I have never been terribly political, but this election cycle has made me think harder about getting more involved with the issues that are important to me. I was extremely excited to find out that San Jose was hosting its own Women’s March this January in order to express our desire for change and bring light to human rights issues.
Some my favorite signs at the march.
We began the march at San Jose’s City Hall and continued down 4th Street to Paseo de San Antonio to Cesar Chavez Plaza. My crew and I got ahead of the march and grabbed coffees along the route, joining up as again as the crowds passed by. I was impressed by the sheer volume of people, the passion with which they all marched and the energy they inspired. The “Raging Grannies” sang to open up the rally, followed by speeches from Mayor Sam Liccardo, among others. These speeched invigorated the crowd and gave us hope for the future.
I’m not sure what the future holds for us in the coming years, but the power of events like the Women’s March are amazing and serve as reminders that all of us need to do our part to institute the change we want to see.
In the charming town of Willow Glen (part of San Jose), you’ll find a quaint downtown with several unique shops and restaurants. One of my favorites, is The Table. The first thing you’ll notice as you arrive is the stunning patio. What use to be a tiny, narrow restaurant has expanded into the former cleaners next door, allowing them to take over the entire corner and provide a patio with fireplace, heaters and exponential charm. The food is fresh and seasonal.
One Hitter Quitter. Photo credit: Lisette
During happy hour, the best deal you can find is the “One hitter quitter” burger with aged white cheddar that comes with a shot and a beer for $14. Happy hour is served from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10:00 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. The staff is very knowledgeable about gluten free options and will be happy to make recommendations and substitutions to accommodate diets of any kind. I get the burger deal (no bun) with a cider during happy hour. The bar also has some great areas to sit on dates, so this is a perfect spot for after-dinner drinks and dessert.
- Chocolate sea salt pot de creme
- Happy hour deal: One hitter quitter – burger, shot and beer for $14
- Cured meats
- Signature cocktails
No one would expect the suburban “Rose Garden” neighborhood in San Jose to host a world class museum, and yet, it does. The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum hosts the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts on exhibit in western North America — including over 4,000 objects from pre-dynastic times through Egypt’s early Islamic era. This extensive collection includes real mummies and a wide array of artifacts from jewelry to sculpture and beyond.
One of the most popular exhibits is the underground tomb, which visitors can either explore on their own, or take a guided tour. Equally popular, the Rosicrucian Planetarium features films everyday at 2:00 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 3:30 p.m. Just outside, you can explore a beautiful garden with fountain, Egyptian games and a research library.
After your visit, be sure to check out the Municipal Rose Garden across the street!
I think it’s safe to say that San Pedro Square Market has turned the tide in downtown San Jose. This casual-yet-upscale style food court, live music venue and bar is an extremely popular spot among locals, neighbors and tourists. One of the things I love best about this market is that it’s a great spot to hang out pretty much any time of the day. In the morning, you can lounge and grab a quiet coffee at B2, and throughout the afternoon and evening you can enjoy a wide array of food and drink.
The Garage Bar inside San Pedro Square Market. Photo credit: Lisette
Live bands play at the market most weekends, particularly in the summer, and quiz nights on Mondays provide another form of fun, interactive entertainment. Gluten free options are plentiful. From pho at Phonomenal, to grilled meat at Bray (beware of marinades and stick to the GF BBQ sauce), baked potatoes at Spuds and arepas at Arepa’s & Mas, even the most restricted celiac can find variety and choice in this great urban market.
Craft cocktails are all the rage right now, and San Jose has fully embraced this trend. Formerly a stylish old-fashioned speakeasy, Single Barrel has come back to life as Haberdasher. The waiters are still in period-dress and the cocktails are still fantastic, but you no longer have to keep your conversations down to a whisper. Fun red decor surround the bar, and you can reserve booths on weekends to ensure you have a cozy spot to enjoy your drinks. Moscow Mules are on tap and you get a free copper mug with your first one! Right now you can get Irish Coffee, Hot Buttered Rum and other warm seasonal delights.
Inside the bar at Haberdasher. Photo credit: Lisette
Have you ever been to the best kept secret in San Jose? Well, you should – and spread the word! Art Boutiki is a great music venue, art gallery and comic book store. Tucked away off The Alameda on Race Street just passed the infamous Flamingo Motel, this spot can be hard to find, but should not be missed. Most weekend nights, and often on Thursdays, Art Boutiki has several live acts that spread a wide range of musical styles. The venue has lofted ceilings, tables, a bar and couches at the back for a relaxed and easygoing vibe.
From “Drink and Draw” events, to election parties, live music and open mic nights, this place is has a small-town feel right in the heart of downtown San Jose. Once a month, they offer free jazz shows on Sunday afternoons. Refreshments, food and alcohol can be purchased during most events. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming events and updates from the Art Boutiki crew.
San Jose has two beautiful rose gardens. The Municipal Rose Garden and the Heritage Rose Garden. Both are just a short walk from my neighborhood, The Alameda, near Diridon Station and Shasta/Hanchett. The most widely visited and well-known of these is the Municipal Rose Garden. Maintained by a both the city and dedicated group of volunteers, this beautiful park is frequently the location for wedding and graduation photo shoots. One of my favorite free weekend afternoons is to take a nice stroll down to one of the rose gardens, and then come back and stop into J. Lohr’s tasting room. Located on Lenzen Avenue just a block back off The Alameda, this little gem is a great spot for a free date.
The beautiful fountain at the Municipal Rose Garden. Photo credit: Lisette
J. Lohr is another free neighborhood treat. Open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily, the tasting room offers complimentary tastings to the public. You’ll be shown a comprehensive menu with their full tasting library and will be allowed to pick which five you would like to taste. They also will offer you breadsticks – for those gluten free folks out there, just ask, they have some for us too! Follow them on Facebook or subscribe to J. Lohr’s newsletter to hear about events at their tasting room and learn about their latest releases.
J. Lohr’s tasting room on Lenzen Ave. Photo credit: Lisette
San Jose has been trying to grow its art scene for a number of years. From “First Fridays” events at art galleries to increased investment in public art, it’s a welcome change. Recently, the city installed a very fun interactive piece of art in Cesar Chavez Plaza, right by the Tech Museum. This fun exhibit allows you to create music by reliving your childhood and enjoying a swing set with strangers. The music is oddly soothing and chimes with each high point of your swing, allowing you to change your pace and impact the music at your discretion. Originally slated to be here for just two months, the swings have been extended and are available for your enjoyment until October 23, 2016.
An adorable family enjoys the swings. Photo credit: Lisette
These swings are great to drop in on while you’re out and about downtown in the evenings. Want a cheap but fun activity for a date? This is a perfect and delightfully free option paired with a walk around downtown, the swings light up, which make them even more beautiful at night. Want to bring the kids? No problem, the swings are family friendly and open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. Drop by and check them out while they’re still around!
Here’s the scoop on the swings. Photo credit: Lisette
This morning, when I realized my 7:30 a.m. meeting had been cancelled, I seized the opportunity to grab some excellent coffee before starting the day at my normal time (8:00 a.m.). I ventured out on Paseo de San Antonio to Social Policy, a lovely little coffee shop in the old Blackbird Tavern. Social Policy is in the Bellano family of coffee stops, a sister shop to B2 in San Pedro Square.
Inside Social Policy. Photo credit: Lisette
While I would prefer that Blackbird would have survived (still craving their curry fries), Social Policy, or “SoPo” is a nice little addition to the downtown scene. The espresso drinks are delicious, and the shop is generally somewhat quiet, offering a great atmosphere to catch up on some reading. They serve a wide array of pastries, and while none are gluten free, they do look very tasty. They also serve “small plates” and are hoping to expand and offer extended hours, wine and beer in the future. Best of luck in this fickle location, SoPo, may you fare better than our beloved Blackbird.
There’s nothing confidential about Sushi Confidential. It started out in Campbell by Randy Musterer, AKA “Sushi Randy,” and has since expanded to a second location in downtown San Jose near San Pedro Square (in the old Sonoma Chicken Coop location). This not so confidential sushi joint is a lot of fun, and conveniented located right in the heart of downtown. I recently dropped in to check out this new location with some coworkers during lunch on a Friday.
Much to my joy, Sushi Confidential is hip to the needs of the gluten free and has a gluten free section on their menu. I ordered the gluten free “Incognito Roll” and found it exceptionally delicious. While the gluten free section on the menu is small, the waiters are aware of cross-contamination issues and provide you with gluten free soy sauce. This will definitely be on my list of GF dining staples moving forward.