The small plate’s most familiar form is probably that of Spanish tapas, but petite, shareable dishes are a global phenomenon. Take the _thali_ as an example—the classic Indian meal is essentially a small-plate sampler. In Gujarat, a North-Western Indian state, the traditional thali features small portions of rice, lentils, veggies, and chapati, a thin, tasty flatbread—although on special occasions, thali can feature a dozen or more dishes. Pubs the world over also specialize in bite-sized servings to accompany their libations: consider the grilled skewers of meat and small bowls of noodles common to the Japanese izakaya, or even the chicken wings and burger sliders served at American bars. San Jose’s small-plate scene is equally as diverse, encompassing countries ranging from the US and Italy to Korea and Singapore.Read More
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The weathered trapezoidal sign beckons travelers with its promise of old-school Americana: “Drive In.” The sign’s arrow points to a classic burger shack, perfect for a roadside lunch. But wait—the neon illuminates the spot’s full name, which, at first glance, doesn’t seem to jell with the scene: “Falafel’s Drive In.” In this case, though, looks aren’t deceiving. Opened by Anton and Zahmie Nijmeh in 1966, the eatery keeps to the standards: burgers, fries, and shakes. But the Nijmehs’ Middle Eastern roots kept tugging at them until they decided to incorporate falafel, kebabs, and gyros. Today, Falafel’s Drive In offers the best of both cultures. It’s a variation on a theme in the midday-meal scene in San Jose, where influences range from Mexico to Italy.Read More
When Maurizio Cutrignelli, the head chef at Maurizio’s, enrolled at a culinary school in Bari, Italy, there was one tiny problem: there wasn’t any room for him in the kitchen. Not one to be turned away, Cutrignelli cut his teeth in the bartending and waiting school while teaching himself how to cook. This same go-getter attitude served him well as he went on to learn English (again, self-taught) and moved to California to open his own restaurant. While Cutrignelli’s story is remarkable, it’s hardly unique among the ranks of San Jose’s chefs and restaurateurs. If the chef hasn’t stopped teaching himself new recipes, it’s only to stay one step ahead of an increasingly crowded field.Read More