Downtown Gems

Introducing Downtown Gems, compiled for you to discover and explore! As nominated by fellow business and property owners, downtown employees, our facebook fans and on occasion, SJDA staff.

These are the places that provide us with total pleasure and enjoyment, put us in the moment, fit perfectly into our lifestyles, and fill our senses

Click here if you’d like to cite one-of-a-kind, only-in-downtown-San Jose Downtown Gems.


This Month’s Fun Fact About Downtown San Jose

In 1850, San Jose incorporated to become California’s first city and the location of California’s first state capitol.

Directly opposite this tablet was located the first State Capitol Building in which California’s first legislature assembled in December 1849.

From our downtown fellow business, property owners and employees

Billy Berk’s Restaurant: “Our staff goes twice a month because they have a good happy hour and will accommodate larger groups – sometimes we have up to 20 people. … We also like the outdoor patio and food-wise, their chicken wings and corn bread.” – Tiffany Rogers, Level Studios

Camera 12 Cinemas: “Great selection of films; theaters have a cozy feel – they re comfortable and unique.” – Jun Kim, Cell Towns Verizon Wireless.

Café Too!: “I personally love inside the SJMoA, a great for lunch surrounded by all those creative pieces.” – Courtney Smith, PureMatter

Freshly Baked Eatery: They do a good job, are nice, serve great sandwiches and I love their fresh bread.” — Henry Coca, Hank Coca’s Downtown Furniture

Good Karma restaurant: “If you are a meat-eater (as I am) you should go in anyway as the food is all very very good and a nice change of pace. You are not going to believe the vegan chicken is real chicken, but you will get a taste treat. Run by very nice and decent folks, too.” – Dan Vado, SLG Publishing and SLG Art Boutiki

From our Facebook Fans :

San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art: They have the excellent SJSU MFA Graduate Exhibition currently on view… - Barbara Horiuchi

KALEID Gallery: Two dollar Tuesday’s at Kaleid’s. Chance to see some good local art talent, and buy it cheap – Scott Dalgleish

Los Cubanos: I love Los Cubanos best Cuban food around. Family owned, great service and a total gem. – Elizabeth Glover

SmokeEatersThey have great wings – Jeff Hansen

Staff picks:

The Downtown Association staff has literally been around.  Our team of 13 full-time equivalents has an average six years each working for SJDA.

Bella Mia:  “A gorgeous restaurant with delicious food.”

Dakao sandwiches:  “Tasty and fresh sandwiches that come with a spicy sauce that’s out of this world and at a price that cannot be beat. It’s an experience right out of Southeast Asia.”

Fairmont Hotel lobby lounge:  “High tea on weekends is fun.”

Mexico Bakery: The tortas are handsdown the best in the bay.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and San Jose State University campus:  “Both are interesting and great places to walk.  “The library is huge on the inside, and the campus is beautiful.”

Mucho’s!:  “The regular chicken burrito cooked over oak with lots of garlic included and owner Nestor Daniel’s sauces are phenomenal.”

The Hedley Lounge (inside Hotel De Anza): one of the best rooms in San Jose (restored from art deco era), with live jazz Thurs – Sat. (and on 1st and 3rd Wed’s), and great cocktails to boot.

Trials Pub: Authentic British pub with great beer selection on draft (even draft cider) and solid food – not your regular pub fare – hearty British influenced specials and vegetarian options too. Intimate atmosphere – no TVs – real dartboard, and popular trivia nights on Mondays at 8pm (but get there by 7:30pm to get a seat)

Teske’s Germania: Family owned and run authentic German restaurant/bar, always changing “specials of the day” offer unique, German-inspired dishes apart from the usual California fare. They have a great selection of German and European beers on tap and a great patio – with live music during Oktoberfest.

Mezcal: Traditional Oaxacan cuisine in an upscale, yet comfortable atmosphere, complete with indigenous Mexican motifs. Special touch that the manager – Adolfo Gomez – is usually there to greet you and the recipes are from Chef Dona Libo’s grandmother –straight from Oaxaco, Mexico (they are known for their moles). They also offer Tequila and Mezcal tastings and have of the best patios in San Jose – the feel of a European plaza – and sometimes music programmed in the summer.

Angelou’s Mexican Grill – Great for casual dining or “to go” lunch – and they even have their late night permit so this is the best food for Fri. and Sat. late nights. Healthy and unique, authentic Mexican food made and served by the owners who work the grill and register. Their Taco de Pappa (fried potato with all the best toppings) is one of the best finds in town – and locals rave about their daily specials like Green Pork Pozole and Cream of Poblana soup – plus they are veggie friendly and offer a “Taco Tuesdays” special that will fill you up for under $7.

Caffe Frascati (formerly Caffe Trieste): The quality of coffee, drink and light food offerings are indicative of the owner’s experiences in Europe. All the way down to the atmosphere and décor of the café – as well as the unique programming of entertainment (Opera singers, open mic nights, live bands, poetry readings, films) – this is always a reliable place to stop if you’re looking to escape (or even plug into free WIFI and work).

What do you consider are some “hidden gems” in DTSJ? Any unique places you frequent…restaurants, mom & pop shops, etc? Please, leave your recommendations & include 1-2 sentences about why the place you suggested is so great. Provide the name you would like to be quoted by & your workplace if you would like that to be included.