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Anything not to miss in downtown San Jose?

I'll be staying at the Hotel Montgomery on First St. for two days with no car -- is there anything worth seeking out in the area for drinks, lunch, etc.?
So far my research has turned up Naglee Park Garage, TK Noodle, Trials Pub and Huong Sandwiches -- are any of these worthy?

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  1. Vung Tau is good. If you don't mind cheap mexican, Super Taqueria is my favorite (hooray for burritos with no rice and whole avocado slices!).

    1. I would also try 71 Saint Peter with a great 3course dinner 38bucks. within walking distance

      1. Dakao at corner of 2nd & San Salvador. Viet deli w/ banh mi, yam and shrimp fritters, drinks, and other goodies.

        Bijan Bakery & Cafe on Market (one over from 1st) across from Cesar Chavez Park. European-style pastries like princess cake and mocha mousse cake by the slice. They also have breakfast and lunch items, but I've never tried these.

        Dac Phuc on Santa Clara near Almaden. I haven't been, but reports on CH and elsewhere lead me to believe that their pho is good. http://www.jatbar.com/reviews/San_Jos...

        I like Vung Tau, as well as some other Viet establishments downtown, but I think they are a little far to walk given where you'll be staying. I am not familiar w/ the places you've listed. Have fun and please report on your discoveries.

        1. TK Noodle is a chain and worth avoiding. I got dragged in to one by friends and it was as bad as I'd have expected it to be.

          Saigon 75 (7th and Santa Clara) is pretty good, but maybe a bit of a walk. Right near there is eMocha Cafe, a hole in the wall that serves Blue Bottle coffee, which is good stuff.

          Depends on how far you're willing to walk. Japantown has some restaurants, including Cafe Rehoboth, which serves very good Ethiopian food.

          1. Dakao - really, it looks like not much, but try it. Good and cheap and what San jose is all about.
            TK Noodle is universally dreadful. Stay away.
            If you can make it out to Julian and 17th, Casa Vickie's has some real fine Mexican hot chocolate and a little panaderia.

            2 Replies
            1. re: karma_bites

              Tried Dakao today -- very cool place. The bahn mi tasted slightly different than the L.A. ones -- more mayo I think -- but very good. I think I'll walk back right now to try some of the vast and mysterious array of rice desserts at the counter.

              1. re: Chowpatty

                Thanks for reporting back. Did you return for any of those colorful rice desserts? I've never tried them, but they look good...

                Any other places that you checked out while visiting?

            2. We had a great meal at Picasso's Tapas Restaurant last night. It's the one on E. Santa Clara between 1st and Market. Excellent service, unpretentious small place, delicious Spanish food and wine. We were concerned because it's under new management and/or ownership, but I am happy to say it's still a good choice for a pleasant meal downtown.

              1. Los Cubanos, just north of Santa Clara on Almaden (ignore the salad). It's a walk to Japan-town, but not impossible, or take the light rail to Ayer, walk a few blocks north to Jackson and a couple of blocks over. Gombei is the star, but bring cash, no CC's accepted. Saigon 75 is pleasant. I don't think the Garage is worth the walk.

                1. We were in downtown SJ last night, going along Santa Clara, and noticed that Saigon 75 was dark and had its closed sign at the door. Are they still in business? Seemed odd to be closed around 8pm on a Thursday night...

                  1. I actually have a similar request. I live in DC and will be in San Jose for 2 days for a conference. I am staying on...55 E. Brokaw Road. I am dying for some tasty mexican food (there is none in DC). If nothing like that nearby (I can take lightrail though), please let me know of something else tasty! Thanks.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: hungeegirl

                      I think you will be close to San Jose Municipal Golf Course. A few blocks south of Muni (on Oakland Road) heading towards Highway 101 is a small strip mall with a private brand gas station. There are two Mexican style restaurants there. I have eaten at both and continue to go back, the one on the right is usually not as loud as the one on the left.

                      On weekends, they often have live music.

                      1. re: hungeegirl

                        There's definitely some pretty good Mexican food in San Jose and there might be something that's accessible by light rail but nothing I can say that I've personally tried. If you can get together with somebody who has a car, Casa Vicky on (or near?) 17th and Julian is good. There's also Aqui's, a kind of inexpensive "nouveau" Mexican place on Lincoln near Willow in Willow Glen. There's no table service, and it's a big noisy place, but it the food is interesting and they have a full bar. If the weather is nice, they have outdoor seating. March is dicey around here because it can be very cool at night (although by DC standards it might feel balmy :-)

                        1. re: hungeegirl

                          I apologize to my fellow NorCal chowhounds in advance but, having lived in SoCal and spent time in Mexico this is not the best place for Mexican food (however, we are the home of the burrito - try La Victoria downtown and sneak a bottle of the napalm orange hot sauce). The best Mexican I've had up here is from the stalls at markets. For example Oaxacan Kitchen, which is at several local markets including the Sunday California Street market in Palo Alto (and hopefully opening soon as a permanent establishment on Ramona St. right off of California Ave.!).
                          What we have in San Jose that is really great is our own locals and the Vietnamese and Indian food, of which plenty of good quality examples can be found. If you can work a good dosa place and a good pho place into your schedule you won't be disappointed.