Help feed hungry Aussies in downtown SJ

Lots of my colleagues from Sydney and SF will attend our company’s conference in downtown SJ this fall. I’m looking to help them find decent meals not too far from the conference center. I’m also trying to head off the inevitable complaining/comparisons to Sydney and SF. Obviously, eating in SJ will be a different experience from dining in those cities, but I’d like them to experience good meals and hospitality. Help me help them!

Some more background:

  • Most people will not have cars, but will be adventurous enough to Uber for a few miles to get a good meal. Caltrain/light rail is also a possibility.
  • Spending will cap roughly at, $50-60 pp for dinner with cocktails, but recommendations on the cheap side are most welcome.
  • Here are current ideas for downtown SJ: Paper Plane (drinks), La Victoria, Henry’s Hi-Life, Puro Michoacan, Ike’s Sandwiches, Poor House Bistro, Vung Tau, Lee’s Sandwiches
  • Here are ideas for slightly farther away: Habana Cuba, The Table (Willow Glen), Blue Line and Liquid Bread in Campbell, Amber India in Santana Row), Oren’s/Cascal in MV, Bywater in LG, Orenchi and Ramen Halu in SC.


Great question!

I believe Haberdasher should be on anyone’s list for cocktails, ahead of Paper Plane, and it’s closer to the convention center. I could live there.

I think your “further away” list is pretty good. I would triple down on Bywater - that’s a very special place, easily the equal of places in New Orleans. PHB is a place I go to San Jose to eat at, and drink at, because the beer is super fresh and the outdoor bar in particular. Dinners are actually on the lighter side.

Re: oren’s, I wouldn’t go all that way for Oren’s, when you could go to Eureka! or Stein’s or even Tied House. I assume your assies are in computers, and Stein’s has quickly become an institution. It’s very “scene-y”. The beer list there has all the breweries you should really drink from the bay area. Cascal is a place everyone loves and I have no freaking idea why. It’s especially good for large groups on the patio. If you go to Mt View take the caltrain not the light rail — just look at the schedule, the light rail is 2x the time.

Re: Santana Row. I have a hard time eating at or recommending Amber, because the group is far-flung, and expensive, and Near just about every Amber-alog there’s a place I like better, but I don’t know about that part of SJ. Blue line is worth it, though, 100%. Love liquid bread, love Habana Cuba.

Consider: anjappar Chettinad. The yelp reviews are confused, and Assies will think they know everything about indian, but Unless they’ve actually been to south india, this place can be an eye-opener. You will get indian-style service and indian-style hassling and indian-style food. Is a ways off, though, especially depending on traffic.

Back-a-yard. This is a slightly longer hoof north from the convention center, but it’s really quite tasty.

Smoking Pig - yes yes yes. This is as close to real BBQ as they will get, although it runs a little hot and cold sometimes. Make sure they get the fatty brisket, because SP actually has it. Mmmmm. Very down-home, if they’re going to Santana Row and wotnot.

Re Burritos - Consider Angelou’s. Everyone talks about La Victoria, but the lines at Angelou’s are quite long in the evenings. They especially make a good cali burrito ( La Victoria has them too ), and you should tell them the MUST have a cali burrito ( carnitas & fries ).

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Thanks @bbulkow! I will add these to my list. I think I’ll have a MV reccos section of its own.

The problem with Santana Row is that I can imagine hotel concierges recommending people go there “for fun”, so wanted to offer what I think is the best restaurant in the complex (but am happy to get other recommendations). I would suggest a Krungthai near there but I figure they can get better Thai in Sydney.