Shop, lunch, and linger on South Murphy Avenue

Julie Chai

Discovering Sunnyvale's South Murphy Avenue is as excitingas finding a $20 bill in the pocket of a favorite coat. The SiliconValley town is most often associated with high-tech companies andacres of suburbia. But tucked away from the main thoroughfares, thedowntown stretch of South Murphy maintains a friendly, villagelikecharacter.

Named after Martin Murphy Jr., one of Sunnyvale's firstsettlers, the avenue is lined with buildings that date back to theearly 1900s. On the corner of South Murphy and Evelyn Avenues, thecirca-1904 Del Monte Building, once used for drying and packingproduce, is now home to a restaurant and coffee shop.

Locals still gather on South Murphy. Drop by on a Saturday toexperience the lively year-round Sunnyvale Farmers' Market (9-1; 510/745-7100). On market days, you can stroll thesidewalks alongside regulars toting canvas grocery bags, and enjoylive music while lingering over baked goods.

In the midst of all the action, the Bean Scene (186 S. Murphy Ave.; 408/738-4523) is a perfect place forpeople-watching. Leslie Lawton, a 28-year Sunnyvale resident, saysshe sees the same people congregate here every weekend to gab, readthe paper, and play chess. "People of all ages feel comfortablehere."

When the market vendors call it a day, stop for lunch at one ofSouth Murphy's dozen-plus restaurants. Dishdash (closed Sun; 190 S. Murphy; 408/774-1889), a favorite,serves Mediterranean specialties.

After lunch, explore the specialty stores. It's Delicious (closed Sun; 127 S. Murphy; 408/746-9711) carries unusualand imported oils, preserves, and teas. Donna Did It (closed Sun-Mon; 152 S. Murphy; 408/524-2738) sellshand-painted chocolates. Buy unique three-dimensional cards at Jerdon (closed Sun-Mon; 125 S. Murphy; 408/245-5594). At Kiss It Good-Buy (closed Mon; 121 S. Murphy; 408/730-9300), find new and usedhome decor and clothing.

"There was a time when I wouldn't have come down here in broaddaylight," Lawton says. "Now, even at night, I feel like I'm onMain Street in Disneyland."

SEEING SUNNYVALE

WHERE: From U.S. 101, exit Mathilda Ave., drive south 2miles, turn left on Washington Ave. to S. Murphy Ave.

CONTACT: Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce,(408) 736-4971.

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