This report is not really intended for the locals, who will know all about these places, and who may very probably have places they prefer. My intention is to aid the many people besides me who visit this area now and then because their corporate headquarters are here, meaning they have limitations of time, transportation, and colleagues with unadventurous palates. I just spent a week at HQ with fabulous colleagues both local and travelling, none of whom obsess about food (of which I am guilty), but we did pretty well considering.
Hobee’s (various locations, we were at Redwood Shores) got our vote every day for breakfast. http://www.hobees.com/ I was not sure if my fondness for the place was strictly a matter of nostalgia (it was a favorite when I was in grad school in the area 25 or so years ago) but my colleagues seemed to like it just as much. Good varied menu, excellent oatmeal bar, lovely wait staff.
Fish Market (various locations, we were at San Mateo). A few of us went there Sunday night, mostly because it was very near our hotel, and the food was good enough and the service so sweet that when we were trying to figure out where to go with the whole group the next night (let’s just say that our boss is NOT a planner), we ended up there again and quite happily so. Nothing mind-blowing but a very nice piece of fish each night and one colleague each time had the cioppino and declared it nothing less than spectacular. http://www.thefishmarket.com/
Amici’s (various locations, we were at Redwood Shores). Would that we had a neighborhood pizza joint this good anywhere near our office! The pizza was very good, crust properly charred, interesting combos, but what took this place to the next level in my opinion was the salads: fresh, beautifully prepared and plated, and with truly excellent house-made salad dressings. Add a decent beer and wine selection and very nice service and it’s a winner. We also had salads delivered to work one day for lunch and they were equally good. http://www.amicis.com/
We have a mini-tradition the last night of any visit involving a local colleague’s very young children and a visit to Jack’s Prime for a (very) early dinner of burgers, fries and shakes (for some; they also have interesting beers and a small but nice selection of wines by the glass). Eating there at 5:30 involves a moderate level of chaos and is usually good for either a tantrum or some airborne food but I find that oddly relaxing if I am not responsible for anyone causing any of it. I suspect that at 7:30 or so the vibe would be very different. Very nice burgers and great-looking salads although I have never had one there. http://www.jacksprime.com/
Sadly, we did not get sushi on this visit, but on other visits I have very much enjoyed Sushi Sam’s (a bit of a dive but amazing sushi) and Yuzu Sushi, both in San Mateo. http://www.sushisams.com/
We also had one dinner up in the city, at Serpentine in the Dogpatch, and it was truly memorable and fabulous. One time that our boss's lack of planning paid off as he was unable to get us into the flashier places and I am fairly sure that they would not have made me as happy as this place did, although who knows. That dinner followed a day baseball game which proved that AT&T Park has food way above average for a ballpark (posted review in appropriate thread).
Sandwiches purchased at Boudin at SFO for the flight were very tasty too.