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Restaurant Reviews

Amato's Restaurant
Sandwich shop. $. The sandwiches make for greasy, sloppy, ferociously delicious eating. There are 34 varieties, categorized in three groups: hot, cold, specialty. 1162 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA. 408.246.4007.

Apatzingan Mercado Y Taqueria
Mexican. $. This authentic Mexican market and taqueria serves wholesome renditions of basic Mexican favorites. Menudo is fresh on weekends. Goat, roast pork, chile verde are specialties of the hustling little annex to the store. Large quantities of meat and soup can be packaged for takeout. Weekends hop with lively activity. 542 S. Bascom Ave. 408.279.4333.

Bella Mare
Italian. $$. A strip mall setting does little justice to Bella Mare's hearty homestyle Italian dishes. Classics like gnocchi and linguine give a strong showing, and the meat entrees come generously sized. Closed Mon. 241 Woodard Rd. 408.371.4138.

Cao Nguyen
Vietnamese, Chinese-Vietnamese. $. Gargantuan menu features nearly 200 Vietnamese menu options, including smoked duck, sautéed frogs and claypot catfish. Casual. 2549 S. King Rd, #A-16, San Jose, CA. 408.270.9610.

California Vietnamese. $$$. Every dish is a miniature garden at the reinvented Citronelle. A well-formed wine list complements fresh ingredients in innovative dishes such as wok'd cubes of Niman Ranch filet mignon or a seafood melange in red coconut curry. The décor is citrus-chic. Lunch and dinner; closed Sun. 826 S. Winchester Blvd. 408.244.2528.

French bakery. $. With a chic, sleek interior that matches Santana Row's Euro stage set, Cocola is a fine place to while away an afternoon sipping tea and sampling a pear tart with vanilla custard and slivered almonds. For heartier fare, try the gourmet sandwiches. 333 Santana Row #1045. 408.551.0018.

Di Da
Vietnamese vegetarian restaurant. $. Quick, friendly service and a comprehensive menu, with food that's simple, low-key and homey. Not too hot, not too salty, not too spicy. The jackfruit salad is surprisingly fresh, sided with a chile-tamarind sauce. 2597 Senter Rd, San Jose, CA. 408.998.8826.

Di Lac Cuisine
Vegetarian Asian restaurant. $$. A bite of veggie heaven. The spacious Di Lac serves up an appetizing array of foods all of which are made fresh daily, including the soymilk and tofu. Closed Wed. 1644 E. Capitol Expwy, San Jose, CA. 408.238.8686

Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant
Gourmet Chinese. $$. Huge tanks of lobsters, crabs, various fish and shellfish line one wall. The setting is fit for royalty, and there's a menu to match: lobster with special sauce, Peking duck, emerald-colored mustard greens, even suckling pig. Or try the more delicate fare: dim sum every midday. 1001 Story Road, 2nd Floor. 408.286.6668.

Eight Forty North First
Contemporary American restaurant. $$$. Eight Forty North First showcases a veritable theme park of American cuisine: pastas, seafood and a procession of grilled meats. Casual. Full bar. Closed Sun. 840 N. First St, San Jose, CA. 408.282.0840.

Fish Market
Seafood. $$$ This latest terrific-looking member of the dynasty attracts lines of customers to its bars—wine, sushi, oyster—with an extensive menu of fresh seafood. Luscious desserts too. Full bar. 1007 Blossom Hill Rd, San Jose, CA. 408.269.3474.

Flower Flour
French bakery. $. Like Vianne, the wandering shop owner in the movie Chocolat, Flower Flour's Mimi Brown has chosen to grace a small town with her decadent inventions. The flower shop/bakery charms visitors with freshly made to-drool-for pastries, ready-to-go sandwiches and service with a smile. 896 Willow St. 408.279.0843.

Frankie, Johnnie, & Luigi Too!
Family Style Italian restaurant. $$. Traditional Italian-American favorites-spaghetti and pizza—served in ambience with plenty of elbow room and garden qualities. Big portions and wholesome family-style service. 5245 Prospect Road, San Jose, CA. Full Bar. 408.446.9644.

Italian restaurant. $$. Bursting with simple flavors, Fratello transcends the ordinary dining experience by glowing with a rosy hue of authenticity that piques the appetite, boasting the attributes of native Italian dining without affectation. 1712 Meridian Ave, San Jose, CA. 408.269.3801.

Family-style Italian dining. $. Simple Italian cooking—the rugged kind with Southern Italian leanings, full of robust flavors and tangy tomato sauces. Boasts one of the best pies in town. Great food, generous portions and fair prices. Open daily. 1445 Foxworthy Ave, San Jose, CA. 408.264.5781.

Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant
Ethiopia restaurant n. $. Simplicity reigns here; just Ethiopian food—chicken, beef, lamb, vegetarian—and Ethiopian coffee. The flavors taste even better with honey wine. Beer, wine. Closed Sun-Mon. 1261 W. San Carlos St, San Jose, CA. 408.295.9546.

Mexican. $. A community hub that serves up wonderfully fresh, old-fashioned Mexican food with no trendy gimmicks. Both the restaurant and the food are wholesome and filling. Open daily. 1996 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA. 408.270.0973.

Habana Cuba
Cuban. $$. A culinary oasis full of good flavors, Habana Cuba exudes cultural delights. Sensuous foods of the Caribbean and Cuba, long on tomato and peppers, slow-roasted meats and earthy black beans. Closed Sun. Beer & wine. 238 Race St. 408.998.2822.

Hawaiian. $$. Hukilau is a prime example of true Hawaiian: simple, slightly salty, stomach-filling foods with an Asian Pacific attitude. "Local food attitude" means all daily specials come with a scoop of macaroni salad and steamed rice. Skip the quesadilla and nachos and head straight for the ahi poke. Live music on weekends, with tropical drinks to match. 230 Jackson St. 408.279.4888.

Jasmine Alley
Chinese. $$. Finely crafted northern Chinese specialties hit the table without overwhelming spicy intrusions. Eggplant in Hot Garlic Sauce and Beijing Honey Tenderloin define the skilful style of this kitchen. 4632 Meridian Ave. 408.723.2598.

Kien Giang
Vietnamese restaurant. $. Home-style cooking and courteous service distinguish this diner. Especially notable are the steamed live prawns and the renowned salt-fried spareribs. Casual. Beer, wine, brandy. 2060 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA. 408.270.4350.

Krung Thai
Thai restaurant. $. Located across from the movie theaters, this handsome restaurant specializes in full-bodied Thai cuisine, such as pineapple fried rice, hot pompano and garlic eggplant. Bargain lunches draw a devout crowd. Casual. Beer, wine. 640 S. Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA. 408.260.8224.

Japanese restaurant. $$. A beautiful dining room that serves exquisite rice, lucious ribs and decent sushi. Full bar. 593 N. Fifth St, San Jose, CA. 408.279.8440.

Le Papillon
Contemporary French. $$$$. Once inside, mid-town traffic feels a million miles away. And the food presentation matches up to the restaurant's namesake, seen in butterfly portraits around the room. Full bar. 410 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA. 408.296.3730.

Lou's Village
Seafood restaurant. $$$. A variety of Pacifc and Atlantic seafood delights have kept patrons coming back for more than 50 years. Huge parking lot and large banquet rooms. Full bar that's loaded with sports collectibles. 1465 W. San Carlos St, San Jose, CA. 408.293.4570.

Mount Hamilton Grandview
Cowboy Continental. $$$. Perched high above the Santa Clara Valley, the Grandview is an old school roadhouse with an atmosphere that is warm and alive. Add dishes like surf and turf, rack of lamb chasseur and chicken Cordon Blue, and servers who are characters themselves, and you've got yourself a destination. Closed Mon. & Tue. 94 Mt. Hamilton Rd, San Jose, CA. 408.251.8909.

BBQ (informal, despite the "Mr."). $. Mr. BBQ recalls the heady season of backyard grilling with its red-checked tableclothes and matching wallpaper trim. The BBQ, however, is firmly located in the kitchen, dispensing falling-off-the-bone pork ribs, and crisp-skinned chicken. Side dishes and Vietnamese rice dishes also available. Closed Mon. 1711 Branham Lane (in strip mall). 408.266.1855.

New American cuisine. $$$. On the lush grounds of the historic Hayes Mansion, this is one beautiful, luxurious dining room, with menu and excellent service to match. Hayes Conference Center, 200 Edenvale Ave, San Jose, CA. 408.226.3200.

Pizza Antica
Uptown Pizza. $$. As you may have guessed, in the parlance of Santana Row, pizza is far from ordinary. The stony ovens of Pizza Antica turn out thin-crusted designer pies with gourmet toppings in casual environs. Fine pasta and meat dishes also available. Open daily for lunch and dinner. 334 Santana Row, Suite 1065. 408.557.8373.

President Restaurant
Mongolian BBQ. $. This mom-and-pop eatery gears itself toward the common man with the uncommonly large appetite. Thrown into the bargain is a Chinese steam-table buffet. 1190 Hillsdale Ave, San Jose, CA. 408.978.7188.

Red Sea Restaurant
Ethiopian restaurant. $. In a nicely converted Craftsman home, the Red Sea presents the soft vegetable stews, legumes and spicy meats of this north African region. Beer, wine. Closed Sun. 684 N. First St, San Jose, CA. 408.993.1990.

Red Tractor Cafe
Midwestern farmhouse. $. Down-home favorites, from mac 'n' cheese to pork chops and applesauce, with distractions for the kids—and cheap, too. 1320 El Paseo de Saratoga, San Jose, CA. 408.374.2222.

Sharky's Fresh Seafood
$$$. Puts out a limited menu of fresh fish cooked straight and simple. Salmon, ahi, catfish, steamed clams, clam chowder are prepared without fanfare. Flavors reflect freshness and quality. Quarters are tight, but comfortable. Full bar in back. 1151 Lincoln Ave. San Jose (Willow Glen) 408.279.0996.

Siena Mediterranean Bistro
Mediterranean. $$$. Tucked into picturesque Willow Glen, this tiny bistro offers big tastes. Entrees such as Moroccan Cornish game hen, venison medallions and seasonal risotto battle for your appetite with a bread pudding dessert worthy of the hall of fame. Patio dining available. 1359 Lincoln Ave. 408.271.0837.

Sonoma Chicken Coop
Mixed. $. Ordering at the counter is the order of the day at the Chicken Coop, but if you don't mind carrying your own tray and fighting for a table you'll be rewarded with hearty spit-roasted chicken that requires at least six napkins. Pasta, Wine Country duck and hockey-themed desserts round out the menu. 31 N. Market St. at San Pedro Square. 408.287.4098.

Straits Restaurant
Asian Fusion. $$$. By night it's a jam-packed hipster clubhouse; by day it's Singaporean chef Chris Yeo's latest chic fusion venue. Small plates such as roti prata, a griddled flatbread with curry dipping sauce, share the menu with entrees such as the lobster and shrimp pad thai. Outdoor seating is available. 333 Santana Row #1100. 408.246.6320.

Sushi Boat
Sushi bar/Japanese specialties. $. With a dÈcor that is upbeat and sophisticated and sushi that is as dazzling as handmade jewelry, Sushi Boat walks on water! Open daily. 1600 Saratoga Ave., #119, San Jose, CA, Westgate Mall. 408.378.4000.

Three Flames Restaurant
Continental restaurant. $$. One of five remaining restaurants owned by three brothers. The menu is enormous; among the best choices are scampi, lamb and pepper steak. Casual. Full bar. 1547 Meridian Ave, San Jose, CA. 408.269.3133.

Vin Santo
Italian. $$. A beautifully simple and low-lit dining room sets the stage for offerings of earthy aromas, bold sauces and well-seasoned market-fresh meats and produce—from antipasto to Chilean sea bass to rack of lamb. An extensive wine list plays host nearly as well as the informative servers. 1346 Lincoln Ave. 408.920.2508.

White Rock Cafe
American bistro. $$. An impeccable menu and glorious cooking—especially by Michiko Boccara on Friday nights have a cult following. Beer, wine. Closed Sun-Mon. 3116 Alum Rock Ave, San Jose, CA. 408.729.4843.

Yankee Pier
American seafood. $$. Veteran restaurateur Bradley Ogden brings a bit of Cape Cod to Santana Row, with a menu ranging from old-fashioned fish and chips to gourmet oysters and a mouth-watering Maine lobster roll. Sunday brunch is also available. 378 Santana Row #1100. 408.244.1244.

Persian restaurant. $$. In keeping with this ancient cuisine's traditions, entrees are dressed up with the clean, fresh tastes of lemon and saffron, and desserts wear a distinctive hint of rose water. Beer, wine. 1138 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA. 408.241.5115.


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