San Jose Favorite Restaurants
I'm always interested in hearing about people's favorite restaurants in San Jose--low end and high end ones, that is.
a few other things went through my mind then just price. steve is and has been awesome and sawa has its own charm however i don't expect 'higher end' restaurants to tell me how to enjoy my meal. sawa also lacks the 'ambiance' i'm used to, white table cloths, patron first service, etc.
sawa is definitely not a place i'd take someone who does not understand sushi, japanese food, omakase, and sawa's 'sushi nazi' fame.
I've had lunch at Los Cubanos and I prefer Habana Cuba. The flavoring of Habana sauces are richer and have more depth. (I was actually there last night). My favorites from the menu are the bistec de lomo (medium rare) & rabo encindido (oxtails). My partner enjoys the same enchilado de camarones everytime we visit. I do also like the chicken with the sauteed onions on occasion. Side note, our friend dining with us last night said the lechon a la cubana was "out of this world".
At Los Cubanos I believe I orderd their stewed pork dish and my partner ordered a shrimp/seafood dish. The pork dish tasted a bit bland & sort of dry, I ending up leaving quite a bit on my plate by the end of the meal. I do remember my partner mentioning that he enjoyed the shrimp dish at Habana Cuba more.
Seems like nothing's genuinely cheap these days, but, on the lower end:
Burrito Factory, Blossom Hill & Snell
Tony Dimaggio's, Montery Hwy - best (possibly only) Stromboli in SJ.
Giorgio's (part of the Frankie, Johny, Luigi chain) - good Northern Italian
Holder's Country Inn - great for breakfast
Cardinal Lounge - all-night eats
Smile Sushi - creative rolls, and some great fish if you're choosy (hamachi is best bet)
El Amigo - good mexican food, cool patio, on Santa Theresa
E&O Trading Co - eclectic asian fusion and great mixed drinks. (Moderate if you show for Happy Hour, which has bargains for the best drinks and apetizers).
Tomo Sushi - great sushi, friendly & entertaining chef.
Forbes Mill - steak house (technically Los Gatos, but close enough)
Nha Toi (Vietnamese, near SJSU)
Pho Lynn (Vietnamese beef noodles, off of San Carlos, near Bascom)
Kaita (Japanese, Japantown): I think Kaita is just as good as Tanto and Gochi, but with 1/2 the attitude and prices.
Korean Palace (Korean table-top BBQ): I still prefer Sam Won BBQ in Oakland, though, and am actively in search of a charcoal-table-top place.
Sumiya (Japanese skewers, corner of Moorpark and Lawrence)
Still in search of an Oliveto-equivalent... or an Zuni-equivalent...
Keeping it strictly to San Jose - no Pasteria in Los Gatos or Amber Cafe in Mountain View...
Naglee Park Garage
For places you can go whenever (as opposed to a "special occasion"), we like the homey & good Okayama in J-town, Bronco's (13th & Empire) for tacos, Hunan Taste or Bo Town for Chinese, Thepthai on N. Market for Thai, Dakao for bahn or inexpensive Vietnamese, Cafe Pomegranate for breakfast or coffee, Casa Vicky's for tamales, especially the veggie ones, Pamela's for breakfast/general coffee shop style food, 4th Street Bowl for a BLT. Pizza Antica is delicious, but you must brave both the Santana Row bizarro world and waiting without anyplace to stand, even, for way too long. I would rather go to Grande Pizzeria at 4th and San Carlos, start with fried calamari and a carafe or draft beer, share a huge, if not exactly shi-shi, salad, followed by a pretty damn good pizza. It's way better for your overall soul, tension levels and pocketbook. Plus if you like sports, you can sit at their little bar or watch the TV in the corner of the restaurant. For a hamburger, if I'm going to eat fast food, I would rather go to Foster's Freeze on 4th and Taylor than In-and-Out. And you can't beat Falafel Drive In on San Carlos (ask for extra sauce, and get the special that comes with a banana shake).
I don't really consider Naglee Park Garage "low end" as everything is completely ala carte. They don't even give you a crust of bread gratis. But you can pick and choose only what you want. I find it a bit uneven in terms of execution. But it's a pleasant place to go. Right next door is Top Dog, which is as good as the one in Berkeley, but with a lovely patio.
Higher end but still pretty reasonable is Cafe Torre in Cupertino.
It's hard to really stick to San Jose. If you allow the greater San Jose area, then I'd say -- Low end: TK Noodle, Mucho's. Low to middle: Casa Vicky, Cafe Artemis and Chez Sovan (Campbell), Yung Le's Asian Fusion, Saigon 75, Minato Sushi (for the steamer boxes), Sushi Maru (for the sushi, but not the particularly the stuff on the conveyor belt) and Athena Grill (Santa Clara). High end: despite all the attention to downtown and Santana Row, there's not much high end to boast about. You can spend a lot of money, but that doesn't make it good. I don't even think Amber India here stacks up to the original. I like Cafe Torre in Cupertino, Evvia, Junoon, and Three Seasons in Palo Alto.
I'm not sure if these are low end per se. I would saw modereate end. Ha! I rarely do high end because I'm poor.
Ramen Rama- not as good as previous two ramen but ok
Cafe Artemis- Mediterranean
Falafel Drive In
House of Falafel
Dakao- Vietnamese sammie
Jalisco's Taqueria- next to Pink Elephant Bakery
La Victoria in Downtown
Andiamo Cafe- I have only eaten the Latin American food and not the Italian
I like Las Cazuelas and I don't generally like restaurant Mexican food. I used to live with a lady who made food from scrath, have travelled to Mexico a handfuld of times, and have a boyfriend who's mother is a fantastic cook so I'm picky about Mexican food. Cazuelas is one of the few places I like. They have a lot of combo plates that are good. The meats are nicely flavored and they don't skimp on it. They have a salsa bar and complimentary chips when you order. I think they have good portions too.
I don't really get tacos there though. I go for the combo plates, chimichangas and other stuff. Tacos I like from Jalisco's on King and Virginia.