Restaurants in downtown San Jose are making a six-week bid to draw diners to the struggling urban core of the 10th largest city in the country, hoping to get a boost ahead of the cold and rainy season.
Dine Downtown 2.0, an initiative organized by the San Jose Downtown Association, promises delicious and budget-friendly deals on food and drinks from the 20 restaurants—so far—that have signed on to the program for the six weeks between Oct. 1 and Nov. 15. A full listing of the participating restaurants is on SJDA's website.
In years past, the annual event to promote downtown restaurants typically lasts about a week to 10 days during the height of summer when business would naturally slow, Scott Knies, executive director for SJDA said. But that was in the “before times,” when a pandemic hadn’t slowed business down for more than six months straight.
“It's not really about the discount and the deal as much as it is about, ‘Hey, these restaurants are here, support them—whether it's takeout, dining al fresco, ordering through UberEats or DoorDash,’” Knies said. “This is about if you want to see them get on the other side of this pandemic, put your money where your mouth is.”
In its original iteration, Dine Downtown was also primarily for white tablecloth-type restaurants that were willing to offer a deal to thrifty diners. Now, it includes coffee shops, casual eateries and even restaurants that offer only takeout and delivery. Knies hopes that as the six weeks go on, more restaurants will join in.
“We just realized that our breakfast places, our cafes, lunch, the predominance during the pandemic of takeout and fast-casual, that's what we needed to support,” he said.
The initiative is seen by local leaders as critical for downtown businesses—so much so that Mayor Sam Liccardo last week even created his own “commercial interruption” promoting Dine Downtown during one of his regular Facebook-streamed updates on the coronavirus.
“I know that money may be tight, but if you are able to patronize our local restaurants, we encourage you to do so,” he said.
Participating restaurants include:
71 Saint Peter Mediterranean Grill
71 N San Pedro St; 408.971.8523
The Deal: A three-course, small plate tasting meal, including kale chips, prawn and lentil salad and a roasted lamb risotto for $26. Add on a wine pairing for $14.
499 S 2nd St
The Deal: A freshly baked croissant and any available flavor of black coffee for $6.
Cubamex Sandwich Shop
325 S First St STE 120; 408.320.1776
The Deal: Any sandwich on the menu at full price, but add a can of soda and either chips and salsa or a small salad for $2 more.
Culinary Corner Bistro
321 S 1st St; 408.289.8521
The Deal: Mention Dine Downtown 2.0 on any order worth $20 or more to get a free appetizer of pot stickers or aioli green beans.
65 N San Pedro St; 669.292.5252
The Deal: A cheese plate sampler for $15; a wine pairing for $21; house-made charcuterie plate for $18 or a mixed whiskey pairing for $16.
Enoteca La Storia
320 W St John St; 408.618.5455
The Deal: Chef’s Special (pesto spaghetti with garlic prawns) paired with a cocktail for $35, plus tip.
Habana Cuba Restaurant
387 S 1st St; 408.998.2822
The Deal: A three-course meal, including an appetizer (papas rellenas), entree (chicken stew) and dessert (Cuban rice pudding) for $22.
Hawaiian Poke Bowl
387 S First St, STE 113; 408.564.8393
The Deal: Shoyu Ahi with rice and salad and all the toppings diners want for $15
Fountain Alley, 30 E Santa Clara St. STE 160; 408.766.4698
The Deal: Three options: A kimbap and Inari Combo with house sauce for $6; chicken katsu musubi, cucumbers and teriyaki sauce for $6; or The Volcano, fire fries, fried chicken and crispy noodles for $8.
25 W San Fernando St; 408.283.9595
The Deal: A three-course meal with a salad or soup, an entree (several options available) and dessert for $30 per person.
Paper Moon Cafe
17 N 2nd St; 408.547.4234
The Deal: Two options: white fish ceviche and a lavender espresso seltzer for $16 or a matcha/choco flower pot (matcha mousse with chocolate crumbles) and Taro vanilla creme boba coconut milk tea for $11. Both are in place while supplies last.
30 E Santa Clara St. STE 130; 408.320.2936
The Deal: A box of a dozen assorted egg tarts, known as pasteis de nata, for $27.
Petiscos by Adega
399 S First St
The Deal: To be announced
Poor House Bistro
91 S Autumn St; 408.292.5837
The Deal: A three-course meal, including a soup or salad, an entree (multiple options) and dessert of either bread pudding or a beignet for $20 a person.
The Farmers Union
151 W Santa Clara St; 408.277.0545
The Deal: A three-course meal with soup or salad as a starter, one of four entree options and dessert for $30 a person—before tip.
The Grill on the Alley
172 S Market St; 408.294.2244
The Deal: A three-course prix fixe meal of sashimi or spinach artichoke dip, soup or salad for the second course and one of four options for the entree for $60. The seasonal pumpkin pie a la mode martini also goes for $12.
The Nest Asian Bistro
312 S 3rd St; 408.882.3969
The Deal: On Mondays and Wednesdays, boneless wings go for $0.77 and pitchers of Kirin beer for $10. Other days, diners can get $3 house beer, wine or speciality drinks with a wings meal or a 12-inch banh mi sandwich.
23 N Market St; 408.713.2900
The Deal: A two-person prix fixe menu, including an appetizer (Cajun fried), an entree (seafood combo number 3) and a dessert of Haupia for $90. A food and drink pairing for $20 or ahi poke nachos for $10.
Voltaire Coffee House
360 S Market St; 408.457.9929
The Deal: A $15 food and drink pairing that includes a coffee or “coffee item,” a breakfast sandwich and a sweet treat, of banana bread, pumpkin walnut bread or coffee cake.
Voyager Craft Coffee
87 N San Pedro St; 408.913.8080
The Deal: A granola parfait and signature drink for $10.