San Carlos Shake Up

San Carlos Shake Up

Laurel St. Outdoor Dining

Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant scene everywhere — including in San Carlos — continues to be tough, however most of the San Carlos eating establishments have continued to serve takeout and/or with outdoor dining (bars have had a tougher time as they have fewer alternatives).

The 600-800 block of Laurel Street has turned into quite an outdoor mall with many of the restaurants having created makeshift spaces into the parking lots of the street, some having just tables spread out while others creating more elaborate covered structures. (If anything, I would personally love that even once the health crisis is over, we keep the outdoor dining spaces).

In the last six months, there’s been a bunch of changes in restaurants, with a number going out of business, some new ones emerging, and new ones planning to open (but maybe on hold due to the pandemic). We suspect that there are more places that have actually closed, so please comment if you know of any closures or changes not reflected here.


About a month ago, Thai Restaurant Isarn Garden replaced a fairly short-lived Pho 82 at 1050 El Camino Real, so that leaves us with three Thai restaurants in town but only one Vietnamese one. Although we haven’t tried it yet, Isarn Garden has gotten fairly strong reviews on Yelp.

Mama Coco in the Santorini location

We also had one Greek restaurant close and a new one open, but not in the same location. After 22 years, Santorini (753 Laurel Street) closed down in the middle of the summer. According to the restaurant web site, it was related to the “challenges in the current environment,” but certainly increased competition from the nearby (and aggressive marketer) Nick the Greek must have been a factor. In its location will be a new Mexican restaurant, Mama Coco, which has a current spot in Menlo Park. Mama Coco is not open yet, but the signs were put in place this week.


The new Greek restaurant entrant is Pylos, which is open for business and serving at a handful of tables outside. Pylos takes the location formerly held by Nino’s Pizza (621 Laurel Street), which closed down a little over a year ago. The decor and menu are a bit more upscale then your typical falafel place, with a selection that reminds of Agora, the Greek restaurant on San Carlos Avenue that became Tamari.

Next to Pylos lies the empty location of short-lived tratt at 617 Laurel Street. The space has been vacant for about six months, but recently a notice of application for ownership change appeared in the window for another Mexican restaurant (if you’re keeping score, that will be the 13th Mexican restaurant in San Carlos!) This is will apparently be called Otra Vez Mexican Kitchen. Stay tuned for further info w.


Since the middle of last year, Jin’s Cleaners at 675 Laurel Street has been shut down with a notice that it was being replaced by a new spot called Faith & Spirits. In the last few months, it looks like remodeling has been completed (presumably it was a fair bit of work to turn a dry cleaner into what looks like a high-end bar), but signs just say it’s “coming soon.”

Corner of San Carlos Ave. and El Camino Real

Over the summer, the old AT&T store on the corner of San Carlos Avenue and El Camino Real started displaying a few “coming soon” signs for a place called Drake’s, named after the “Father of San Carlos” Frederick Drake. Although there is no stated timeline for opening, it describes itself as having “Breakfast, Brunch, Bites, and Bar.” Maybe we’ll have something like Vic’s back?

Since the beginning of this year, there has been a banner above a store in the Best Buy shopping center (next to the Starbucks) announcing that Falafel Tazah, a casual mediterranean place with current locations in Redwood Shores and Foster City, is coming soon. It’s unclear if its opening was put on hold because of the pandemic, but it is clear that another Greek/Mediterranean place may have a tough time in San Carlos.


Maverick Jacks at 622 Laurel Street has closed down (butcher paper is covering all of the windows) — they still have their location in Burlingame, and the lack of even a mention of the San Carlos location on their website implies the closure is permanent. Despite having one of the most practical (and dog friendly) outdoor decks in town, it never really ramped up, perhaps because of its proximity to the longstanding San Carlos stalwart Sneakers.

And although it’s not a restaurant, we’re sorry to see the Chef Shop on Laurel Street also close. They had great products and a friendly staff. Business is clearly tough all around.

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