San Mateo's Cajun invasion 

click to enlarge Cajun House brings bold Cajun and Creole flavors to San Mateo. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Cajun House brings bold Cajun and Creole flavors to San Mateo.

We're a long way from Bourbon Street, but now you can smell the gumbo on San Mateo's B Street. Cajun House has marched into town, bringing bold Cajun and Creole flavors to the Peninsula. It's the second edition of Cajun House, with the original in San Francisco's Inner Richmond. Of course gumbo is on offer, as are numerous fried dishes, whether you're in a catfish mood or feeling adventurous for alligator. Many of the dishes are messy seafood boils, like Alaskan king crab legs paired with a garlic lemon butter. Or you can amp up the spice factor with the "explosive" spicy Cajun sauce that comes with sausage or shrimp. Order some Cajun-seasoned fries, and as they'd say in New Orleans, laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll).

251 S. B St., San Mateo; (650) 685-6868,

San Carlos

• The local wine-and-cheese crowd is thrilled about TasteVin Wine and Cheese in San Carlos. Certified sommelier Sue Simpson is behind the concept and has created a wine list that encompasses a diverse assortment of grapes from around the globe. As wide-reaching as the wine is, you can eat just as well courtesy of chef Cynthia Bloebaum. Cheeses are the star, but a charcuterie plate or duck rillettes match brilliantly with many of the reds. Smaller tartines and panini — such as one with prosciutto, ricotta and fig jam, or another with an arugula pesto — allow for more substantial bites.

890 Laurel St., San Carlos; (415) 341-5273

Palo Alto

• After only opening early this year, Palo Alto's Campo 185 has closed. Owners Paul and Julie Shenkman aren't leaving the prime seat downtown location, however. Opening within the month will be a new Sam's Chowder House, the runaway hit for the Shenkmans along U.S. Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay. They're also gaining wheels as Sam's ChowderMobile. New England-style seafood is the focus under chef Robert Holt, who was the top toque at Campo 185 as well before closing. You can't see the Pacific like at the other Sam's, but you certainly can still enjoy the lobster roll once dubbed by the "Today Show" as one of the country's best.

185 University Ave., Palo Alto; 650-712-0245,

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