Favorite Restaurants/Dessert Stops in the South Bay

Call it cliche but our idea of a dream date is scouting out a new restaurant and finding a sweet treat afterwards.  We love the experience of good food!  And we love finding unique places that you can only experience in that one city (aka not chains).  We still have tons of places we wish we could try before our move this weekend; however, even though our restaurant bucket list isn't finished, we are still pretty proud of the spots we did find over the past year. So this is by no means a comprehensive list, but here are our favorite restaurants and dessert stops in the South Bay, divided by city.

Campbell/San Jose

Aqui (downtown Campbell and downtown Willow Glen) - Good and very reasonably priced Cal-Mex food.  Plus both locations are in quaint downtown areas, which makes it a fun outing all around.

^^Eating in Aqui's great outdoor area when Aaron's parents came to visit last fall.

Pizza Antica (Santana Row): A happening place with unique pizzas!  It's busy so get there early, put your name in and then walk around the shops while you wait.  Also, they have great gluten-free pizza crust according to Erin.  (PS It is bizarrely identical to Pizzeria 712 in Orem, UT)
^^Waiting for our table outside Pizza Antica when Jess and Erin came to visit.  

The Counter (Santana Row): Customize your burger.  It is delicious!  Not unique to the South Bay alone but still a great stop and reasonably priced food for Santana Row.

Gulazaar Halaal Restaurant (San Carlos St. San Jose): A true hole in the wall but cheap and good and authentic.  It's an Indian/Pakistani mix.  We got the chicken tikka masala and it was different and good.  This restaurant is actually right across the street from all the good antique/thrift stores so you can hit up both at one time!

Tomatina (San Jose) - They just opened a San Jose location and don't be deceived by the fact that it's in a strip mall.  Their caprese piadine is to die for!  This is my family's favorite restaurant in Walnut Creek.

Willow Glen Creamery:  A yummy creamery in both downtown Campbell and downtown Willow Glen.  You get a lot of ice cream and can eat it in their outdoor seating area.

Frost Cupcakes: The cupcakes are good but what is really great about this place is that it's open late and they have a great seating area perfect for a girl's night out (which we definitely took advantage of).
^^My first night out with these girls.  I remember being nervous to go because I didn't know anyone very well but I had such a fun time and have since loved getting together with all of them.
^^And this was how Aaron and I ended our month of no sugar :)

Los Gatos
Main Street Burgers: Great burgers and great ice cream.

Enoteca La Storia: We went to this Italian restaurant back in 2012 when we were here for Aaron's internship (see the post about it here) and we very much enjoyed it.  The owner would bring in homegrown tomatoes from his very own garden to include in your meal and they were delicious.

Icing on the Cake: Really the best cupcake place around.  They give you tons of frosting (as the shop's name suggests).  They have funky hours though (not open Mondays, closed by 6 on weekdays) so don't go expecting a late night treat (like we did once and left with sad hearts).
^^Seriously, more than half the cupcake was frosting.  I usually like more cupcake than frosting but not in this case!

Santa Clara (Gotta credit the Beans for all of these great Santa Clara stops--they are the masters at finding the goooood stuff.)

Athena Grill - Great Greek food!  The place was packed and the food was delicious.  They give you SO much food!  They have good indoor and outdoor seating. The only downside is that it is in a random industrial type area with no other fun shops to walk around post-meal.

Stan's Doughnuts - The South Bay's best doughnuts.  I had pretty much written off doughnuts as being too unhealthy to be worth it until Emily Bean took me here.  Now if I have a rough day, I'll pack up Eleanor and go here to get not one but TWO doughnuts.  The glazed and chocolate doughnuts are the best.
^^Eleanor's first visit to dear ole Stan's 

Mission City Creamery - Just next to Santa Clara University so it has that fun college atmosphere about it.  And seriously good ice cream as well.  I recommend the salted carmel but you can't go wrong.

Mountain View (all of these are in downtown Mountain view, which we love!)

Sushi Tomi - Aaron first went here for work and then had to take me.  We have since been here on our own and then two different times to take family members.  You know it's good when it's always packed with a ton of Japanese people :)
^^Date night (with the baby) to Sushi Tomi when Eleanor was just a couple months old.  I had to get my sushi fix after being off sushi for 9 months!

Shabuway - Such a fun experience.  They bring a pot of broth to a boil on your actual table and then you dip your thin slices of uncooked meat and vegetables into the pot to cook.  It takes so good and you have the fun of cooking your own food.  We went for our anniversary and loved it.  I recommend sitting at the bar though so you can sit closer and talk (the tables are pretty big to accommodate the pot).

Cascal - I've never been here but Aaron went for lunch with work a couple times and LOVED it.  He loves his seafood and said this was great.

Gelato Classico - The best gelato I've had in the U.S. We happened to wander in for a date night not knowing that this little hole in the wall would have THE BEST gelato.  There wasn't anyone else in the shop then and we thought we discovered this hidden gem.  The next time we went though we took my family and there was a huge line out the door and past the next three neighboring stores, so clearly others in the bay know just how good it is too. We have been back several times now and always love it just the same.
^^The Stewart fam enjoying their gelato.

Palo Alto

The Ace of Sandwiches - I just went here yesterday for the first time with Emily Bean and Courtney Duffy (great friends that I am going to miss!). The sandwiches are large and delicious.  It's a small place that fills up fast at lunch time so get there early to beat the rush.

University Cafe (On University Ave)- Reasonably priced and you get a heaping plate.  Good food, maybe not the best food of all time though.

Sliderbar - Tasty sliders.  Really though, can you turn down cute little miniature hamburgers?  They have lots of different fun varieties of sliders and good fries too.  It's got a hipster meets sports watching vibe to it.  I've been a couple times and recommend it.

LYFE Kitchen - The true Bay Area food experience.  You walk in and can choose to pick up their Vegan menu, their Gluten Free menu, their Vegetarian menu or their Regular menu (all menus have tons of options on them and you almost feel a little guilty just going off the regular menu although I'm pretty sure it's a judge free zone :)).  It's reasonably priced for healthy food, although I probably could have eaten two meals before feeling really full (which is probably the point since it's a healthy restaurant and all, ha!).  But seriously, the food was great. We went for Emily Bean's birthday dinner.

CREAM - You gotta go!  This ice cream sandwich shop is spreading across the Bay Area like wildfire cause people just love it.  I like the Palo Alto shop better than the downtown San Jose one in terms of location but the sandwich quality is the same at both. My favorite combos are one side chocolate chip cookie, other side double chocolate chip cookie with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream squeezed between OR both sides snicker doodle cookies and vanilla ice cream squeezed between.  But you really can't go wrong here.
^^This is the spread we got for my mom's birthday in lieu of a birthday cake.
^^Mom watched Eleanor one night and we made sure to get our CREAM in while we could.

Sprinkles - This cupcake shop is definitely not unique to the Bay Area but I still like to go.  It's in the Stanford Shopping Mall, which is awesome to browse in and of itself.  I love the strawberry cupcake and the salted carmel cupcake!  I don't know if Sprinkles deserves all the hype they get but I still think they make a pretty good cupcake regardless.
^^My mom's first sprinkles experience.  She kindly posed for me and then confirmed that the cupcake was indeed good.

Santa Cruz
Pizza My Heart - This pizza shop started in Capitola and then Santa Cruz and has a definite surfer vibe to it.  It has now spread throughout the South Bay (Palo Alto, San Jose, Cupertino, etc.) but it's fun to go back to the original Pizza My Heart store.  And they have great pizza!

Marianne's Ice Cream - While driving back from Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with the Beans we passed Marianne's and saw the huge line outside and tourists taking photos in front.  Emily, who is super speedy with Yelp, discovered Marianne's had over 900 crazy positive reviews so naturally we U-turned and stood in that long line to get some for ourselves.  It was gooood!  And Aaron and I have since been back for more and it was just as good!  Definitely a must.

And they might not be in the South Bay, but other Bay Area stops worth noting are:
McCormick and Kuleto's at Ghirardelli Square (San Francisco): A fancy restaurant experience where you get great seafood (there are other options as well) while having a gorgeous view of the bay.  Plus then you get to be in Ghirardelli Square where you'll just have to get a ghirardelli milkshake after dinner.
Fenton's Creamery (Oakland): I grew up going here and love it to this day.  It's the best stop to make after a trip to the Oakland LDS Temple.  You will definitely want to split their sundaes (with maybe four other people).  Make sure to get the cold carmel!  And you can also order burgers and fries too.
^^Whoa is right.  We couldn't finish it all and that is saying something because I always finish my ice cream.

So go get eating!  Hope this list was amusing and helpful to someone out there!

And if you are living in or have lived in the South Bay, then what are your recommendations?  I know I didn't come close to hitting all the good spots.  And we plan to come back and visit so I'd love your suggestions :)

Also, did you notice how many dessert places I shared, ha!  Looking back on this list made me realize just how much I love searching out the perfect ice cream and the perfect cupcake.  I'm going to miss these sweet stops!