Every day, the aroma of smoky spices wafts from the imported, wood-fired tandoor ovens at Tandoori Oven’s locations. To a soundtrack of upbeat techno, reggae, and bhangra music imported from UK clubs, servers deliver plates of lamb biryani loaded with basmati rice, bell peppers, cashews, and secret spices alongside mango lassis blended with housemade yogurt. The healthful signature wrap is stuffed with chicken or lamb that’s been marinated for 24 hours in yogurt and spices and then baked in the tandoor oven and wrapped in soft naan with mint chutney and tamarind. Local athletes dine at Tandoori Oven, a sponsor of the TRIbe Triathlon Club, after workouts for meals made to order with lean meats and served in participation trophies.
At Southern Kitchen, guests may find themselves surrounded by fans in San Francisco Giants gear devouring old-fashioned breakfast and lunch food and chatting with the friendly owners, the Thompson family. Mike and Rose Thompson, both Giants fans themselves, took over the venue in 1993, recruiting their sons Mike and Ed to help them on the staff. Their down-home hospitality and comfort-food specials soon drew hungry groups to the roomy, semicircular booths, and amid the friendly chitchat, both Mike and Ed met their future wives.
This same neighborly vibe persists in the dining room today. To complement the quaint ambiance, the breakfast and lunch menus stick to delectably traditional cooking methods. Produce arrives at the kitchen daily, every egg is fresh off the farm, and baked goods—from biscuits to muffins—are housemade. Guests can indulge in chicken-fried steak and signature sausage gravy at any time of day as the kitchen never stops serving breakfast, and every weekday lunch plate includes a cup of housemade soup. Personal touches also speak to the eatery's down-home credo; for example, children can order their pancakes in the shapes of cheerful bunny rabbits or their favorite spherical planets.
Top This Pizza Co. just opened. But its menu reads like a list of pizzas that have been tried and tested, and have triumphed. To name a few, there are signature pies such as Minnie's Margherita, Michaels's Cheesy Madness, and Leo's Chickenlicious. There's also Miss Yovette's Pepper Pot?a piquant blend of house red sauce, Italian sausage, banana pepper, roasted red pepper, and and red onion. Impressively, the pizzas are made with speed, a testament to the staff's respect for its customers time and ability to toss dough simultaneous with all three hands.
Hult's Restaurant's owners and chef come from diverse backgrounds. Alexander Hult worked in his mother's restaurants between seasons as a professional hockey player. His wife, Sarah Chapman-Hult, is a vice principal now that she's passed on the title of Miss Nevada USA. Chef Jose Esparza learned the art of cooking from his grandmother and mother, along with the chefs he worked alongside at restaurant's such as Viognier and Madera. And together, they share a passion for farm-to-table fine dining.
The trio and their staff bring this ecologically conscious cuisine to tables for dinner and Sunday brunch. Chef Esparza creates a series of seasonal tasting menus, simply titled, Air Water Land Earth. Each menu includes five courses, with Land focusing on red meat, Air on poultry, Water on fish, and Earth showcases vegetables. Those looking to order off the menu can try his signature dishes, include octopus carpaccio with avocado puree and jalape?os and the Wagyu beef ribeye with corn puree and grilled asparagus.
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.
Barefoot Coffee approaches bean brewing as a culinary art, sourcing seasonal, organic harvests from fair-trade farms in El Salvador, Ethiopia, and Guatemala. At the Los Gatos coffee bar, baristas handcraft every espresso ($2.15) and latte ($3.65) using premium ingredients such as organic milk from Straus Family Creamery and pure water from the tears of Zeus. Signature drinks include the mocha, which blends single-origin E. Guittard chocolate with coffee and fresh milk ($3.75). For at-home sipping, a bag of Brazilian-born Redcab Espresso brews cups distinguished by floral aromas ($16 for 350g). Patrons can also dine on delicacies from local merchants Starters Bakery and Snake & Butterfly Chocolates, or visit the iPad bar for games, news, and asking the Internet why it can't fall asleep at night.