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Feb 25, 2011 10:59 AM

ISO Good Eats in the Downtown San Jose Area

I know this is a BROAD topic, but here are some guidelines.

Good to great food, all types of cuisine.(Small plates and tapas ideally, but not limited to)
Good wine list and/or creative cocktails
Casual attire

Only example I have- Arcadia inside the Marriot. While the food isn't "Blow your mind" good it has a few homeruns like the Foie Gras Sliders and the truffled Mac n Cheese.

As we all know Yelp can be a crap shoot but it is rare that recommendations here have steered me wrong.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Nothing???
    I know San Jose isn't known for having spectacular food, but there have got to be a few hidden gems and hole in the wall places..

    6 Replies
    1. re: bdgr25

      It really is that dire. San Jose has good "ethnic", and a few cheaper places like Gordon Bierch and Original Joe's - not what you're asking about.

      Yelp doesn't even have much listed in downtown. You can go out to Santana Road and eat at local mini chains. Or you can drive out to Los Gatos and get great food (Deka, Plumed Horse, Manresa). Parcel 104. Or up to Mountain view for Xahn, Chez TJ, and Scratch.

      The place I used to eat at was, I think, called the Alibi, but it looks like it closed.

      Manresa Restaurant
      320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

      Parcel 104
      2700 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95054

      Chez TJ
      938 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

      The Plumed Horse
      14555 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070

      Original Joe's Restaurant
      301 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113

      1. re: bdgr25

        When I was living in Downtown San Jose, I used to live really close to SJSU (5th and Reed) and Hydration was pretty much my regular take-out place; they had bubble tea and good variety of bento/box sets that I would be happy eating for dinner. Pizza My Heart on San Carlos was also great for pizza by the slice. I'd usually also go to Thepthai Thai Cuisine (on Market) for takeout on occasion; but the sad truth is that while I was in San Jose, I'd end up driving to Mountain View or Sunnyvale to meet up with friends and have food there.

        I was never able to find Chinese food that I liked in the downtown area. Avoid PF Chang's on Santa Clara in San Jose; the waiters there ignored us (after seating us immediately) for 45 minutes before taking our order; while the manager comped us our meal, the experience of being ignored was so bad that all of us swore off PF Chang's forever.

        Iguana's Burritozilla is my choice of burritos in the area, La Victoria (next to Jack in the Box) is also very good. Hally K Ono is also a great place for Hawaiian/Southern food; I loved their Sweet Potato fries and their sandwiches.

        These are all really cheap hole-in-the-wall places open past 8pm; they aren't fine dining by any means. (8pm was usually when I'd get home from work and go out looking for food).

        I second the suggestion for Teske's Germania -- get the homemade noodles and sausage there -- it's excellent. Teske's is likely the only place I'd go out of my way to eat at if I was in the area. The last couple of times I've been there, some of the Sharks players were also eating there with their families.

        A cheap eats type place is the Old Spaghetti Factory; I don't think the food is fantastic, but my friends seemed to like it for the atmosphere.

        Zanotto's Downtown Market has some excellent sandwiches and a pretty good produce section. Cosentino's Market on Bascom had an awesome bakery (they will be closing soon, so go there while you can).

        1. re: bdgr25

          While perhaps none of the following are amazing, we live downtown and try to eat local, so here's where we have enjoyed going:
          Hunan Taste: I am addicted to their Hunan Eggplant. Run by the nicest man, and you can get anything done vegetarian and/or to go, if needed. Qualifies as Hole in the Wall with Heart of Gold.
          Okayama: it is our comfort food spot. Run by family who treat you like family. (e.g., they will bring the green tea ice cream to someone who didn't order the pyramid dinner, just so they won't be left out. ) Not innovative, just basics, but solidly done and great value. Great for kids. Free birthday meal!
          Morocco's: cosy and romantic spot for duh, Moroccan food. I've enjoyed the tagines and they do a good lentil salad. Plenty of veggie options. Again, run by very friendly people who will comp a treat for your occasion, etc.
          Mezcal: interesting cocktails
          Trials Pub: go for the beer and chips
          Zanotto's: they make some seriously good sandwiches.
          Dakao: I ate their bahn mi like crazy when I was expecting. Good, cheap, fast.
          Vung Tau: kind of a special occasion Vietnamese place without pretensions and with a full bar
          Chiaramonte's Deli: make their own sausages and sausage sandwiches are delish.
          Giuseppe's Pizza: family-run place, make some good pies. (Slice of NY on Stevens Creek also good, but it's not downtown)
          I would avoid Teske's, was recently just awful for a birthday dinner for Oma, how sad.

          98 E San Salvador St, San Jose, CA 95112

          Vung Tau Restaurant
          535 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95112

          Hunan Taste
          998 N 4th St, San Jose, CA 95112

          Mezcal Restaurant
          25 W San Fernando, San Jose, CA 95113

          Trials Pub
          265 N 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113

          1. re: aelliottsherman

            If we're including Hunan Taste in the territory of the OP's question, Cafe Rehoboth, which is a few blocks closer to downtown on 6th between Taylor and Jackson right near the main drag of Japantown, has very good Ethiopian food. It's likely that I've eaten there more times than any other restaurant in San Jose. It's run by a fine family with lots of organic veggies. Everything's tasty and satisfying.

            Hunan Taste
            998 N 4th St, San Jose, CA 95112

            1. re: maigre

              Japantown San Jose has a number of decent restaurants:

              Gombei - homestyle Japanese food; I was particulary fond of their curry dishes.
              Sushimaru - boat sushi, but good quality and reasonable prices.

              193 Jackson St, San Jose, CA 95112

              1. re: mhuang

                Yes to both Cafe Rehoboth and Gombei as other good choices in J-town. Gombei is a bit more bustling and less relaxing than Okayama, but another good spot. As for Naglee Park Garage, I have mixed feelings. It can be a fun place for a beer and a bite, but I guess I am somewhat offput by a spot that charges separately for a bit of bread to accompany your main course. I mean, I do get portion control and cost management as key to a small place's survival, but that seemed like going just a tad too far. I agree that its strong spot is grill/meats, and other stuff is hit or miss, which makes it difficult if dining with vegetarians or others who don't eat certain meats. By sprout preparation, budnball, I am assuming you mean brussel sprouts, which was probably the most memorable dish I've eaten there, but as the one I'm thinking of involved bacon, alas, not for the two groups above.

                193 Jackson St, San Jose, CA 95112

                Naglee Park Garage
                505 E San Carlos St, San Jose, CA 95112

        2. Might want to give San Pedro Wine Bistro a try, pretty good food and moderately priced. I only really order the cornish game hen dish though. It's really good and they have a pretty big wine list.

          For hole in the wall I like Dac Phuc for pho and pho ap chao (noodle stir fry w/ veggies and beef) also good appetizers like VN eggrolls, oh and the fried banana is good too!

          Da Lat for Hu tieu (vietnamese noodle soup dish)

          Oh and Teske's Germania for German food, the only other place I really had german food in the bay would be Suppenkuche up in Hayes Valley and that place is better but Teske's isn't that bad

          Dac Phuc Restaurant
          198 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

          1. It is really HARD to find good food in downtown San Jose... The only places I can even think of recommending is La Pastaia at the De Anza Hotel. Delicious pastas, solid pizza and pretty good desserts.

            Oh, and I recently tried Pho69... I wish they didn't name it that because the food is pretty good. Banh Mi Sandwiches served with housemade (fresh!) salt and vinegar sweet potato chips! They also serve cherry blossom rice with katsu chicken and a fried egg. Their spring rolls have grilled pork, mango slices, and crunchy shrimp. Traditional vietnamese food, freshened up. Pretty good... I dont' know how authentic but nevertheless, delicious. I just wish they didn't call it Pho69...and their slogan is even worst!

            Good luck! Let me know if you find/try anything yummy in downtown.

            La Pastaia
            233 West Santa Clara St., San Jose, CA 95113

            1 Reply
            1. re: rosiella1

              I never knew the name of the place in the DeAnza but have been a couple of times.'s a good if not great...a pleasant place, good, solid, nice environment...but nothing special. A step above Joe's.

            2. Mezcal is good for Oaxacan Mexican food, and I believe it meets all your criteria..


              Mezcal Restaurant
              25 W San Fernando, San Jose, CA 95113

              1 Reply
              1. re: mdg

                I agree with the recommendation of Mezcal. Love the moles, and how they give you a sample of the different kinds, along with your chips. They have good cocktails and its one of the few places in downtown San Jose that I actually like the food, the vibe, and the crowd. Unfortunately bbulkow's earlier comment is spot on. Slim pickings in San Jose. We live here, and usually end up driving outside of San Jose.

                Mezcal Restaurant
                25 W San Fernando, San Jose, CA 95113

              2. Sorry to be so negative but we live in the Nadir of dining here. Sure there are lots of small, ethnic gems, but if you are looking for a good cocktail and American/ Bistro joint you have to head north up the penninsula. Its really high end or hole in the wall and not much in-between.