Monday, July 31, 2023

San Jose has the largest share of Vietnamese restaurants in the country and exciting projects to come

I believe San Jose has the largest Vietnamese community of any city in the US. At the County-level, it is only second to Orange County down south. However, despite having a slightly smaller Vietnamese population than Orange County (180k vs. 120k in here), Silicon Valley has the highest concentration of Vietnamese restaurants in the US. 6% of all restaurants in Santa Clara County are Vietnamese, featuring some of my favorite foods like pho, banh mi, and other delicacies.

SJ Today has great guides for both the top Pho and Banh Mi shops in San Jose. There are also lots of other types of restaurants featuring spicy Bun Bo Hue and Nuoc Mia (sugarcane juice) that you can find throughout San Jose.

The strength of the Vietnamese community here is one of the reasons why there is a proposal on the table to build a 260,000 SQFT Vietnamese indoor market modeled after a Ho Chi Minh City landmark (image below) where Sears used to be in Eastridge. It would be called Hello Ben Thanh Indoor Market and would have a combination of retail stores, massive food courts with as many as 50 booths, an entertainment center, and banquet hall. The project would take over both floors of the old Sears building. Think of it as a Vietnamese version of Eataly that will be accessible from both inside and outside the mall.

There is no formal ETA, but the developer Intelli has already secured the space for $24.8 million.

Source: The Merc, NextShark

Sunday, July 30, 2023

First look at electrified Caltrain trains

Just yesterday thousands of train enthusiasts got a sneak peak at Caltrain's upcoming electric fleet at Diridon Station.

75% of Caltrain's diesel trains will be replaced with brand new emission-free electric trains. These also have upgraded features like digital displays with real-time trip info, free Wifi, power at every seat, and two bike cars per train that can fit up to 72 bikes. Each train will have seven two-story cars.

Work on this project started in 2017 and the electric trains should be fully operational sometime next year.

Source: SF Standard

Wedding venues in San Jose

SJ Today has a great guide on wedding venues in San Jose. It takes a quirky kind of couple to consider the Winchester Mystery House, but that is one of the options on the list. See their recommendations over here.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Old Fry's HQ will become a giant office campus

The shuttered Mayan-themed Fry's store and previous Fry's HQ on Brokaw Road are destined to become a seven-building tech campus. Combined, they will add another 2 million SQFT of office space to North San Jose. 

However, don't expect to see this completed anytime soon. The developer is planning to build the project in four phases over a decade and won't even begin construction until 2024 at the soonest.

Source: SVBJ

Friday, July 28, 2023

San Jose's secret hotel

There is a secret hotel hiding in plain sight right across from City Hall. It's called the WhyHotel by Placemakr and it takes up a chunk of MIRO Towers. I believe at some point MIRO struggled to lease all of their apartments, so they partnered with Placemakr to create sort of a hybrid between a hotel and Airbnb.

Since these are technically luxury apartments, all rooms have kitchens and are at least 592 SQFT. The largest room is a 2 bedroom 2 bath for up to 4 people at 1,227 SQFT. Prices are generally the same or less than hotels in the area but you get a ton more space and the convenience of a kitchen and in-unit laundry. 

I'm not aware of any hotels Downtown that have two-bedroom suites as a readily available option (outside of some rare and very expensive Presidential suites). So if you are staying with a larger group of family and friends and don't want multiple rooms, this is likely your best option. If you're curious about what it would be like to live in Downtown San Jose, it's also a nice way to do a test run for a week or so.

Some other perks include a modern fitness center, yoga studio, and private dog park. I'm not sure how long this hotel will be around, so if you're interested here is the link.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

San Jose is getting a new pro-sports team!

Soccer continues to get more and more popular in the US. In fact, the US has won the past two women's World Cups and are off to a great start this year.

Bay FC will call San Jose home during the inaugural season of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) in 2024. They'll be sharing PayPal Park with the San Jose Earthquakes.

Bay FC will invest more than $3M in a 3,600 SQFT facility adjacent to the stadium for the team's locker room, offices, and training facilities.

Stadium capacity is 18,000 and PayPal park has the largest outdoor bar in North America, a 2-acre fan zone, and a variety of suites and club seats. It's easily one of the nicest soccer-specific stadiums in the US.

For tickets to the inaugural season and to learn more, check out the Bay FC website over here. I'll also permanently add a link to the right under Pro Sports teams.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Santa Clara County Fair

The Santa Clara County Fair is back with a vengeance today after a COVID-related hiatus. Instead of running for three or four days, it will do a full 10-day run for the first time in 25+ years.

Today there will be a VIP ribbon cutting around 2:30pm followed by a 7pm parade. Each day there will be entertainment such as live music, magic, and even a hypnotist. The list of events and exhibits are too long to mention, so check out the full schedule and get tickets over here.

Source: The Merc

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Platform 16 project is now well underway

While there is still quite a bit of vacant office space in the Bay Area, that is not stopping developers from working on flagship projects. Platform 16 is across the street from the San Jose Market Center on Coleman and just a couple of blocks away from the SAP Center and Diridon Station. When Google resumes their new campus, it will be in the neighborhood as well.

As you can see in the 2nd image below, foundation work is nearly complete and soon you'll see the 1.1 million SQFT office project rising up. With companies fleeing SF, Downtown San Jose provides an urban environment that also has suburban amenities closeby. It should be very attractive to companies that want to cater both to young workers and those with families.

Source: SF YIMBY

Monday, July 24, 2023

Valley Fair to become the largest luxury watch retail site in the country

Valley Fair already has a huge list of over-the-top watch stores where you can buy timepieces that cost as much as Teslas. These include IWC Schaffhausen, Panerai, Jaeger LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin. If you haven't heard of any of those (like myself) they they are probably out of your budget. 

CH Premier Jewelers is planning to build a 16,000 SQFT multi-brand flagship store that will have several different watch boutiques. These would be brands like Patek Philippe, Omega, Blancpain, and Breguet & Piaget. This sounds almost like a department store for watches that should come with free Dom Pérignon and caviar while you're shopping--and perhaps they will off that. New 2023 Patek Philippe watches sell for up to $9,000,000. I had to count zeroes, but yes that is correct.

The new addition will make Valley Fair the top destination in the US for ultra-luxury watches.

Source: Silicon Valley Joe from the San Jose Development Forum


Taylor Swift is the mayor of what?

Santa Clara is temporary being renamed "Swiftie Clara" and Taylor will become the honorary mayor for two days. Shockingly, this is not an April Fool's joke. Also, KBAY 94.5 will become "Tay Bay" for three days and play nothing but Taylor Swift music. 

If you haven't gotten tickets yet, don't worry. Ticketmaster still has plenty for you starting at only $1,000 a person. Of course, those will be up in the nosebleeds. If you want to be close to the stage, expect to pay Super Bowl prices... $4k and up.

What does this have to do with San Jose? Unless you are a huge Taylor Swift fan and either have tickets or plan to listen to the concert from the streets (which thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people will actually do) you are going to want to avoid every freeway and major road near Levi's Stadium this Friday and Saturday. That includes 101, 237, Montague Expressway, and don't even think about getting anywhere near Tasman Drive.

The concert at Levi's Stadium will be the second time Taylor Swift performs at the venue, after her 1989 World Tour in 2015. She will be joined by two opening acts: HAIM and Gracie Adams, both rising stars in the pop scene. The show will start at 6:30 p.m., but fans will be getting there many, many hours beforehand. Some are even planning to wear adult diapers to not miss a single song, which I really wish was an exaggeration.

Source: literally every news site

Sunday, July 23, 2023

A deep dive into the history of city planning in San Jose

A video going through the history of San Jose and it's urban planning was uploaded a few months ago by Off Brand Urbanism. It was actually his first video and it kind of went viral--as viral as a video about San Jose urbanism can get. It's both enlightening and hard to watch because it conveys how poor San Jose's brand is to people that are not familiar with the city and based on the comments even many folks that actually live here. 

I disagree with many parts of the video. Certainly he could have taken a better route through Downtown and visited San Pedro Square, SoFA, even The Alameda. Given that technologies developed in San Jose are critical to almost all of the tech we value today from the internet to smartphones, the city is very culturally relevant. That being said, he raises a lot of valid concerns--including the complete dumpster fire that is VTA Light Rail. 

What do you think? Do you agree with Off Brand Urbanism?

Hat tip to Kevin Zing for sending in this link.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Downtown San Jose Scavenger Hunt

If you're feeling adventurous and want to try something new, sign up for the Downtown San Jose Scavenger Hunt today, which is a fun and interactive way to explore the city. You'll get clues and challenges that will take you to different landmarks and hidden gems in the downtown area. You can play solo or with a team, and you'll have a chance to win some prizes along the way. The scavenger hunt starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park, and you can register online or on-site.

For more info and tickets, head over here.

About this scavenger hunt

Who knew the Capital of Silicon Valley was packed with such spectacular street art? Murals in San Jose are plentiful, and this art hunt will lead you to the best of the best.

Local and international artists make their mark, showcasing a variety of themes. You'll see enormous wall pieces and a few smaller treats. At each stop, we'll offer fun factoids and quiz you with questions related to the artists and subject matter.

Are you ready to be blown away? Buy your tickets and bring your friends. This San Jose art walk is one for the memory books!

You can do our interactive scavenger hunt at any time. Explore the art, and culture of San Jose.

Some of what you'll see: SoFA District, Phylum of the Free, Qualities of Life, RBG

Friday, July 21, 2023

San Jose restaurants featured on TV

Just how many San Jose restaurants have been featured on TV? Quite a few actually. "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" hit up Falafel's Drive In and Naglee Park Garage. "Bizarre Foods America" swung by Mezcal, Bún Bò Huế An Nam, and Gaku Restaurant. "Man vs. Food" featured Henry's World Famous Hi-Life, Iguana's Burritozilla, and The Funny Farm.

My favorites on the list are Falafel's Drive In and Mezcal, but I have done the "Bizarre Foods" version of Bún Bò Huế An Nam with the pork blood and ox pizzle (you'll have to google it, but it's exactly what it sounds like).

For more on each and links to stream the episodes, visit the source link below.

Source: SJ Today

Thursday, July 20, 2023

San Jose could get a cricket stadium

American Cricket Enterprises is working with Santa Clara County to design and seek approval for a state-of-the-art cricket stadium on a 14-acre part of the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. Cricket is the 2nd most popular sport in the world with 2.6 billion fans.

The stadium would cost around $50 million and have capacity for 6,000-8,000 people, with the potential to expand to 15,000 with temporary seating. It could also be used for concerts and other events.

Eventually Major League Cricket plans to have at least six stadiums in the US with capacity between 6,000-12,000 attendees. The Bay Area is a natural choice for one of those as 20% of the turf wicket grounds in the US where people practice cricket are here.

Source: Hoodline

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

ADEGA, first and only Michelin Star restaurant in San Jose is shutting down 😢

Ouch, this one hits me pretty hard. If you draw a Venn diagram for people that love Michelin Star restaurants, are San Jose advocates, and members of the Portuguese community--I would be right in the center. ADEGA was not just the first and only Michelin Star restaurant in San Jose, it was the only Portuguese Michelin Star restaurant ever west of New York. They also had the largest Portuguese wine collection of any restaurant outside of Portugal. Hearing that they are shutting down is a major bummer, especially just as their sister restaurant Petiscos won a Bib Gourmand award from the Michelin Guide (a step just below a star).

It's not all bad news. The space at 1614 Alum Rock Ave. in East San Jose / Little Portugal will be converted to a second Petiscos restaurant. This will be a format that is much more accessible to the local community, and... well, everyone else. Portuguese food is not traditionally fancy or expensive, it's down-to-earth cuisine best shared with family and friends tapas-style. That is why in many ways Petiscos is a more accurate representation of true Portuguese food, although I love what ADEGA did to elevate traditional dishes.

It also appears that they will try to open additional California Petiscos locations. Thankfully Pasteleria Adega and NOITE, two other projects by the same team are also staying open.

If you want to try ADEGA one last time (or for the first and last time) get your reservations before December 16th.

Source: SVBJ

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

THE CATS is back open and featuring live music from Beggar's Opera

The tavern you see on the way to Santa Cruz off Highway 17 is actually a pretty nice restaurant with traditional slow-cooked BBQ and some modern twists like smoked Wagyu with Chimichurri. It's one of the oldest restaurants in the Bay Area and has recently been renovated. It also happens to be a live music and stand up venue. They are kicking off live music again with Beggars Opera this Friday, July 21st from 6:30pm to 9:30pm. No cover charge.

The CATS is located at 17533 Santa Cruz Highway just a few minutes south of Downtown Los Gatos. For more info on the restaurant, bar, or upcoming events, head over here.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Affordable housing in Berryessa, San Jose

The VTA is planning to use an empty lot next to the Berryessa Transit Center (BART & bus terminal) to build 195 affordable apartments. Housing will only be available to those making 60% or less than the county's median income. For a family of four that would mean they would need to earn less than $100k a year. 46 of the apartments will be used to provide support for residents who have experienced homelessness.

The render looks pretty nice for affordable housing. Each resident will have access to bikes and scooters as well as get a free BART and VTA pass to encourage more use of public transit. Part of the first floor will be a child care facility, another surprising amenity for a project like this.

Measure A funds will be used to pay for the project as well three other projects specifically designated as affordable housing. VTA plans to build a total of 2,600 affordable homes over the next 20 years.

This specific project is expected to break ground in 2026 with completion slated for 2028.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Petiscos in San Jose gets a rare Michelin Guide distinction

There are three main levels of recognition in the Michelin Guide, which is the most popular guide for finding the highest rated restaurants in the would. Level 1, the restaurant simply makes it into the guide. Just being listed is a huge honor and I have never seen more than 10 San Jose restaurants listed in the guide in its entire history.

Level 2 is Bib Gourmand, which means not only did the restaurant make it into the guide but you can have a multi-course meal at an affordable price at that restaurant. I can't remember a single San Jose restaurant getting a Bib Gourmand distinction until this year. The requirements is you need to be able to order two courses and wine or dessert for $40 or less.

Level 3 is when the Michelin Stars come into play. Each restaurant at this level can receive one to three stars. In the US these are typically very fancy restaurants where you can expect to drop $100-300 per person.

Petiscos is a casual restaurant owned by the proprietors of ADEGA, San Jose's first and only Michelin Star restaurant. A couple months ago, Petiscos was added to the Michelin Guide for the first time. Now, they are one of the very first restaurants in San Jose to get the Bib Gourmand designation! The only other one I am aware of is Luna Mexican Kitchen on the Alameda.

Considering San Jose only has four restaurants total in the Michelin Guide right now, it is pretty big news that two of them now have the Bib Gourmand distinction. Hopefully many more San Jose restaurants will be recognized in the future.

Source: EATER

Friday, July 14, 2023

Restaurant Week July 13-23

The largest restaurant week in Downtown San Jose history kicked off yesterday and continues all the way until July 23rd. This is a great opportunity to try out special fixed price multi-course menus at discount prices. 

There are several newer restaurant this year such as AJI (in the Signia by Hilton hotel, formerly the Fairmont), Angkor Chef, Bum Me Up, Tiki Pete, Case Guzmania (which is excellent), Fox Tales Fermentation Project (also excellent), La Carne Asada, Mommy's Banh Mi, Master Shin, and Dr. Funk with a cocktail as part of the 3-course menu. Your old favorites are on the list as well.

Check out all 45+ restaurants over here and support your unique, local San Jose Restaurants!

Thursday, July 13, 2023

30+ awesome brunch places to try in San Jose 🍳🥩

I'm going through posts from one of my new favorite sites, SJ Today, and came across a killer list of brunch places in San Jose. The are some obvious ones in there like Scramblz, Mimosas, and Bill's Cafe. There are also several unique surprises like Yeganeh Bakery & Cafe (Persian), K Cafe Patisserie & Tea House (Asian-French fusion), and Tostadas (Mexi-Cali).

Below are photos from my absolute favorite San Jose brunch--The Table in Willow Glen. It's normally a 45-60min wait, but absolutely worth it. They have the best Espresso Martini I've had as well and some creative non-alcoholic drinks. It's on the SJ Today list as well--check out all 30+ brunch places over here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

237 new apartments proposed for San Jose's Buena Vista neighborhood

Buena Vista is a midtown neighborhood that has not gotten much development love over the years. However, that might change with a proposed midrise on 1.3-acres encompassing an abandoned car rental business with three vacant commercial buildings and eight older homes.

The project backed by Urban Villas LLC would have 237 apartments (8 affordable), 17,000 SQFT of retail space on the ground floor, and 199 parking spaces. It would be designated as an urban village and include a 30-foot-wide paseo connecting it to another project with up to 256 apartments to the east.

It still has to go through all the proper city approvals and there is no ETA at this time.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Top coffee shops in San Jose

SJ Today has a great guide to San Jose coffee shops--everything from from traditional American cafes, Vietnamese, Mexican, and even a famous Hawaiian coffee shop in Japantown where you can also get Spam musubi. I think I've been to most of the list with my favorites being Nirvana Soul, Academic Coffee, and Voltaire (all Downtown).

There was one great place that I didn't find on the list and that is Pastaleria by Adega (photo below). It's a Portuguese bakery featuring the famous Pastel de Nata egg custard dessert and many others, but they also have some strong espressos with enough caffeine to make you feel like you're bending time and space. Paired with a pastry, it's a great café worth adding to the list!

To see the full list of San Jose's top coffee shops, head over here.

Monday, July 10, 2023

New housing tower to replace local San Jose market and taqueria

A new housing tower is proposed on the periphery of Downtown San Jose at 101 Delmas Avenue. At 11-stories it just barely qualifies as a high-rise, but given the narrow size of the building it will likely look taller than it actually is.

The ground floor will primarily be retail, which is great considering it will replace the Delmas Market and Imperio Tacqueria. At 1,300 SQFT, the new retail space it should be able to accommodate a small restaurant.

Above the retail will be 80 units, 16 of which will be affordable housing. All of the units will be studios, which is an interesting choice. Likely this will appeal to younger people without kids that want easy access to urban amenities and public transit. If the Google project ever gets built, it will also be right next door.

Source: The Merc

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Hobee's beer garden coming to Downtown San Jose

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

I was really bummed when Ludwig's German Table closed their doors after just a few years in business. They were one of my favorite restaurants Downtown and were beautifully integrated with a historic German hall. They also had hands-down one of the best outdoor dining spaces in San Jose. 

Fortunately, a new restaurant is already planning to move into Ludwig's old space and it's a Silicon Valley favorite--Hobee's. However, it will have a special twist. Unlike any other Hobee's location they are going to have a full-fledged beer garden with craft and local beers. This will likely bring a whole new crowd and expand the brand outside the breakfast and lunch options that made them a local favorite.

As for the German hall in the background, some fun facts are that the building was originally a symphony hall in the 1890s and then became Germania Hall in 1923. It is owned by Germania Verein and events are still hosted there to this day. 

Source: The Merc

Friday, July 7, 2023

San Jose seeks freedom from the San Francisco Giants

Here is some fun history. San Jose used to be part of the Oakland A's territory. When the San Francisco Giants were interested in building a ballpark in San Jose in the 90s, the A's kindly gifted them the territory so that the team could build a new ballpark in San Jose. That's called good sportsmanship.

The project fell through and after many years, the A's were interested in building their own stadium in Downtown San Jose. In an ironic twist, the Giants refused to give them back the territorial rights that were originally given to them for free.

Now, the Bay Area will very likely end up losing the A's and having only a single team for over 8 million people. In the process, San Jose will continue to be held hostage by archaic territorial rights. These will remove any future possibility of us hosting a professional baseball team of our own--whether it is a team looking to relocate or an expansion team.

Mayor Matt Mahan is now the fifth mayor writing to the MLB Commission to abandon these ridiculous territorial claims. San Jose is the only major city in North America that is not allowed to have their own pro baseball team. For more details, click the source link below.

Source: ABC7News

Thursday, July 6, 2023

San Jose Obon Festival in Japantown this weekend!

The San Jose Obon Festival 2023 is a celebration of Japanese culture and heritage that takes place every summer in the heart of San Jose's Japantown (one of only three remaining in the US). 

This year, the festival will be held on July 8th and 9th, from 11 am to 10 pm, and will feature traditional music, dance, food, crafts, games, and more. The highlight of the festival is the Obon Odori, a folk dance that honors the spirits of the ancestors. Everyone is welcome to join in the dance, which starts at 7:30 pm on Saturday and 6pm on Sunday. 

The festival is organized by the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin and is supported by many volunteers and sponsors. Come and experience the joy and beauty of Obon, a time to remember and celebrate our loved ones and our community.

This is the the largest annual festival in San Jose's Japantown and you can easily find it on 5th Street between Taylor and Jackson Streets. For more details, head over here.