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Serendipitous Eating (And Drinking) in Santa Clara

Woody Allen is credited with saying that 90 percent of life is just showing up. I was thinking about that recently when various errands, meetings and events – most of which didn’t have the objective of eating out – took me to several different parts of Santa Clara

For example, the recent public outcry about the county blocking further construction of the new Northside library took me to Rivermark on a picture-perfect California Sunday just in time for lunch. You can satisfy pretty much any taste in a short walk at Rivermark.

We chose Red Robin, which has an excellent menu of tall, cool “skinny” (under 120 calorie) cocktails – perfect for a lazy summer afternoon. Afterwards we treated ourselves to German chocolate cake ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery. One can’t be perfect, after all.

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Then there’s the Franklin Mall, where I often have meetings at City Lights café. Salads, sandwiches, quiches and sweet treats are yummy at any time of day with a cup of java. Plus, the art on the wall is for sale if something particularly catches your eye.

Everyone knows about Justin’s by now. And the good news is that they’re open for lunch again. But what you may not realize is that it’s a great spot for cocktails and appetizers. The drinks are inventive – there’s always a seasonally appropriate special, so ask – and the attractively priced appetizers are almost meal-sized.

Speaking of cocktails, one taste of the Hilton Santa Clara Lobby Bar’s La Margarita will forever transform your definition of this too-often pedestrian cocktail. And for non-drinkers, Hilton’s bartenders will whip up grown-up mocktails that say “occasion” instead of “Shirley Temple.”

Across Tasman, Hyatt Regency Clara Evolution Café & Bar offers its Diamond collection of cocktails featuring craft liquors and ingredients you may not have thought of like chili powder. Before you dismiss it, try it in a Wild Orchid.

A spot that you may not have thought of for a grown-up quick bite is Pizza Party on Lawrence Expressway at Homestead. Stop by after 8:00 p.m. and you’ll find a calm birthday party-free restaurant with thin-crust pizza that can hold its own against any upscale pizza emporium, and generously served fresh salads.

Finally, the Crescent Café at the Muslim Community Center on the corner of Scott and Space Park is a great spot for a quick lunch. The menu is extensive: from all-American cheeseburgers to South Asian curries, to Middle-Eastern kebabs and wraps – and all at very reasonable prices. There’s also a variety of ethnic sweets and ice cream. To get to the café, enter through the front of the building and go all the way back and bear left. The café will be on your right.

So the next time you’re thinking about where to go to eat or drink, dish up some serendipitous Santa Clara.

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