The downtown scene in San Mateo, as in every other urban playground, presents singular challenges: Should you take the parking spot, or keep driving and hope for better? Is that your boss down at the end of the bar? Luckily, one gripe you’ll never have about downtown San Mateo is that there’s nothing to eat. B Street alone is a haven of goodness, whether you’re sliding in before last call or grabbing lunch on the way to a meeting. B Street Billiards, one block from the Caltrain station and the Century 12 Movie Theater, is a relaxed hangout where locals go to shoot pool and sip a few brewskys. The joint is also a California registered landmark dating to 1925, renovated and restored to its original neo-classic design.
If you’re in the mood for something spicy, you needn’t look any further than Burrito Alley, as B Street is sometimes called. La Piñata, one of the strip’s nine taquerias, is rumored to be particularly good, and less than $4 gets you a monstrous burrito with chips and salsa. If a night on the town leaves you groggy the next day, head to Nini’s Coffee House on Idaho Street, near Coyote Point Park.
This storied shop holds 50 years of history, and it all comes rushing back as soon as you walk in the door. The old counter stools, movie star photos and knick knacks let you know that this place is for real. A popular breakfast and lunch stop, Nini’s serves up huge portions for very reasonable prices – with a smile. Too many burritos and pancakes makes for a poor diet, though. Stop off at the San Mateo Farmers’ Market at the College of San Mateo Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and pick up something green to make you feel healthier – at least until next time you have a burrito craving.