6.8 out of 10

Downtown North

Ranked 4th best neighborhood in Palo Alto
37.4491571868862 -122.164603692417
Great for
  • Schools
  • Shopping Options
  • Eating Out
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Gym & Fitness
Not great for
  • Childcare
  • Cost of Living
  • Parking
  • Public Transport
  • Lack of Traffic
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Families with kids

Reviews

3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
2yrs+

"Small town feel"

Framed by Middlefield Road, University Avenue, Alma Street and Palo Alto Avenue, Downtown North is a very dense, pedestrian-friendly Palo Alto community. It is almost exclusively residential and spans about 0.25 square miles. For the perspective resident, the district is one of the most urban neighborhood’s of Palo Alto and, as a result, is one of the most economically diverse. Median household incomes are around $82,000/year, but vary drastically in range as seen by the variety of housing options. Demographically speaking, the community holds about 2,500 residents, most of which are of a white background.

Downtown North’s residential aesthetics are a mix between a number of condominiums, mid-rise studio apartments and charming bungalows. If you’re looking to become a homeowner, the area is mixed between one and two-story homes, usually fitted on tight lots with shallow, not too glamorous front yards and old front porches reminding you of more traditional times. Estimated house prices are up to a pricey $1.3 million, which doesn’t really make sense to me. For renters, there are a handful of condominiums priced around $650,000 while rents tend to be in the range of $1,200 to $1,600/month (for the large number of modest duplex apartment buildings). In the last two decades, however, there have been a couple newly built, high density homes with a nice modern appeal to them.

Downtown North has a sense of small town feel to it. For one, the neighborhood deals with pesky traffic issues and lack of street parking. But on the other hand, the area is pretty convenient to Stanford University and downtown Palo Alto. There is also a small commercial strip that lines University Avenue that provides the neighborhood essentials (i.e. drug store, coffee shop, hardware store, banks, a couple neighborhood eateries, the Stanford Theatre and a large parking structure). And for commuters, Palo Alto Caltrain station anchors the southern end of the neighborhood.
Pros
  • Great restaurants
  • Great shopping
Cons
  • Expensive area
  • Parking nightmare
  • Traffic galore
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"Every Bit as Good as University South"

The restaurants and fun don’t end north of University either. You have an almost equally great selection of restaurants and nightlife as in University South on the northern side. In fact, I just realized that some of the restaurants that I mentioned in my review of University South are actually north of University.

In my apologies to both places I will now correct my error, giving restaurants on the northern end of University Ave to Downtown
North and the restaurants on the south of University Avenue to University South:

Here then are my top 10 favorite restaurants in Downtown North:

10.Crepevine: I know it’s a chain and all, but the crepes are good, I love the potatoes, and the portions are big. It is just a great value.
9.Baclava: One of the three Mediterranean food places on my list. I like this one a lot but Evvia is just superb.
8. Sancho’s Taqueria: Great tacos; great burritos—‘Nuf said.
7.Kanpai: Though the competition isn’t stiff (Palo Alto is not a great sushi locale), Kanpai is definitely the best sushi place in Palo Alto. Try the “chef’s special” if you are feeling adventurous, and the University Rolls if you just want something solid (it is salmon and tuna).
6. Café Renzo: Definitely my favorite Italian place in Downtown North.
5. Darbar: There are lots of great Indian places throughout the Bay Area. This is probably the best one in Palo Alto. Favorites: Chicken Tikki Masala and Samosas/
4.Oren’s Hummus: Okay, so you have to be into hummus, but if you are or if you have a vegetarian friend who is, Oren’s should definitely be a stop on your trip downtown.
3.Zibbibo: This is the second Mediterranean place on my list. Though for me, this place is mostly about the salmon sandwich.
2.Joya: This is just an outstanding Tapas bar. I love coming here because it reminds me of my time abroad.
1.Evvia Estautario: I love Mediterranean food and this is a really great place, much more than just gyros. Favorite Dish: Lamb Souvlaki.


Unfortunately, North Downtown Palo Alto rivals University South in virtually everything else as well, including rents and home prices. A one-bedroom apartment in North Downtown will cost you over $2000/month.

A condo here will cost you ¾ of $1 million while anything else will quickly pass into the million dollar range.

Like University South, this is a good neighborhood to get a bite, go shopping or catch a movie, but not really for living.
Pros
  • Great restaurants
  • Great shopping
  • Safe
Cons
  • Expensive area
  • Parking nightmare
  • Traffic galore
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
2yrs+

"Great Restaurants, not Enough Parking"

Downtown Palo Alto has the look and feel of a quaint, charming town - with the traffic and the crowds to remind you that it is anything but. With an Apple store, the Ideo headquarters, and the former home of Facebook itself, not to mention droves of Silicon Valley professionals, this place practically BREATHES technology, second only to downtown Mountain View (home of Google) and San Jose, respectively.

It meets its wealthy clientele needs with its fair share of restaurants, including an abnormal of the French-themed variety. La Strada (Italian), Joya (Tapas) and Epi (French Cafe) are all surefire bets (I can give recommendations for each), and Crepevine is a Bay Area classic as well. You pretty much can't go wrong wherever you dine.

The biggest problem is parking, which is nearly impossible to find during happy hour, and is limited to two hours only in many places. If you want to stick around for the day, your best bet is to buy a parking pass in advance or park at the garage underneath Bank of America (neither of which are particularly convenient options). Times are enforced pretty heavily, so heed to these rules and you will be fine.

If you are just driving through, it is strongly advised to take either Lytton or Everett, which run parallel to University with a fraction of the traffic. Don't be wary of checking out these streets, which have a fair share of restaurants and bars of their own.

Because of the crowds, this could be a tough spot to raise a family, although anything in Palo Alto is a surefire bet to breed intelligent overachievers with a wealth of opportunity in their backyard (literally!)
Pros
  • Safe
  • Great restaurants
  • Great shopping
Cons
  • Traffic galore
  • Parking nightmare
  • Expensive area
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish

Travelling to Downtown North?

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Best Streets in Downtown North

1

Kipling St

3.5/5
"Closest Park to Downtown"
37.4487417121645 -122.161415374622

Unranked Streets in Downtown North

"Luxury near downtown"
37.4528690989908 -122.163175108579

Lytton Ave

3.5/5
"Drive Here, Avoid University"
37.4478333796368 -122.161715174934

Tasso St

3.5/5
"Park Here, Walk Downtown"
37.4512816988413 -122.162334565772

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