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San Jose - Original Joe's

I'm from out of town and I'm going to Original Joe's. Can anyone describe the restaurant, what to expect, what to order or avoid?

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  1. It's a "red sauce" old school sort of place. Mid-century-ish interior lounge-y. It seems the reason to go are you went as a kid, to have lunch downtown or because it's open late. Nothing is bad, or really great. I'd just order something simple like a basic pasta or a steak. Maybe someone else can say what to order.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ML8000

      This is a pretty accurate description. I had to be in downtown SJ a couple of weeks ago for lunch and thought it the easiest place to go. They do what they do, do it reasonably well, nothing over the top good but solid old school fare. Grilled lamb chops are pretty good as I recall. Raviolis solid. Loud atmosphere, may have to wait if go at wrong time.

    2. Haven't been for several years and not since the recent remodel. Osso buco, sweetbreads, or the humongous char-broiled hamburger are the things to order.

      1. Run if you can in the other direction! This is Cartoon Italian with bad tux wearing waiters who think they are "characters", and bland overcooked pasta and dull soups and salads. I know we are not the acme of dining here in the south bay but this is a place for lazy palates and late night partiers.

        3 Replies
        1. re: budnball

          Cartoon Italian is good description, or south bay Italian - either are accurate descriptions. Some of the grilled meats are okay, the grilled lamb chops or I had half grilled chicken which was done reasonably well - nothing special, salt and pepper and grilled - squeeze lemon over top and cannot go too wrong.

          1. re: poulet_roti

            I haven't been to that one, but I think for all the Joe's-type restaurants (not a chain, just a local style from the 1920s-1950s) the simple grilled meat dishes are the best thing, maybe the only good thing.

          2. re: budnball

            The tux thing is just old school. Lots of old school places have their waiters dress that way...just not a lot of old school places around. I don't think the waiters think they're characters. Can't argue with your accessment of the food although I'd put it differently -- just think red sauce and don't expect a lot and you'll be fine.

          3. All Joe's seem to have several things in common: they are not fancy. The kitchen is behind the counter and in plain view. In addition to generous pasta dishes, they have large hamburgers served on a section of a loaf of french bread (too much carb), and a "Joe's Special"...ground chuck, spinach and eggs. Generally, there are daily lunch specials, pretty uniform. Traditionally, Wednesday is osso bucco day. Some people seem to have an aversion to all Joe's...for them, just don't go. One thing is certain, the portions are huge, and you may usually split an order for a small charge.

            1. I haven't been back since the remodel but one thing that I can definitely recommend is their Liver Venetian. I know, I KNOW, that liver may not be everyone's choice but myself, and 4 other friends that like it used to go there specifically for that dish.

              1. One of the things to remember is OJ's is an Italian Grille, not a pasta joint. The meat dishes are the real stars there. And their garlic bread, can't get enough of the stuff. They do some good sandwiches too. I've never been a fan of "gourmet" anyway, so OJ's solid fare is perfect for me.