Laid-back burgers: The beach-themed Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks is now serving up teriyaki burgers, fish tacos, coconut-banana smoothies and mai-tais in Cupertino, the first Bay Area outpost for the Southern California-based chain. The restaurant group was founded 30 years ago by Tony DeGrazier, who wanted to re-create here on the mainland the Oahu meals he enjoyed in the 1960s while in the Navy. Islands has since grown to more than 50 locations. Hamburger choices range from the Hawaiian (teriyaki-pineapple, natch) to the spicy Kilauea (a volcanic creation with chipotle aioli topping a jalapeño- and black pepper-crusted burger) to the cheesy Point Break (Gruyere and blue cheeses, plus caramelized onion-bacon relish). All burgers come with endless fries. Details: Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at 20750 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino. 408-865-1992; www.islandsrestaurants.com.
New toque in town: Delicious changes are ahead for the Menlo Grill, the cozy Menlo Park bistro and bar where new exec chef Erik Romme made his debut Christmas Day. Romme's resume includes stints at Michelin-starred Madera, Marche and Left Bank, and he's known for seasonal, farmers-market-inspired fare. "As much as possible, I try to make the ingredients speak for themselves," he says, "and showcase the natural beauty that they provide." Details: www.menlogrill.com.
Stylish chefs: Chefs in Playboy with their clothes ON? What is the world coming to? Playboy magazine is kicking off the new year with a fashion spread on five of New York City's hottest and most stylishly attired chefs. One is actually a San Franciscan, although Danny Bowein has expanded his Mission Chinese Food and its charitable mission -- a portion of the proceeds helps feed the homeless -- to the Big Apple. The "Hail to the Chef" article also features Frank Castronovo, Frank Falcinelli, Eric Ripert and Marcus Samuelsson, looking fetching in Gucci with a salmon slung over one shoulder. Check it out at www.playboy.com/hailtothechef.
Send your South Bay and Peninsula restaurant tips to Linda Zavoral, firstname.lastname@example.org.