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710 South B St.
San Mateo, CA 94401
Featuring some of the finest authentic Brazilian food in the entire Bay Area, Espetus Churrascaria offers Brazilian mojitos and caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail made of cachaca, a liquor derived from fermented sugar cane juice. In addition to its specialty cocktails, the Brazilian steakhouse has a full bar, featuring both local and imported fine wines. On Wednesday and Thursday happy hours, the restaurant has a Caipi Hour, with complimentary hors d’ oeuvres and $6 specialty cocktails. Locally owned and operated, Espetus Churrascaria is well known for its Brazilian sirloin steak known as picanha, but also serves many other tasty dishes, including filet mignon, bacon-wrapped chicken breast, grilled shrimp and homemade pork sausage. Led by owners Paulo Klein and his wife Maris, another Espetus Churrascaria restaurant is located in San Francisco.
Flying Fish Bar and Grill
211 San Mateo Road
San Mateo, CA 94019
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Flying Fish Bar and Grill is located in the beautiful coastal city of Half Moon Bay, along Highway 1. As its name may suggest, the restaurant specializes in seafood dishes, featuring garlic prawns and clams, crab or seafood cioppino and an Asian salmon generously glazed with a ginger teriyaki sauce. The restaurant also has a full bar, offering a number of specialty cocktails, including blood-orange margaritas, piña coladas and mint-cucumber mojitos. Flying Fish Bar and Grill claims to have the very best margaritas in town, made with Espolon tequila, agave nectar and lime juice.
La Bodeguita Del Medio
463 S. California Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Named after the Havana, Cuba bar some believe to be the birthplace of the mojito made more famous by Ernest Hemingway, La Bodeguita Del Medio is a truly authentic Cuban restaurant. Located just minutes from Stanford University, this Peninsula restaurant and bar has an extensive list of Cuban cocktails, including mojitos, Cuba libres and floridita daiquiris, another favorite of Hemingway’s. Among the moderately priced authentic Cuban meals served at La Bodeguita Del Medio are ropa vieja, tierra y mar, Cubano sandwich and Bodeguita seafood ajiaco. Visitors to this popular Palo Alto restaurant should also view the cigar shop and smoking lounge, even if they don’t indulge in cigar smoking.
1099 Middlefield Road
Redwood City, CA 94063
This popular Mexican restaurant has great food and drinks, including Cuban cocktails. A few of the featured cocktails from Milagros Cantina’s menu are caipirinhas, piña coladas, mojito Cubanos, raspberry mojitos, sangrias and Cube libres. The restaurant, often very lively during evenings and weekends, also has a wide variety of top brands of tequila, such as Chinaco, Herradura and Patron, as well as an excellent collection of beers, wines, gins, vodkas, whiskeys, brandy and cognacs. Served all day are many of the Bay Area’s best Mexican foods, with bocaditos, enchiladas, burritos, sopas, ensaladas and chicken mole all on the menu.
535 Ramona St.
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Contrary to its familiar name, this Palo Alto restaurant is locally owned and not a chain. However this restaurant will definitely remind visitors of New Orleans’ French Quarter, complete with wrought-iron balconies on the top level, jazz music and Mardi Gras memorabilia from Bourbon Street. Nola Palo Alto has an impressive cocktail menu, including margaritas, hurricanes, the Havana and three different flavored mojitos – Nola limon, raspberry and strawberry ginger. In addition to its fabulous cocktails, fine beers and wines, guests can enjoy traditional Cajun cuisine, among them, jambalaya, delta crawfish and shrimp etouffee. During Mardi Gras season and particularly on Fat Tuesday, guests to this downtown Palo Alto restaurant arrive in colorful purple, green and gold costumes and traditional beads resembling some of the best New Orleans has to offer.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. His work can be found on Examiner.com.