Downtown San Carlos may never be Waikiki Beach, but there's something trade winds lately. Longtime friends and native Hawaiians Noelani Maestrini and Bradley Wills finally realized their dream of bringing a taste of home to the Peninsula with the opening of Noelani's, in the former Morty's space. J.C. Sazo, Jr. serves as the chef after time at San Mateo's highly regarded All Spice. The menu features both pupus (Hawaiian for appetizers) and "small kine plates" that rarely rise above $13. Start with the ahi tuna "kaka'ako" nachos on taro chips and some shoyu-style ahi poke, then move on to macadamia nut-crusted mahi mahi or a guava-marinated skirt steak. Noelani's is both a restaurant and bar and lounge, hence tiki drinks play a pivotal role. Mai tais are everywhere, but also consider the "Islands meets Cancun" guava margarita, or share the epic Fish Bowl with your friends. 1037 Laurel St., San Carlos; (650) 394-8169.
Plaza Rizal is now frying lumpia and sizzling a pork chop platter topped with mushroom gravy. The new Filipino restaurant focuses on the cuisine's comfort classics. Think hearty, meat-heavy offerings like the classic pork adobo and bihon, a rice noodle dish with chicken, pork, shrimp, and Chinese sausage wrapped in banana leaves. Most of the menu involves sizzling plates or silogs (a protein, fried egg, and garlic rice, sort of a Filipino "meat and three"), and almost everything is under $10. For dessert, try halo halo ice cream and ube leche (purple yam) flan. 950 King Dr., Daly City; (650) 754- 6988.
This has been a sweet summer in Palo Alto, what with all the ice cream parlors, candy shops, bakeries, and chocolate boutiques that have opened over the past few months. One of the new chocolate shops is a Berkeley legend that decided it was time to branch out into Cardinal territory. Alegio Chocolate serves truffles and chocolate bars crafted by Claudio Corallo and Enric Rovira, two of the most esteemed chocolatiers in the world. Even the late Steve Jobs used to drive from Palo Alto to Berkeley just for these chocolates. The range of flavors makes choosing one daunting. Are you a heat seeker looking for a habanero truffle, or more of the type that goes for a forceful 90% dark cacao from Ecquador? The factory also offers a 45-minute tour for the truly devoted. 522 Bryant St., Palo Alto; (650) 324- 4500.