San Jose recs please!
Where did you end up dining? I imagine that some places were closed on Mon. night.
Picasso's Tapas Restaurant is one place I'd recommend downtown except for Mon. night when it's closed for dinner. I went in July w/ my husband and his parents, and they all really enjoyed the food. I say "they" because while the food all looked and smelled great, I had a bizarre bout of sudden nausea and the chills just before we entered the restaurant and wasn't able to eat hardly anything. So keep in mind that this report is based more on observation, sight, and smell...
Other tables were ordering paella which looked good, but we ordered an assortment of tapas. I remember the favorites being the blood sausage, shrimp al ajillo, and clams. The patatas bravas looked good to me, and there were mixed reviews on the meatballs. Sangria was tasty but kinda pricey for a carafe from what I remember. Bold flavors (so it appeared). rustic, good portions, lotsa garlic and olive oil, and lively, intimate atmosphere. Whole place had an authentic and soulful vibe, FWIW. There's an open kitchen on the way to the bathroom, and the grilled lamb entree w/ potatoes looked simple but delicious. I plan to return and eat the food and drink the sangria next time! :-)
Anyone have anything to add on Picasso's? It looks like they also serve lunch on weekdays.
I ate at House of Siam for the first time over the weekend. The prices run around $12.95 an entree (instead of the usual $9.95) but for the price you get food that's a cut above and ambiance that's a cut above.
When we ate here there was a bluesy trio performing. Decor-wise here was an odd juxtaposition of hip star paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling alongside a traditional chandelier. There are also impressive Thai wood carvings and cool traditional Thai recessed seating. (You take off your shoes and then sit at a table that's over a little enclosed pit.
The entrees seemed a step above too with quality ingredients and sliced chicken breast. When I expressed disappointment that the panang curry lacked vegetables the server said some could be added and the ones added (broccoli, red bell pepper, baby corn) weren't the usual cheap veggie filler variety (onions, green bell pepper, cabbage). The curry had a little too much coconut milk in it and was a little one-dimensional.
The real gem was the Basil Chicken. It's one of the best renditions I've had. A friend also recommends the Angry Chicken and the Red, Yellow, and Green Curries.
Definitely worth a return visit.
Ethiopian with a favorable review on CH:
Also, friends of mine recently went to E&O trading Co. & loved it. Asian, small plates w/ nice sauces.