Fast-casual Asian comfort food at the heart of Green Leaf Asian Bistro 

click to enlarge Mama Coco Concina Mexicana
  • Courtesy photo
  • Mama Coco Concina Mexicana in Menlo Park creates dishes that come from Mexico City recipes, such as the quesadilla.
Quick, casual and healthy Asian comfort food is the concept for the new downtown Redwood City restaurant Green Leaf Asian Bistro & Café. Diners are greeted at the counter with a basic three-step ordering process that allows for easy choices and specific preferences. The first category is the main choice of the meal between spring rolls, a banh mi-style sandwich on a baguette, a rice or rice noodles bowl, or either a mixed greens or papaya salad. All options except the sandwich can be vegan and/or gluten-free meals. The second step is the choice of protein, perhaps garlic butter shrimp, braised pork belly or grilled veggies. Then step three is the real personalization, with add-ons and sauces, such as avocado, “Mama’s Fish Sauce” or steamed bao as a side dish or appetizer. All meats are free of antibiotics and hormones, and meals never climb above $8 before any add-ons are selected. Pearl milk boba tea and smoothies are available to drink, and dessert options include mango ice. The interior has a contemporary comfort edge with an open kitchen, wooden floors and tables. There is also some outside seating to enjoy the many menu choices diners have with this new concept.

865 Middlefield Road, Redwood City; (650) 369-5323.

Menlo Park

In Menlo Park there’s a new destination for regional Mexican cuisine. It’s Mama Coco Cocina Mexicana in the former Mex To Go space. Named for one of the owner’s grandmothers, the restaurant has many dishes that come from recipes that Mama Coco herself would cook in Mexico City. That means the capital city’s vibrant flavors are everywhere on the menu, from the guacamole and empanadas to start, followed by salmon Veracruzano and tacos filled with al pastor pork and pineapple. Though huarache is found at street carts all over Mexico City, this is one of the few Peninsula spots to enjoy the dish, where masa is curved into a sandal-shaped tortilla and topped with cactus, onions, cheese and a salsa verde. Cochinita pibil, a suckling pig specialty of the Yucatan, is among the large plates offered with chicken mole. Salads include mango-jicama and one with kale, avocado and a tamarind-ginger vinaigrette. There is a patio area for outdoor dining that includes a kids’ play area and the casual inside room has turquoise walls featuring artistic images of Spanish words. Margaritas are of course a popular beverage choice at Mama Coco, closely followed by sangria. Vanilla flan tempts for the sweet finish.

1081 El Camino Real, Menlo Park; (650) 272-6634. No website.

Half Moon Bay

Attention Peninsula craft beer fans, next Sunday afternoon, Aug. 17, from noon to 3 p.m. is Half Moon Bay Brewing Company’s Mid-Summer BEERbecue at its heated outdoor Mavericks Beer Garden. Tickets for $25 each (beers are extra) get two grilled in-house beer-marinated meats and summery sides like corn on the cob and grilled seasonal vegetables. Brewmaster James Costa will be on hand to discuss what to pair with the barbecue. First come first served, no reservations.

390 Capistrano Road, Half Moon Bay; (650) 728-2739.

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