A remarkable array of restaurants tempt visitors and locals alike in San Jose . 71 Saint Peter (71 N. San Pedro St., 408/971-8523, www.71saintpeter.com , Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., 5–9 p.m., Sat. 5–9 p.m., $15–28) is just one of these. Billed as a Mediterranean grill, the cuisine takes inspiration from Europe and blends it with the flavors and fresh ingredients of California.
While the à la carte menus are fine, the real treat in this charming indoor-outdoor dining room is the seasonal tasting menu. Featuring the best available produce of the current season, this four-course dinner is not only delicious, it is a bargain. Be sure to tell your server if you are a vegetarian or have other dietary concerns so that the kitchen can work with you to create a wonderful meal.
For folks who want tasty food without the white tablecloths, the Sonoma Chicken Coop (31 N. Market St., 408/287-4098, www.sonomachickencoop.com , Sun.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., $7–12) offers a fun alternative to fancy California cuisine. At the Coop, you walk up to the counter to order, then find your own table either inside the always-packed dining room or out on the back terrace. Your order number will be called and you must grab your own tray of food.
Choose from roast chicken (of course), fondue appetizers, duck, homemade pizzas, and other items, which you can pair with tasty side dishes. Plenty of interesting salads make a (somewhat) lighter meal. And don’t forget dessert—the Chocolate Hockey Puck makes a perfect finish to a meal before a Sharks game.