I’ve lived in downtown San Jose for about two years and haven’t really explored the yummy holes in the wall. Wallet-friendly non-chain establishments discovered this weekend:
Sa-By Thai (346 E. William St.) – Open late was really the only requisite; there are actually a lot of Thai restaurants closer in downtown. I was craving Thai lately and put in the word to Tom around 10 p.m. Yummy looking menu and even though it ain’t no Sabieng, it’s a great college student option. Red curry with beef and pad thai totaled around $15.00.
Broken Door Espresso (25 S. Third St., in between Zanotto’s and the Globe) – San Jose’s only location brewing Blue Bottle coffee. Sure, it’s gimmicky coffee, but it’s also good! I also like the idea of a transient cafe. I want to set one up in our loft. This trendy-ass coffee seems more expensive than the Starbucks around the corner, but it’s so much more charming. About $3.00 per drink.
Hoagie Steakout (304 S. Third St.) – Always passed by this place and never checked it out, even when I was going through my Philly cheesesteak phase. Turns out, it’s pretty damn good. $6.00 for a half-a-foot sandwich, but it was appropriately grease-laden (especially since I asked for both American AND provolone) and hit the spot. However, on the walk down there, I discovered that there are three Philly cheesesteak restaurants within a block of each other. When did this happen?
Dakao (98 E. San Salvador St.) – This place got some pretty good reviews on Yelp, and some pretty horrendous ones. I had an awesome time here. I’ve been lightly craving banh mi for a while now, and we hit up this definitive hole-in-the-wall just down the street from Hoagie Steakout. It looks totally divey from the outside, but once I walked in, I immediately caught sight of glowing, luscious cans of Frentel (the real kind, not the weird Frandel knock off I bought from Ranch 99 a few weeks ago) in the display case. That’s how I knew the place was fucking legit! Not to much the $2.25 banh mi, delicious deli prepared rice noodle salads, and everything from pho to bun thit nuong to bun bo hue (although they called it Hue special noodle on the menu). Tom and I were only really there for the banh mi, so I’ll have to go back to try some other dishes some time. The Frentel was the most expensive item we bought!
Cheap eats fail = Fleur de Cocoa in downtown Los Gatos, but I should’ve known because it’s in Los Gatos. I’ve been wanting to have breakfast in Douce France in Palo Alto because they have excellent chocolate croissants, but it was a bit far so I looked for some quality pain au chocolat closer to home. Los Gatos was on our way to Santa Cruz. While tasty (you can’t really fuck up buttery pastries and chocolate, though), the croissant was decidedly smaller than many (wait, make that ALL) I’ve had in my lifetime (and if you knew me in high school, you may remember that I embarked on a fairly extensive–for high school standards–survey of chocolate croissants in the area) and cost $3.00. Laughable.