An October 2005 trip
to San Jose by dj_canela
Quote: Once a town full of orchards, San Jose has grown up to become Silicon Valley. And though the dot.com bust has sent the moneymakers back to where they came from, my hometown still offers many surprises for San Francisco tourists looking for a day excursion.
San Jose has over 300 days of sunshine a year. We are only 45 minutes from the beach, 1 hour from San Francisco, and 3 hours from Lake Tahoe. Some of my favorite activities include exploring the many trails at the county parks, going for a drive in the hills at sunset, and enjoying the many ethnic dining options, including Ethiopian, Cuban, Thai, Indian, Mexican, and Vietnamese.
Summer brings the most festivals and concerts including the Jazz Festival. But even in the fall, we have the Gypsy Cinema series, which features free movies at outdoor venues like St. James Park and the Circle of Palms; just bring a lawnchair. The Museum of Art offers free admission. San Jose is home to many film festivals including Cinequest and the International Latino Film Festival. Visit the tree-lined Alameda, a continuation of the historic El Camino Real, and the nearby Rose Garden district to view gorgeous, historical homes.
If you find yourself in downtown San Jose on a Friday or Saturday night, you might think you've stumbled into a riot. The sad truth is that every weekend brings an abundance of police presence, roadblocks, and roving gangs of thugs (sorry, but if you're wearing a knee-length red shirt and baggy pants and a mean attitude, you are a gang member in my eyes).
Skip all this and visit downtown during the week. You will find nightclubs offering everything from '80s to salsa to punk-rock karaoke. Looking for a brewery? We've got the Tied House. Need some theater? We've got two. Plus, we now have the opera.
You may hear people recommending Santana Row. I won't, if only because it is artificial urbanity. If this is what we are now considering a community, then we might as well start moving into the malls. Yes, it's pedestrian-friendly, but if you want the real thing, go to Los Gatos. Should you find yourself in San Jose on a Tuesday morning, tune in to 103.3fm from 7am-9am to hear me play the best in international pop/soundtracks/celebrity karaoke.
Hotel | "Hotel Montgomery"
This hotel originally opened in 1911, but not at its current location. Actually it was located 186 feet away, but through a spectacular engineering feat, the entire building was moved in one piece.
Guestrooms include Egyptian-cotton bed linens, leather-like wall coverings, and Burberry-plaid lounge chairs. I booked a one-bedroom suite (room no. 420), and what I enjoyed most was that the decor and feel of the room made me feel like I was staying in a friend's home. Even the sofa bed was comfortable. The mirrored door opens to a roomy bathroom stocked with bathrobes, Q-tips, cotton balls, a vanity mirror, and Aveda amenities. In the master bedroom was a Brookstone CD player mounted on the wall. I called the front desk regarding the CD lending library, but most of the music was boring (Sheryl Crow, Third Eye Blind, etc.). I really liked the desk with a work area for two people on opposite ends.
The patio area features Zen-like monolith water fountains among sofas and a bar. Fancy a game of bocce ball? That's here, too. And then there's the restaurant. Paragon Restaurant & Bar is a handsomely decorated environment with a menu featuring French brasserie plates. The bar area features ultra-lounge seating with a selection of 100 chilled vodkas.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 27, 2005
211 S. 1st St.
San Jose, California
Bush won't let us visit Cuba and Miami is on the other side of the country. But that doesn't mean you can't find great Cuban food in San Jose. The chef came out of retirement to open his 17th restaurant in downtown San Jose. This is a family-run restaurant, with help from his wife and grandson. The walls are decorated with maps of Cuba and portraits of important Cuban figures. Purses made from Cuban cigar boxes are available for purchase at the register.
The emphasis here is on slow-cooked food that is rich in flavor. Most meals include white rice, fried plantains, and black beans. The menu also offers some Brazilian and Puerto Rican dishes. The shrimp dishes are the best!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 20, 2005
22 N. Almaden Ave.
San Jose, California 95110
Restaurant | "Tony Di Maggio's Pizza"
Tony Di Maggio's
3852 Monterey Rd.
San Jose, California 95111
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 20, 2005
1350 Camden Ave.
San Jose, California
Restaurant | "Lee's Sandwiches"
Lee's Sandwiches White Road
3276 South White Road @ Aborn Road
San Jose, California 95148
The Evergreen area offers limited dining options, but this Japanese restaurant stands out among its competition. Sushi bar and booth seating is available. You can order traditional sushi like hamachi, maguro, or unagi, or order the crazy rolls like The Jerwinator, featuring salmon skin and macadamia nuts. I don't usually order dessert when I have Japanese food, but the tempura ice cream here is the best!
Yuri's has been open for over 15 years. The pricing is reasonable for sushi, and on certain nights, the chefs will create rolls that aren't on the menu but should be. The location is in a mini mall and the restaurant closes at 9:30pm.
Yuri Japanese Restaurant
3236 S. White Rd.
San Jose, California 95148
Restaurant | "Scott's Seafood"
Scott's Seafood has a prime location on the top floor of a parking garage in downtown San Jose, with grand views of the valley. This is THE spot to impress your date, but you've got to bring them at sunset. During certain times of the year, the sunset makes the East Side hills look a shade of pink. Gorgeous. I usually prefer to dine at the bar, but if you prefer a table, be sure to request window seating.
The service is simply outstanding. Aside from the great food, the service is one of the reasons why I will always eat at Scott's. I've tried other seafood restaurants in downtown San Jose (I'm not sure if I'm allowed to mention names), and they pale in comparison: no view, lousy service, and questionable food. There is a room available for private parties, partitioned by a heavy velvet curtain. The restaurant has an open kitchen, so you can see the chefs hard at work.
My favorite appetizers are the crab cakes, the calamari, and the clams (even though they no longer offer the mussels sauce). The baby greens salad with candied pecans and stilton bleu cheese is very refreshing. Main courses range from Australian lobster tail to filet mignon and even a pasta dish for vegetarians.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 27, 2005
Scott's Seafood Grill & Bar
185 Park Ave.
San Jose, California 95113
Attraction | "Arirang Karaoke Studio"
Arirang Music Studio
2725 El Camino Real #107
San Jose, California 95051
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 31, 2005
International Latino Film Festival
984 Folsom Street
San Francisco, California 94107
San Jose, California