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Recommendations: San Jose?

Hello everyone,

I am going to be spending a week in San Jose in July for work. I was hoping that I'd be able to get some recommendations for things to do in the evenings after work as well as really great places to have dinner.

As far as restaurants, as my screen name says, I am an ex-chef, so I'd prefer to find places to go where the food will be amazing. I'd prefer to stay away from chains and other mundane stuff. If at all possible, I'd love to go to the places where the locals go to eat, not the touristy places.

I look forward to hearing some thoughts.

:)

Ex-Chef in MA.

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  1. San Jose is not a hotbed of eating, but there are some spots. You should reserve a splurge night for Manresa. There's a reason it's a reliable michelin 2 star since michelin has been rating in the US. The dishes are very subtle and well constructed. If you have the ability to make a early reservation (6pm) and get the tasting, you are unlikely to be disappointed. If you go wine pairing, don't get suckered into the "premium" pairings. Manresa occasionally has quality ups and downs - on a good night they're up at TFL levels, on a bad night they're more on the michelin 1 star basis. (They just did renovations and I haven't been since their new cocktail bar area opened).

    Given that there is a lot of money in that part of the bay, where the locals go - like Steve Jobs - are places like Manresa. There's not much tourism in that part of the world.

    Onward to local eats. The categories you want to look into are Tacos, South Indian, and Vietnamese, with a sprinkling of Chinese (the chinese you'll want is Shanghai and Sichuan, which have always seemed underrepresented to me in Boston). There are some good other SE asian places, like the hot pot places in Milpetas. You're probably best off doing some research and coming back - some depends on your personal taste, how much energy you'll have after work, which part of san jose you'll be in.

    Another splurge you might consider, as a chef, is Plum in oakland. They're open late, so you'd consider a night when work runs late, the traffic dies down, and you can scoot up 880 at about 9pm to grab a late bite. As an ex-chef, I think Plum will be very interesting - it's the kind of place chefs always talk about putting together, a place with very high end food in a casual-ish environment that doesn't break the bank, where you can go in for just a plate or two or eat your way through half the menu - and the dishes are always changing.

    Hopefully these keywords will get you started a bit... come back with some more detailed questions.

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    Manresa Restaurant
    320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

    5 Replies
    1. re: bbulkow

      I would actually recommend against Manresa. By most accounts it's consistently gone downhill and seems very hit-or-miss lately. I'd argue Sent Sovi, down the street from Manresa, it consistently better... and cheaper.

      For other spots, if you're a beef lover, check out Alexander's Steakhouse in Cupertino. Japanese-american style with flawless execution. I've been there more than 20 times and never been disappointed. However, it's another expensive meal.

      For good mexican in the south bay, I recommend Rosita's in Alviso or Fiesta del Mar in Mountain View. Rosita's has zero atmosphere but it's classic "mexican grandmother cooking" as described by the actual mexican grandmother that's been cooking there for 15+ years. :) Fiesta del Mar has killer margaritas (rocks, not blended) and great food. And you can walk down the street to the Tied House for a microbrew afterward.

      Others know the asian/indian scene a LOT better than I so I won't even try to offer suggestions.

      -----
      Manresa Restaurant
      320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

      Alexander's Steakhouse
      10330 N. Wolfe Road, Cupertino, CA 95014

      Sent Sovi Restaurant
      14583 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070

      1. re: openhelix

        I think you mean Fiesta Del Mar Too (Two?) in downtown Mtn View rather than the original Fiesta Del Mar. They do have an unusual creamy based sauce ---their Grandmother's recipe that I've never seen in Boston Mexican offerings. Some people in San Jose think Mtn View is the other side of the world for some reason. I suppose it depends on what part of San Jose you will be in.

        If you are here on a First Friday, the area called SoMa has open galleries and some food trucks. http://www.southfirstfridays.com/ Last time we went there was the Treatbot ice cream truck where if you scored at 90% or higher on their Karaoke machine you got a free cone. Kara's cupcakes truck was there too and I was tempted to hijack it. This was part of the Subzero festival so I think it was more elaborate than usual.

        Also on Friday is the Farmer's Market downtown. It's not the largest Farmer's Market in the area but still the CA produce is just bounteous and beautiful. Go early for best pickings and late for discounted but somewhat ratty produce. Try a fresh apricot. You can't really get a flavorful one back East.

        Fast lunches around downtown --- I like
        Freshly Baked Eatery 152 North 3rd Street, San Jose, 95112 for sourdough sandwiches Dakao 98 E. San Salvador St, San Jose, 95112 for Vietnamese sandwiches really cheap.
        MMMoon Empanadas 177 W. Santa Clara Street, San Jose, CA 95113

        In Japantown there is a fresh mochi place that is very good. Little old Japanese ladies make everything by hand. They also have shaved ice with yummy syrups. Be sure to try one with red beans and condensed milk. Shuei- do 217 Jackson St , San Jose, CA 95112 A few doors down you can find a fresh tofu shop.

        Here is a link to an events listing page for San Jose http://www.artsopolis.com/?gclid=CMXW...

        -----
        Dakao
        98 E San Salvador St, San Jose, CA 95112

        Fiesta Del Mar Too
        735 Villa St, Mountain View, CA 94041

        Freshly Baked Eatery
        152 N 3rd St, San Jose, CA 95112

        Fiesta Del Mar
        1005 N Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View, CA 94043

        1. re: Tumkers

          Absolutely correct on Fiesta del Mar too... I still miss the Shoreline location *sniff*

        2. re: openhelix

          I always found Fiesta del Mar's food really mediocre to bad (I worked across the street from the old shoreline location for years). Their margaritas were just ok as well... I prefer Viva Del Sol for Mexican in MTV; however, if the OP has had a lot of great Mexican food he/she should skip Mexican in Mountain View... I think there may be better Mexican further south.

          1. re: openhelix

            I think we'll have to agree to disagree.

            The complexity of the best dishes at Manresa continues to be astonishing, and on a good night they outcook TFL, and I'll say that having eaten 4 times with them this year. They are too hit-or-miss for their price range, but if you think Sent Sovi is outcooking TFL, that would be a scoop. Do tell. Dio Deka is killer, making the simplest med prep into a work of art. Dio Deka is safer. One trick about Manresa - the best meal I had there was a wednesday, when the place wasn't fully booked.

            I would not send an ex-chef to somewhere for beef. Although I love a good steak now and again (who doesn't), and Alexander's is very good, the ability to eat in the bay area means trying to cover some of the great cooks and preps we have in abundance here. Waygu is Waygu here or there.

            If I was sending someone for Mexican who really liked food, I wouldn't send them to FDM. Although FDM is OK, that style of mexican cooking is unexciting. Even in mexico I stay away from that kind of cooking. There's no way it can really be made awe inspiring. FDM has pretty generic tortillas, one of the transcendent elements of that style (I would send someone to Los Gemelos in RWC for the tortillas). Some of the dishes are OK, I sometimes meet people for lunch there, but it's not a standout. Just a block away, La Bamba is making Al Pastor to die for, in true Mission Burrito style. La Bamba seems to use more pineapple in their roasting; gives it more zing. That Al Pastor is worth a 30 minute drive from anywhere, and you only need a few tacos to really get it.

            Tied House had OK beer but nothing special. If you want actual good beer, you'll have to go up to Rose and Crown in PA. For some reason, there aren't any decent beer bars in MV or Sunnyvale - I haven't heard of anything in San Jose. I had some rather pitiful pilz at Faultline, they're off my rec list until they redeem themselves. In general, the beers you want to watch for are Russian River, which gets fair national coverage, Speakeasy, Anderson Valley, Lagunitas. All those hoppy west coast styles taste better fresher to the source.

            Japanese food is pretty good in boston. There's a major non-sushi japanese push now. including skewer restaurants and ramen.

            For indian, be on the watch for Chicken 65, which is rare outside this area. There are some good Chaat houses, but I don't know what's in San Jose proper. I do most of my indian eating toward Sunnyvale. There's also good Korean there but I haven't got specific recs yet.

            -----
            Manresa Restaurant
            320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

            La Bamba
            12345 San Pablo Ave, Richmond, CA 94805

            Dio Deka
            210 E. Main Street, Los Gatos, CA 95030

            Sent Sovi Restaurant
            14583 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070

        3. I agree that San Jose doesn't support the high-end restos as much as the surrounding upscale areas do, so I'd recommend Dio Deka (upscale Greek) in Los Gatos, and Baume (molecular French) in Palo Alto. Also check the older San Jose threads for cheap good eats. Have fun!

          http://baumerestaurant.com/

          -----
          Dio Deka
          210 E. Main Street, Los Gatos, CA 95030

          1. Yeah, downtown San Jose options are, sadly, pretty limited in terms of fine dining. I think that Manresa and Sent Sovi are both good recommendations, and I'd add Alexander's Steakhouse, in Cupertino. Their menu is Asian-influenced, and more than just steak (they do have Wagyu beef, and it is to die for but $$$$$).

            -----
            Manresa Restaurant
            320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

            Alexander's Steakhouse
            10330 N. Wolfe Road, Cupertino, CA 95014

            Sent Sovi Restaurant
            14583 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070

            1. Some of the Best Ramen in the Bay Area: Ramen Halu, Santouka, Orenchi

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              Ramen Halu
              375 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

              Orenchi Ramen
              3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

              Santouka
              675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

              1. Where will you be located? Will you have a car? San Jose is a huge place with lots of great options, though downtown is indeed not the dining hotspot save for Vietnamese. Knowing where you're located will help to guide you - as will more specific questions based on what's already posted on Chowhound.

                Michael