The Best Small Businesses in my Neighborhood

Thanks to American Express for sponsoring my writing today about small businesses. American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy, this Saturday, November 27. They're offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for "Likes" of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook. Join the celebration by clicking the "Like" button and then visiting the Facebook page to learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply.

One of the things I love best about our home is location, location, location. Okay, that's three things, but being exactly where we are makes a huge difference in our quality of life. We're on a quiet street with no through traffic. We live within walking distance to the kids' school. And we're a five-minute walk from downtown Palo Alto, where we can enjoy the best boutiques, cafes and restaurants that Palo Alto has to offer.

Of course, in most cases "best" also means "expensive", and with our budget we just can't afford to eat at most of the chi-chi restaurants on University Avenue. Fortunately, there are several small eateries located just off the main drag that serve amazing food at great prices. They also happen to be independently-owned small businesses, so I feel really good about supporting them -- the taxes they pay support Palo Alto's schools and communities, they employ locals and keep the community feeling alive.

After all, it's not just dot-com millionaires, startup lawyers or rich real-estate agents who live here, but also college students, retirees and families who want to give their kids a good life -- people like me. I'm so grateful that restaurants like these exist, because if they didn't, we wouldn't be able to afford to eat out in Palo Alto!

Here are 5 of my favorite restaurants in downtown Palo Alto (where you can get great food under $10):

Cafe Rennaissance bills itself as a place for Gourmet Persian Platters and Hearty American Sandwiches, but I've never ever eaten an American sandwich here. And who would want to, with so many choices for amazing Persian food? Their daily specials are healthy, inexpensive and out-of-this-world delicious!
The Prolific Oven makes the best cakes in town; their Chocolate on Chocolate cake is amazing, and their Strawberry Cream Cake (my favorite) is to die for. It's also a great lunch spot, featuring yummy sandwiches with their fresh baked bread, and a slice of cake that comes with every lunch! This place is oozing with community feel, from the community bulletin board filled with local announcements, to the multi-generational clientele, to the big pile of newspapers that everyone helps themselves to.
Gyros Gyros is the reason I'm crazy about falafel, hummus, tahini sauce and all things Meditteranean. I discovered this place about a year after I arrived in the US and had never tasted Mediterranean food before. Afterwards, I couldn't believe I had been missing such amazing food, but I've been making up for it ever since.
We discovered Loving Hut on a rainy day when we were headed to eat at a different restaurant but had parked far away and couldn't take the rain and the cold anymore. So we ducked in here, and fell in love with their vegan menu. Loving Hut Restaurants is actually the fastest growing international vegan fast food restaurant in the world, but each one is individually owned, and each one has its own unique menu. This place is living proof that vegan does not mean tasteless; even my meat-loving kids were wolfing down the "chicken" pesto broil, cauliflower and almond soup, shepherd's pie and "bacon"-avocado sandwich. Afterwards, you feel nice and light in so many ways: there's no heavy meat to weigh you down, and you walk away feeling good about doing yourself and the planet a favor.
Okay, Fraiche is not exactly a restaurant, but they're the best and most popular frozen yogurt place in town. And I've been known to order their plain organic tart frozen yogurt with a drizzle of honey (it's so good, that's all it needs) and call it lunch. See that little white banner on the far left? That's a "Best of 2010" Readers Poll Award from the Palo Alto Weekly.

Like "Small Business Saturday" on Facebook today - for every "Like" they receive, American Express will donate $1, up to $1,000,000!

Small Business Saturday

Disclosure: This is a compensated post. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity , as I do. Small Business Saturday program information is provided by the Clever Girls Collective and is clearly indicated as such. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

1 Comments, Leave yours here:

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