai, Los Altos 

Waiting outside in the cold for 1 1/2 hours on New Year’s Eve for a takeout dinner from Tamarine at the height of the pandemic.

Karen White, Palo Alto

We had an indulgent dinner on the patio at Ettan for our anniversary, two weeks before the birth of our first child. Each dish was delightful and delicious, and we were treated to a celebratory dessert!

Stacy Arevalo, East Palo Alto

Ordering a pickup order from Shin Restaurant in Redwood City. It was the best chirashi ever.

Bozhena Orekhova, Palo Alto 

Tracking down pop-ups from Lil’ Eagle Burger, Karat Cake by M, Tono Coffee Project and more. Getting to try food and drink crafted by passionate folks who care about what they serve, from Vina Enoteca and Basuku Cheesecakes to Timber & Salt and their Tiki Thursdays.

Eugene O., Menlo Park

Diners enjoy a meal together at Bistro Vida in Menlo Park. Photo by Devin Roberts.

New Year’s Eve at Bistro Vida just before COVID unleashed its fury. Great wine, amazing food (and) a welcoming atmosphere. 

Barbara Carroll, Menlo Park

A perfect birthday dinner at The Village Pub following a Pink Martini concert at Stanford. Despite the proximity of the day to Christmas and the usual attendant problems in restaurants of noise, large parties, etc. for that time of year, we enjoyed quiet booth seating, exquisite service and superb food. The monkfish on the menu that evening was one of the most memorable dishes ever. However, none of this would have counted for much without the loving person enjoying the experience with me. There’s no such thing as good food in bad company.

Michael Wolfe, Menlo Park

Eating at Chez TJ; the fish course was octopus or some fish. I ordered the octopus and told the waiter it was exceptional, and I should know, I’d lived in Japan and had a lot of octopus. The waiter had no sooner passed into the kitchen when the chef burst out and marched straight to the table. He told me he was very proud of his octopus, and nobody ever ordered it! He was very pleased to meet a happy customer. 

Chris Lunt, Mountain View

First time eating pizza at Pizzeria Delfina.

Sylvia Tarbell, Los Altos

At The Village Pub, they lost my leftovers, so they re-created (them). 

Joy Kosobayashi, Menlo Park

First dinner at Selby’s was a superb experience.

Marcel Gani, Atherton

Lawrence Chu, the owner of Chef Chu’s restaurant, speaks with Bruce Smith while Smith enjoys lunch. Photo by Sammy Dallal.

Celebrating my 50th birthday at Chef Chu’s with close family that my hubby and mom planned together as I usually am the social planner. (A) month and a half later my mom passed away.

Mary Gloner, San Jose

Bird Dog in Palo Alto. The food was excellent. It was also exciting. It had unusual pairings and items I had not tried.

Ruth M. Yamawaki, Palo Alto

I went on a date recently to Izakaya Ginji in San Mateo and we ordered soooooo many different dishes because we wanted to try a lot of different things. By the time we got into it, we’d forgotten what we’d ordered and food just kept coming and coming with more surprises. It was a blast.

Haley MacLeod, Redwood City

During our meal at Terún, I posted on Instagram how delicious it was. Seconds later, the owner sent some limoncello to our table!

Dena Hill, Palo Alto 

Tom Pavicic, a server at The Village Pub in Woodside, takes diners’ orders for lunch. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Had a fabulous 20th wedding anniversary dinner at The Village Pub. Everything was great from the food, service and ambiance. They even gave us a take-home bag of goodies for the kids!

Evan Johnson, Palo Alto

San Ho Wan was my best meal last year. Meat quality second to none and a casual ambiance that didn’t reflect its reservation difficulty or price.

Randolph Fung

Memorable conversation with the owner while sitting at the bar at Johnston’s Saltbox. He revealed that their superlative fried chicken can be added to any entree as a topping. One diner even added it to their burger!

Nick Shah, San Carlos 

The Village Pub had a fantastic prix-fixe menu with great service for my birthday.

James G. Ochsner, Redwood City

The first time I ever had restaurant ramen at Ryowa was a revelation. I only had Top Ramen or Cup Noodles before and I had no idea how complex and rich real ramen was. Also, sitting at the bar with real Japanese TV shows was a lot of fun. 

Tom Purcell, Mountain View 

Lunch at Bevri where we enjoyed the server helping prepare food items. 

John Edwards, Palo Alto

Kate Bradshaw

Kate Bradshaw

Kate Bradshaw reports food news and feature stories all over the Peninsula, from south of San Francisco to north of San José. Since she began working with Embarcadero Media in 2015, she's reported on everything from Menlo Park's City Hall politics to Mountain View's education system. She has won awards from the California News Publishers Association for her coverage of local government, elections and land use reporting.

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