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“First C-/D+ Meal”

Calafia Cafe & Market A Go Go
Ranked #32 of 360 Restaurants in Palo Alto
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $10 - $30
Cuisines: American, Cafe
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast, Reservations
Description: In 2009, Charlie Ayers leased nearly 5,000 square feet of space in the Town & Country Shopping Plaza across from Stanford University, realizing his dream of a owning neighborhood spot serving organic, sustainable, healthy, delicious food. Calafia Cafe & Market A Go-Go was an instant hit, and today still has crowds lining up to get a seat. This casual restaurant has an energetic vibe, and serves food inspired by the incredible bounty that is available in California. Calafia continues to bring the Silicon Valley community and its visitors together around fresh, farm-to-table cuisine in an always festive atmosphere.
Palo Alto, California
Level 5 Contributor
63 reviews
40 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“First C-/D+ Meal”
Reviewed August 11, 2011

Item description on the menu: marinated hanger steak, shiitake mushrooms, green onions, cabbage, udon noodles, veal stock.
It should have read: 95% noddles in unremarkable broth, feel free to look for 2-3 pieces (finger nail clipping size) of mushrooms, 2-3 pieces of "steak" (ditto).
Flavor nowhere to be found. Waiter sent busboy to ask if I was finished--never asked about largely uneaten meal.

  • Visited August 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank 1West
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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142 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
San Francisco
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
“High Hopes For This Restaurant”
Reviewed July 29, 2011

I ate here twice. FIrst time with my friend. I ordered from their vegan and vegetarian menu. My friend ordered the Calafia burger with fries. My vegan entree was simple, kale, mashed potatoes, and one other seasonal thing I cannot remember. My friend's burger was a little on the dry side. The fries were soggy. For appetizers, we had the chicken wings, which was under seasoned and so was the chili dipping sauce (spicy but no real flavor). The vegetable tempura was very greasy. For dessert, we had the vegan chocolate something cake...which did not have any flavor, and the chocolate was so cold and hard that I needed to break the cake with a knife and fork. I was underwhelmed with my meal.

I gave Calafia a second chance on my birthday... I really wanted to like this restaurant. Again, the appetizers were under seasoned. My special of the day which were fish tacos was grilled poorly, and the promised Kimchee cole slaw filling never materialized...maybe it was there, but I swear I did not taste anything remotely close to Kimchi flavor. My son had the pork belly, which was probably the best dish of the night. Our other appetizer, the pulled pork buns had a greasy weird wrap that was a cross between a flour tortilla and roti. It was spicy but not much flavor, no salt, no seasoning. My husband had the skirt steak, which was homey...a nice way of saying, that a skirt steak is something I make within a half hour at home. We did enjoy the pizza. We had the one with the fresh buffalo mozzarella. I opted for the banana split for dessert, certain that they could not mess this up. But they did. The dessert looked like a mess...something a three year old would put together. I don't want a deconstructed banana split...I want a proper one. Too much whipped cream, not enough ice cream and banana.

I wanted to like this restaurant because I think it is the kind of establishment that all restaurants should try to strive for. Calafia has an ambitious menu...maybe too ambitious. They are organic, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, and everything else. Maybe this is their flaw...trying to be too much of everything, and little of anything. Diners excited about organic food might keep coming here for that, because even if the food does not taste that good, it is still safer to eat than the average eatery. I cook organic, grass fed, and locally grown almost exclusively at home, I don't eat dairy and avoid gluten. Calafia is right down my alley, but misses the mark on actual taste. I don't get it...how do you take fresh, quality ingredients, and turn it into something worse?

Service the first time was good...restaurant was nearly empty when we arrived. Second time it was packed and our server could not hear us under the noise, nor had any peripheral vision. He was nice enough...just not quick. We were missing place settings up until the appetizers arrived...missed appetizer plate...got those when the second appetizer arrived. We are not that picky, but we do need to eat on something other than the table itself.

Do not take my word for it...go try it. Support Calafia just once and maybe twice if you want to keep cheering for restaurants like this. I would still go back a third time in a few months, just to check and the hope of flavor. I still want to like this restaurant.

  • Visited July 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank flannelpajamas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Great brunch. Vast meat-eater and vegetarian menus. Amazing smoothies.”
Reviewed June 24, 2011

Calafia is, by far, my favorite brunch destination in Palo Alto.

Huge variety of food options, with separate vegetarian and meat-eater menus.

Favorite meat-eater plates include:
+ Chicken & Waffles (tempura-battered fried chicken breast slices over 'bacon-studded' waffles, with authentic maple syrup)
+ Biscuits & Gravy (buttermilk biscuits topped with lamb sausage, eggs, and gravy)
+ Warm Duck Salad (duck confit, Yukon gold potatoes, napa cabbage, black peppercorn Ranch dressing)

Chef Charlie Ayers was former chef for Google and the Grateful Dead, so he's eclectic, inventive, and turns familiar favorites into something completely his own. Great food and fair prices, with generous portions. Indoor tables and decor are cool but not flashy, much like the chef himself.

Service is OK; could be more attentive.

Ample parking in the big lot.

Convenient to Stanford U campus.

Limited outdoor seating; good on nice days (of which Palo Alto has many).

  • Visited June 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank jarrellish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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