Chow Hound

OK, I have to say right here at the outset that this post is a bit of a rant.  A buddy of mine told me a week or so ago about a new burger joint that opened in San Mateo on El Camino, in what used to be a hubcap store, called Jacks Prime. I’ve been to this place 3 times now…it’s fabulous! Incredible burgers, real thickly battered onion rings, great fries and shakes. Everything feels like homemade. Every time I’ve been there the place has been packed too. It begs the question in me…why can’t somebody in Foster City do this?  If you want a burger, and want to stay in FC you go to McDonalds, Carl’s Jr or (God forbid!) the IHOP. You used to be able to get one at Portofino Grill…but they went out of business last month!

Of course, it’s not confined to burger joints. In the last couple of years San Carlos has added Town , Absolute, RumiPilitaSaffronSpassoAzure888 Ristorante ItalianoRefuge and the new wine bar called The Cask plus a remodeled Piacere . Now I’m not including dessert joints like Vanilla Moon , Cowabunga Creamery , Harmony Yogurt and Red Mango . Seriously, these are all fairly recent additions! Why can’t Foster City get one of them?  I’m not even going to mention the new places in downtown Redwood City (formerly a ghost town) or San Mateo. Belmont even has a few exciting new restaurants. That’s right, Belmont. OK, Redwood Shores is worse. 

It’s not that I’m trying to bash the existing restaurants in Foster City either. I LOVE Turtle Bay and I would definitely go out of my way for Sweet Basil , I’d just like to see more of them. Foster City certainly has the demographics to support them. If you want a nice night out, I’ll bet you don’t stay in Foster City…do you? I’m only half joking when I say that Foster City’s real estate values would stand a better chance of maintaining their value if there were more restaurant choices.

The truth is that I’ve been feeling this post coming for a long time and kept avoiding it because I was hoping for good news, but no such luck. Can you tell I’m kind of a foodie? I guess if you saw me you could! Lesley, my wife can sure tell…much to her chagrin!


  1. Didn’t know about Portofino Grill – what happened? I really liked that place. I would love to see a Town-like restaurant in Foster City.

  2. Jim Minkey says:

    I’m not 100% sure…rumor had it that they were trying to sell it and had a buyer who changed their minds. I guess the owners just walked away. There was an eviction notice on the door there for awhile. Really too bad!

  3. El Torrito is a good restaurant for casual lunch or dinner.
    Turtle Bay is probably the best one in Foster City…
    I guess we should start converting emty houses into lively trattorias and dinner places :-))

  4. Jerry Freeman says:

    I think a lot of restauranteurs are afraid of Bridgepointe Shopping Center with BJ’s, Mimi’s, Red Robin, Armadillo Willy’s, and Hokkaido.

    I too would like a place like Jack’s Prime or Towne and maybe someone will check out the Portofino Grill location, but my understanding there is that the landlord would only grant a 2 year lease. Maybe with Hollywood Video and the $1.25 stores empty, better terms can be negotiated.

    A last thought here, a place could do really well if it catered to the business crowd at lunch and was family friendly at night.

    Thanks for the post Jim.

  5. SteveTinFC says:

    Then there’s my personal favorite which I think could really help out our local economy … Cheesecake Factory!! That’s a good lunch draw and family friendly at night. The question is … where to put it! Edgewater ain’t the right place…

  6. Amen! This is why we moved back to SF, seriously! Foster City is a great place to live, especially for family but it’s just not happening. Turtle Bay is very nice and we used to go there a lot but it gets old after a while too, not to mention they close at 10pm even on a Friday…just when you are having fun. I hope there will be better restaurants in FC in the near future.

Speak Your Mind