A Taste of the Potlatch 23 Restaurant Guide
Our hotel, the Sainte Claire, at Market and San Carlos is right in the middle of downtown San Jose. There’s literally well over a hundred restaurants within easy walking distance. Here’s just the ones actually on the same, not over-large, city block as the hotel and right across the street from that block. All restaurants are open for lunch and dinner seven days, except as noted.
- David Bratman
Il Fornaio, 302 S. Market (at San Carlos)
Opens at 7 AM (8 on weekends), late nights to 11 PM (12 on weekends)
In the hotel. IN it. A good, basic, neo-Italian restaurant absolutely worth dining at if you’re in the area, so you’re in luck. The entrees are relatively light and not too large; the pasta is distinctly al dente, giving weight to the meal. Prices are moderately high for the breed, but commensurate with quality. The breakfast menu dishes are American, though with Italian names, particularly outstanding for their potatoes. Usually uncrowded.
Original Joe’s, 301 S. First (at San Carlos)
Also late nights to 1 AM
Italian steakhouse, so old-school that it makes other old-school places look new. Even the decor is straight out of the 1950s. The typical meal here is a huge hunk of meat, probably full o’ cholesterol, plainly and simply cooked without fancy seasonings or sauces. You know it’s an Italian restaurant because there’s a side of pasta. You have to like this kind of stuff, but it does what it does excellently: good pasta, amazing hamburgers, a classic Joe’s Special, and there are salads and veggies. And the service has sixty years of experience at being fast and efficient, even when the crowds are spilling out the doors.
Caffe Frascati, 315 S. First (btwn San Carlos & San Salvador)
Opens 7:30 AM, 8 on weekends, late nights on weekends to midnight Here’s your neighborhood coffee vendor. Also serves light breakfasts (stuff on a bagel or muffin), and paninis and salads for lunch.
Pho 69, 321 S. First (btwn San Carlos & San Salvador)
Gourmet Vietnamese pho restaurant. Cool modern decor, semi-industrial instead of old lunch counter. Small menu, with only one size bowl (large, with a price to match). High-quality meats, nothing fatty, oddly sweet broth. This is pho for yuppies, not Vietnamese street food.
The Blue Chip, 325 S. First #190 (downstairs, between San Carlos & San Salvador)
408-971-2898, no functioning web site
Sports bar that, almost absent-mindedly, serves cheesesteak sandwiches (also burgers, chicken sandwiches, pizza, etc.) from a kitchen in the back. The cheesesteak is large enough, but dull tasting, which it never is in Philly, and the only cheese option is Cheez Whiz. Slow service.
Note: Just outside the entrance is a small place called AJ’s Hot Dogs. Whenever I come by here at lunchtime, the lights are on but nobody’s home.
Cafe Stritch, 374 S. First (between San Carlos & San Salvador)
Dinner only, closed Mon-Tues, late nights to 2 AM Wed-Sat
Jazz club with an extensive menu, pour-over filtered coffee and espresso drinks, and a full bar. It is a good place to go for drinks or a casual dinner. Order food at the counter and it is brought to your table. Live jazz every night. The menu is a mix of comfort food and soul food. Good options for vegetarians and vegans as well as seafood and meat eaters. (review by TB)
Subway Sandwiches, 360 S. Market (between San Carlos and San Salvador)
Opens 7 AM
Arcadia, 100 W. San Carlos (in the Marriott, at Market)
Opens at 6:30 AM, closed Sunday dinner
Modern American steakhouse by celebrity chef Michael Mina. High-end restaurant specializing in classic dishes with a contemporary twist. Best known for the duck fat fries served complimentary at dinner.
The Marriott also has a bar, the Tanq, and a counter serving coffee, pastries, and packaged snacks, the Corner Market Kitchen.
Near the corner of First and San Salvador are several lounges/bars/dance clubs/etc., mostly only open evenings, some of which also serve food, but you’ll have to check them out for yourself:
The Metropolitan, 349 S. First, www.themetsj.com
The Swinging Hookah, 386 S. First, 408-298-4824, www.theswinginghookah.com
Motif, 389 S. First, 408-279-1888, www.motiflounge.com
Agenda, 399 S. First, 408-287-3991, www.agendalounge.com
Single Barrel, 43 W. San Salvador, 408-792-7356, www.singlebarrelsj.com
Miami Beach Club, 417 S. First, 408-242-9621, www.yourmiamibeachclub.com
South First Billiards, 420 S. First, 408-294-7800, www.sofapool.com