Walking distance of Crowne Plaza, San Jose?
Seattle Chowhounder heading to San Jose in a week. Any recommendations of worthwhile places within walking distance of the Crowne Plaza on Almaden? Prefer unique, non-pretentious, even hole-in-the-wall places, but can perhaps splurge on something noteworthy as well.
Walking distance there are a lot of white-table cloth kind of places . . . Il Fornaio (pricey and absolutely erratic service), E&O Trading Co. (fusion, good beer), and a couple I haven't been to in a long time so I can't say much about them, including Paolo's, La Pastaia, and Eulipia. Maybe somebody can give you the latest news on those places. A little more down to earth, and really good, definitely try Los Cubanos on N. Almaden, just north of Santa Clara. If you're willing to walk about ten blocks, Saigon 75 at Santa Clara and 7th. For a quick bite, La Victoria taqueria on Santa Clara between San Pedro and Santa Clara, or Mucho's on Santa Clara between 2nd & 3rd.
For "something noteworthy" w/n walking distance, I'm afraid there's not much in downtown San Jose. Hope I'm wrong. In addition to Judith's rec's there's also 71 Saint Peter, Arcadia in the Marriott hotel & Grill on the Alley at the Fairmont. You can skip Il Fornaio, Paolo's, & La Pastaia (nothing worthwhile). Perhaps you can check out Yelp...found a good review for The Flying Martini Brothers Bar & Bistro but couldn't find a website.
Picasso's Tapas, on East Santa Clara between Market and First. Unpretentious, good Spanish food. (Not to be confused with the other Picasso's in San Pedro Square.)
I'll second La Victoria but make sure you don't skip the orange sauce, which is what makes this place stand out.
I also like Saigon 75 - really good rolls, and catfish "Thang Long" are worth walking there for. Cute upscale place.
71 Saint Peter is also good, their $32 4-course menu is a real bargain. I'd make a reservation, though, they get pretty busy.
Vietnamese is better outside of downtown, but there are some other decent options:
19 Market - good happy hour (baby clam salad). Otherwise not really worth bothering
Pho Lan - probably the best pho in downtown
Huong Sandwiches - close to Pho Lan, ok Bánh mì
Dac Phuc Restaurant - no MSG, low salt in the pho, some people like it, some think it is bland
If you don't mind a fairly long walk (or taxi), Seven Restaurant (near the Shark's arena) was really good on a recent visit, modern American food. Crispy Spaetzle appetizer was a standout for me
Original Joe's is a San Jose institution, old school food and ambiance, steaks mostly. I lived on the minestrone soup while in college, so I'm partial to it in a non-chow kind of way :-)
Henry's World Famous Hi-Life is another institution, you choose a steak and salad dressing, you get it with a baked potato, iceberg salad, garlic bread (no choices there). The menfolk in my family love this place, I really have no idea why (ok, the baked potato is really good).