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Where To Eat In San Jose And Santa Clara

PHOTO: Daniel Go/Flickr

Unless you work for Facebook, J.P. Morgan, or the NFL, you’re not going to the Super Bowl. (Don’t worry, we’re not either.) But it’s conceivable (likely, even) that you’ll be in the South Bay at some point, with a hankering for good eats. That’s where we come in.

This list leans toward cheap eats, because the San Jose/Santa Clara area is a melting pot of quality, inexpensive food from a variety of regions—India, Korea, Japan, Mexico, and more. If you really want white tablecloth, fancy eats, we recommend rolling up the Peninsula toward the City.

So go forth and explore the original location of Silicon Valley (which has moved to 2nd and Townsend in Soma, as we understand). If you’re willing to try some new foods, you’ll have a great time.

The Spots

1

Kabab & Curry

1498 Isabella St
MAP

Craving Indian-Pakistani classics? Don’t know what Indian-Pakistani classics are? Doesn’t matter. The tandoori chicken, biryani, and curries are enough to sway anyone. You know it’s a good sign when a restaurant has a takeout line ten deep from 6-8pm (although we recommend dining there for maximum freshness).

2

dishdash

190 S Murphy Ave.
MAP

If you’ve got a hankering for Mediterranean meats and falafel in the Sunnyvale area, both “Dish Dash,” and “Dish n Dash” can solve your problem. The former is a restaurant, the latter more of a takeaway spot. Shawarma is a superfood, haven’t you heard?

Photo: DishDash
3

Jang Su Jang

3561 El Camino Real #10
MAP

This temple of Korean food presents an essential question: tofu or BBQ? Think before you choose, meat-eaters. While the grilled meats are excellent, so is Jang Su Jang’s giant bowl of shrimp, oysters, and yes, tofu. Put it over rice, add banchan, and you’ve got an excellent meal.

4
MAP

This market is a garden of other-worldy Japanese delights, with a few different food counters inside. The best choice is the ramen counter, Santouka (go for the Shio broth, with a side of shaved fish over rice), but there are also teriyaki options, lychee desserts, and basically everything else the heart could desire.

Photo: Daniel Go/Flickr
5

Orenchi Ramen

3540 Homestead Rd
MAP

Still arguably the most-mobbed ramen shop in the Bay Area. You better be at Orenchi by 11am for its 11:30am opening (or you’ll wait at least an hour). Once you’re seated, you’ll get to indulge in one of the porkiest broths in the game. And no, the SF outpost is nowhere near as good as the original.

6

La Costa

1805 Alum Rock Ave
MAP

Hankering for seafood tacos? Roll up to La Costa, order at the window, and enjoy them on the patio.

Photo: Rocor/Flickr
7

Smoking Pig BBQ Company

1144 N 4th St
MAP

Let’s get this out of the way: this is nowhere near authentic Southern BBQ. But on a good day, the ribs (and occasionally the brisket), reach high highs.

Photo: Smoking Pig/Facebook
8

Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant

1320 Saratoga Ave
MAP

If you’re looking for an opportunity to bring an end to your Ethiopian food virginity, Zeni is an excellent choice. It’s authentic and delicious, and while the space is super casual, it’s big enough that you can go with a group and have a great time.

Photo: Anthony Goto/Flickr
9
MAP

The name is no disguise. This is a mall food court. But it’s a mall food court straight out of Ho Chi Minh City. Your options include pho, lettuce-wrapped egg rolls, fruity drinks, and crazy shrimp omelets. All delicious.

Photo: Yung Grass Hopper/Flickr
10
MAP

This is the best jerk chicken we have experienced in America, served in a low key San Jose setting. If you’ve ever felt the sway of Caribbean flavors, make it a point to get to Back A Yard (just do so early, as they close at 8:30pm on weekdays). This is some of the greatest cheap eats in the Bay Area.

Photo: Back A Yard
11

Koja Kitchen

1085 E Brokaw Rd
MAP

A casual, counter-service restaurant that specializes in throwing Korean sauces on top of fries and bulgogi meats between rice patties. Sure, it’s inauthentic. But if it tastes solid (and it does), we have no problem with it.

Photo: Gary Stevens/Flickr
12

Ike’s Love & Sandwiches

2235 The Alameda
MAP

This SF staple has a number of outposts in the South Bay, and is always a fantastic option for your sandwich needs. We dig the “Matt Cain,” “Name of the Girl I’m Dating,” and “Menage a Trois” - but you really can’t go wrong with any of Ike’s perfect, always-consistent sandwiches.

Photo: June Seita/Flickr
13

99 Chicken

2781 El Camino Real
MAP

Korean wings, dry or wet. Insofar as we are aware, that is literally all this place serves. A good choice for a one-dish, post-drinking-activities restaurant.

Photo: 99 Chicken/Facebook
14

Hometown Noodle

3617 Union Ave.
MAP

“No frills” would be an understatement for Hometown Noodle, but no matter. Their menu is a very solid offering of noodle bowls with meats, mostly Hunan-Chinese style. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t worry - you just need to know it’s all delicious.

15

Paper Plane

72 S 1st St
MAP

Paper Plane isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, but it’s nonetheless a great spot for kinda-fancy cocktails and small plates. This is one of downtown San Jose’s best spots for a date or a group outing. And if you’re the type to be swayed by pop stars, they like this place too.

Photo: Paper Plane/Facebook
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