DOWNTOWN FOOD AND DRINK OPTIONS EXPANDED IN 2017
Guest Blogpost contributed by Nate LeBlanc, Business Development Manager, San Jose Downtown Association
2017 was a year of strong growth for cafés and restaurants in Downtown San Jose, marked by the opening of some great new places. I’m going to highlight some standout recent arrivals, and take a quick look forward to what is in store for an exciting 2018!
There has never been a better time to get a cup of coffee in Downtown San Jose, particularly if your tastes run toward more unusual takes on the classics.
Chromatic Café, 17 N 2nd St. Chromatic Café brought their award-winning coffee and convenient wall of products and accessories to Downtown San Jose early in the year. Building on the success of their existing outpost in Santa Clara, Chromatic roasts their beans in innovative ways to create delicious espresso drinks, drip coffee and seasonal specialties. Make sure to try the extremely bright Unicorn Pony varietal when it’s in season.
Academic Coffee, 499 S 2nd St. Academic Coffee is the brainchild of former marketing executive Frank Nguyen. His charming café located on a previously under-utilized corner of the SofA District is full of light, whimsical art, and coffee connoisseurs of all ages. Many Downtowners first learned of Academic from their pop-up shop at Five Points Bar on Santa Clara St. in the months leading up to their opening. Try a Cascara cold brew, made in part with a tea brewed from the husk of the coffee cherry for a unique and refreshing new spin on iced coffee.
Forager, 420 S 1st St. Devout Coffee at Forager is unique not only for its vertically integrated roasting operation but also for its seating capacity. Situated inside the innovative restaurant/bar/event space/soon-to-be-restaurant-incubator Forager, it’s a great place to grab a coffee and read the paper, work on your laptop, listen to music, or sit at the bar and chat with the bartender/baristas.
The Proper Cup, 1 South Market St. The Proper Cup was the first retail tenant for the high-rise residential tower at the corner of Market and Santa Clara Streets, and offers a choice of cold brew, pour-over and traditional espresso brews. An exciting touch is their custom foam-imprint service which, for a donation of $.75 to a local charity, will top your foam drink with the image of your favorite Sharks player, college mascot or even a custom portrait.
For the past few years, we have seen proliferation of smaller eateries, notably in the communal food hall spaces that have popped up around town. However, this year we got three new dining options that are full-fledged, stand-alone establishments, each with its own charms.
District, 65 N San Pedro St. The new kid on the block for Downtown’s restaurant row is District. After converting an office building on San Pedro St. back to its roots as a hospitality space, District is upscale but not fussy, with an ambitious wine program and small plates meant for sharing. They also have a great private dining room that’s perfect for parties. The front patio is perfect for people-watching — even on a winter evening, the fire pits and overhead heaters keep the temperature perfect.
Enoteca La Storia, 320 W St. John St. Enoteca la Storia opened its Downtown location, bringing an important anchor to the Little Italy neighborhood. The restaurant features an extensive wine selection, thoughtful menu of pizza and Italian classics, and a design utilizing elements of their historic building. They made a really smart choice in designing their space with sports themed rooms available as party rentals and overflow seating areas for event days at the nearby SAP Center.
Élyse, 151 S 2nd St. Élyse Restaurant held a very soft opening over the summer, testing the waters with a series of weekend dinners. It is now open six days a week serving delicious French-inspired Vietnamese food. Their Vietnamese “bento box” is a big hit with the office crowd, a complete meal at a reasonable price that is perfect for business lunches or when you want to indulge a bit. Give them a try if you haven’t stopped in yet.
I believe the dining and entertainment direction for 2018 will be set by the trio of re-furbished historic buildings at the corner of First St. and Santa Clara St. Big changes will be coming to 1 West Santa Clara (former Lincoln Law building), 5 S. 1st St. (commonly referred to as the Walgreens building), and the iconic Bank of Italy building, which just changed hands, at 8 S. 1st St. The new owners are looking for innovative concepts to update the ground floor frontages of these classic buildings.