In light of our current economic climate due to Covid-19, supporting small businesses has become more crucial than ever. In 2020 alone, more than 100,000 small businesses have permanently closed according to this article from The Washington Post with that number is only increasing every day. Because of this, I've made it a priority to try to support the small businesses around me, specifically food businesses, to help them stay afloat during these difficult times. In no particular order, below are a few of my favorite small food businesses in the Bay Area.
Mama's Papas (Potato Balls & Tacos)
Credit: Truffle and hot cheeto mac-n-cheese balls from @claudiaishungry on Instagram
Mama's Papas is a female owned business specializing in papas or potato balls, birria tacos, macaroni balls, and more. What I love most about her business is that she has vegan and vegetarian options that are just as delicious as her meat items. I had the wonderful opportunity of learning about the owner, Trace, when I first ordered from here and learned she has over 10 years of experience working in the restaurant industry back in Hawaii. While she is currently based in Newark, she rents a kitchen part-time in San Mateo allowing her to serve both areas. If you had to try one thing from here, I would recommend the truffle mac-n-cheese balls. If you love the macaroni balls from the Cheesecake Factory, you need to try these balls from Mama's Papas. I would argue they're even better than the Cheesecake Factory's.
- Type of food: Mexican, potato balls
- Price: ~$4/item
- Instagram: @_mamaspapas
- Location: Newark & San Mateo, CA
Bijou Baskets (Charcuterie)
Credit: Picnic bundle from @bijoubaskets on Instagram
Bijou Baskets is a charcuterie and luxury picnic set business based in San Jose, CA. If you are looking for quality charcuterie, a unique picnic experience, and a local south bay business to support; you need to check out Bijou Baskets. The owner, Alyssa, sources all of her ingredients from local farmer’s markets and specialty grocery stores and puts so much thought and care into each box. You have the option to order the charcuterie alone or in a picnic bundle set that includes a wicker picnic basket, insulated cooler bag, utensils, and an outdoor picnic blanket. My favorite part about her business is how at the end of each month, she donates a percentage of her profits to a local non-profit or charity in the Bay Area. Community is such a huge part of running a small businesses so I appreciate her dedication to giving back wherever she can.
- Type of food: charcuterie
- Price: $40 - $200
- Instagram: @bijoubaskets
- Location: San Jose, CA
Sweet Route (Pastries and Filipino dishes)
Credit: Belgium waffles from @sweet_route on Instagram
Sweet Route is a Filipino-owned dessert business based in Fremont, CA. This business has an extensive dessert menu with items such as Belgium waffles, churros, cupcakes, and recently, mochi donuts and strawberry cheesecake bars. If you are not a fan of sweets, Sweet Route also has a "Filipino Menu" that serves savory items such as lumpia, pancit, fried rice, and ribs. The owner of Sweet Route, Kenneth, is actually a high school friend of mine and I can attest to his culinary mastery. His lumpia and oreo Belgium waffles are my go-to items on his menu and are the foods that got me through studying for AP tests in high school. In all seriousness, Sweet Route has so many amazing and unique dishes to try at extremely affordable prices (For ex: $6 for 4 Belgium waffles). He delivers anywhere that is 1 hour within Fremont on the weekdays and in San Francisco on the weekends, so if you live in either of those locations I highly recommend checking him out!
- Type of food: Filipino, desserts
- Price: $6 - $25
- Instagram: @sweet_route
- Location: Fremont and San Francisco, CA
Michelle's Munchies (Sushi Bake)
Credit: Sushi bake from @michellesmunchiees on Instagram
If you're a fan of sushi bake, Michelle's Munchies has got you covered. For those of you who may not know, sushi bake is essentially a deconstructed sushi roll that consists of rice, baked fish, mayonnaise, roe, and furikake. Think of lasagna but with sushi ingredients. Michelle's Munchies is a small, Filipina-owned sushi bake business based in Union City, CA. She delivers all over the Bay Area and can occasionally be found at Pop Ups. Michelle offers 3 serving sizes: cup (feeds 1), hungry (1-2), and starving (5+) and has two options of fish: crab salmon (mild or spicy) or shrimp tempura. These sushi bakes are perfect to bring to small gatherings as they're easy to share, tasty, and very filling!
- Type of food: sushi bake
- Price: $14 - $37
- Instagram: @michellesmunchiees
- Location: Fremont and San Francisco, CA
Little Griddle (Meal Preps)
Credit: Steak, potatoes, and aspargus meal prep from @little_griddle on Instagram
Little Griddle is a Newark, CA based small business that cooks and delivers meal prep boxes across the Bay Area. Their mission is to bring a little convenience and consistency to your life. The owner, Jax, comes out with a new menu every Friday and delivers meals every Sunday and Wednesday. Each meal has a 4oz portion of meat, veggie, and carbs and can include another 2oz portion of any category for an additional +$2.00. I personally love meal preps because it helps me with portion control, developing consistent eating habits, and just my overall efficiency when working a full-time job. Instead of paying the outrageous fees of delivery apps, consider ordering locally from businesses like Little Griddle who deliver home cooked meals straight to your door.
- Type of food: meal preps
- Price: ~$10/meal
- Instagram: @little_griddle
- Location: Newark, CA
Stroberries (Chocolate Covered Strawberries)
Credit: Custom stuffed and dippeded strawberries from @stroberries._ on Instagram
With Valentine's Day around the corner, Strowberries is a small business you NEED to check out. Strowberries is a custom dipped strawberries business located in Hayward, CA. When I tell you, these are no ordinary chocolate dipped strawberries, I am not lying. Here menu consists of 3 types of strawberries: stuffed, dipped, and premade flavors and has an abundance of drizzles and toppings to customize your order with. You also have the option to upgrade your order by adding letters/numbers and sparkles to your berries for special occasions. In my opinion, the prices here are extremely reasonable at $12 for 6 or $18 for a dozen with any additional toppings/drizzle costing extra. If you are an extra person who loves chocolate strawberries, do yourself a favor and check out Stroberries this Valentine's Day.
- Type of food: chocolate covered strawberries
- Price: $12 - $18
- Instagram: @stroberries._
- Location: Hayward, CA
I love ordering food from small businesses because I find the overall experience to be alot more pleasant than ordering from a huge corporation. Not only is the food delicious and unique but it also makes me feel good knowing I'm contributing to someone's dream. If you ever get a chance to try out any of these businesses, let me know your thoughts in the comments below or DM on Instagram at @claudiaishungry.