Dining downtown can leave customers with a void — not in their bellies, but in their wallets. However, until July 3, the San Jose Downtown Association hosts Dine Downtown San Jose 2011, an annual restaurant week that offers patrons the opportunity to select from $20, $30, or $40 prix-fixe menus at various locations downtown. The menus consist of three courses and offer guests a selection from around three items in each course.
The prix-fixe menus offer discounts ranging from the equivalent of a free appetizer to a free entrée. At Habana Cuba, an order of ensalada de aguacate (salad topped with freshly sliced avocado), Cuban-style carne asada (marinated in wine and served with green olives), and tres leches pound cake (soaked in milk with a hint of rum) will save diners about $5, or the price of their dessert.
One of the best deals from the $20 prix-fixe menus can be found at Pagoda. Seafood lovers will jump at the opportunity to indulge in the otherwise pricey items like Pagoda’s salt and pepper calamari and honey walnut prawns, and order that would normally cost $22 even without dessert.
While most of the menus don’t include drinks with the discount price, a few locations incorporate their house specialties. Mezcal’s $20 menu includes a traditional margarita made with Don Julio blanco tequila, lime juice, sweet and sour and orange liquor. Its $30 menu ups the ante with a “perfect margarita” made with agave nectar and Grand Marnier. At the Los Gatos Brewing Company, the first course and entrée are paired with one of the house beers.
The $40 prix-fixe menus give diners the opportunity to experience San Jose’s upscale dining scene. Arcadia’s menu has a high-low aesthetic created by Michelin-starred chef Michael Mina and features swanky soul food like lobster corn dogs and macaroni and cheese with truffle oil. The private Silicon Valley Capital Club opens its doors to the public exclusively for the week of Dine Downtown. The restaurant is home to another Michelin-starred chef, Michael Miller, formerly of Trevese.