A ceiling of mirrors. A small bouquet of flowers at each table. A breezy, outdoor patio festooned with white trellises and hanging foliage. The decorative accents at the newly redesigned Effie’s Restaurant and Lounge set a handsome backdrop for refined, contemporary American cuisine. In the kitchen, multitalented chefs craft hearty entrees for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—all while juggling wooden mixing spoons. Their culinary repertoire covers everything from brawny burgers topped with mushrooms to sole filets bathing in lemon butter. Effie’s bar and lounge area, meanwhile, morphs into a lively neighborhood hot spot where regulars wet their whistles for karaoke night with sips of beer, specialty cocktails, or wine from Effie’s extensive, five-page drink menu.
Cuisine Type: Mediterranean/Greek
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 25?50
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Lamb
Alcohol: Beer and wine only
Delivery / Take-out Available: Yes
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Tucked between the Saratoga Mountains to the west and San Jose to the north east, Santorini Wine & Beer Garden exposes diners from the surrounding city to the wines of the vineyards that dot the area's foothills. The wine list highlights the array of microclimates that lend the area's varietals their distinctive flavors along with the families who have tended the wineries for generations. Wine tastings unfold out in the restaurant's impossibly charming wine garden, where a duo of acoustic guitarists, a central fire pit, and booths covered with trellises lend to the quaint and cozy ambiance.
To soak up the libations, the bistro also serves a selection of Greek tapas, including feta marinated in olive oil and grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice, tomatoes, onions, and red peppers?a gluten-free option. Larger entree helpings take the form of grass-fed lamb shank imported from Santorini and chicken souvlaki.
Saratoga Wine & Beer Garden's menu offers 28 bottled beers, three rotating taps, 21 wines, and an array of mixed drinks and small plates. To go with this ample selection, the kitchen's staff plates colorful assemblies of charcuterie meats, cheeses, olives, and more, though the flavors to be had provide only half of the venue's sensory appeal. The rest comes from the garden. Covered archways over tables combine with intermingling tree branches above to create shady retreats. A fire pit spouts flames that ward off evening chills. Vases on each table display elegantly simple floral arrangements of two or three flowers. Even the pathway to the garden offers natural, shady splendor, curving around the building and wending between hedges, the overhead awning fending off ultraviolet rays and the eyes of the one crow who follows you everywhere, gazing at you knowingly, just waiting.
At Roudon-Smith Winery, winemakers surrounded by unique murals create barrels of rich reds and refreshing white wines using high-quality grapes from the Santa Cruz Mountains and other regions of California. Whether crafting an elegant pinot noir or a richly colored zinfandel, the winemakers follow a philosophy of minimal intervention, seeking to preserve the essential qualities of the fruit.
The Chefs at Pedro’s Restaurant & Cantina tantalize taste buds with a menu of authentic Mexican comestibles. Launch feast fiestas with a trio of mini handmade sopes chock-full of veggies, chicken, or beef and sprinkled in cotija cheese ($8). Patrons can stick with traditional entrees including chile verde, sautéed pork cutlets and chilies ($14.50) or can venture into new territory with special dishes, such as the steak de la casa’s grilled USDA Choice yew york steak disguised in adobo sauce and served with its partner in crime, the cheese enchilada ($24). Mix and match burritos, enchiladas, tacos, beef tamales, or chile rellenos with the combo option ($11.25 for one item; $13.25 for two; $15.25 for three), which comes with a choice of two sides, such as refried beans, spanish rice, or a palm reading by the wait staff. Pedro’s Restaurant & Cantina dazzles eyes with adobe-esque walls, outdoor seating, a plethora of plant life, and eclectic artwork.
In the 1920s, decades before it became The Cats Restaurant & Tavern, the Cats Roadhouse was known around town as a notorious speakeasy and bordello. The identity of the 19th-century building changed several times afterward, from realty office to gun shop to sporting-goods store, before reemerging as a tavern in 1967. These days, the renovated space pays homage to old-timey saloons?in the Wild West days of shot sheriffs and not-shot deputies?with touches such as stagecoach wheels and a curved mahogany railing from San Jose's oldest courthousek.
When it comes to food, however, the tavern adheres to a different tradition. The Cats stick to BBQ made by pitmasters who have all been certified by barbecue legend Paul Kirk. Cooks slow-smoke pulled pork and St. Louis ribs for at least six hours, plus sear chops and steaks?including a 16-ounce bone-in ribeye?over oak fire at up to 1,200 degrees. Local wine and craft beer complement succulent feasts, which unfold amid nightly live music; view the upcoming music calendar here.