Moved to San Jose - Need Recs Please.
- Ketan Oct 29, 2005 01:32 AM
After 12 years living in the Albany/Berkeley area, I finally bit the bullet. Got married, had a kid and moved to the burbs. South San Jose that is.
Now that I am here, I figured might as well find out where the good eats are. There is no shortage of Vietnamese and Mexican places, but we need help with the others. 10-15 minute drive is OK. So could you please reccomend your favorites for any of the followig cuisines:
El Salvadoran (I love Pupusas)
I am also looking for a butcher shop, bakery for fresh bread and a sea food shop.
re: Melanie Wong
Be glad you are moving here now, instead of 18 years ago, when there were no bagels or espresso, just donut shops with watery coffee. It was quite a comedown after the East Bay. While there is still nothing like Brothers Bagels, now you can't swing a stuffed animal [no PETA hate mail, please] without hitting a Noah's or Starbucks. At least Peet's is fairly widespread too, hurrah. That said, I love the nice lady at Rollo's Donuts, who always puts extra donut holes in my bag for the kids. Corner of 13th and Jackson. While there, saunter catty corner to Chiramonte's and get some awesome sausage made from the family recipe.
A great find for us was the White Rock Cafe on Alum Rock Blvd. near White Rd. Lovely French food, not pretentious, a great deal. Their fresh pea soup is to savor.
BBQ in the Everett & Jones' vein: the church group's place on Old Oakland Rd. a few blocks north of 101, on the west side of the road. Can't remember the name, but your nose should lead you there. Just don't go on the Lord's day or late. They mostly do lunches, early dinner and go home to their families or church.
My favorite taqueria is Bronco's, corner of 13th & Empire. The SuperTaquerias and Tacos al Pastor are good, too. Taqueria Lorena's on 24th gets mixed reviews, but I've always had good luck there and like the spicy marinated carrots and peppers they include on the side. Casa Vicky's Mexican on 17th & Julian is kind of bland, but its handmade tortillas, tamales and spitroasted chicken are great, and available for takeout. Across the street, the orange chicken at soon to be lamented, lost their lease Lai Lai (takeout only) should not be missed.
I second the Falafel Drive-in rave. Best I've ever had. Get the special with the banana shake, and ask for extra sauce. Top Dog rocks, esp. the Calabrese. Fun mosaic tile work, nice patio, even decent potato salad. Try Tony & Alba's for pizza.
While there are several good Japanese restaurants in Japantown (naturally enough), our family always enjoys Okayama on N. 6th off Jackson. It's cozy, friendly and tasty. For Chinese, try Bo Town on Second and San Salvador. [Going back for seconds on the hot & sour soup will leave your lips numb and your brain mildly hallucinating, just the ticket before hitting Christmas in the Park, which you should see at the dinner hour, dark enough but before the crowds strike. The ferris wheels are fun, too.] I like Thepthai on Market. Dakao on San Salvador & 3rd has best Vietnamese sandwiches, decent steam table takeout at best price.
Best BLT is at the charmingly dumpy 4th St. Bowl Coffee Shop. Really thick bacon, lots of lettuce & tomato. Hawaiian homesick folks like their loco moco, but I'm just not into spam. Have a shaved ice at Shuei-do Manju or a banana crepe near the corner of 6th & Jackson.
I think there's still a place out your way called Bistro Almaden, at Almaden & Blossom Hill. Neighborhood Francais.
Visit the Berryessa Flea Market at least once before it closes down to become a housing development. Cheap house plants, open air market, housewares, you name it.
I generally agree that the local Mexican or Vietnamese groceries offer good butcher &/or fish shops, and nice produce. I like Mi Pueblo, Dai Thanh. There is wide variation, so check each store out. For special cuts, Cosentino's service is really nice, as is their produce. Prices overall there can be high, but shopping specials helps. I usually do my general shopping at PWgood specials as well as butcher, fish, deli, bakery counters. Respectable in-house sourdough, good dairy at good prices and the location on Oakland Rd.& Brokaw offers a big selection of organics, always some on special. Larger SaveMarts are pretty good and have surprisingly large wine sections.
Race Street is good for fish, as is the less expensive L & F Fish Market on E. Santa Clara near 101.
While no Mama'a Royal Cafe or Homemade Cafe equivalent, so far the best breakfast we've found is at Pamela's Eastside Cafe, McKee just west of Jackson.
Greenlee's Bakery (German style) and Riga Bakery (East European/Viennese style), both on the Alameda, are good for pastries. Cocola in Santana Row has delicious French pastry if you don't mind the Disneyland meets Rodeo Drive ambiance of that fake Euro village. I hear good things about Flower Flour in Willow Glen, but generally find that whole area a bit smugly in love with itself, overpriced and soulless. (And I rented there for 3 years.) Aqui is good, though I'd rather hit Bronco's for less chi-chi Mex.
There is still no place to compare with the great boulangeries of Berkeley. But you can get Acme, Grace Bakery and other artisan breads at Zanotto's, PW, and Trader Joe's. Five Star bakery on Alum Rock has decent Portuguese bread. Cheap baguettes in the flaky French style available at Anh Son Bakery on McKee, a wholesaler which supplies many of the Vietnamese sandwich joints, but you can go in to snag a few.
Good fast food: any of the New Tung Kee noodle houses are cheap and good. The Ramen place on Saratoga Ave. is excellent, best noodles around.
Great post. I printed it off to use next time I'm in the San Jose Area.
Was the BBQ place on Old Oakland Road B.C.C Enterprises? Link below. Who would guess with a name like that?
I like Popular Bakery next to Sousa's a bit better for Portuguese bread, but think that Five Star is one of the Bay Area's best panaderias.
Have you tried Cafe Docanto a few steps off of Alum Rock on 33rd? It is near Popular Bakery and is a terrific Portuguese coffee shop. Probably as authentic as there is outside of Portugual. Here's an old post of mine about it.
Speaking of Alum Rock and that area. Right near 101 there is a Mexican restuarant next to Maylo's Portuguese Market. Don't know the name of the place, but many times it was packed with Latinos. Never had the chance to eat there and keep wondering if it is good.
Gee, there are just so many delicous sounding suggestions in your post. Thanks so much again
Butcher shops are pretty easy to find; check out any Mexican grocer or carnicera(sp?) along Alum Rock or White. If you're looking for a more mainstay, Cosentino's on Bascom offers what you're looking for. I like Gene's Fine Foods in Saratoga, too.
When I grew up in SJ the place to shop for fish & meats was Race Street Fish & Poultry, near downtown. Is it still there? Also, just north east of downtown there is a traditional Italian neighborhood with some good delis and meat markets. There is a Japantown there too.
There are probably many carnicerias as the previous poster mentioned. I find the meat products in my local ones are good quality and are reasonably priced. Get to know one, practice your high school Spanish, introduce yourself, and they will treat you well (give you little samples to try). Also find out where & when the farmer's markets are. But you know that! The Thai & Viet stores in the Tulley Rd area have great fresh produce. ditto for Mexican and Filipino markets, but I'm not sure about location, axcept for the Alum RocK Ave area.
For sushi, I like the Sushi Boat Town in the 101/Blossom Hill area at 7130 Santa Theresa Blvd. Lively atmosphere, fast service and good food.
IMO, Lunardi's on Blossom Hill (Los Gatos) has the best butcher, but Cosentino's is a close second. Race Street Fish and Poultry on Race Street is probably the best place in town to buy fish. Ranch 99 at Milpitas Square also has an excellent selection.
Amber India enjoys the reputation for the best Indian food in the South Bay, but I think it just got Zagat's rated, I don't make that necessarily a good thing. The one in Mountain View is better than the one in Santana Row. I think Thea's may be the best place in Santana Row. Consuelo's is good sometimes, but both food and service are uneven.
There are so many small restaurants of every description that it's hard to list them all. Check out Japantown in San Jose, and definitely look around Cupertino for Chinese, Indian and Japanese, Santa Clara for Indian and Korean food. When the weather is nice, come downtown and eat at Sonoma Chicken Coop. It's order at the counter and wait for your number to be called. The food isn't stellar, but it's fine and very inexpensive, and on a warm evening, the garden is just beautiful.
second most grocery recs... lunardi's and cosentino's are best in area.
as for restos... my only caveat is these are good for the area. not the best ever, but pretty good on a tuesday when you don't want to leave the burbs. (I live here too... welcome neighbor).
sushi - tomo sushi on snell (in shopping center behind taco bell.. yeah, I know how that sounds, but it is a friendly place w/ decent food).
chinese - still looking for good food, ocean delight is o.k.
bbq - worth driving to uncle franks or sam's.
Pizza - depends on what kind you are looking for. piZza antiqua is good (santana row) but on "tuesday" we'll go to hi-five pizza. not thin crust or "artisinal" in anyway, but good. it just sucks that they don't deliver, for delivery pizza the pickings are slim. (e.g. mountain mikes eewwh)
indian - sue's in willow glen
thai - erawan thai on almaden
have you tried chez sovan? out on bascom?
also try, mojo burger (out in santa theresa area).
and they have really great donuts at mchenry's.
if you find any great places... please post. we're always looking for new places.
Folks, Thanks for all the suggestions. I already tried one, Mojo Burger and loved it! They use a charcoal grill and very good meat at it makes a big difference.
Actually, I did find one good place. In Berkeley there is a plcae called Top Dog. It turns out they are in San Jose too. Excellent dogs, from Saggs I think.
284 S 11th St
San Jose, CA
Tomo sushi is not very good. Really. It's been a while since I've been, but the quality was so low on multiple occasions that I couldn't bring myself to ever go back.
For Chinese, Dynasty is better than Ocean Delight (though when I'm on my way home from work, I often pick up Ocean Delight because it's on the way and I'm too lazy to go further north for Dynasty).
Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant
1001 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95122
5487 Snell Ave, San Jose, CA 95123
For Chinese, try Hunan Taste on N. 4th. For Thai, try Krung Thai on Winchester near Valley Fair Mall. For Korean, Korea House on El Camino in Santa Clara. For BBQ, Sam's on Bascom or Texas Smokehouse on Capital Ave for takeout (it's tiny). Definitely Race Street for fish market.
Felafel's Drive-in. Best felafel in the world, or at least I'd like to try better. At lunch the line is 10-25 people, but it moves very fast. And, it is a drive-in.
Aqui's. Lincoln, south of Willow in Willow Glen. They may have opened another by now. The specials are the best. Very inexpensive for the quality.
Someone else mentioned Chez Sovan, excellent.
Can you tell us a little more about LGMS. Doing a google, I only saw one brief mention like yours a year ago. Very interesting article below.
It seems the sell Turducken, a great prime rib for Christmas and some Swedish sites mention they have Swedish Christmas ham.
Saw some mentions of the tumble marinade. In the article linked below it says:
"For other cuts of meat, such as steak or chicken, a variety of marinades can be placed in a tumbler with the meat for 45 minutes to tenderize it. As air is withdrawn from the tumbler, a vacuum causes the marinade to be sucked into the meat. The tumbling action breaks down the muscle fibers, leaving the meat in a "relaxed" state"
Have you tried this?
How about the smoked meats from their "two smoke ovens fed by fires made from hickory wood"
They also will 'process' game and will smoke fish. Fourteen types of jerky and 18 house made sausages.
Los Gatos Meats & Smokehouse is a real find. I am very partial to the tumbled turkey, choice of at least two marinades, traditional & cajun. I have had very good luck with the cajun which I have deep fried. I also have had them smoke pork shoulders for me for some large events that i did not want to do the smoking for. One such event, they smoked a dozen shoulders for me. Pulled pork for a large group, worked well, but, the second time was even better when I asked the owner (Brian) to use more smoke and more rub.
You can bring game & fish to them and they will smoke for you, a nice service, although I have not tried this myself.
I like their meat selection, I often special order items that are hard to find at a standard grocery.
And the turducken, well, have you tried this? I have had them prepare turducken for me to take home and roast on two different occasions. A boned duck stuffed into a boned chicken stuffed into a boned turkey. I don't feel up to doing the boning myself so I am happy to have them do it for me.
All in all, I like this shop. Worth a visit.
Just a few recs...
Lunardi's, Cosentino's, Whole Foods, PW for Butcher's.
Sushi: Kitsho in Cupertino/Kubota's in Japantown/Kazoo for inexpensive boat sushi.
Japanese: Sushi Masa, Kitsho,
Asian Influence: Yasu in Japantown
French Mediterranean: Brigitte's
Chinese (Sichuan): Dynasty on Story and McLaughlin has good dim sum and seafood.
BBQ: Sam's on Bascom
Pizza: The Garret, Giorgio's, Via Mia all good basic pies...
Thai: Krung Thai
Korean: Korea House, Omogari in Japantown
Brigitte's closed almost a year ago, which is too bad because it was very close to my house and I had been meaning to try it!
To the OP, when you say you moved to South San Jose, do you mean Almaden or slightly more north than that?
Just Breakfast on Monterey Hwy serves up greasy, old fashioned fare. Mmmm, biscuits & gravy!
Sam's BBQ is great, and Andy's in Santa Clara is pretty good too.