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New Lunch Oases in Northside Lunchtime Desert

Anyone who’s spent precious lunch hours driving around the Northside searching in vain for something between fast food and Michelin three stars, will be delighted that there are some new choices for a good lunch at a comfortable price.

While the Athena Grill on Space Park Drive (athenagrill.com) remains a favorite for fans of Mediterranean, and especially Greek, food, if you’re up by Mission College, check out Café Falafel (cafefalafel.com), 4300 Mission College Blvd. at the intersection of Mission College Boulevard.

Open from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 on weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends, Café Falafel offers a mix of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, from gyros and spanakopita to baba ghanoush and, like the name says, falafel. The restaurant is small, so you probably should plan for takeout.

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Managed by former Shadowbrook Executive Chef Anthony Kresge, the new Arcade Café (arcadecafescott.com), 3355 Scott Blvd. between Bowers and Oakmead Parkway, offers the artisanal take on cafeteria eating. The restaurant is on the first floor of an office building, so look for the sandwich board sign out front.

Open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, Arcade offers an ever-changing seasonal menu, cooked-from-scratch using all fresh ingredients supplied by local farms whenever possible. Despite the artisanal quality, prices are reasonable, the restaurant is roomy and quiet, and no technology know-how is required to place your order.

Starting with breakfast omelets and scrambles, Arcade offers a full salad bar, ready-to-go cold sandwiches, daily pasta and grill specials, favorites like hamburgers and homemade French fries, and plenty of vegetarian offerings. Unlike other restaurants and markets catering to the same customers (notably the one with the word “whole” in its name), Arcade offers Diet Coke and Pepsi and the usual range of beverages, as well as Hansen’s sodas and Odwalla.

Part of the Epicurean Group, a Los Altos-based food service company, Arcade aims to achieve zero waste in its operation – virtually everything is re-usable, recyclable, or compostable. The restaurant helpfully explains what goes where for the non-composting literate.

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