Many times when people think to plan a trip to California, they tend to travel to the southern cities of Los Angeles and San Diego. But five hours north of Hollywood is a whole new world of great food, drinks and lots of silicon…and not the kind you’ll find walking up and down Rodeo Drive. The Bay Area, covering the major cities of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland and neighboring smaller towns of nearly 7.44 million residents is the go-to area for those aspiring to work in the tech industry. With a growing industry, there’s also a growing economy and rising cost of living for residents. So whether you are out there to build your own startup, land a job with Facebook HQ located in Menlo Park or take a tour of Google in Mountain View, here’s a few great places to eat and drink that hack into your taste buds, but not necessarily your checking account.
Eat- Homeroom, 400 40th Street, Oakland, CA 94609
Mac + cheese entrees at Homeroom are so large you’d have to be fasting for two days prior to finish a meal in one sitting. Combinations like the Buffalo Chicken Mac with grilled chicken, sharp cheddar, scallions, spicy buffalo sauce, breadcrumbs and homemade ranch and their best seller, the Gilroy Mac with creamy gouda, sharp pecorino and roasted garlic are so full of flavor, if they really served this in homeroom as a kid, you’d be late for 1st period class every day.
Drink- District, 827 Washington Street, Oakland, CA 94607
Located in historic Old Oakland, District offers an extensive list of over 100 whiskeys and wines from all over the world. Catch them during happy hour for $6 wines, appetizers, bellinis and $1 oysters. If you still want something to munch on, their mango-habanero-tamarind sauce crispy spiced chicken wings will have you saying a mouthful while ordering it and downing a few freshly-made mojitos to cool off your pallet.
Eat- San Pedro Square Market, 87 N. San Pedro Street, San Jose, CA 95110
San Pedro Square Market is your one-stop shop for meals, drinks and sweet tooth cravings. Between two buildings are nearly 20 vendors with a cafeteria dining setting that would make for an awesome food fight scene (but highly discouraged). Although the corn and sliders at Bray Butcher Block & Bistro are mouthwatering, you can’t leave the market without a take home treat from the Australian inspired dessert shop, Chocatoo. French macaroons, nutella cheesecake and S’mores cookies should not be left on a shelf unattended.
Photo Credit: Chocatoo
Drink- ISObeers, 75 E Santa Clara St #120, San Jose, CA 95113
The Bay Area can make any simple menu concept into an elegant bar/restaurant. Even if you’re not a beer fan, In Search Of Beers is an upscale place to venture outside your amaretto sour comfort zone and try an Altamont Beer Works Berry White. If you need more convincing to go, you can BYOF (Bring Your Own Food) and parlay in the beer garden and enjoy the comfortable NorCal summer breeze at sunset.
Eat- Scratch, 401 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041
Castro Street in Mountain View is a row of limitless food options from all over the world. If you want to stay domestic with your menu choices, then Scratch is worth a visit. Fried chicken with cornbread pudding and lamb chops with red bliss goat cheese mashed potatoes are great selections. They also offer brunch and who doesn’t love a good brunch?
Drink- Steins Beer Garden, 895 Villa St, Mountain View, CA 94041
If you are hanging out mostly on Castro Street, you might miss this hidden gem around the corner. Steins has a large outdoor patio and is so busy during happy hour be prepared to wait for seating. When you finally get to your table, treat yourself to a French Kiss, that is unless you’re lounging with someone who can treat you to a real one!
Photo Credit: Steins Beer Garden
Eat- Zante Pizza & Indian Cuisine, 3489 Mission Street, San Francisco, 94110
Some of the best places for food come with no frills in their ambiance and that’s completely fine when your food speaks for itself. Zante’s been around since 1986 and the restaurant’s decor looks like it. But if you get the Indian pizza with fresh spinach, cilantro, garlic, ginger, eggplant & tandoori chicken with their special masala sauce you won’t even mind the old school wooden chairs.
Drink- Dirty Water, 1355 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
A bar called Dirty Water must warrant your attention. While you’re on your social media headquarters tour around The Bay, you will definitely want to add this location as a stop because they are conveniently located in the building housing the birthplace of Twitter. There’s even a drink cutely named 140 characters to try. If you check it out, don’t forget to tweet about it, it would only be appropriate.
Photo Credit: Dirty Water