Top 12 Best Restaurants in San Jose

Last Updated on February 17, 2024 by Emily Johnson

As the cultural and technological hub of Silicon Valley, San Jose offers visitors an eclectic mix of dining options spanning over 4,000 restaurants featuring global cuisines. From Michelin star tasting menus to classic taquerias…craft beer halls to espresso cafes…the breadth of San Jose’s vibrant food scene parallels the diversity of its people.

Restaurant NameCuisine TypeNotable Features
AdegaPortugueseAuthentic dishes, acclaimed chefs
La Foret RestaurantFrenchFine dining, forest setting
Original Joe’s San JoseItalian-AmericanClassic diner, historic venue
ManresaContemporaryMichelin-starred, farm-to-table
The TableAmericanSeasonal menu, casual chic
Santana RowVariousOutdoor shopping, dining district
Habana CubaCubanFamily-owned, authentic cuisine
Dio DekaGreekFine Hellenic cuisine, elegant
Vung Tau RestaurantVietnameseFamily-run, traditional dishes
Minato Japanese RestaurantJapaneseSushi and traditional dishes
Back A YardCaribbeanCasual, flavorful island cuisine
Henry’s Hi-LifeAmerican BBQHistoric, famous for ribs

While choosing the best 12 restaurants in a city with so many proves difficult, make sure to add these stand-out venues to your NorCal itinerary.

Adega

Name and Location: Adega

History and Significance: Opened in 2007 in San Jose’s Little Portugal neighborhood, Adega offers authentic Portuguese cuisine in a cozy and lively setting. The family-run restaurant sources many ingredients from Portugal and aims to recreate classic dishes found in Lisbon neighborhoods and the Algarve region.

What to Expect: Guests can savor traditional Portuguese plates like salted codfish cakes, grilled sardines, custard tarts and Adega’s popular Francesinha sandwich with linguiça sausage. An extensive wine list features varietals from Portugal and California’s Central Coast. Live fado music often accompanies weekend dinner services.

Visitor Information: Reservations recommended, especially for Friday/Saturday nights. Street parking available but limited. Takeout and patio dining offered. Closed Mondays. Credit cards accepted.

Serving up authentic Portuguese soul food since 1975, Adega in San Jose’s historic Little Portugal neighborhood claims legendary status for its award-winning artistry elevating classics like garlic-simmered mussels, twice-fried salt cod and tender roasted chicken perfumed under clouds of savory spice. Their menu hits all the Mediterranean highlights from stuffed grape leaves to dry-cured chorizo brought to life through family recipes and regional Portuguese wines. Old World charm abounds across dimly lit rooms filled with strolling guitarists. But Adega’s polished hospitality stays thoroughly modern and gracious. Just follow the aromas down the street to know you’ve arrived someplace special.

Playa Azul

Name and Location: Playa Azul

History and Significance: Serving coastal Mexican dishes since 2019, Playa Azul transports guests to a beach vacation with its relaxing vibes, tropical cocktails and vibrant, sea-inspired décor. Executive Chef Julio De Haro aims to celebrate authentic regional specialties from Veracruz, Baja and Puerto Vallarta using fresh, high-quality ingredients.

What to Expect: The seafood-focused menu features ceviches, aguachile shrimp, smoked fish tostadas, whole fried fish and other ocean fare. Save room for churros with Mexican chocolate sauce. Margaritas come in 13+ flavors made from scratch.

Visitor Information: Located downtown. Reservations recommended. Valet parking available plus street options. Takeout and delivery through major apps. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Credit cards accepted.

As the name hints at, Playa Azul transports diners to oceanfront Mexico through vibrant interior decor and scratch-made regional specialties like slow-roasted cabrito, complex moles and tender carnitas that keepalive juarez families for generations. Their expansive tequila list impresses as well while daily lunch specials draw Silicon Valley entrepreneurs rubbing shoulders with laborers. But whatever brings you to Playa Azul, their authentic hospitality and honest, soul-warming dishes like the Veracruz-style red snapper keep locals returning to a home outside home. The smell of corn just pulled from the comal oven lures you from blocks away.

Fonda Lupita

Name and Location: Fonda Lupita

History and Significance: Open since 1989, family-owned Fonda Lupita serves classic, home-style cuisine inspired by the Mexican state of Puebla. Enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, the unassuming restaurant strives to recreate the dishes proprietress Lupita de la Paz learned from her mother using time-honored cooking techniques.

What to Expect: Housemade moles, tangy ceviches, tender carnitas and complex layered enchiladas are standouts. Round out your meal with traditional drinks like jamaica agua fresca, hot Mexican chocolate or an ice-cold cerveza.

Visitor Information: Located in downtown San Jose. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations accepted for large parties. Street parking available. Cash preferred but cards accepted. Takeout available.

When you just crave honest, unpretentious Mexican food made like abuela used to across an unassuming strip mall location, Fonda Lupita in south San Jose always overdelivers. Their menu covers classic staples from scratch-made tamales and zesty shrimp aguachile to ribeye fajita towers dramatically delivered sizzling hot atop smoke clouds. But regulars visit specifically for Puebla-style dishes like their melt-in-your-mouth chicken mole poblano recipe passed down generations. Daily specials bend traditional recipes too, like their popular Baja fish tacos amped up to NorCal expectations with sustainably sourced rockfish. Affordable, authentic and abundantly appealing, Fonda Lupita is Mexican home cooking at its finest.

Alexander’s Steakhouse

Name and Location: Alexander’s Steakhouse

History and Significance: With locations in Cupertino and San Jose, Michelin-starred Alexander’s Steakhouse offers an elegant dining experience paired with exquisite modern American cuisine and world-class service. Acclaimed Executive Chef Josh Tomson sources top-quality prime beef and seafood for the seasonal menu.

What to Expect: In addition to exceptional steaks and seafood options cooked over a 1700-degree broiler, guests enjoy tableside preparations, desserts from an on-site pastry kitchen and a wine list featuring over 900 labels.

Visitor Information: Luxurious dress code enforced. Reservations required – book well in advance for prime times. Validated valet parking available. Located adjacent to Santana Row. Expense account recommended – Prix fixe menus $115+.

The pinnacle of fine dining in San Jose, Alexanders Steakhouse receives near universal praise for Chef William Lewis’s immaculate modern American cuisine and flawless service, earning coveted Michelin stars year after year. Only premium hand-cut Japanese wagyu, Maine lobster and sustainably sourced seafood grace diners’ bespoke plates here. Their extensive award-winning wine program astounds as well. Alexandar’s plush leather booths host Silicon Valley power brokers closing deals over $500 tomahawk chops and $5,000 bottles of Bordeaux. Expect nothing short of culinary art across multiple courses – albeit at prices reflecting the luxury caliber and cachet dining here affords.

Spicy Shrimp

Name and Location: Spicy Shrimp

History and Significance: Opened in 1996, Spicy Shrimp quickly became a local favorite for its authentic, mouth-numbing Szechuan fare. The restaurant utilizes old-world cooking techniques to create explosively flavored dishes. Their famously spicy boiled shrimp are sure to leave your lips tingling.

What to Expect: Patrons should come hungry to fully appreciate the complex layers of flavor in Spicy Shrimp’s mapo tofu, dry chili chicken, eggplant clay pots and other fiery specialties made with Szechuan peppercorns, chilies and chili oil. Don’t miss the hand-pulled noodle dishes either.

Visitor Information: Located in West San Jose. Lunch and dinner daily. Cash only. Validated parking in adjacent garage. Reservations not accepted. Takeout menu available. Very spicy so alert your server about preferences. Beer and wine available.

When the line snakes out onto the sidewalk hours before opening every night, you know something extraordinary is happening in that kitchen. At Spicy Shrimp in east San Jose, third generation owner Aaron Mak keeps loyal locals returning through Chinatown gossip circles for his theatrically-spicy, savory-crunchy spin on sweet and sour shrimp along with other Chinese-American greatest hits. Just peeking into their open wok kitchen proves mesmerizing entertainment fueled by relentless high heat. Tangerine peels flame nearly as high as the piles of plump shrimp frying audibly crisp. Spicy Shrimp’s simplicity done to absolute perfection seals its cult status across San Jose for good reason.

Back A Yard Caribbean Grill

Name and Location: Back A Yard Caribbean Grill

History and Significance: Open since 2008, this downtown hot spot brings heating things up with authentic Jamaican jerk dishes inspired by a backyard cooking style traditional to the islands. Back A Yard celebrates West Indian culture through its flavorful food, festive tropical drinks and lively atmosphere.

What to Expect: The fiery jerk chicken, oxtails and curry goat have won over many devotees, as has the restaurant’s signature Jamaican rum punch. Daily specials often include dishes like ackee and saltfish, brown stew chicken and island-style waffles. Reggae tunes round out the cheerful vibe.

Visitor Information: On Santa Clara St, near the SAP Center. Street parking available. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations accepted. Full bar service. Takeout and delivery through major apps. Credit cards accepted.

The yard-style jerk chicken plate sums up everything that makes family-owned Back A Yard Caribbean Grill an addictive fixture in downtown San Jose. Meats marinate 48 hours in a secret house blend of scotch bonnet peppers and pimento berry before hitting the grill along with sides like rice and peas, braised collards and fried bammy yucca cakes that round out soulful island flavor. But their menu travels well beyond chicken to curries, stews and tropical cocktails humming with Jamaican and Puerto Rican spirit. In an outdated mall space turned island oasis filled with patio murals, Back A Yard’s sunshine vibe and hearty dishes deliver a affordable taste of the islands worth savoring.

Rosen Bakery & Cafe

Name and Location: Rosen Bakery & Cafe

History and Significance: Rosen Bakery & Cafe uses old-world techniques to produce handcrafted artisan breads and pastries with no artificial ingredients. Founded by master baker Jim Rosen in 2004, the downtown bakery café has become a local favorite for freshly baked goods, custom cakes, sandwiches, salads, and breakfast items.

What to Expect: Sink your teeth into Rosen’s perfectly crunchy baguettes, buttery croissants, or seasonal fruit galettes. Pair baked goods with Stumptown coffee, hearty sandwiches on housemade bread, or build-your-own breakfast plates. Gluten-free and vegan options always available.

Visitor Information: Street parking available. Order specialty cakes 48 hours in advance. Indoor and patio seating for quick bites. Open daily from 7 AM. Credit cards accepted.

Israeli-born proprietor Yaron Rosen imports generations of Tel-Avivi brunch expertise across an ever-expanding local chain of cafes specializing in Mediterranean salads, strudels, irresistible pastries and the flakiest burekas outside the Promised Land. Their pistachio rugelach alone provokes dessert stalkers. But Rosen Bakery’s real claim-to-fame comes from flawlessly prepared breakfast classics like impossibly fragrant shakshuka baked eggs, motzi french toast folded over halvah cream cheese and the beloved sabich sandwich packed with eggplant and hard boiled egg on pillowy pita. For California-kissed Israeli soul food any time of day, Rosen Bakery hits the global comfort food sweet spot.

Sapporo-ya

Name and Location: Sapporo-ya

History and Significance: Sapporo-ya has been serving the South Bay authentic Japanese comfort food in a casual neighborhood setting for over 30 years. The menu focuses on varied hot pot dishes and sushi along with classic noodle bowls, rice plates and izakaya-style small plates. Signature housemade sauces and broths define each dish.

What to Expect: Visitors can customize shabu-shabu or sukiyaki hot pots with thinly sliced meats and vegetables cooked tableside. Other favorites include Sapporo ramen, garlic edamame, gyoza dumplings and spider rolls. An extensive sake list completes the experience.

Visitor Information: On Saratoga Ave in West San Jose. Street parking available. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended for large groups. Delivery available through major apps. Cash preferred but cards accepted.

Arriving through unmarked doors into Sapporo-ya along San Jose’s unglamorous northside strip malls means you’ve found one of the Bay Area’s best kept secrets for ramen excellence. Their broth simmers over two days creating profound depth evident from the first sip. Then thick wavy housemade noodles, tender pork chashu, marinated eggs, woodear mushrooms and bamboo shoots transform into soul-warming magic bowls finished tableside with minced garlic or spicy bean paste. Still not convinced? Check the flavorsome tsukemen with rich dipping sauce, the delicate ankake salmon egg noodles or their silky warm white melon soda. At Sapporo-ya, the Japanese nuances shine.

Orchard City Kitchen

Name and Location: Orchard City Kitchen

History and Significance: Orchard City Kitchen has been sustainability-focused since opening its doors in 2011 under Chef Jeffrey Stout. Located in the eco-conscious LEED-certified San Pedro Square Market building, the restaurant strives to serve conscientiously sourced New American comfort food to guests.

What to Expect: Seasonally inspired dishes that often utilize produce from the chef’s orchard garden. Don’t miss fried chicken + waffles, brick oven pizzas, burgers, mac + cheese, citrus salad and the extensive craft beer list. Weekend brunch served.

Visitor Information: Downtown on San Pedro Square. Validated garage parking. Order takeout/delivery online. Heated patio seating available. Open daily for lunch/dinner plus weekend brunch. Kids menu offered. Credit cards accepted.

Chef Jeffrey Stout’s farm-to-table showcase Orchard City Kitchen earns consistent raves as one of San Jose’s top seasonal California cuisine destinations located downtown. His weekly changing Marketplace Menu expertly pairs peak produce from nearby Santa Clara Valley farms with responsibly sourced proteins into creative refined dishes like duck confit alongside roasted Saturn peaches or delicate hamachi crudo with watermelon radish vinaigrette that let dynamic flavors shine. Their bar mixing inventive craft cocktails from an extensive list of small batch spirits complements the innovation. For locally-minded yet worldly culinary excitement emphasizing sustainable ingredients at their flavorful best, Orchard City Kitchen delivers.

District

Name and Location: District

History and Significance: Opened in 2021, District brings high-quality, seasonal New American cuisine to downtown San Jose in a sleek and stylish setting. Executive Chef Jon Puck embraces local bounty and relationships with regional farmers and vendors to shape the weekly menu. With approachable fine dining, District has quickly become a destination.

What to Expect: Dishes change constantly but may include composed salads, composed crudos, grilled meats with chimichurri, pastas and handmade fresh ricotta gnocchi. Carefully selected beer, wine, sake and cocktail list. Chic atmosphere.

Visitor Information: On South 1st Street near San Pedro Square. Reservations recommended. Valet and paid garage parking options. Parties accommodated. Closed Sundays. Credit cards accepted.

District bills itself as the ultimate modern beer hall and backs it up with 82 taps pouring the best of NorCal’s craft brew scene across two huge brick & cedar bars buzzing nightly. Their scratch kitchen impresses too with exceptional bar food like Korean fried cauliflower bites, butter chicken ramen and banana leaf-steamed halibut sustainability caught off Santa Cruz over garlic noodles. Hanging out grazing on District’s menu of ultra-fresh tacos, burgers and petite sweets made for pairing makes you feel plugged into San Jose’s young creative urban pulse invigorating Silicon Valley. Just check the crowds mingling energetically indoors and spilling out onto downtown San Pedro Square.

Back Bar SoFa

Name and Location: Back Bar SoFa

History and Significance: Opened in 2015, Back Bar SoFa provides craft cocktails and California comfort food in a chic-industrial setting downtown. Head Bartender Nicolas Torres created the program which offers both classic and original libations with housemade ingredients, capturing the area’s creative spirit. A rotating food menu focuses on shareable plates.

What to Expect: Creative, balanced cocktails that let quality liquors and intriguing flavor combinations shine. Food menu changes but may include items like pretzel bites, flatbreads, sliders, wings, tater tots and salads meant for sharing. Upbeat, laidback vibe.

Visitor Information: On South 1st Street in the SoFA arts district. Street parking available. Open for dinner and late night daily. Credit cards accepted. Age 21+. Reservations available for groups.

Tucked discreetly away from San Jose’s South First Arts District hubbub, Back Bar SoFa provided needed sophisticated escape for the downtown creative class since 2015 through Prohibition-era craft cocktails, organic small plates and chill tunes channeling Brooklyn hipster enclaves. Low lighting reflecting off the hammered copper bar glows across cozy leather banquettes while curated wines and Battle of the Bartender champs share space on their serious drinks list with witty invention like the Grilled Cheese Melt with bacon bourbon and cinnamon toffee. Graze on mushroom & taleggio flatbread, grilled avocado or tuna tartare handrolls from their menu favoring NorCal providers to feel plugged into SJ’s cultural edge.

Pizza Flora

Name and Location: Pizza Flora

History and Significance: Opened in downtown San Jose in 2016, Pizza Flora brings organic, sustainable, locally-sourced California-style pizza to the area in a comfortable, family-friendly setting. Founder Jay Ruskey invented the flavorful Hawaiian Gold pineapple they top pies with from his farm. Dough is made fresh daily.

What to Expect: Housemade organic salads, 10+ specialty pizzas like The Greek, El Jardinero and Hawaiian Gold on thin, crispy organic wheat or gluten-free crusts. Local beer, wine and house limonana lemonades. Eco-conscious atmosphere with indoor and patio seating.

Visitor Information: On South 2nd Street. Street parking available. Counter service style. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Takeout and delivery available. Credit cards accepted. Vegan cheese option.

Since opening among the Victorian homes of San Jose’s historic Naglee Park neighborhood, Pizza Flora consistently earns accolades like “Silicon Valley’s Best Pizza” through obsessive attention towards premium organic ingredients like Russian River Valley tomatoes or pastured meats sparingly applied atop their exceptional sourdough crust. Inventive seasonal pies like Foraged Mushroom with nettle pesto or the Winter Squash pizza loaded with Delicata rings and lemon riccotta charm local diners and national press alike. With substantial salads, craft beer and natural wine to complement, Pizza Flora delivers uncompromising quality one perfect blistered pie at a time, making dining truly feel like an artisan experience.

San Jose’s dining scene impressively curates intense flavors from across cultures and eras with focus on quality execution that parallels the high achievement bar its Silicon Valley location demands. From James Beard honorees to cash-only mom & pop shops…Michelin star tasting temples to buzzy outdoor food truck gatherings…San Jose restaurants showcase incredible range uplifting everything surrounding communities create. Visitors here find much more than technological innovation – rather a trailblazing cultural mosaic of international traditions and diverse perspectives worth celebrating, one tasty meal at a time.

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