Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Downtown "Staycation"

I had a little Downtown "Staycation" over the weekend and thought it might be neat to share.


The Zero1 Street Festival started at 6pm and as always it featured all sorts of off the wall exhibits throughout SoFA like a silent rave and an interactive pipe-music-thingy. My wife and I were pretty impressed with the LED webbing they hung past William Street and I hope they keep it up year-round. The Zero1 Garage was definitely a highlight and will be open all the way up until December. Great addition to SoFA and worth checking out.

We had a snack at one of the food trucks, enjoyed some beers at the Gordon Biersch Beer Garden, then hit up Tanq with friends for dinner and drinks.

Then we did a second round at the festival and made it to the new Parque de los Pobladores, which turned out really well! It seems much, much larger and even hosted one of the music stages and a bright pink carpeted iLounge.

Some requests for the next biennial: participation from more galleries (Anno Domini, Higher Fire, SLG, etc.) and more food trucks.

After midnight, we all headed to Singlebarrel for some cocktails and stayed there until closing. After that we said goodbye to our friends and leisurely walked to the Four Points for the night, no need to deal with a car when you're staycationing Downtown.


Woke up late, grabbed lunch at Mosaic which has reinvented itself as an Asian Fusion restaurant. The menu is definitely better than what it was before, still could use a little work. We then went for a really long walk Downtown.

Swung by the San Jose Museum of Art, check out all of the new exhibits including one specifically for Zero1. Then we went to Ross for a bit to look for some clothes (you can buy clothes Downtown!).

I was hoping to go to Original Gravity Public House since they were having their belated Grand Opening party, but there were so many people there we didn't end up getting anything.

We then walked down Paseo de San Antonio to find that San Jose's newest wine bar--"Wyne"--is coming along and looks like it is just a month or so away from opening. At this point it is Saturday mid afternoon and La Lune Sucre and Philz are both completely packed. This is turning into a pretty active district.

Next stop is Cafe Bonne Terre, which used to be Whipps. They have all the same menu items with the addition of crepes, both savory and sweet. My wife and I shared some gelato and a nutella/banana crepe.

Then we took another long walk. There are plenty of people on the streets including a surprising amount of families. Two or three years ago, you wouldn't really see this Downtown. I think the new high rise condos/apartments are really helping to change the dynamic.

Later that day, a few friends from SF were in town. I decided to gamble and take them to a restaurant I haven't been to yet, but was on my high-priority to check out list: Back A Yard. Wow, just wow. The food blew us away. The Jamaican jerk combo had some of the most flavorful chicken I've ever had, the beans/rice were amazing, the plantains were delicious, and the corn festival which is some sort of corn fritter thing was completely addicting. The 4.5 Yelp rating is definitely justified on this one.

After that we headed over to the San Pedro Square Market, and I gave them a thorough tour. Last time I took them here only Vino Vino and Pizza Boca Luppo were open. What a difference a year makes. Lots of people, live music in 3 different areas, tons of great food (which we could smell but were too stuffed to try)... it showed really well and they were impressed. "San Jose has come a long way" and "I may come here more often now" were some of their comments. We hung out for a while and then ended with some Treatbot. That's pretty much a wrap for the night.


When people ask "what's there to do Downtown?" the answer is a whole lot. Even just walking around on a sunny day and going to a bunch of random places was good times. I hope in the future more people that don't live Downtown will be willing to think of it as a destination and make a day (or two) out of going there.


  1. San Jose has a vibrant downtown finally! It's happening during weekends and weekend evening.

  2. Santana Row should have been the dramatic reconstruction of the Paseo De San Antonio. But I digress: PDSA looks so blah! How about some foliage/landscaping to liven it up ala Da Row. It could be a true gem of Downtown San Jose.

  3. I happened to be wandering around DTSJ yesterday around lunchtime. What surprised me was the number and diversity of pedestrians on the street. Everyone from homeless bums sleeping in the Plaza de Cesar Chavez to old Chinese ladies out for a stroll to coveys of businessmen/lawyers in suits to college students...
    There are a couple of places (like the blocks of Santa Clara between 1st and 3rd and St. James Park) that definitely need some sprucing up, and the lack of retail is disappointing, but it's getting decidedly better.

  4. I like the slight grittiness of Santa Clara St between 1s and 2nd since it's a tiny area where it's somewhat gritty, but you'll still see some families and young girls venturing this area. If this were NY, LA and even SF, you would rarely see that. As for St. James Park, the did a decent job cleaning up the park and expanding it. There still are homeless people the park, but it's ok and is not out of controll. The downtown area is vibrant! That's something San Jose should be proud of.

  5. My favorite post of yours so far, Josh. Along with another family, we stayed quite a while at the Original Gravity grand opening and then stopped by the ZERO1 Garage afterwards. For sure, it was the longest time we've spent in downtown San Jose on a weekend - a great day!