The all-time best places to eat before graduation
With this list, find a spot for even the pickiest eater
Published: Thursday, March 1, 2007
Updated: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 15:01
Cozy Family Restaurant (2089 The Alameda, San Jose): Most everything is made from scratch, including the refried beans in the huevos rancheros. Authentic California Pepper Plant sauce at each table and omelettes that could feed two or three.
Meatball sandwiches at Paradiso Delicatessen (791 Auzerais Ave., San Jose; keep looking and you'll find it): The most authentic mom-and-pop joint in the city. Head past the first counter to the back where hardball-sized meatballs and homemade raviolis (for the vegetarians) are being served up. Enjoy a cannoli for dessert.
* Fish and Chips
Race Street Seafood Kitchen (247 Race St., San Jose): My British friends tell me it's the best fish and chips they've had outside of the Isles. Amen! Plenty of options from chowder to fish on the grill with a side of rice and vegetables.
Vesuvio Restaurant (3044 El Camino Real, Santa Clara): A Santa Clara institution for over 50 years with the best pizza in the South Bay (and best ranch dressing, according to Kristin Love). And if you hail from St. Louis, check out the only good deep fried ravioli on this side of the Rockies.
La Victoria Taqueria (visit the original at 140 E. San Carlos St., San Jose): Ever wonder why San Jose State University students frequent The Hut but not Mondo Burrito? This place is why. The tastiest burrito in San Jose -- mysterious orange sauce to die for!
St. John's Bar and Grill (510 Lawrence Expressway, Sunnyvale): Half-priced burgers on Saturdays can't be beat! For those who care little about their arteries, try the blue cheese and bacon fries. My favorite: the roasted red pepper and pepper jack burger.
* Tasty Sandwich No. 1 Zanotto's Family Market (1970 Naglee Avenue, San Jose) has a hidden gem on the side of the store called Di Tavola. Freshly-made Panini sandwiches grilled up to perfection with a wide array of tasty beverages and desserts. While you wait for your sandwich, check out the rest of the market and the best butcher block in town.
* Tasty Sandwich No. 2
Freshly Baked Eatery (152 North Third St., San Jose) was a true find, thanks to the men's tennis coach George Husack. The name refers to the amazing bread that is baked right on the spot. Nothing fancy, just simple sandwiches with a German influence on the best bread in town.
City Lights Espresso (across from the post office at Franklin Mall, 1171 Homestead Road, Santa Clara): No need to eat or drink anything else. The shake will put a hurt on your wallet but will leave you feeling very satisfied. And yes, order it with the whipped cream.
Amato's Restaurant (1162 Saratoga Ave. in the Maple Leaf Plaza, San Jose): A retired Philadelphia firefighter came West, and we've all benefited ever since. For the real Philly experience, have your cheesesteak with 'Wiz. Enjoy some pickled peppers while you wait.
Sam's Kebab & Gyros (in the food court of the Great Mall at 172 Great Mall Drive, Milpitas): Confirmed that all meats are Halal. Best gyro in town with tender lamb or chicken. Try the baklava for a tasty treat.
New Krung Thai Restaurant (580 N. Winchester Blvd., San Jose, not to be confused with the original Krung Thai on the same street): Best Thai iced tea and chicken panang curry in town. Try a side of sticky rice with your curry and leave room for mango dessert.
Poor House Bistro (91 S. Autumn St., San Jose): Socially-conscious owner Jay Meduri is living the dream. He converted his family home to bring the taste and sound of New Orleans to the Bay Area. Enjoy authentic food imported straight from the bayou and live blues music on the weekends. Po'boys, jambalaya and beignets make this place a treat.
* Steak Dinner
Birk's (3955 Freedom Circle, Santa Clara): Don't make the mistake of covering up your steak with some type of sauce, no matter how good it sounds. A great piece of meat needs no sauce. This place does it right, and you'll pay for it.
Il Fornaio (302 S. Market St. in the historic Sainte Claire Hotel, San Jose): Italian food that's actually worth what you pay for it, unlike other local posers. Try a limoncello in the warm months.
* Ideal Lunch Date
Nepenthe (U.S. Highway 1, Big Sur): Perched on a cliff with the Santa Lucia mountains in the background and the Pacific Ocean in front of you, Nepenthe has the most breathtaking views of Big Sur. Give yourself plenty of time to get there and back. What could make it better? The Ambrosia burger and sweet potato pecan fritters.
* Ideal Dinner Date
Gabriella CafÃ© (910 Cedar St., Santa Cruz): The menu is handwritten every night with an emphasis on local and sustainable foods purchased directly from farmers. Seating for 30 means get a reservation. A date to remember.
Icing On The Cake (50 W. Main St., Los Gatos): A self-described "all butter bakery," Icing never fails to delight its customers with tasty baked goods that have no rival. Baking starts at 4 a.m. and the shop keeps strange hours after that -- so stake out your sweet.
* The Full Grocery Store Experience
Mi Pueblo Food Center (in the shopping center at the corner of Story and King Road, 1745 Story Road, San Jose): Try a small cup of homemade jugos de frutas or horchata sold out of the backs of cars in the parking lot. Find your way to the back, and ask to sample some carnitas on a fresh tortilla. After you've purchased small bags of both, head over to the counter across from the butchers, where they sell containers of the best salsa in town.