In between visiting great museums in San Jose, you need a few ideas on where to dine. I know that’s crazy, I mean how you do you narrow down a billion choices in the area to over a handful? I did, with help from Team San Jose and our amazing adventure in the city. If you know of some, please feel free to comment at the end of my article, and here’s my list of 6 delicious places to dine in San Jose!
A vision of owners Joe and Sara after eating their way through Mexico, Tacolicious has made a new home in San Jose’s Santana Row. Some may call it the Rodeo Drive of the Silicon Valley, Santana Row is a shopper’s dream for top of the line shops, nightlife, and delicious dining spots like Tacolicious. With indoor and patio seating, the restaurant has ceiling to floor windows to bring the light in and shine on this great spot for lunch. We slid our party of about 13 into a long table and immediately food and drinks started appearing, chips, salsa, house-made guacamole and horchatas, jugo verde (kale, cukes, and nopales), and sangria roja. Tacos of cod (grilled and fried), carnitas, carne asada, chicken chile verde, and even chorizo and potato came to us in batches of 10. Try all 3 of the salsas, the yellow has a hefty kick and oh so delicious! Fun spot to break up your shopping trip or take a date. The bar is beautiful in here and the drinks were flowing. Don’t leave without grabbing a plate of churros con chocolate! Also look up more bay area locations: three in San Francisco and the other in Palo Alto!
Visit Tacolicious at 300 Santana Row, San Jose.
Uproar Brewing Company
Just a few months new, visit this great place in the SoFA district of San Jose, that’s South of First Area to the locals! Uproar Brewing Company has plenty of room for friends and fun (a game of cornhole perhaps?), the bar has a wide selection of brews and the menu is mouth-watering! Fried pickles, sandwiches like the Banh Mi pictured below and some really tasty pizzas, ask about the pizza that has beer-marinated mushrooms, YUM!
Now I am a wine drinker, but love finding new beers to drink on a steaming hot day! The best way to do that is to order a flight! We had a few on our table and shared them all to find what we loved and frankly, what we didn’t. I loved the Monterey Common, a Vienna style lager the most and the Uproar Saison was a close second. Pair these beers with some of the most flavorful sliders I’ve had in a while and you have a delicious lunch or dinner right there! Take a visit to Uproar Brewing Company at 439 S. First Street, San Jose.
Downtown’s SoFA district has another hot spot for awesome food, creative cocktails, and mind blowing jazz at Cafe Stritch. Photos and wall murals pay tribute to the locale’s inspiration Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and the food will comfort the soul!
You can’t get homier than grilled cheese and tomato soup. Tillamook sharp yellow and vintage white cheddar plus your choice of seven toppings that include a double stack, bacon, grilled onions and more.
I was completely satisfied as I paired my grilled cheese with a Moscow Mule, whether it goes or not, it was divine! I also sampled my second choice of Ratatouille with chicken and the veggies were scrumptious. One other meal I’d love to try next time was the spicy Cajun jambalaya that is a sea of delicious mussels, clams, prawns, tilapia, calamari and andouille sausage. Closed Monday and Tuesdays, Cafe Stritch has live music nightly at 8:30pm & 7pm on Sundays, visit their website for a calendar of events and stop in at 374 S. First Street, San Jose.
Purple Onion Cafe & Testarossa Winery
Okay not San Jose but in Los Gatos, I had to mention this amazing place called the Purple Onion Cafe. Our group didn’t actually visit the store front on E. Main Street, rather we had a picnic catered for us for our trip to Testarossa Winery nearby. With a bag full of different sandwiches like the meatloaf, roasted turkey and tuna melt, I was lucky to grab a chicken salad croissant. Now these may sound run of the mill, but with added ingredients like confit onion, sun-dried tomato or basil mayo, brie and provolone, paprika slaw, and arugula, these sandwiches were elevated another level!
My chicken salad was heavenly, like I could have easily eaten a second immediately following the first! The combo of poached chicken, apricots, figs, purple onion, carrot, celery, almonds, blue cheese, creamy paprika mayo, and arugula was perfection and I think about that sandwich often paired with a salty bag of chips. So after our lunch out on the picnic tables of Testarossa Winery, we headed into their wine cave for a full tasting.
Testarossa’s location is on the historic Novitiate in Los Gatos and is the state’s fourth oldest continuously operating winery. The old Novitiate Winery was originally built in 1888 by Jesuit Fathers and Brothers from Santa Clara College (now Santa Clara University). Rob and Diana Jensen left their electrical engineering jobs in Silicon Valley and started Testarossa (Rob’s nickname in college meaning “red head”) in their garage in 1993 with just twenty-five cases of wine. Now they currently offer the most sought-after Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines in California. Our tasting included 2 Chardonnay and 3 Pinot Noir and even a sample of their two Novitiate dessert wines. I love Pinots so much, I added a glass of the 2014 Guidotti Vineyard on the wine bar patio after the tasting that was just perfect. After you pick up a picnic from Purple Onion Cafe, remember to visit Testarossa at 300 College Avenue, Los Gatos.
Located in Downtown San Jose’s San Pedro Square, Olla Cocina has the flavors of Mexico in a family style setting, offering California’ finest ingredients. Great for locals, visitors, and reasonably priced for the students of nearby San Jose State University, let me just say that I hope this restaurant is here to stay. Their chips and salsa right out of the gate are tasty and a great start to any meal. Watermelon margaritas for the table put smiles on everyone’s faces immediately.
Tacos al Pastor hit the spot with a touch of pineapple and that green sauce is H. O. T. hot, be careful but it sure is flavorful! I recommend the frijoles de charro as a delicious accompanyment. I had to grab a shot of my friend to my right who ordered the enchiladas (mole poblano, chipotle braised chicken, oaxaca cheese, crema), they were a thing of beauty and he said they were the bombo! Lunch, dinner, full bar for happy hour plus a gluten free menu, it’s worth trying out! Visit Olla Cocina at 17 N. San Pedro Street, San Jose.
Located inside the iconic Hotel DeAnza, both La Pastaia and Hedley Club Lounge are spots you have to visit when you’re in San Jose! Now I’ve stayed at the hotel twice and have loved it, having a wonderful spot like La Pastaia just in the lobby for my breakfast option was perfect. One day it was waffles with strawberries, the next was the DeAnza omelet, you can order pecorino popcorn or meatballs for room service. Best thing is that they also offer their dinner menu right across the hall at the Hedley Club Lounge. Here you can order up your favorite cocktail, I like a midori sour or the signature Diving Diva (do you see her in the photo above), and a pizza and listen to jazz most evenings with Salsa on the first Thursdays of the month!The Fettucini Diavola was scrumptious with fresh jumbo prawns, sundried tomatoes, capers, and chili flakes. Because the burger comes with pickled cucumber, my husband has been pickling his own cukes and putting on his homemade ever since! With or without a room in the hotel, this is a spot we will return to often! See for yourself at 233 W Santa Clara Street, San Jose.
These are my 6 delicious places to dine in San Jose for the moment. I’m always looking for more places to explore, so let me know in the comments where you love to eat in Silicon Valley!
Thanks to Team San Jose for the fabulous dining experiences via our FAM tour!