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San Jose Travel Guide

Adventure

Travel guides and travel tips told in a first-hand perspective. 

San Jose Travel Guide

Stephanie Nielsen

When in San Jose, there are two major areas that attract foodies and shoppers alike, San Pedro Square and Santana Row. I love hanging out in areas like this because there are a ton of walkable options. 

San Pedro Square is the more laid back of the two areas. During the week you will find a farmers market, locals and live music. On the weekends you will see bar hoppers watching their favorite sports team on TV. 

1. SP2 Communal Bar - A super swanky and naturally lit restaurant that turns into more of nightlife spot in the evenings. SP2 offers versatile dinning due to it's long communal tables, lounge areas and your traditional sit down options. This place is always gorgeously decorated with fresh floral arrangements. The staff is friendly and refreshingly knowledgeable of the menu. The watermelon and beet salad is incredible as well as the small plates of truffle fries, roasted cauliflower and truffle basil popcorn which you can find on their happy hour menu for under $5. 

2. San Pedro Square Market - An indoor market that hosts a wide array of events and is home to a ton of little vendors that are all equally worth a try. I'd say the best way to conquer this area of the square is to do a little bit of appetizer hopping so you get to try a few places. You'll find everything from tacos to burgers to a wine bar. 

3. Old Wagon Saloon - Stop in for some great BBQ plates, a big beer and a step back into the wild west times. The Saloon also has a nice patio that is pleasant in the warmer months. I usually get the wings or ribs here. 

Santana Row is an outdoor mall only a few miles away and is known for being a bit more uppity that San Pedro Square. I mean this in a good way because I've noticed that the more high-end stores and Porches you see, the better chance you have of finding some great dishes. 

1. Left Bank Brasserie- This elegant yet inviting establishment features a seasonally changing French menu. Each and every dish that I've had here is to die for. I encourage you to try something off their menu that you don't often see. I had the quail with glazed kumquats the other day and it totally blew my mind. Pair your meal with one of their many wines or try something new with the Agave Cooler, a fresh tequila and cucumber martini. The chef prides himself on bringing in local and fresh farmers market ingredients including his oysters at just $3 each. 

2. SINO - A modern Chinese restaurant offering loungey vibes and some seriously good eating. The menu is inspired by traditional dim-sum or small plates. Ma Po Tofu, Kobe beef tar tar served with taro chips and potstickers are just a few of the killer plates here. With the dark sultry atmosphere and loud house music, you'll feel like your right in the center or trendy Shanghai. 

3. El Jardin Tequila Bar - This cute little place sits in the middle of Santana Row under a few gigantic trees, giving a total outdoor garden vibe. Wind down here for a pre or post dinner cocktail. With live music and traditional taco truck bites under $15, the atmosphere here is up beat and contagious. By far the best margarita I've had (not in Mexico) is here. The Chile Mango Margarita has fresh mango in it and has a salty chili seasoning on the rim. Yum! 

You should also do some shopping around Santana Row while you're here. There are mainstream stores such as H&M as well as smaller more interesting boutiques such as Makers Market which showcases handmade artisan goods. I also recommend you stop into Pressed Juicery, a California juice chain that is now offering vegan soft serve made with their pressed juices. My favorite is the Lavender Charcoal Lemonade.  

Have you been to San Jose? What are you favorite places in town? 

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