In a nutshell, San Jose is the tenth largest city in the U.S. filled with diversity, culture, and personality. For the sports crazed, SJ is the home of the San Jose Sharks and San Jose Earthquakes. For the competitive eaters, San Jose is the home of Joey Chestnut, the world’s fastest hot dog eater. For the foodies, San Jose is a melting pot of assorted eats making it a must-visit destination.
With a variety of people all coming from different cultures, you won’t be disappointed with the cuisine you find here. From New York-style pizza to Vietnamese noodle soups, SJ will keep you coming back for more. So take a seat and grab a snack as we take you on an exclusive food tour of San Jose.
With their welcoming, vibrant, and quirky interior design, Scrambl'z is a great place to get breakfast. Try their spin on Eggs Benedict: the Eggs Hen-edict swaps out traditional ham with a piece of chicken. Bomb.
2. Bill's Cafe
If you're looking for a classic American breakfast, Bill's Cafe is the place to be.
#SpoonTip: They serve breakfast all day, so don't freak out if you wake up at noon.
A Bay Area favorite at Naglee would be their French toast, but this isn't your typical French toast. As pictured above, their French toast is a vanilla bread pudding base smothered with whipped cream and served with a side of maple syrup.
4. Philz Coffee
Trust me when I say I'm not a coffee enthusiast. Coffee gives me the jitters, yet surprisingly the Philz Mint Mojito Iced Coffee does the trick. Not too bitter or heavily packed with caffeine, it makes for a nice afternoon pick-me-up.
Yet another traditional American breakfast spot. What differentiates Southern Kitchen Coffee Shop from the others is that they specialize in Southern cooking—think fluffy biscuits covered in oozy, warm, and creamy gravy.
To top off Instagram-able coffee art, Caffe Frascati serves the perfect cuppa' joe to caffeinate the soul.
7. The Table
If you're searching for the best Eggs Benedict in town, you're in luck. The Table happens to serve the best Eggs Benedict with the most epic egg porn. How you must ask? For starters, they swap the traditional poached egg for a sous vide egg which is a form of cooking in which foods are cooked in a controlled water bath. Fancy, huh?
Year-round farmers markets. Yup, I said year round (beat that, East Coast). There are countless reason as to why you should be supporting farmers markets but here two reasons to keep you motivated:
1. Farm fresh. Produce sold at the farmers markets are often times picked at their peak and usually sold on the same day. Whereas grocery markets receive fruits and veggies that have been harvested long before their peak to account for long travel times.
2. Taste. Produce from the farmers market always tastes better. Why? It goes without saying that they're grown with more care. Picked once ripe, organic, and non-GMO. What more could one possibly want? I'd say take advantage of this and treat yourself to a basket full of vibrant goodies.
9. Poki Bowl
Something about its simplicity is making the nation catch Poké fever (and I'm not talking Pokemon). The marinade is pretty straightforward consisting of soy sauce, sesame oil, green onion, salt, and sesame seeds, which is then combined with raw fish cubes of your choice. It's a mild and crisp bite perfect to satisfy any fish craving.
If you are truly from the Bay, you'll understand the ongoing rivalry between Iguanas and La Victoria's on whose orange sauce ranks supreme. So what's the verdict? Everyone's allowed to have their own opinion but my vote goes to Iguanas. The sauce adds the perfect kick when paired with anything on the menu.
Move aside KFC and make room for the OG KFC (Korean Fried Chicken). Double fried deliciousness.
12. Ike's Place
This compilation of superb restaurants would not be complete without a sandwich shop. Ike’s Place has been opening all over the West Coast, with this chain located at The Plant. Ike's is taking the world of sandwiches to the next level. Rumor has it that it’s their Dirty Sauce that keeps customer coming back for more… but we won’t tell. You’ll have to try it yourself.
This food truck turned restaurant takes Asian Fusion to the next level. KoJa combines their admiration for both Korean and Japanese food to make items like bulgogi waffle fries, rice bun burgers, and more. It's no surprise that their creative levels are off the charts.
14. Dia de Pesca
If you love seafood and Mexican food, try the ceviche tostada from Dia De Pesca. Alongside the heaping portions of food, the atmosphere feels as if you were transported to a small village in Costa Rica grubbing on the freshest of tacos.
15. HOM Kitchen
Imagine HOM Kitchen as the Korean Chipotle. Regardless of your food preferences, HOM Kitchen will definitely have a healthy meal catered for you. The menu features a broad list of things, from numerous vegan banchans to even galbi for our meat lovers, you can't go wrong.
Pat or Geno's? Why not Amato's? Never have I ever tried Pat's or Geno's cheesesteaks, but I still know Amato's cheesesteaks are the best you can get in San Jose. Die hard fans of Amato's have been returning for years because of the proximity, generous portions and great sandwiches.
17. Bibo's NY Pizza
You'll never ever have to fly to New York to get a taste of New York-style pizza. Thank the owners Bibo and Fouad who started this pie shop out of pure love for NY pizza in the back of their father’s store. I highly recommend you take a car, grab a bunch of friends and try every flavor of pie—you won't be disappointed.
Falafel's Drive-In provides the best falafels served conveniently wrapped in a pita or on a salad. This place is perfect for vegetarians and meat eaters alike.
Hamburgers have always been an American staple but Stumpy’s serves not just the all mighty hamburger, but also cow-friendly options such as chicken, turkey, mahi mahi, and falafel burgers. The menu also features sloppy dogs and (my favorite) garlic tots.
If you’ve grown up playing tea time with plastic teapots and cups as a toddler, Lisa’s Treasures brings that one childhood memory to life. The experience is truly something with personalized tea kettles and tiers of bite-sized foods ranging from crust-less cream cream sandwiches to cakes and scones.
They have everything from floral tableware and vintage silverware to cubed sugars perfect for your teas. Don't forget, pinky up!
21. Tofoo Com Chay
If you think vegetarian food is bland, think again because Vietnamese vegetarian food might just turn your world upside down. Bring any meat lover here and they'll be fooled to think that the beef noodle soup they ate was actually a vegetarian rendition.
#SpoonTip: Order takeout since the interior of the restaurant itself is a bit tight.
22. Sweet Mango
Personally my favorite local Burmese spot located behind the San Fran favorite Burma Superstar.
23. Back A Yard
Authentic Jamaican food. Don’t hold back and not order a combo plate. Picture this—a super generous and flavorful plate of a jerk seasoned protein of your choice, rice, and plantains. Definitely super filling and a great bang to your buck.
24. Krung Thai
I’d admit this addition is a bit bias (I’ve been coming here ever since I was a little girl…). But on the real, Krung Thai dishes up nothing but authentic, sizzling, and fragrant Thai cuisine. In fact, they are so bomb that they have another restaurant call New Krung Thai a couple blocks down. If you ever find yourself in the area, do yourself a favor and treat yourself with the Mango with Sweet Sticky Rice.
25. Tofu Plus
The secret to great Korean food is banchan. For those of you living under a rock, banchan are unlimited mini appetizers that are included in every meal. While most Korean restaurant settle at six banchan dishes, Tofu Plus steps it up serving 12, which are all equally fresh and crisp in taste.
26. Tapsilog Bistro
When a restaurant out of San Jose is added to this list, you ought to know that it's worth a try. If you want nothing but a true and traditional Filipino meal, come to Tapsilog Bistro. I mean this place can't get anymore traditional.
27. Smoking Pig BBQ
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a luscious slab of meat that has been smoking for hours. At Smoking Pig BBQ, you can tell that they serve nothing but the best barbecue evident by the smoke ring encasing every cut. Each piece is juicy and down right drool-worthy.
When it comes down to ribs, Henry's Hi-Life ain't playing no games. Prepare yourselves mentally as these ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender and shamelessly, finger-licking good.
A twist on the traditional sushi restaurant, Mizu takes Japanese sushi to a fancier level. Given that they still have bar seating so sushi enthusiast can still feast their eyes on sushi roller pros. Mizu serves high-quality sushi grade fish, an abundant variety of rolls, and hot foods for people not so much into the sashimi scene.
30. Chez Sovan
One of many hole in the walls in the South Bay, Chez Sovan ranks high on the list because during their business hours of 11:00 am - 1:30 pm on the weekdays; they are absurdly crowded.
There are only a limited number of restaurants selling Cambodian cuisine and Chez Sovan packs a punch with their aromatic dishes such as Amok, which is catfish covered in banana leaf and steamed in a coconut milk broth.
31. Cha Cha Sushi
Anytime there's a line out the door, you know they're cooking something right. Knowing that Cha Cha Sushi is a family-owned and operated business, you are always welcomed with open arms, heartwarming service and delicious food.
Get a taste of the bayou without having to travel to the South. Owner Jay Meduri fell in love with the "Big Easy," also known as New Orleans, and vouched to bring their cuisine back to San Jose. With that said, he has been feeding the community with top notch bayou cuisine for the past 11 years.
Branch out of your pho comfort zone and try other Vietnamese staples. One of my favorite Vietnamese dishes is Bánh Khot which are crispy mini pancakes made out of rice flour, turmeric powder, cornstarch, and coconut milk. These tasty little morsels are served with a heaping portion of veggies for wrapping and nuoc cham for dipping. Vung Tau just happens to do them justice.
34. Zona Rosa
If you're looking for the ideal restaurant for date night, look no further than Zona Rosa. Located near the Rose Garden, Zona Rosa is an exquisite Mexican restaurant that takes pride in their farm to table kitchen ideology.
If grandma were to cook you a meal, Omogari would be that meal. Located in Japantown in Downtown San Jose, Omogari serves warm and simplistic Korean meals you can’t find anywhere else.
36. Gaku Yakitori
Before you start a meal here, consider a few pointers:
1. Broke college students beware, the menu is pricey.
2. Portions are small so come here to pre-game or indulge on a tasty late night snack.
But despite the cautionary tales, Gaku is a refined Yakitori restaurant that strives to serve the highest quality of produce and meats. In fact, special charcoals called Binchotan are imported from Japan and used to cook the Yakitori to a smokey and juicy perfection.
For all you night owls Araujo's Mexican Grill is the spot for you. With closing hours at 12 am, you'll know where to go for late night taco cravings. Everything is made in house with garden-fresh produce and locally-sourced meats.
#SpoonTip: Araujo's Mexican Grill is also a food truck turned restaurant which makes it 10 times more convincing that they're doing something right.
After a long drought from AYCE Korean Barbecue, San Jose meat Gen Korean BBQ House. I've personally had Gen a couple times down in Southern California and this one is definitely up to par. I mean, how hard is it to mess up Korean BBQ?
#SpoonTip: Rice paper + meat = perfection.
Best Part of the Day: Dessert
39. Hong-Van Bakery
If you're daring enough, come check out Hong-Van's cream puffs (or as they call it Banh Choux). Take caution, though, because these aren't your typical vanilla-filled goodies.
Although they do carry vanilla-filled creme puffs, they specialize in durian creme-filled puffs. If you absolutely cannot stand the smell of durian, don't let it hold you back. These bad boys are worth the try and who knows, maybe you'll end up loving them.
Treatbot seen sometimes on wheels roaming the streets of San Jose or parked inside San Pedro Market in Downtown SJ will never disappoint your ice cream cravings. Their menu is very minimalistic but what I love about them is that they incorporate the community with their signature flavors such as the Eastside Horchata and The 408.
If you've seen the viral Facebook video captioned "Mexicans don't do basic snacks" then you know what's up. Otherwise, if you love the combination of tangy, sour, and sweet, try anything from the menu.
Establishing their first store in 1982 in San Francisco, Marco Polo Italian Ice Cream has come a long way serving the community with a comprehensive menu of exotic Vietnamese flavors alongside classic Italian flavors. Try the the durian flavor if you dare.
Slowly but surely, establishments from the East Coast are finally making their way to the West Coast. Starting with Gen Korean Barbecue, Shake Shack, and Popbar, the list goes on.
Don't get Rita's Italian Ice confused with shaved ice because it's not. It's more like a solid slushy that can be scooped like ice cream. All in all, the atmosphere is welcoming and their ice is perfect for a heat summer's weather.
44. Peters' Bakery
If you've grown up in San Jose, you should be familiar with this sweet obsession at Peters' Bakery: the infamous burnt almond cakes. It may not give you that "oh wow" factor but the cake itself it light and fluffy. The buttercream is also not too sweet or almond-y.
45. Banana Crêpe
Beat the heat with a shaved ice or satisfy your sweet tooth with a sweet dessert crepe. Or, take the alternate route and get a savory crepe. Either option is a win-win in my opinion.
46. Tea Lyfe
When it comes down to innovation and aesthetics, Tea Lyfe wins it all. A trendsetter boba shop serving new and unique drinks paired with sweet delectable treats. Truly a one of a kind spot to come chill with friends or even study.
47. Churros El Guero
Churros El Guero is a dainty little cart in front of the Fresco Supermarket with one item on their menu: churros. Their churros are lightly coated in cinnamon sugar with the choice of one of four fillings— strawberry, caramel, chocolate, or condensed milk.
#SpoonTip: Their hours are not set in stone, so don't be mad if their cart is sold out.
Manju are traditional Japanese confections which come in all shapes and colors. The majority of the time, manju is made with an outer layer of mochi and a semisweet filling such as anko or as we call it: red bean. Literally the holy grail of Japanese sweets.
Wooo, rolled ice cream has finally made its way to the Bay Area! If you don't know what this craze is about, here's some pointers: rolled ice cream starts off as a liquid ice cream base which is poured onto a frozen pan, then combined with toppings of your choice, flattened and literally rolled into ice cream. This new craze has even got Brenda Song on the bandwagon. Definitely an entertaining spin on a classic dessert.
Macahhrun is an adorable macaron business based in San Jose whose one-of-a-kind macarons can be purchased through their website or exclusively at Tea Lyfe. Call yourself lucky if you'd ever lay a hand on one of these tasty morsels which come in all shapes and characters! These dainty decadent morsel are too cute to eat but will keep you coming back for more.