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[whitespace] Cheap Eats

By Todd Inoue

Downtown Farmers' Market
San Pedro Square, from Santa Clara and St. John streets, San Jose
Every Fri 10am-2pm through Dec. 20

IF YOU'RE STILL getting produce from Safeway and Albertson's, check your head. At the downtown San Jose Farmers' market, the summer fruits are peaking, the tomatoes are fresh and supple and it's impossible to get bad produce. But it ain't just leafy greens--the downtown outpost also presents a dizzying array of lunchtime opportunities: samosas, pastries, foccacia, crepes, piroshkis and kettle corn.

Not to be outdone, two of the tonier restaurants on the block have set up daily specials with all of the pizzazz for little of the dough. On a recent pass, the ritzy Italian restaurant Spiedo offered three options: a thin-crusted Margherita pizza (basil, tomato, mozzarella) slice ($3), a tomato, spinach and wild mushroom tortellini in a tomato cream sauce ($6) and a stunning salad of spinach, endive, radicchio, gorgonzola and apple with a champagne vinaigrette ($4). All were delicious and vegetarian-friendly.

The carnivores queue up at Blake's Steakhouse for an array of grilled sandwiches. I've been wolfing down their excellent, juicy pork carnitas for a couple weeks now, but the last time I went, it was replaced with an Italian sausage sandwich. The sausage was cut and mashed on a grilled sourdough roll. I prefer the carnitas, but the sausage was great. The same sour roll was used to house a tenderly grilled chicken breast, ($5) brushed with barbecue sauce, and a tri-tip ($6), foil wrapped and ready to go straight from the chafing dish. My companion said the tri-tip was "too tough." My suggestion is to ask for the meat fresh from the carving knife.

For an extra buck, pick out a soda and potato chips. In a perfect world, Blake's would ditch the potato chips and offer a baked bean, potato salad and/or grilled-corn sides. Let's start a petition.

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From the August 29-September 4, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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