The annual CrabFest is postponed until next year, but the Rotary Club of Los Gatos has some new plans for 2021. Save the date for Saturday, January 30th at 5pm!
“Don’t be crabby come ‘wine’ with us.”
That’s the slogan for this year’s fundraiser, also called the Virtual Crab WineFest & Auction! This year’s main event centers around a local wine tasting guided via Zoom by professional winemaker and Los Gatan, Left Bend Wine‘s Gary Robinson. A Wine Tasting Kit for two is provided via curbside pickup 1-2 days prior to the event, which will contain 5 tastings, 1 full size bottle, and gourmet snacks. Live streamed entertainment, including a performance by the San Jose Youth Symphony, 2 door prizes, and a silent auction are served beside this deluxe wine tasting experience. And as always, proceeds benefit the Rotary Charities foundations.
Virtual WineFest & Auction
Registration is now open through the Los Gatos Rotary website. Check the Virtual WineFest & Auction event page for ticket sales, event details and updates, to view the silent auction catalogue, contact the event team, or donate directly to the fundraiser. Each ticket is for a two-person tasting experience at a cost of $150.
In Los Gatos, it may be possible to dine out of doors year round, but it is always a particularly popular option between March and October in the scenic town once referred to as “the gem city of the foothills.” And this year, it might be your only option for a while!
I originally wrote this post back in April of 2019, but barely a year later and it’s more relevant than ever. Restaurants who have had their doors closed since mid-March are finally opening – to the outdoors. 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!
Changes are happening quickly, so this is not a 100% comprehensive directory of Los Gatos eateries that are open with patio dining. Many restaurants not formerly offering patio dining have begun to offer outdoor seating to accommodate guests during the pandemic. Similarly, some establishments that regularly offer patio seating have decided not to offer it at this time. The charts below are mostly thanks to the excellent list provided by the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce, in addition to a few Google searches, to update my previous list of restaurants.
Some of the restaurants that were on my 2019 list include Forbes Mill Steakhouse and Lexington House. These are all still open offering either pickup, delivery, or both at this time, and they may open for patio dining in the future. Unfortunately, a few restaurants have shuttered their doors for good. Both I Gatti and Chicago Steak & Fish are permanently closed.
Accommodations vary from permanent to temporary outdoor dining and space may be limited. I am not able to confirm all of the locations on these lists, and many have not updated their information online. Last Sunday I drove through Downtown and saw everything from spacious concrete patios dining with colorful shade installations to folding chairs under pop-up canopies. The Chamber of Commerce announced on their Facebook page that the k-rails and parklets are temporary installations to provide outdoor seating and will be replaced with more appealing planter barricades soon.
Remember that California currently requires face masks in all public places, and establishments may have their own rules for diners, so check ahead of time and come prepared.
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. (And if you want a unique experience, one is at the local nudist resort – Lupin Lodge!) Not every one of these businesses is in downtown Los Gatos either. Links are provided where available so you can check them out yourself.
Did I miss one that should be mentioned? Feel free to email me any updates!
Los Gatos is highly regarded for its excellent dine in restaurants. It is not known for food trucks, takeout food, or meals delivered to your home, but during the current Shelter in Place period, it’s a way for consumers to enjoy some of their favorite meals and support local businesses. In some cases, we can buy groceries at these eateries, too.
The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce has put together a comprehensive list of Los Gatos restaurants, wine bars, coffee shops, and our one fabulous brew pub which feature to-go menu items. Please check it out!
Finally, I have never used a delivery service, but if you cannot get out, you might want to investigate Grubhub, DoorDash, UberEats, or Postmates.
Kamakura Sushi & Sake House is better known to locals as Kamakura Japanese Restaurant in Los Gatos. The menu offerings are wider than sushi and sake, though of course they are prominently offered. If you enjoy Japanese food of all kinds, this is a place you’ll be happy to try. I visit there at least a couple of times each year, and would not mind going a lot more often.
Located in the heart of downtown Los Gatos, Kamakura is wonderfully situated for those working or just enjoying downtown. It is a busy eatery at both lunch and dinner, but I have never seen long waits for a table. The service is pleasant and quick, everything is clean, and the food delicious.
We always sit at one of the tables, but there’s also a bar area next to where the chefs are working. That seems to be more filled up in the evenings than in the daytime. Additionally, there’s some upstairs dining, too, which again seems to be used mostly for the dinner crowd. (The restaurant is accessible, with a ramp from the sidewalk into the main dining area.)
One of my favorite menu items at Kamakura is the miso soup. It is consistently outstanding. I enjoy the bento boxes and the variety they present, with my favorite items there being the California roll (although it’s fake crab, it’s leagues better than what most Japanese restaurants use for imitation crab), tempura, and teriyaki chicken. My family members do order sushi & udon dishes and rave about them.
Something to know is that Kamakura does close in the mid-afternoon, so don’t swing by at 3 and hope to be seated! You can find their hours listed on the website link, below.
Kamakura Sushi & Saki House
135 N Santa Cruz Ave
Los Gatos, CA 95030
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.
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.)