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Aug 27, 2012 07:33 PM

Great places near San Jose Convention Center?

I first posted this on the California board, before being told that San Jose is covered on the San Francisco Bay Area board. Sorry in advance about the double posts.

My wife will be attending a convention in San Jose in November, and I'll be traveling with her. We'll be staying near the Convention Center, and we're always up for a few good meals. What's relatively nearby that is good? We won't have a car and neither of us drink, but we love almost all kinds of food.

We especially like Mexican (which is hard to find in Orlando, Florida, where almost everything is cheesy Tex-Mex), awesome sandwiches/burgers/pub grub, local shellfish (ideally from a place that won't break the bank), really creative California cuisine (not super-fancy or expensive), and anything else unique that we can't get back home. I'd prefer not to do Vietnamese, since we have a huge Vietnamese neighborhood in Orlando, with lots of great restaurants. I hope to try In 'n' Out Burger for the first time while I'm out there, too.

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  1. Wow, a month and a half with no replies! Ouch.

    Figured I would bump this back up, as our trip gets closer. What are the best Mexican, seafood, and/or unique California options near the San Jose Convention Center?

    5 Replies
    1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

      Sorry that I don't have much recent experience with the downtown San Jose dining scene. I will throw out a couple of suggestions, and hope others will chime in and tell me if I'm wrong.

      There is an Original Joe's. There are a number of "Joe's-style" restaurants around the Bay Area. They are retro (this one founded in 1956), red sauce Italian places with steaks and chops, competent simple seafood. Mid-range pricing for large portions. Could be fun if you like that kind of thing. Sit at the counter and watch the line cooks in action.

      Scott's Seafood is also near the convention center. It's probably a little stuffy, but they have cioppino on the menu, a classic SF dish. Our local crab season will begin sometime in mid to late November (depending on conditions), so if you are here at that time the local Dungeness will be great.

      Other than that, I am not familiar with any places in that immediate area. There are a lot of the usual chains and hotel restaurants. The San Jose State U campus is a few blocks away from the convention center so heading in the direction you will find casual places geared towards the student population.

      The Mexican food that you find will likely be in small taquerias and you may have to venture a bit outside of the downtown area to find those. I hope someone else who spends more time in the area has some suggestions for you.

      1. re: pamf

        I think Original Joe's and Scott's are both the kind of places you'd take elderly relatives.

        There's a large concentration of restaurants on N San Pedro north of W Santa Clara that spills over onto surrounding blocks. There are branches of La Piñata and Taqueria San Jose (small local sort-of chains), I'm not sure how they compare with the others.

        Los Cubanos is decent, but probably not of interest to a visitor from Florida.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Original Joe's is kind of expensive by my standards, and my wife isn't into old-school "red sauce" Italian too much (even though I love it, and I'm sure it would be good).

          1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

            Check it out for breakfast or lunch while your wife is at the convention.

      2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

        Unfortunately, downtown San Jose doesn't have the best eating options in the area - and Vietnamese are some of the strongest - but there are some goodies. Definitely check out Mezcal for Mexican food. McCormick & Schmick's is a national fish and seafood chain, but I've found their San Jose location often has good local fish choices. Both are just a few blocks walk from the convention center.


      3. There are a lot of Mexican restaurants within walking distance.

        1. I suggest La Peñita Restaurant for authentic and delicious Mexican food. It is a tiny and simple place just north of the 280 freeway overpass...5 short blocks down Market St. from the Convention Center. Ask for what you want -- each dish is prepared to order (some sauces are ready).

          601 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113
          (408) 295-0434

          1. lol. This is not your target cuisine. I just cannot resist House of Pizza. It's old style delicious greasiness and it is addictive. When we drive between San Francisco and Fresno, I time a stop for this pizza. There's nothing like it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Cynsa

              Just looked at House of Pizza's website --- the round pizza pie is cut into squares! Can't remember the last time I saw that.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                We lived in Cupertino in the 80's before moving to Forestville... I love those 'squares' at House of Pizza with linguica. It arrives at the table with pools of red grease and I love it - not on my everyday diet. Steak Sandwich is good, too.

                Is Japan Town near enough to the Convention Center?

            2. La Victoria Taqueria
              140 East San Carlos Street

              25 West San Fernando Street, San Jose, CA

              San Pedro Square Marketplace has a lot of restaurants to choose from

              McCormick and Schmick is next to the Fairmont (close to convention center)

              Scott's has apparently been renovated/revamped lately. Worth a try.

              Eulipia might be reopened by then. They've been remodeling.

              The Loft on Second St is reliable and affordable.

              3 Replies
              1. re: emi50

                La Victoria and Mezcan are opposite ends of the Mexican spectrum: La Victoria is an inexpensive taqueria, Mescal is a more upscale place specializing in Oaxacan cuisine. The latter will have some items you won't find at a Tex-Mex place, like emfrijoladas (sort of a little like enchiladas but with pureed beans instead) and chapulinas - fried grasshoppers, which are much, much better than you'd expect. "Just like Mom makes!", the waiter told us.

                1. re: tardigrade

                  Mezcal actually sounds perfect to take my wife to, and I may investigate La Victoria if I have some down time on my own. I'd totally try the chapulinas!

                  1. re: tardigrade

                    One more place in downtown San Jose: in the late 70s, long before the downtown was rebuilt with offices, hotels, and other high-rises, it was mostly cheap stores, pawn shops, and little hole-in-the-wall restaurants catering to a mainly Mexican clientele. One side of one street - San Pedro - escaped renewal, and is a living fossil of what downtown used to be, including the last old-style Mexican holdout, Don Pedro. You will literally trip over their signs. Foodwise, it's so-so, but you won't find any other place like it.