Last week a friend and I met to enjoy lunch at Restaurant Asa, which opened a few months ago. It was the first time there for both of us and we were anxious to give it a try since we’d only heard good things about it. The eatery’s location is super convenient and is a big plus: Asa sits just across from the Los Gatos Lodge, adjacent to the Best Western Inn of Los Gatos – at the corner of Alberto Way and Los Gatos-Saratoga Road. This is the same location where Grill 57 was until this summer. There’s no shortage of nearby parking, which cannot always be said of restaurants in town.
An attractive, inviting patio dining area sits behind the planters in the photo above.
Inside, a waiting area features two comfy couches. A well appointed wine case is to the right and a full bar to the left. The room is open, clean, quiet (while fairly full), and offers pleasant decor.
In Los Gatos, it may be possible to dine out of doors year round, but it is always a popular option between March and October in the scenic town once referred to as “the gem city of the foothills”.
Today I want to highlight these establishments for diners and give a nod to a number of the Los Gatos restaurants which offer dining al fresco; we are lucky to have so many choices!
Those listed below are some which I’ve patronized and especially like. It’s not a 100% comprehensive directory of Los Gatos eateries with patio dining, only those which I have enjoyed myself with a few exceptions of some which are on my “must try soon” list.
Finally, I should mention that these restaurants with outdoor seating offer varied selection and pricing, from super casual (Happy Hound, Classic Burgers and Los Gatos Meats are all low key) to much more costly and formal. Not every one of these businesses is in downtown Los Gatos either. I’m providing links so you can check them out yourself.
Did I miss one that should be mentioned? Feel free to email me any updates!
Today my husband and I enjoyed an early lunch at Taba Taba Chinese Bistro in Los Gatos. It’s situated at the former location for Jasmine’s Chinese in the Lyndon Plaza complex at S. Santa Cruz and W. Main, where they opened last November.
Taba Taba’s menu is quite extensive, both for the regular dishes and for the lunch specials, with about 3 dozen mid-day options provided. There seemed to be something for everyone: vegetarian meals, light meals, seafood and shellfish, as well as meat dishes.
The food was amazingly good from start to finish. We each ordered rice plate lunch specials (and shared). Jim had the eggplant with Kung Pao sauce and I tried the fish filet with black bean sauce. We each received some hot and sour soup first, and it was delicious! They were not too hot, which is always a worry when I see the little hot pepper symbol next to a menu item. The flavors could not be beat. We requested hot tea and our server was great about making sure we had enough and that it was still warm.
The ambiance is fine, not overdone, not bare bones. It was chilly when we got there, which was early at 11:45 or so, and I needed to wear my light coat to be comfortable. (I suspect that when it fills up, it may be too warm, hence the cool temperature?) The grasscloth wallpapered walls and also the ceiling have been painted a light green, which brightens the place up over the darker colors that were there previously. Artwork of various kinds adorns the walls. There are two comfy booths and mostly tables with cushioned chairs.
Our server’s attentiveness was noteworthy, but we were even more surprised when the owner, Ming, stopped by to see if everything was ok. She was so warm and friendly! We had noticed throughout our time there how many people coming in seemed to be regulars, and that there was great affection between the staff, and Ming, with the customers.
Food prices were not bad for downtown Los Gatos. With our lunch plates and tea, the pre-tip total was around $26.
We both want to go back and bring our adult kids. Next time, I’d like to taste some of the meat dishes, and especially the Chinese chicken salad. On a scale of 1 – 5 stars, Taba Taba gets at least a 6 or 7 in my book.
Parking was easy at 11:45 on this rainy Friday morning – we snagged a spot on the street just steps from the restaurant! Lyndon Plaza does offer Valet Parking, so if you come later, don’t let the parking situation keep you away. On a Friday, it’s nearly always a good idea to aim for an early lunch to make parking easy (if possible).
Taba Taba Chinese Bistro
20 S Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos in Lyndon Plaza (Taba Taba faces West Main Street)
Looking for a casual, quick meal spot offering “fresh Mex” food? You might try Doña Maria Mexican Restaurant at Kings Court Shopping Center in Los Gatos. My husband and I ate there today, and we’ll go back.
Tucked back in the corner of the shopping center, Doña Maria has a modest appearance outside. Inside, it’s not too big, but is clean, newer feeling, and very comfortable. The restaurant has counter service for take out, but you will be seated to order if dining in. There are booths along the walls (comfortable ones!) with tables in the middle of the eatery.
The Doña Maria menu can be seen online; there’s a nice mix of a la carte meal items as well as the far larger platters. Meals feature breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Food prices are pretty good for anything in Los Gatos! My husband had a Sope ($5.65) while I opted for the more expensive Taco Salad ($9.25) and a Diet Coke (too expensive at $3.25). The back page of the menu showed prices for wine and beer, and I noted that wine is $7.25 per glass, also a little pricey for a restaurant that is quasi fast food. The entrees and a la carte food items, though, are well priced in my experience.
Doña Maria’s menu covers a lot of bases with burritos, salads & tostadaas, quesadillas, enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, tamales, and many other popular favorites. It’s kind of incredible how much food is offered for a restaurant of this size.
The service was great in terms of ordering and amazingly fast in terms of the time between when we ordered and when the food came to our table. We were both impressed by that! Less good was the time it took to get the check. The bill was brought to us on a tray, which usually means that the server will return to take the credit card. But after a long wait, we took the bill to the cash register – we gave up on waiting. (By this time, it was after 1 pm and the restaurant was not busy at all compared to 20 minutes prior.) Not sure what happened there.
The food itself was pretty good. My husband’s Sope was delicious and my Taco Salad was fine, though not great. There were some hot sauces on the table, and they were tasty, but a better fit for me was the salsa that had come with our chips. This restaurant, unlike Chipotle across the street or Una Mas a half mile away, does not have a salsa bar. I don’t think there’s room for one, but it would be great if they offered that at some point.
Doña Maria has two locations that aren’t too far apart:
790 Blossom Hill Rd, Los Gatos, CA 95032, tel (408) 356-5677 (King’s Court Shopping Center at Blossom Hill and Los Gatos Blvd) and 2 miles away at 3974 S Bascom Ave, San Jose, CA 95124, tel (408) 559-1768. (For non locals: Bascom is the same road at Los Gatos Blvd. Both of them used to be known as Los Gatos – San Jose Road way back when.)
Grill 57 is a newer restaurant in Los Gatos which offers good food,
easy parking, reasonable prices, and a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere. Twice this last year I’ve had the opportunity to dine there, and both times the food and service were excellent.
Offerings at Grill 57
The Grill 57 menu is mostly American food but also diverse – something for everyone, with a variety of salads, old favorites (pasta, burgers, pizza, grilled salmon, steak, soups, and sandwiches of all kinds) and appetizers (Buffalo wings, crab cakes, soup). There are vegetarian options as well.
Do you have special dietary restrictions? This restaurant includes the manager and chef’s contact info on the menu page, so you can reach out and verify before you sit down to eat. Talk about customer service oriented!
Prices are not bad by Los Gatos standards. If you want just a cup of soup, it will cost $4, or $8 for a bowl. Pizza is about $12, sandwiches around $14 – $16. Salads range from $10 to $22. If you want the Steel Roasted Mary’s Chicken or the Grilled King Salmon, it will run $25 as of today, in December 2018.
The bar is nice looking and open to the restaurant. I was there at lunch and did not try out anything from there, but the website states that it provides a “full bar with traditional cocktails, boutique wines, local draft beers”.
Last summer, as I was showing nearby condos to some clients, I noticed a banner on the Grill 57 building advertising live music. As of this writing, I don’t see anything coming up on their events page, but check back – that is a second reason to visit.
Where is Grill 57?
Located just off Highway 17 at the intersection of Los Gatos-Saratoga Road and Alberto Way, Grill 57 is closer to many east Los Gatos neighborhoods than restaurants in nearby downtown. And since there’s plenty of parking, you won’t need to factor in much time for hunting for a place to stash your car – it is easy to get in and out.
I should add that Grill 57 is adjacent to the Best Western Inn of Los Gatos. While I’ve not stayed there myself, relatives of mine have, and it received a good rating from them. My cousins tell me that the restaurant provided the breakfast, and it was wonderful.
UPDATE: Sadly, within 10 days of our enjoying a lovely dinner at the Catamount, it suddenly closed. It had been in business a mere 15 months. It was pretty empty the night we were there, which was hard to understand – it was a wonderful restaurant! Below is my original review, done in the 2nd half of July.
Recently, my husband and I enjoyed a wedding anniversary dinner at The Catamount restaurant in Old Town. We had been wanting to go for a few months, and it was a good occasion to give it a try. I’ll start by saying that I would go again in a heartbeat, and suggest that if you haven’t been pampered with a meal there, to put it on your “must do” list right away.
Our reservations were for a Friday night at 7pm. Downtown Los Gatos has a reputation for having unbearable traffic in summer, but that was not at all the case in our experience. The parking lot was nearly full, but we snagged a spot just steps from the door of the Catamount. Daytime traffic may well be problematical, but on our warm summer evening it was just fine. Don’t let that keep you away.
I had been inside The Catamount one other time, for a Sereno Group company party, which was at night. That event was packed, and I hadn’t really gotten a feel for the eatery that time, though I do recall that the food was quite tasty. This time, though, it was still daylight, and we got a good view of the restaurant and bar as well as the coastal range outside.
The layout is bright and open, with large windows facing the hills. A wall of glass doors separates one section from the next without losing the view of the tall mountain peak on the east side of town, El Sombroso.
We were surprised that the restaurant was not busy when we arrived. Only a few tables were in use initially. It did fill up a little more during our stay, but it made no sense that it wasn’t packed, given the excellent experience that we had there. I have to wonder if it wasn’t fear of Los Gatos traffic in summer that kept some people away.
Our server and our bus person were both very attentive, and the service could not have been better. A carafe of water was placed on the table, but the server was there to refill our glasses before we needed to reach for it ourselves. The menu items included a number of things I hadn’t seen elsewhere, and our server did a good job of answering our questions.
Jim had an appetizer of Stuffed Mushrooms and a main course of a Prime Rib (a small serving, 2 sizes were available) and french fries with truffle oil. He loved all of it. The mushrooms were small, and sitting in a bowl with beef broth, so were not finger food. (There was no bread on the table. Had there been, it would have been used to sop up the broth that the mushrooms were in.) I took a taste of his prime rib and it was very tender and delicious. I’m not a fan of truffle oil, but he is, and assured me that the fries were wonderful.
I had a Little Gem Cesar Salad followed by the Oven Roasted Scottish Salmon. The salad was not little – it was larger than I could manage. There are many variations on Cesar salad, but I hadn’t had them with whole capers before, and it hit me as too salty. The croutons were not really tasty. I avoided the capers and croutons and did enjoy it otherwise.
The Salmon was incredibly delicious. It was cooked to perfection and had a nice glaze over it. It was sitting in a bed of small vegetables. There were pickled, thinly sliced radishes and cucumbers. Normally I am not a huge radish fan, but I could have eaten those all night. There were also some very sweet, small, and tender corn niblets sprinkled all over, as well as tomatoes, parsley and capers – again. I do like capers, but it was funny to have them in both courses. I would not change a thing with the salmon dish. It was so good that I may be tempted to order it again next time, rather than venture out on the menu. (I don’t know salmon well enough to know one kind from the next, so could not say if it was so good in part because it was Scottish. I was curious about that.)
We each had a glass of wine and both of us enjoyed our selections.
After supper, Jim had a cappuccino and I had a decaf. He could not eat another bite, but I managed, and had soft serve vanilla ice cream with candied pineapple and coconut. Usually I don’t indulge in desserts, but it was worth it.
The bill came in a timely manner, but we were not rushed. From start to finish, it was a great experience at The Catamount, and I look forward to going back again. (Below, a view at twilight as we left the restaurant. The tall peak there is El Sereno.)
Old Town shopping center (formerly the site of the California Cafe)
50 University Ave.
Los Gatos, CA 95030
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying meals and social events at Dio Deka, a wonderful Greek restaurant in the Hotel Los Gatos. The service, food, and ambiance were all top notch when I have eaten there.
A nicer setting would be hard to find. The Hotel Los Gatos is one of the most beautiful buildings in Los Gatos, a town already much loved for its scenic architecture and natural setting close to the coastal foothills. If you haven’t seen it, it’s almost directly across the street from Los Gatos High School so is in the heart of downtown. The architectural style is Spanish, but it reminds me of the elegant and inviting Santa Barbara Spanish style in particular. Inside, the hotel and restaurant are well appointed, comfortable, classy, and relaxing. Great ambiance.
At Dio Deka, each employee that I have encountered was warm, pleasant and gracious. Service was never wanting. Their manners and protocol were impeccable. That may sound stuffy, but let me explain by giving an example: in many eateries, even in “fine dining” establishments, patrons are given one knife and one fork. If the utensils are soiled by eating a salad or appetizer before the main course arrives, the used utensils are often given back to the customer if they’re left on the plate as it’s being removed.The idea, of course, is that the patron is expecting too much to get a clean knife and fork for the next dish. Usually the “old” utensils are put back on the table. But not here. At Dio Deka it’s not too much trouble to get it right and provide clean cutlery for each course. It’s a small thing but it’s representative of the quality of the dining experience here. No detail is too small to get right.
The food I’ve enjoyed was artistically presented and offered a wonderful mix of greens, olives, celery slices, split cherry tomatoes and dressing together with a small brick of warm goat cheese. It was delicious. The moussaka appealed to both of us, so that is what we each ordered. Set as a stack of circular layers in the middle of a deep dish, this too offered a very pleasing appearance. And again, the flavors were sumptuous. The sauce was too good not to enjoy too; luckily the table had a basket of bread – just right for sopping up the flavors.
My only gripe is that when you get a meal with French fries (which aren’t Greek, to my knowledge), they will not serve you catsup. I know, I’ve asked, When they said they didn’t have any, I asked why not, and was told that it’s not Greek.
Catsup aside, the food and service is great. At one time, you could go to Dio Deka for lunch, but no more – it’s strictly after 5 or 5:30, depending on the day of the week.
If you enjoy Greek or Mediterranean food, do give it a try.