Foodie Gems in the San Jose Area

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Ready to sample some of the best San Jose restaurants virtually? During a recent escape to San Jose and the greater San Jose area, we had our fair share of delicious “eats” thanks to the Team San Jose folks and some of their partners.

We hung our hat in San Jose and Los Gatos, both of which we love for dining and shopping and they’re a stone’s throw from each other.

san jose restaurants

The Carabineiro, Tangerina e Algas from Michelin star ADEGA Restaurant

San Jose Restaurants

San Pedro Square Market & Downtown

Historical San Pedro Market Square is a fabulous spot to have lunch anytime of year. In the square, they also present different musicians each week.  

Here, you’ll find The Farmers Union which is a fun gastro-pub vibe meets sports bar. The venue boasts 60 taps and Silicon Valley’s largest HD television for sports enthusiasts.

San Jose restaurants

Credit: SanJose.org, taken from various Instagram posts featuring San Jose restaurants and food.

In downtown San Jose, Cafe Stritch is known to be a vibrant “hot spot.” Think awesome food, craft beer and live music all under one roof. Known for its great ambiance and vibe, they also offer free music most nights of the week.

San Jose restaurants

Credit: SanJose.org.

Also downtown is Vyne Bistro which I’ve only been to once, but I loved its cozy atmosphere. Located alone Paseo De San Antonio, this modern wine bistro is one of those oh so fun San Jose restaurants.  It has a fireplace in their lounge and plenty of light thanks to their floor-to-ceiling windows.

I thought I’d also mention the Willow Glen Meats & Smokehouse because it’s located in Willow Glen, which is a part of San Jose that many tourists may not know about, but where many locals live. I’ve had four friends live in this neighborhood over the years and a few more just moved there.

Think old-fashioned goodness at this gem of a foodie spot that specializes in country barbecue meats and sides for catering purposes. It also has a wide range of sausage (wild game and beef), meats (ham, prime rib roast, and pork), poultry, cheeses, and more. YUM!

Note that I haven’t mentioned any hot spots in the trendy Santana Row, the Rodeo Drive of San Jose.

Many tourists will wind up here and most of the eateries are great, especially for ambiance and the vibe. I plan to cover a few San Jose restaurants in Santana Row at a future time as we’re slated to hang our hat there for a couple of nights early next year.

Teaser: they have some great wine bars for those who love their “grapes.” Speaking of wine, there are some great spots to sample wines in the San Jose area.

Wine Tasting

Nestled high up in the northern reaches of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and surrounded by historic vineyards, the Monte Bello Estate offers delicious single-vineyard wines.

San Jose Restaurants

Credit: Ridge Winery & SanJose.org.

It was apparently first planted in the late 19th century, and has been one of the top storied viticultural sites ever since. Their Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello is apparently one of the most highly-regarded wines in the world.   

Some of the other press on my trip headed to Testarossa Winery  in nearby Los Gatos (where we stayed), but sadly my schedule didn’t allow. I’ve been to Testarossa Winery before however and it’s a fabulous spot, not just because of their scrumptious wines, but because of its stunning location and the fact that their venue has live musicians play from time-to-time.

Testarossa (Italian for “red head”) was the nickname given Rob Jensen as a young university student in Italy. Rob and Diana Jensen started Testarossa in their garage in 1993 with just twenty-five cases of wine. Today, the winery works closely with top winegrowers in the Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Rita Hills, Arroyo Grande and more. It’s a must visit spot when you visit the San Jose area.

Nearby is J. Lohr in San Jose, known to be one of an early handful of pioneers in California wine history.  We always have some J. Lohr wines in our cellar.

Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards is in Saratoga and Byington Vineyard & Winery is in Los Gatos, both of them very accessible when in the San Jose area. Byington, for example, offers expansive views of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey Bay and Pinot Noir vineyards from their stunning 95 acres.

San Jose restaurants

Byington Winery, credit: Sanjose.org

Other Los Gatos & San Jose Restaurants

ADEGA

We had an opportunity to taste a 7 course Portuguese meal, all paired with wines during our stay. The event was called a Michelin All-Star Experience and featured a lineup of Michelin starred Portuguese chefs from four of the world’s Michelin starred Portuguese restaurants.

San Jose’s ADEGA Chefs, David Costa and Jessica Carreira curated a tasting menu, paired with select Portuguese wines, along with Chef George Mendes from Aldea in New York City, Chef Alexandre Silva from Lisbon‘s Loco and Chef Pedro Lemos  of Pedro Lemos in Porto Portugal. All of them have a Michelin star attached to their cooking.

ADEGA recently earned the distinction as the first Michelin-starred restaurant to serve Portuguese cuisine on the West Coast as well as Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s prestigious America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2017. Bravo to them for being such a stand-out among San Jose restaurants.

See our write-up on this decadent and incredible dining experience — below are a couple of dishes to whet your appetite and hopefully encourage you to read our review. It is among one of the top San Jose restaurants with its Michelin star badge to back it up.

The Bywater

On North Santa Cruz Avenue in Los Gatos, this gem of a find was founded by Andrew Burnham and David Kinch, chef of the three-Michelin star Manresa Restaurant.

The Bywater features New Orleans-inspired dishes and southern staples like fried green tomatoes and po’boys, a raw bar, a list of classic and eclectic New Orleans cocktails, beer, wine and more.

san jose restaurants

We sampled the Shrimp Remoulade (our table’s favorite) which they serve with Avocado and top with a Crispy Okra (yum!).

They also brought some shrimp and oyster Po Boys to the table as well as Eggplant for the vegetarians among us.

San Jose Restaurants

This very simple but oh so lovely Heirloom tomato salad was exquisite and so healthy tasting. It is served with a few micro greens and strawberry sambal. It was a wow dish.

San Jose Restaurants

Epic for the style of cuisine, right? Who doesn’t love a good beignet?

San Jose Restaurants

San Jose restaurants

The Inside Bar Area

Other favorites included the Creole spiced fries, their fried oysters (they have them fresh on the half shell as well), their Dressed hot link sausage patties and their pork belly briskets. So delish!!

Then there’s Oyster Rockefeller (lower right photo), which is made with house made bacon and spinach, one of my favorites.

san jose restaurants

The Catamount

This chic spot has great outdoor seating and boasts fabulous steaks, seafood and California fare as well as local wine and cocktails. The Catamount was founded by Ray Tang, who opened the well known Presidio Social Club in San Francisco.

san jose restaurants

We didn’t dine here, but instead had drinks. Let’s just say that the range of cocktails and wines by the glass (and bottle) were pretty extensive. You won’t leave thirsty and the vibe is amazing. Chic,k trendy and fun!

san jose restaurants

Dio Deka

If you’re a serious food, you won’t want to miss the hellenic Los Gatos restaurant Dio Deka, which we reviewed last May. They’re mostly known for their incredible steaks but they offer a wide range of other divine dishes as well, some of which are Greek-influenced of course.

San Jose restaurants

Located in Hotel Los Gatos, which has its own unique history right in the heart of downtown Los Gatos, the birth of Dio Deka is the result of five Greek restauranteurs: Nikos Kalouris, Vagelis Papazisis, Yiani Dulles, Julian Platis, and Petros Katopodis. Apparently, the name Dio Deka stems from the restaurant’s address, 210, which reads Dio Deka in Greek.

In line with Greek hospitality, all of the owners also work as servers in addition to their management duties, as a way of making their guests feel at “home”.

Here’s a few memories from our incredible dinner at this incredible spot that has both a romantic and chic ambiance. If you’re into people watching, you’ll likely get a glimpse of a famous techie or venture capitalists if you go often enough. And, their desserts are divine.

The Verge

While we didn’t have an opportunity to official review this Los Gatos restaurant, which is connected to the Toll House Hotel, we did have breakfast here for two mornings. Their options and pairings are ever so unusual, all done with a twist.

We sampled the Egg Chorizon Quesadilla which they serve with sour cream, avocado and salsa verde. It is interestingly enough, gluten free.

I love my poached eggs so paired them with fresh spinach and bacon. Who doesn’t love bacon after all, unless you’re a vegan of course. If you are, they have you covered here as well. You can also keep it simple and healthy with yogurt, fresh fruit, hot herbal tea or house-made granola.

If you’re the more adventurous foodie and are the type that says “Bring it on,” I’d suggest the Breakfast sausage ravioli which the chef and team serve with cream sauce, parmesan, pecans and breaded fried eggs (pictured below).

San Jose restaurants

Or, there’s a Gingerbread waffle with whipped cream and berries and the decadent Verge Omelette, made with a delicious smoked duck (gotta love it), mushrooms, lardon, gruyere and potatoes. Southern influence comes in through their shrimp and grits iwth Andouille sausage and seafood sauce.

los gatos

Quiet time in Los Gatos: Tea at The Verge

Be sure to also check out Cafe Rio in Aptos, which we recently reviewed. Only a stone’s throw from Santa Cruz, you can be there within 30 or 40 minutes from Los Gatos or San Jose.

In October, San Jose has the Tipsy Taco Fest. With a name like that, how can you pass it up? They’ve got you covered from margaritas to Micheladas to classic tacos from some of the best local chefs and San Jose restaurants. You can bob for churros, take a swing at the piñata or even dance to a live Mariachi band. How fun!
See below for a link to research other great food festivals and events that may pique your interest in the greater San Jose area.
Next time you head to the San Francisco Bay area and think that San Francisco is the only city with great eats, think again. Head south to where the weather is warmer, and pick a few great San Jose restaurants for your trip where you can sip wine outside, whet your appetite and watch the world go by.

Useful Links:

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Note: This trip was in conjunction with support from and hosted by San Jose Tourism Board / Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. All opinions expressed however are my own.

Renee Blodgett
Founder
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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