Zola

4.6
586 reviews
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$31 to $50
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French
Zola offers seasonal French cooking in an intimate and handsomely renovated space. We feature an array of French and California wines, as well as the best and closest sourced meat and produce of the season. Although our kitchen is steeped in the cooking of France, we are also thoughtful of where we are, and heavily influenced by the sensibilities of California. We couldn’t be happier to be serving this diverse community and are excited to share our excitement about food and wine with you.
What 586 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.6based on recent ratings
4.7
food
4.6
service
4.4
ambience
4.2
value
Noise · Moderate
86% of people would recommend it to a friend
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BD
1 review
Dined on May 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Zola is fabulous! Always excellent food and service!

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G
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on May 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The best meal I have had in 69 years, better than French Laundry and Eight Tables.....Thank you !!!!!!

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E
1 review
Dined on May 4, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 5

Appetizers and soup were very good. Entrees, fish and beef bourguignonwere, were mediocre. Dessert was hit and miss. Pineapple seemed like from a can.

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SC
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on May 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Tasty and creative dishes, presented beautifully. We shared a bunch of smaller plate, the gnocchi was really great. The pork chop, which someone next to us got, looked huge! I wish that the tables weren't so close together and that they had more than one restroom.

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D
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on April 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Excellent dishes with wine pairings. They enjoy making all feel cared about.

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OT
1 review
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Each dish was absolutely delicious and contained such flavors that it just engulfed the mouth. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful. It was a bit noisy inside, but that is only due to it being a smaller place and so popular. I definitely recommend getting a reservation considering how packed it was on a Saturday night and I imagine the wait would have been long if we didn’t have one. Fantastic experience and if I could give them more stars I would.

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CC
San Francisco
47 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 3ambience 2

This has to be the most crowded, noisy, uncomfortable, and poorly-serviced restaurant on the Peninsula. The tables (especially for two) are so crammed together that you can EASILY reach over to the next table and eat out of their plates. The noise is so absurdly loud that you have to scream over it to have any chance of having a conversation with your date, which of course only exacerbates the situation.
The food itself is hit-or-miss, but mostly miss. In particular, if you want a healthy meal, do not even consider coming here. The majority of dishes are prepared with rich ( = saturated fat) sauces which drown out the taste of the main ingredient, or are composed of unhealthy ingredients. Even when the ingredients seem healthy, such as the appetizer of cauliflower and broccoli, it is cooked in a usually greasy manner. The pork chop I had was at least 30% fat and the meat portion itself was overcooked and essentially tasteless. At $36, it was a rip-off. The short rib was even fattier, and was basically inedible. The chicken was dry and tasteless (we had to send it back). The blue crab toast had almost no crab. The scallop entree likewise had very little scallop, although it did taste good. Wine by the bottle is absurdly priced, and the corkage fee is $40.
Good luck if you want to go on a warm evening...their "air conditioning" consists of just opening the front door, which hardly mitigates the heat from way too many bodies crammed into the small room and from the heat generated from the kitchen. Regarding service, even with a reservation you will most likely need to wait awhile for your table, and once you are served your food, the waitstaff will disappear.
In summary, if you want to spend ~ $200 for a dinner for two, and do it in an uncomfortable setting with subpar service, while eating mediocre-tasting food which is extremely calorific and unhealthy, you've found your place here.

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IF
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We went for my wife's birthday. We had gone once before shortly after it opened and it was very good. Saturday night was something else altogether. It was a truly exceptional meal, with excellent and well-priced wine (one of Zola's iPad recommendations) and terrific service. The bone marrow, pork chop, and special duck pasta were among the best food we have eaten in Palo Alto, and we have lived here for decades. I recall the prices being high average the last time we ate here; this time the prices were below what I expect for the quality of the meal. Needless to say we will be back.

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VA
New York Area
8 reviews
Dined on April 26, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

fantastic food, always great and interesting yet great choices....my only "not so great" is the ambiance....basic wood tables, no cloths, so kind of sitting with dirty table throughout meal, tables very close so hear others....

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OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on April 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Special occasion

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JB
Charlotte
2 reviews
Dined on April 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Service and Food were both amazing. Highly Recommend.

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KE
Baltimore
2 reviews
Dined on April 20, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food, great service, will be back.

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O
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on April 20, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

The only negative was that they were more worried about cleaning the tables than tending to the guests who were eating. Did not bring water when the glasses and bottle on table was empty for 15 minutes.

We ordered wine by glass and glasses were empty before food was served but they were too busy cleaning to make money by offering us a second glass of wine . So we ate the food without wine. Really bad!

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SF
San Francisco
34 reviews
Dined on April 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Service was very good. Food was excellent. Loved the roasted mushroom. We all had a great time. Definitely will come back again in the future.

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GF
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on April 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Incredible food. Delicate, inventive, simply delicious. We came here for birthday celebration. Price performance is simply great. There are tons of other places that are more pretenceous and pricy and don't have half the quality Zola has. Just great.

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TC
Seattle
8 reviews
Dined on April 5, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Contrary to the expected Michelin comments, the Ricotta Ravioli was in a way disappointing as the very good sauce did not seem to go well with the somehow cold ravioli. However, I would return to the place again and again for the Blue Crab entry that was served - that is the only reason for the 4 star food rating. The main entry - the Short Rib "beef bourguignon" was fine but not inspirational. To be fair, the couple by the table next to me was just loving the scallops .... so maybe next time I will try that.

Service was excellent, considering I did not even to ask to have the charge removed when i made the comment the Mushrooms were overcooked.

Ambience was fine but tables a little too close to each other.

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SB
Orange County
3 reviews
Dined on April 2, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Small and a bit noisy bistro. reservations a must. Great service. Loved the ricotta gnocchi appetizer is a soft boiled egg on top. Also the petrale sole was yummy. Did not care for the tartare.

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BM
1 review
Dined on April 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had two appetizers: blue crab toasts and the Ricotta gnocchi both of which were excellent. The the crab stood out (not buried by the flavorings and sauce). The gnocchi had lots of flavor with the sauce and mushrooms and more. Believe it or not, the bread was out of this world as well -- crusty, full of flavor. Walter picked a French white and a French red that went really well with the appetizers. Staff was there at our table at the right time but not pushy about ordering and drinks like nearly every other restaurant.

Noise level was perfect -- lively but quiet enough that we could hear each other.

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TT
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on March 28, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

The food is excellent, and the service very good. I would return more frequently, but the restaurant is very popular and always completely booked except for late reservations.

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D
San Francisco
68 reviews
Dined on March 28, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 5ambience 3

Food was fabulous. Service prompt and friendly. But the female millennial noise and screaming level was painful. Really brutal by 7:30. I will try again one more time on a Sunday at 5.

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DB
San Francisco
76 reviews
Dined on March 28, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Of you want a true French Bistro experience in Silicon Valley, check this place out. Seasonally inspired cuisine, great champagne cocktails and attentive service.

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OT
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on March 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Esmeralda is always great.

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JR
San Francisco
34 reviews
Dined on March 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything was delicious! We ordered the roasted beets, pork chops (amazing), scallops, and the creme caramel. The tables are pretty tightly placed, so it does get noisy. But the food and service are so good.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 1food 4service 1ambience 4

Sat down 20 minutes late and took forever to take our order.

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DS
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on March 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A must go-to in Palo Alto with its cozy dark room and superb food and service! Will return soon...

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TP
1 review
Dined on March 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food and service. Only concern was that it was a bit loud, hard to have a clear conversation

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D
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on March 19, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 1

The sauce that accompanied the steak tartar was delicious, but the beef itself was on the soggy side. THe beef short rib had now character of wine. We both ordered it and neither finished it. The $40 corkage was gouging. As one might infer, we will not return.

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k
New York Area
9 reviews
Dined on March 14, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

French with a California twist.

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S
1 review
Dined on March 13, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 2

I had such high expectations. It's not just about the food but the experience and, unfortunately, the server lacked any sense of decorum. My friend was running incredibly late and I understand that it's a small restaurant but the way the server handled the situation was appalling. I had been at Bird Dog the day before and the same thing happened. We try to be on time but stuff happens - meetings, traffic, etc. Bird Dog made accommodations and worked with me. Zola gave me a lecture and dirty looks. The can keep their Michelin star(s). No thanks.

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P
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on March 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent dinner with the Family, celebrating my wife birthday! We had wanted to come here for a while but they are very buzy! reservations ahead is a must. Thank you to Chef/ owner Bienaime and his team :)

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YZ
1 review
Dined on March 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Great small place. Food was on point. Just a bit noisy because the sound carries and the tables are quite close.

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OT
Portland
1 review
Dined on March 6, 2019
Overall 1food 5service 5ambience 5

They have charged me twice in my bill

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AS
New York Area
10 reviews
Dined on March 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Small, elegant restaurant. Creative dishes. Good French wines. As good as any big city restaurant, though simple space.

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AA
San Francisco
24 reviews
Dined on March 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

First time - very homey and service was very good - tables a bit tight - hard to hold a conversation - I had the pork chop it was great - my friend had the special veal dish and loved it. Would like to return and try some of their other dishes

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OT
1 review
Dined on March 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

As always, amazing. The pork chops are amazing !!

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j
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on February 28, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Zola is our go-to "celebration" restaurant. Dining here is always a special event. Great food, friendly service, intimate ambiance

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MN
Miami
4 reviews
Dined on February 23, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

We asked for a side dish and they forgot, it came when we were finishing eating, but besides that, food was delicious!!

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OT
1 review
Dined on February 22, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

We went for bday dinner on a Friday. Had to wait a bit after our reservation time for table to clear, but hostess made the wait feel short with conversation and getting us drinks while we waited. Good Californian French food. I got a salad that tasted delicious, but a bit small for the price. But would go again just for laidback atmosphere and top service!

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P
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined on February 22, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Change of staff at Zola for the “much” better. Very attentive, with good explanation of the food and excellent suggestions, the staff is taking good care of the guests. The food is very well executed, tending on the comfort rather than the sophistication but there is nothing wrong with that. I have enjoyed the cured black cod, the delicate green salad, the tartare de boeuf, the gnocchi with cream eggs and mushroom, and the short rib bourguignon. All delicious !!

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JP
San Francisco
39 reviews
Dined on February 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

This remains the best restaurant in Palo Alto. Reasonable prices. Fantastically executed food. On a recent visit had a trout special accompanies with fabulous shellfish and a deep, hearty stock. Began with a fabulous tuna tartar. Excellent bread. Outstanding service. My go-to place when I need to eat in the Palo Alto area.

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