San Jose is a big city encircled by Silicon Valley, a technology center in California’s Bay Area. Structural landmarks fill the downtown historic district, from the Italianate-style Oddfellows Building to Spanish Colonial Revival edifices. San Jose is also home to the Winchester Mystery House, a mansion the widow of gunmaker William Winchester constructed over many years.
The restaurant scene is diverse and has many delicious options since the number of people living and working in San Jose is incredibly high. Indeed, more than one million people live in the city. Deciding where to eat in San Jose can be difficult, but with this list of the seventeen best restaurants in the city, you’ll be sure to find an ideal option for you.
Best Restaurants in San Jose
- La Foret
- Falafel Drive-In
- Le Papillon
- Freshly Baked Eatery
- Henry’s World Famous Hi-Life
- Black Sheep Brasserie
- Aqui Cal-Mex
- Bill’s Cafe
- MIZU Sushi Bar & Grill
- Vito’s Trattoria
- Veggie Grill
- Paesano Ristorante Italiano
- Back A Yard Caribbean Grill
- Smoking Pig BBQ Company
- The Table
21747 Bertram Rd, San Jose, CA 95120
La Foret is a French restaurant housed in a storied building, once a boarding house during the California Gold Rush. The restaurant is open for dinner between Wednesday and Sunday from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. A special brunch is offered on Sundays. Weddings and other events are often held at La Foret.
The escargot and the ahi tuna are great appetizer selections. For an entree, I ordered the poached salmon in Chambord and served with a Port Wine reduction. I would also recommend trying one of the tasting menus with the wine pairing for a unique culinary experience.
2301 Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128
In 1966, Anton and Zahie Nijmeh opened the diner to serve family, friends, and the community’s delicious home-cooked meals. The restaurant is open daily, beginning at 10:00 am. The menu offers vegetarian options. The drive-in is located just off Interstate 880—look for the classic signage with a lighted arrow!
Be sure to try the falafel, served as a pita sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, tahini sauce, and the drive-in’s famous hot sauce. The hummus and the tabbouleh are great additions. Do not skip on the baklava! Classic favorites like the cheeseburger, corn dog, and onion rings are customer favorites.
410 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129
Le Papillon opened in the spring of 1977. Owner Mike Mashayekh aimed to establish one of the most excellent restaurants in the Bay Area. Chef Scoot Cooper created a tasting and a prix fixe menu highlighting seasonal and sustainable produce and ingredients. The restaurant is open by reservation for dinner between Wednesday and Sunday and requires business casual dress.
I enjoyed the Chilled Beet and Puff Pastry Tart with Goat Cheese Sabayon and Pistachio Oil and the Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Cognac Reduction, Maitake Mushroom, Roasted Plum, and Potato Gratin. I recommend the tasting menu to experience all Le Papillon offers!
1320 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129
Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant specializes in traditional Ethiopian food, primarily serving Injera and Wot. The restaurant is cozy and welcoming, and the food is comfort food at its finest. Zeni is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. The restaurant is located near the Paynes community in San Jose.
I enjoyed the Qeiy Wot, a spicy beef stew with Ethiopian chili powder. Other popular menu items include Ye Doro Wot—chicken drumsticks and Yemisir Wot—pureed split red lentils. The restaurant serves dishes with beef, poultry, lamb, and lentils. Add a glass of California red wine to complete your meal!
Freshly Baked Eatery
152 N 3rd St # 101, San Jose, CA 95112
Freshly Baked Eatery is located between downtown San Jose and the Hensley neighborhood. The restaurant is open between Monday and Friday from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm. The vibe of the eatery is casual, and the employees are amicable. Be sure to stop by the ATM on the way since the restaurant is cash only.
The Classic with roast beef, turkey, ham, and swiss cheese on sourdough bread is delicious, and the portions are significant for a less-than-ten-dollar sandwich! The Prosciutto & Provolone Cheese is a popular order, and folks rave about the Pastrami. Freshly Baked Eatery is an excellent spot for a quick lunch!
Henry’s World Famous Hi-Life
301 W St John St, San Jose, CA 95110
Henry’s World Famous Hi-Life first opened more than 50 years ago. Henry’s is about two blocks from the SAP Center at San Jose and thrives as a sports bar. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday. Henry’s was featured on the popular television show Man vs. Food.
If you are in the restaurant for lunch, try the Steak Sandwich with a side of Chili Beans. The Full Rack of Baby Back Ribs with a baked potato, chive butter, garlic bread, and a salad is nearly unbeatable for dinner. Other yummy items include the BBQ Salmon and the Tri-Tip Caesar Salad.
Black Sheep Brasserie
1202 Lincoln Ave STE 30, San Jose, CA 95125
Black Sheep Brasserie is a French restaurant with a California flair. The brasserie offers al fresco dinner reservations and à la carte takeaway food, and various cocktails and wine. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday for dinner.
The classic steak tartare hor d’oeuvres is an excellent start to your meal, as is the French onion soup. For an entree, try the Spice-Rubbed King Salmon or the Mesquite Grilled Filet Mignon. The Lincoln Ave is a fantastic bourbon-based cocktail, and don’t skip the bread pudding with huckleberry jam for dessert.
503 W Capitol Expy, San Jose, CA 95136
Open in the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose, Aqui Cal-Mex brings a modern flair to traditional Mexican cuisine. With open patio seating, plenty of vegetarian options, and an incredible selection of margaritas, the restaurant is perfect for a fun dinner with friends or a special date night. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily.
Try the Cuban Roast Pork Carnitas with slow-roasted pork, plantain salsa, kale-pumpkin seed tamal, coconut rice, and firecracker chile sauce. I also enjoyed the Thai Peanut Organic Tofu, the Lemongrass Wild Mahi Mahi, and the Adobo Chicken Quesadilla. Try the Sangria Swirl—
a frozen margarita swirled with sangria.
Bill’s Cafe has been operating in the Willow Glen community since 1977. The restaurant is open daily for breakfast and lunch. Notably, the restaurant offers cocktails like Bloody Mary’s and their signature take on the classic Bloody Maria. The bar also includes Bill’s famous mimosa!
Try the Morning Quesadilla, a flour tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, peppers, onions, and black beans for breakfast. The chocolate chip pancakes are also delicious! The Frisco Burger on Grilled Sourdough with Jack Cheese and Thousand Island Dressing is a perfect bite for lunch. I would also recommend The Club, a triple-decker monster of a sandwich!
MIZU Sushi Bar & Grill
1035 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128
MIZU Sushi Bar & Grill serves Asian fusion with a knack for producing creative dishes. The Japanese and Korean fusion restaurant incorporates the freshest local ingredients. Mizu translates to water and inspired the restaurant’s name. It is open daily for lunch and dinner.
The cajun tuna sashimi is a great cold appetizer, while the pan-fried pork dumplings served with gyoza sauce are amazing and served warm. I also enjoyed the Titanic Fire roll with shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, cucumber, albacore tuna, avocado, and spicy aioli. Additionally, the bulgogi is a best seller!
90 Skyport Dr Ste 170, San Jose, CA 95110
Vito’s Trattoria received a 2020 OpenTable Diner’s Choice Award! The restaurant, which opened in 2003, serves traditional Italian cuisine in the North Frist Business District. The restaurant is open between Monday and Saturday. In addition to the full menu, guests can grab a slice of pizza on the go!
My favorite dish at Vito’s is the Pasta Alla Bolognese—you can taste the time it took to prepare, and it is delicious. I also recommend the Vitello Milanese; it is a lightly fried veal portion with a lemon sauce and served alongside a spinach ravioli. End your meal with the perfect bite of tiramisu.
Open for lunch and dinner daily, Veggie Grill in San Jose serves vegan burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Veggie Grill is a good option for an outdoor lunch with heated outdoor patio seating on a temperate day. For a casual and fresh, health-conscious meal, visit Veggie Grill.
I enjoyed the Masala Chickpea Curry Bowl with roasted butternut squash, turmeric cauliflower, and braised cabbage served over masala-spiced chickpea curry, and the best part is that it is gluten-free! Other popular menu items include the House Veggie Burger, the Crispy Buffalo Chickn’ Sandwich, and the Chocolate Parfait.
Paesano Ristorante Italiano
350 W Julian St, San Jose, CA 95110
Paesano Ristorante Italiano serves authentic Italian and Sicilian cuisine. The restaurant is open daily for dinner and is open for lunch on weekdays. Paesano Ristorante Italiano is operating in the Little Italy district of San Jose near the business district.
Start your meal with the Bruschetta, then sample the Gnocchi Alla Genovese with pesto and cream. I would recommend trying the Pollo al Limone, a chicken breast with mushrooms and artichokes in a garlic and lemon sauce. The restaurant also offers a full bar and a vast wine selection.
1614 Alum Rock Ave, San Jose, CA 95116
ADEGA is a Michelin-starred restaurant that first opened in San Jose in 2015. Notably, ADEGA is the only Portuguese restaurant in the United States to have earned a Michelin star! The restaurant offers more than 500 Portuguese wines! Reservations are required and can be placed online. The restaurant is open for dinner between Wednesday and Sunday.
Experiencing the chef’s tasting menu is an incredible adventure. It included Castanha, a chestnut soup with black truffle, and Bochecha, a braised beef cheek. My favorite bite was the Pato, a seared duck breast. For the full experience, add the wine pairing option to your meal!
Back A Yard Caribbean Grill
Back A Yard Caribbean Grill serves Caribbean and American foods. The restaurant also sells specialty sauces and marinades to take home. The term “Back A Yard” is common in the Caribbean and represents the lifestyle and culture of a welcoming spirit. With multiple locations in San Jose, you can find Caribbean cuisine any day of the week!
Try one of the plates with jerk chicken and fried plantains. The BBQ pork chicken plate is savory, smokey, and sweet. Try the jerk salmon filet sandwich. Each restaurant offers daily specials, so check the menu before you visit. The menu offers gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options!
Smoking Pig BBQ Company
1144 N 4th St, San Jose, CA 95112
Open since 2011, Smoking Pig BBQ Company is led by Paul Reddick—a former tech industry professional turned pitmaster. His wife Jessica runs the front of the house, making the venture a family affair. The casual dining restaurant is open every day for lunch and dinner.
I love barbecue and the options at Smoking Pig definitely stacked up! Try the Angus Brisket Sammy with sixteen hours smoked brisket. I also enjoyed the pulled pork and Louisiana-style catfish—the combo platter allows you to try both alongside mac and cheese and collard greens. Grab a 21st Amendment Blood Orange Brew Free or Die IPA brewed in San Francisco and settle in for a great meal!
1110 Willow St, San Jose, CA 95125
The Table serves the Willow Glen neighborhood in San Jose. The restaurant was opened in July 2012 by Jim & Angelique Stump. The Table serves seasonal ingredients, creative cocktails, and locally sourced wines. The eatery is open Wednesday through Monday.
Start your meal with the Heirloom Tomato and Melon salad served with goat cheese and shishito peppers. The roasted bone marrow is a house specialty and delicious with the toasted baguette served alongside. The pan-roasted duck breast with port-soaked cherries stole the show! Complete your meal with a glass of the Brassfield Red Blend.
San Jose offers a diverse dining scene. From traditional Portuguese cuisine to a sushi eatery serving a combination of Japanese and Korean staples, the neighborhoods in San Jose host fabulous eateries. With the millions of people living and working in the area, it’s no wonder that vast amounts of high-quality restaurants have built a home base in this hip Bay Area city.
If this list is a bit too broad, here are a few of the ultimate steakhouses in the city!
Did we leave a restaurant out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment, and we’ll check it out!