Real Business, Travel, USA - Thu January 12, 2012

Silicon Valley: A business-owners guide

Home to the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook, Silicon Valley is the tech capital of the world. Here, you want to be on the cutting edge. Read our business owner’s guide to Silicon Valley.

Bed down for the night

  • Four Seasons Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto. Ten minutes from Stanford University, this intimate, ultra-wired hotel is top of the list. A great business venue, the Happy Hour is essentially the daily networking event.
  • W Hotel. Eight miles from central Palo Alto on Gateway Boulevard, the W is drop-dead cool – where sleek meets geek (and hard cash). If you want to impress investors or clients, this will knock their socks off.
  • A few miles from Apple’s hub in Cupertino, the Hotel Valencia Santana Row is a modern classic wearing old threads. Almost a boutique hotel, this is where new money goes to quietly impress old money. And it never fails.
  • The boutique Zen Hotel on El Camino Real Palo Alto (at the heart of the Valley) is slightly cheaper than most of the other local options, and comes highly recommended.

Take suppliers for dinner

  • Tamarine on University Avenue is the place to eat. A favourite of Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Jerry Yang (Yahoo!), it’s trendy, hip, stylish – and expensive.
  • La Bodeguita del Medio. Sister restaurant to Hemingway’s famous Havana bar, this Cuba-inspired eatery on S. California Avenue in Palo Alto is a firm favourite in the Valley.
  • Il Fornaio offers signature Italian dishes such as the linguine mare chiaro. A place to impress clients without breaking the bank.
  • Calafia on El Camino Real is where you go to entertain vegans or those on a health kick. Former Google chef Charlie Ayers has created a stylish, laid-back, classic-California menu.

Have a power breakfast

  • St Michael’s Alley is widely viewed as the best brunch spot in Palo Alto. Try the blue monkey pancakes and chilaquiles.
  • Café Borrone is less than a mile from Stanford University, in the heart of the Valley. A place to find investors, people on the make (and the wane). Lots of outdoor tables.
  • Brunch venues proliferate on S. California Avenue but Joanie’s Café is still the original and the best.

Go for a post-work drink

  • Silicon Valley is a bit of a sleepy place, opting for caffeine over grapes and hops. But a few places stand out. For a pint, head to the Rose & Crown, a local institution with great (British) beer, wifi throughout, and an elastic closing time.
  • Gordon Biersch’s Palo Alto base on Emerson Street was the original location for this upscale chain. Great food and local beers, open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • A great place to bookend the night is at the Hotel Valencia Santana Row’s (almost) unbearably cool Vbar – all red neon and blue martinis. Stays open until late.

Surf the web

  • This is Palo Alto, after all, so finding places with wifi access here is as simple as falling off a log. And all hotels boast ultra-high-speed access. Naturally.
  • Another option is to head to one of the myriad Starbucks that seem to pop up on every corner. Free internet access with your bog-standard morning coffee.
  • Or head to University Avenue, where you will find a host of cafés, all offering free wifi with your eggs and pancakes.
  • If none of those places appeal, head to the Rose & Crown pub, or Café Borrone (both above). Lets face it: if you can’t find free wifi in Silicon Valley, you’re probably using an Apple Mac circa 1982.

Meet potential clients

  • Citrus Restaurant at the Hotel Valencia Santana Row is a great place to meet and greet business clients. Offers outdoor dining in a European courtyard.
  • Head to Pampas on El Camino Real for fresh, spit-roasted Brazilian food, from the juiciest steaks around to artisan cheeses.
  • And it would be a crime not to try the Sundance Steak House down the road, where the seafood is as succulent as the steak.
  • Baumé on California Park Avenue is the Valley’s very best French restaurant, recently having secured a second Michelin star. Perfect for when it’s time to impress the best, or seal the deal.

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