Any Must Visit Restaurants Near San Mateo?

Hi All,

I might be headed back up to the SF area, but this time on business in San Mateo (first time). Google Maps places it about “30 minutes” away from Downtown SF - Is this true under normal Weekday Afternoon / Evening circumstances? Or is traffic much worse?

  • Would all of the great suggestions everyone’s posted here still be relevant / doable if I’m in San Mateo and have to potentially Uber / Taxi my way up to Downtown SF?

Or are there other equally great suggestions closer to San Mateo?

(Since this got split out, to clarify…)

  • If the “best of the best” restaurant suggestions (must visit!) are still in the Downtown SF thread (e.g., Saison, Benu, etc.), is it feasible / realistic to Uber / Taxi my way to Downtown SF from San Mateo? Or are there some great, Must Visit restaurants near San Mateo that I could go to instead?

Thanks in advance!

@ipsedixit @robert @BradFord @beefnoguy @PorkyBelly and all

At rush hour (3:00 to 7:30?) CalTrain is faster than driving. There’s great food in and around San Mateo, though. Here’s my list of places for when I need to eat more or less near SFO:

Boiling Beijing
649 San Mateo Ave., San Bruno
hot pot

235 El Camino Real, San Bruno
sushi - omakase
reservations required?

Yi Yuan
1711 El Camino Real, Millbrae
fire pot, dan dan mien, smoked pork, Chongqing chicken

Yummy Szechuan
1661 El Camino Real, Millbrae

Happy Sichuan
1055 El Camino Real, Millbrae

270 Broadway, Millbrae

Hong Kong Flower Lounge
51 Millbrae Ave., Millbrae
HK seafood

Rasa (Michelin one-star)
209 Park Rd., Burlingame
South Indian / Kerala / Andrha

Sushi Sam’s
218 E. 3rd Ave., San Mateo

8 W. 25th Ave., San Mateo

300 El Camino Real, Belmont

Cooking Papa
949 Edgewater Blvd., Foster City
home-style HK Chinese


Thanks @robert.

I’ll be without a car, so is the CalTrain easy to access (i.e., lots of stations around San Mateo, and many exit stops in Downtown SF)?

And when does the CalTrain have it’s last train run for the night? (in case dinner ran late in Downtown SF)

I guess in some ways I’d rather travel further (from San Mateo) if all the best food is in Downtown SF (like previously recommended spots in this thread). Thanks.

Will respond in full later - on the go in New York now.

But you can probably skip Sushi Sam’s and Gintei is not bad but I haven’t been in a while. The best sushi in the Peninsula area is Sushi Yoshizumi, if you’re inclined for sushi omakase.

Ginji is right in downtown San Mateo and has some pretty good yakitori and is a casual izakaya. Rasa is in Burlingame and has dosas and a little bit upscale Indian, but we often take out from its sister restaurant for Punjabi style food (different than Rasa’s) - Rasoi. Both are in Burlingame, which is a quick drive from San Mateo maybe 10 minutes across El Camino Real.

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I just split this off into its own stand-alone thread, as it will probably garner more responses than hidden within a thread calling for recommendations near downtown SF.

@Chowseeker1999, let me know if you want it merged back.

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Thanks @ipsedixit.

Ive never been but have always wanted to go.

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Royal Feast in Millbrae. Just out side of Millbrae BART Station.

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Good call on wakuriya, solid kaiseki. Definitely worth it if you’re in the area.

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The most expensive food is certainly in SF. Where the best is depends on the cuisine. What do you want to eat? If you’re coming from LA, maybe you don’t care about Chinese or Japanese, which is where San Mateo might beat SF.

I suggested CalTrain only because it beats the rush hour crawl heading into / through SF. Other times Lyft would be more convenient. In SF, CalTrain stops only in Dogpatch and SOMA (a short walk to Saison or Cockscomb), but at Millbrae it connects with BART, which can take you within a short walk of Benu and many other places.

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Same here, would have gone a couple of times if I’d been able to get a reservation.

Thanks @robert!

Yah, given that I’m coming from L.A., not sure how many Chinese restaurants might be worth trying (given the abundance here).

If I’m trying to head to Downtown SF for dinner on a weeknight (say, 5 - 6 p.m.) from San Mateo, how bad would it be by Uber / Lyft? Vs. CalTrain?

Just trying to see if it’s worth the traffic and for scheduling. :slight_smile: Thanks.

It takes me about 1 hr 15 minutes to drive from Campbell to AT&T Park, leaving 4:00 pm, Friday evening.

Probably 40-45 minutes to San Mateo, then 30 minutes to SF.

Cal Train can be slow, there are express and local trains. The SF Caltrain station is 2-3 miles from downtown. As robert suggested, take Caltrain from San Mateo to Milbrae, then take BART to SF.

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Traffic is highly variable. San Mateo to SF, best case at rush hour is 35-40 minutes. Add in a Giants game or a major accident on the Bay Bridge and it can be an hour or more.

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Not sure how you define “downtown” but from the Caltrain station to Union Square is 1.4 miles and easily busable. I’ve walked farther than that with a suitcase. Just an fyi.

How many days (nights rather) are you here and how far out is your trip?

I agree, skip regional Chinese.

Hi @beefnoguy,

I’m still finalizing details (it’s for work), but it might be 2 - 3 nights. So not a lot of time.

If it seems like besides the one @ipsedixit @PorkyBelly recommended (Wakuriya) which could be 1 dinner (if I can get reservations), then the rest might be better spent with the previous recommendations you all kindly gave in the Downtown SF thread? :slight_smile:


What kinds of restaurants do you care about?

I suggest you focus on and attempt Sushi Yoshizumi for downtown San Mateo, and skip Wakuriya entirely. If your coming up here is 60 days out (from a reservation standpoint), it’s a touch bit easier to plan the dinner (similar to planning for n/Naka but maybe different). Otherwise check their reservation system for availability from cancellations.

As an alternative to Wakuriya, and if you cannot book Sushi Yoshizumi, you can think about Ozaoza as a backup in SF Japantown for kaiseki that’s closer to Kyoto/Kansai style, although to be fair you have already experienced the cooked food greatness that is Mori and Shunji which honestly are both superior in taste/overall experience. But otherwise it’s perfectly fine to focus entirely on maximizing the best of your NorCal dining experience in SF (and restaurants that do things better than LA) which is a wiser choice.

Second Izakaya Ginji (as a solid neighborhood izakaya) for a San Mateo dining choice/backup if getting into the city is more of a hassle. They are closed Tuesdays. Solid sake lineup (very well thought out for the Honjozo, Junmai, Junmai Ginjo bottles) and great yakitori, many of them excellent with the food they offer.

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I’m curious. Is OP only interested in Asian food? I only ask cause that seems what s/he is getting recs for mostly.