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Eat local at Cuco’s Burritos, Taro San Japanese Noodle Bar, Kirk’s Steakburgers

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During this time of social isolation and quarantine, distancing oneself from others has become an epitome of change that we all face. And while we must follow public health guidelines and adapt to safety measures, there is still one thing that can bring a sense of normalcy to our lives: food. Whether or not food has been your favorite pastime, we can all agree that all businesses alike — especially local restaurants — are taking a hard hit from the pandemic, as businesses had to close shop for a while. Now, as we progress along the stages of returning back to some form of normal, restaurants are opening their doors again — safely, of course. Here are a few local restaurants around Stanford University that are open now for delivery and takeout. 

Cuco’s Burritos

If you are looking for a Mexican restaurant that is dedicated to traditional cuisine and quality service, Cuco’s is the place to go. Cuco’s offers a plethora of classic and traditional Mexican dishes that have phenomenal reviews on Yelp commending the service and aura of the restaurant. Whether you are hungry for a burrito — hence, the name — a quesadilla or other classic Mexican dish, Cuco’s likely has what you are looking for.

Mariela Peralta, the owner of Cuco’s, grew up with her family owning taquerías, and seeing her family’s commitment to their career ultimately inspired her to run her own restaurant when she got older.

“It’s like [my parents] planted a seed in me that would be watered every time I’d witness them doing what they loved, from creating unique recipes to customer service.”

Peralta wrote that despite the challenges her parents faced, “their determination to keep going was always greater than anything life threw at them.” 

Similarly, business owners are now forced to adapt and to cope with the upcoming changes the pandemic has brought — whether it be uncertainty or loss. Despite these difficulties, Cuco’s and many other restaurants are still working to provide service.

Peralta explained that Cuco’s is enforcing safety measures for customers and staff such as “disinfecting common areas continuously, checking temperatures on all employees daily, enforcing face masks and gloves on employees, and enforcing face masks on all customers.”

Taro San Japanese Noodle Bar

Established in early 2018 by Jerome Ito, Taro San offers authentic yet nontraditional Japanese cuisine with Ito’s personal element of what he finds appetizing. 

His experience ranges from training in and out of the United States and from owning another restaurant, Go Fish Poke Bar.

Elaborating on his experience abroad, he said: “I’ve always specialized in Japanese cuisine and I really wanted to learn more of the technique for making Udon which originated in Japan… not only to learn the techniques but also [to learn about the] special machine we use at Taro San that was developed and created in Japan.”

This machine was created based on traditional techniques of making Sanuki udon at home, and it allows one to produce high volumes of fresh udon throughout the day while still maintaining the authentic quality of fresh udon.

One unique aspect of Taro San is that the noodles are prepared in front of the restaurant making them as fresh and homemade as possible. 

Ito emphasized the importance of adapting and how his restaurants were prepared for this. “We’ve always implemented catering and to-go,” he said. “Adapting was very seamless for us.”

Regarding the safety of the staff and customers, all employees are required to wear gloves and masks, customers wear masks, everything is sanitized, and social distancing is maintained.

Kirk’s Steakburgers

At Kirk’s, a historic restaurant founded in 1948, you will find classic American cuisine where burgers are cooked on an open fire grill. The restaurant has undergone three ownership changes since its establishment, and Rick Juncker has been in control for five years now.

The historic aspect of Kirk’s was one of the reasons that Juncker bought the restaurant in the first place: “I think it is one of the things that appealed to me… the legacy [and] nature of Kirk’s.”

Although the original owners no longer run the restaurant, some customers have remained regulars.

“We get a lot of people coming in that say ‘I have been coming in since I was a kid, and I’m 65 or 70 years old… my dad brought me here, my grandfather brought me here.’”

As for how the restaurant has been able to stay open for over fifty years, Juncker said: “I just think we have been a part of the community for a long time [and] people know us.”

Discussing how the burgers are made, he said that “the flavors that you create with fire and smoke are hard to duplicate… The recipe that Kirk’s [uses] gives it a unique, one of a kind flavor.”

Because of the pandemic, Juncker said that “sales are down by about half [and] costs are up.” More changes at Kirk’s include the adherence to safety guidelines such as “sanitizing contact surfaces, training employees [and] ensuring people wear masks.”

Contact Elizabeth Wilson at elwilson ‘at’ s.sfusd.edu.

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Elizabeth Wilson is a high schooler writing as part of The Daily's Summer Journalism Workshop.