Mountain View, CA
(and the surrounding area)

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Having lived in the area for several years, we've had opportunity to try out a few places. Here are some thoughts...

Restaurants Services Miscellaneous



This is one of our all time favorite restaurants. We show up at the Hobee's at Rengstorff and Central almost every Sunday after church for brunch, and have been for three years. The food is delicious, the coffee cake is as good as they say it is, and the coffee & tea are great. The service is friendly and professional. What more could you want? Remember, every Sunday at around noon. Come by and see us sometime.


We used to eat here fairly regularly, until the food quality declined to the point that it seemed that most dishes would be able to give Burger King's Italian Chicken Sandwich a run for its money -- but only just. The bread and cheese spread they brought out before the meal was good, but that eventually was it.

Frankie Johnnie and Luigi, Too!

Now this is an Italian restaurant that we can really enjoy. The food is really good, and the portions are somewhere between generous and enormous. We make it down to the restaurant on El Camino, between Shoreline and Castro street, about once every week or two. Mike's favorite is the Rigatoni Barese; Meredith's is the Rigatoni e Spinaci.

Queen House

Located on Castro Street near Central Expressway, this small, unassuming restaurant produces some good, inexpensive Mandarin Chinese food.

Golden Wok

Another Chinese restaurant, located at Villa and Bryant. The food is reasonably good, but the menu seems pretty overpriced. On the plus side, they do deliver. Also, they have a fish pond.

Dana Street Roasting Company (formerly Jumpin' Java)

This is a great coffee shop. It's on Dana Street, one block east of Castro. The coffee is good, the pastries are good, and the baristas are friendly and knowledgeable. Meredith loves their hot chocolate, and has even been known to drink the occasional coffee-based drink here. The whole atmosphere is really friendly. They used to keep some chairs and tables outside on the sidewalk, until the City of Mountain View decided that that was incompatible with the snooty, stuck-up image they were trying to achieve for Downtown, and told the management to get rid of them. Now it's a little more crowded inside. As an added bonus, you get free 802.11b / Airport wireless access to the Internet here, courtesy of

Fresh Choice

Or, as Mike refers to it, "Happy Salad Land." We go to the one on El Camino, near San Antonio. The food is good, and everything is quite fresh. Mike is occasionally perplexed by seeing people go here who skip the salad bar entirely, and load up on the pizza slices and dessert. Why not go to a pizza restaurant ? Whatever. This is a nice place to go when it's too hot to move outside. The only downside to that is that everyone else in the area seems to think the same thing, so it can be kind of crowded.

Amarin Thai

This is our most frequented Thai restaurant. It's located on Castro street downtown. The only occasional problem with it comes when ordering 'hot' dishes. Just how hot it will be seems to depend on the server's assessment of how capable you might be of dealing with it. Our experience is that 'hot' translates to somewhere between 'detectable quantities of spice' and 'will set your mouth on fire'. It's always a gamble as to which, and they also don't believe in water. But the food is good, and the lunch service is inexpensive and fast.

Sundance Mine Company

This is an outstanding steak restaurant. Located on El Camino in Palo Alto, it offers a delicious menu of steaks, chicken, and sea food. Prime Rib is a specialty. The wine list is excellent. It's pricey, but definitely worth it. Great place for a prom date.


Independence Acura

Mike recently took his 1995 Acura Integra GSR in for a major service after it had been far too long since he had had anyone work on it at all. He was inspired to do this by the fact that his car was displaying all of the performance and nimble response of a Ford Taurus, which depressed him to no end. After the tune-up here, his car is running better than it has in a year. We've also taken Meredith's Honda Accord there a few times, and they've done a great job with it as well. They were quick and reasonably priced. They're located at Old Middlefield Way and Independence Avenue.

Sandra Bruins, Coldwell Banker Realtor

When we bought our house two years ago, we picked her out of the phone book completely at random. She was amazing. She did a wonderful job for us with every aspect of buying our home, working tirelessly to fix things when certain other companies completely screwed up. She continued to follow up with help for us long after the sale (and long after she had any financial incentive to do so). We would recommend her without reservations. She works out of the Sunnyvale office of Coldwell Banker.

Cendant Mortgage

Speaking of certain other companies ... OK, Cendant is clearly not local, but they deserve mention anyway. The kindest description of our relationship with Cendant is that we were able to purchase our house in spite of Cendant's best efforts. During the approval process, they supposedly lost one FedEx package of documentation from us and two sets of faxes. We hope that whoever did receive those packages enjoyed learning more about our financial life than we ourselves really knew. The last attempt to completely doom our purchase was when they 'forgot' to mail the check to the title company. Given that they are a mortgage company, and, really, have no purpose in life other than to process loans, of which a key step is granting the money to someone, it's not clear how they might have forgotten this. Perhaps someone failed to read to the bottom of the checklist.


Theatre Works

This is a wonderful local theatre company. They perform in the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts and the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto. The plays aren't always outstanding, but they get points for taking risks. Of the eight plays this year, one is a world premiere, two are West Coat premieres, and three are Northern California premieres. The last play we saw here, Spinning Into Butter, was a great production. This is our second year holding season tickets. It's been well worth it. An added bonus is the 50% discount on season tickets for teachers. Woo hoo.

First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto

This is the church we've called home since each of us moved out here, and it's where we met. It's been a good place for both of us. Services are Sunday morning at 10:25 AM.

Pacific Bell DSL

The technology is great when it works. As this is being typed, it is down for the fourth or fifth time in two days. As one friend put it, "using PacBell DSL is the closest thing to a faith-based initiative I know of." Pacific Bell's billing department is a nightmare. Everything was fine until we moved and tried to transfer our DSL connection. It took nine months to sort out the numerous billing errors (which, by the most amazing coincidence, were all in PacBell's favor) that came from that. But, when it works, and the bills don't include random $200 mystery charges, it's pretty great.

Lights Of America

OK, it's really a stretch to include this. It's not anything you'd ever go to, and it's certainly not local. But it's such an, ah, outstanding product, we really wanted to include it. Lights Of America makes solid state ballasts for fluorescent lights and the florescent lights themselves. When we bought our house, the people who owned it before us had remodeled it and included five of these lights. One of them didn't work on day one. No, it's not the bulb that didn't work, it was the ballast. Which, by the way, we have yet to find in any store in the South Bay. Several months after buying the house, one of the lights in the kitchen went. A few weeks later, the other light in the kitchen gave up. Another one made it a whole year and a half before giving up the ghost. Now there is but one remaining. The packaging's promise of life 'up to ten years' must refer to ten years on some planet with a significantly shorter orbit than ours.

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