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.
One of my favorite go-to eateries for lunch or dinner in Los Gatos is Willow Street Pizza. This casual, kid-friendly restaurant offers both indoor and patio dining, has a nicely varied menu, delicious food, good service, and decent prices for the heart of Los Gatos. It also enjoys an ideal location directly across the street from the Town Plaza Park.
The dining area is large and provides large windows, comfortable booths as well as tables and chairs. Kids may find the TV a helpful distraction, and there is a children’s menu (though I’m not seeing it online). The room has good acoustics, so most of the time, even if the restaurant is full, the sound level is not bad. Restrooms are shared with other tenants at Lyndon Plaza, and you must go outside to access them (small warning: they can be cold in winter).
Patio dining is fun even if nothing else is going on. Should the weather get a little nippy, there are heat lamps.
In summer, many sponsors host Jazz on the Plazz on Wednesday evenings in the Town Plaza Park across the street. Smart diners arrive early enough to snag an outside table and enjoy their meal with live music.
On Sundays a year round farmer’s market takes places on the interior streets that line the park, Montebello Road and Broadway. It’s a great time to people watch, and the vantage from the patio dining area is hard to beat.
Willow Street Pizza menu
At Willow Street, pizza is king and there are many different types of pizza available. The menu is much broader, though, with some more typical dinner entrees (salmon and chicken), salads, pasta dishes, sandwiches, appetizers, and desserts. There’s also a coffee and tea service, soft drinks, craft beers, and a full bar.
While it’s most famous for its pizza, which is delicious, my favorite food there tends to be the salads, especially the warm Brussels Sprouts salad and some of the seasonal salads (in summer I’ve sometimes had steak salad with peaches or other fruits). They do mix it up a bit throughout the year.
I should mention that they also do take out, but I cannot comment on that as I haven’t tried it.
Willow Street Pizza can be found in Lyndon Plaza, once the site of the Lyndon Hotel. It’s at the southeast corner of West Main Street and South Santa Cruz Avenue, directly across from the Town Park Plaza. The address is 20 South Santa Cruz Avenue, Los Gatos.
Parking is sometimes challenging in downtown Los Gatos, but there is valet parking on site and a public parking lot just across the street on West Main (behind Mountain Charlie’s). Additionally, there’s the Montebello parking lot which can be accessed from Montebello Road at Broadway (look for a driveway next to the post office).
Situated along Main Street and adjacent to Los Gatos High School, Café Dio (connected with Dio Deka across the street and within the Hotel Los Gatos) is ideally placed for those wanting to grab a quick coffee, breakfast, or simple lunch. The menu is not extensive, but there’s a little something for just about everyone available. Most of all, Café Dio is a good place to pop in if all you want is something to drink and something modest to nibble on.
Parking can be a major headache in downtown Los Gatos, but on weekdays, I’ve found that parking is not hard unless visiting when school is starting or ending.
Menu items include a good assortment of beverages (coffee, tea, espresso drinks, water, soft drinks) plus pastries, oatmeal, wraps, Greek salad, one sandwich offering, pizza, and things like chips.
An outdoor area makes this a fun place to people-watch, and a very dog-friendly place, too.
Dio Deka, the full restaurant within the Hotel Los Gatos, is not open for breakfast or lunch, so having Cafe Dio just across the street makes a lot of sense. It’s low key and easy for guests, but just as easy for Los Gatos High School students.
Got a little time? Swing by Café Dio and enjoy the friendly, casual ambiance and a cup of your favorite beverage.
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
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