It’s okay to admit that when you think of Sunnyvale, you only think of the tech industry. And while it’s true that you can’t go a single block without passing the behemoth headquarters of some recognizable one-word company, real people, of course, live and work here — which means there’s a lot of other stuff happening here besides coding.
Pedestrian-friendly Murphy Avenue in the Historic District is particularly appealing with its global restaurant offerings (don’t miss Meyhouse for Turkish food), Irish pubs, boba spots and great Saturday farmers market. And if you delve a little deeper, you can find even more to do, see, eat and drink in unexpected Sunnyvale.
Here’s a great day trip itinerary.
Brunch: No short stack here
Start your day on El Camino Real, the historic 600-mile road that connects California’s 21 Spanish missions, from Sonoma down to San Diego. There is a wealth of culture and diversity on this street, with culinary treasures as varied as the community. Many people begin a weekend morning with pancakes, and you can too — with one as big as your entire arm.
Dosas are a traditional South Indian breakfast specialty, a large crepe made of a fermented lentil and rice batter and filled with everything from spiced potato to palak (spinach) or paneer (cheese). Join the local crowds at Madras Cafe for a no-frills but memorable morning feast, with your dosa of choice. Go traditional or opt for the unexpected rava dosa, which is made of semolina flour. Don’t know what to order? Don’t worry. Just order a bunch of stuff and then rejoice when everything arrives. You won’t regret a single bite.
After breakfast, pop into Madras Groceries next door to pick up culinary inspiration — and fresh produce — for later. You can even find pre-made dosa batter in the refrigerator case, if you want to try to making it at home.
Details: The Madras Cafe is open from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends at 1177 W. El Camino Real in Sunnyvale; www.madrascafe.us. Madras Groceries is at 1187 W. El Camino Real; http://madrasgroceries.com.
Hike: A Baylands saunter
Post-dosas, you’ll likely be ready to work off that brunch and get outside a bit, so head north a few miles to Baylands Park. This 70-acre waterside park, which is adjacent to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, offers miles of trails to wander on foot or on bike, meadows for roaming, playgrounds and picnic areas. It’s a wetlands preserve, with a freshwater and seasonal wetland area as well as a salt marsh. And it’s a popular place for families or anyone who needs a reminder to escape the screens and get outdoors. Parking is plentiful and free of charge from November through February.
Details: Baylands Park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset daily at 999 E. Caribbean Drive; https://parks.sccgov.org
Grab a cuppa … or a highball
It’s true that Java Drive takes you past some giant tech compounds. Google is here. There’s a massive construction zone here too. But we’re headed for the new Tetra Hotel, which contains some hidden gems you won’t want to skip. Also, the property is literally across the street from the commuter train, making it super easy to catch public transit, if you don’t feel like driving.
So, if you’ve been living under a rock, your heart might not race when someone says the word “Tartine.” But this artisan bread mecca that began in San Francisco’s Mission district has expanded to include Tartine Manufactory outposts in other parts of the city as well as in Los Angeles and Seoul.
Hello, Tartine has a Coffee Manufactory tucked inside Tetra too, and coffee isn’t all they’re serving. You’ll find grab-and-go Japanese sandwiches, including pork tonkatsu on milk bread, on offer, as well as canned drinks from Japas Cervejaria, an all-female Brazilian-Japanese brewery.
Coffee is lovely, but if a proper drink is how you’d like to conclude your trip, head around the corner to Nokori, a Japanese whisky bar dedicated to highballs. Check out the menu of perfectly concocted drinks, some made in a special machine engineered by Suntory that creates all the essential elements in one go. The results offer a high fizz factor and perfect ice — I know, I know, but it’s sourced from San Jose’s Clear Ice Company, and it’s so clear, you can barely see the chilly column in your highball glass.
Lookng for nibbles? There’s a high-end restaurant here — Adrestia — but if you’re in the mood for small plates, Nokori offers high-end Japanese bar bites. Think furikake-dusted fries, hamachi crudo and chicken wing karaage to go with its whisky highballs, wines by the glass or bottle, and brews, which include local beers on tap and some of those Japas cans.
Tetra also offers quarterly fireside chat sessions that are open to the public with speakers that last fall ranged from Tshaka Campbell, Santa Clara County’s poet laureate, to the brewers behind Japas discussing balance. Interpret that however feels right for you, but sometimes the best balance involves beer and a day trip.
Details: Tetra Hotel, 400 W. Java Drive; www.tetrahotelsv.com
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