The Best Restaurants in Central San Jose, California

San Jose, Silicon Valley, California
San Jose, Silicon Valley, California | © Sundry Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Helen Silverstein

San Jose, California has an amazing variety of all kinds of places to eat, but head to central San Jose and visitors will find an especially rich selection of all kinds of cafes, bars and restaurants. Read on for the best eateries this vibrant area has to offer including Vietnamese, Korean, Caribbean and Japanese.

1. Smoking Pig BBQ

Restaurant, BBQ

Sandwich at Smoking Pig BBQ | Courtesy of Smoking Pig BBQ
Courtesy of Smoking Pig BBQ
At the Smoking Pig BBQ Company you can get a taste of Southern style barbecue in Northern California. The restaurant is known for their delicious, slow smoked ribs and slow smoked angus beef brisket. Smoking Pig BBQ serves many other Southern classics like pulled pork, catfish, jumbo chicken wings, and hotlinks. The BBQ joint also has unique items on its menu like bacon-wrapped ‘chicken lollipops’ and ‘wolf turds,’ smoked jalapeños stuffed with cheese and sausage. In addition, the restaurant serves tasty desserts such as banana pudding and peanut butter pie.

2. SJ Omogari Korean Restaurant

Restaurant, Korean, Vegetarian, Vegan

SJ Omogari Korean Restaurant, in central San Jose, is a popular spot for getting authentic Korean food in the city. The Korean restaurant’s most popular items are its seafood pancakes made with mussels and shrimp, its Korean-style ramen noodle soup, and its sizzling stone bee-beem-bap pot with crispy rice on the bottom. Sj Omogari Korean Restaurant is a popular spot for vegetarians and vegans, as it has a large selection of tofu dishes including soft tofu soups, and tofu can be substituted for many of the meat items in the restaurant’s regular dishes.

3. Back a Yard

Market, Restaurant, Jamaican, American, Caribbean

Back a Yard is a Caribbean and American grill featuring unique Jamaican cuisine. Back a Yard grill is most famously known for their jerk meals, which come in the options of chicken, salmon, pork, steak, and tofu, slathered in jerk sauce and served with rice, beans, and sweet fried plantains. In addition to Jamaican jerk meals, Back a Yard serves barbecue meals like barbecue chicken, spare ribs, and hot links, brushed with their honey barbecue sauce. They also serve a variety of fried seafood and have a daily rotating selection of specialty dishes.

4. Gombei

Restaurant, Japanese

Gombei Japanese Restaurant is a casual restaurant in San Jose’s Japantown. This place is so popular that it’s not unusual for lines to stretch outside the door, but the authentic food inside is worth it. Gombei is known for its teriyaki bowls, udon noodle bowls, curry rice dishes, sashimi, chicken, beef, and deep fried shrimp donburi, and tofu hot pots. In addition, the restaurant almost always has new specials available on the whiteboard that get updated regularly for customers to order.

5. Tofoo Com Chay

Restaurant, Deli, Vietnamese, Asian, Vegetarian

This Vietnamese deli in central San Jose is a popular spot for vegetarians and vegans because every item on the menu is made without meats or animal products. Tofoo Com Chay’s menu makes use of vegetarian substitutes for pork, tuna, chicken and sausages as well as tofu to make vegetarian and vegan versions of classic Vietnamese dishes like bahn mi sandwiches and pho noodle soup. The portions served at Tofoo Com Chay are very large, but for smaller appetites, smaller versions of all items can be ordered.

6. Freshly Baked Eatery

Deli, Sandwich Shop, German, Swiss

Right across the street from San Jose’s St. James Park, Freshly Baked Eatery is a cozy deli that’s perfect for lunch. This is a sandwich shop and serves a large variety of both hot and cold sandwiches. Some of their popular offerings are their ruben sandwich, which is lean corned beef, swiss cheese, and sauerkraut on dark rye bread; their pastrami sandwich on sourdough bread; their german bologna sandwich with swiss cheese; and their old country favorite sandwich.

7. La Victoria Taqueria

Restaurant, Mexican, American

La Victoria Taqueria, or ‘La Vic’s’ as it is affectionately referred to by San Jose locals, is a popular, casual spot for Mexican food. The restaurant is known for its long daily hours, the shop stays open until 3am every night. La Vic’s serves delicious Mexican and American-Mexican cuisine like burritos, tacos, flautas, enchiladas, tortas, tostadas, quesadillas, and nachos. La Victoria Taqueria even offers Mexican bottled sodas to go along with their dishes, as well as their famous ‘orange sauce,’ a delicious, bright orange sauce that goes well on every one of their menu’s items.

8. Original Joe’s

Restaurant, Italian

Exterior view of Original Joes Italian American food restaurant in downtown San Jose, California; Bay Area casual dining; established in 1956.
© RoadPix / Alamy Stock Photo
Original Joe’s is a classic Italian restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner to visitors from its location on 1st Street. For lunch, Original Joe’s serves grilled sandwiches like tuna melts and chicken pesto, as well as traditional sandwiches like salami sandwiches and Italian subs, and burgers. For dinner, Original Joe’s serves more traditional Italian favorites like garlic bread, minestrone, spaghetti, and ravioli. In addition, from Tuesday to Saturday, Original Joe’s offers a rotating selection of specials like braised short ribs and duck breast with a cherry port reduction.

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