The developers of downtown San Jose’s San Pedro Square Market looked to the grand public markets of the world for inspiration, places like Pike’s Place in Seattle, Granville Island in Vancouver and Rue Cler in Paris. While there are still some empty spaces and vendors, I say San Pedro Square is a hit and fulfills the developers’ vision.

A big-city market, however, should have a proper fish market and a boisterous seafood bar and that’s something San Pedro Square doesn’t have yet. The closest thing is Blush Raw Bar and Lounge.

Blush isn’t really a raw bar, though. A raw bar features a wide range of fresh seafood, raw and cooked, oysters, cockles, clams, crab prepared before you by chatty, wisecracking cooks in starched white aprons who are quick with oyster shucker and knife. At least that’s my vision for a big-city, public-market oyster bar.

Instead, Blush serves Americanized sushi and a few varieties of oysters and a forgettable shrimp cocktail. The menu includes sushi with lots of squiggly squirted sauces, spicy tuna rolls, dragon rolls—that kind of thing.

The food is OK, but it’s no different than what you would find at the dozens of other Silicon Valley sushi restaurant. So why go?

Well, happy hour helps. Most items are $5. One-dollar oysters are hard to beat, and there are usually three varieties of Bay Area and Pacific Northwest oysters available. The crispy ahi tacos ($5 for three) were pretty good, too.

Sitting outside in a comfortable chair on a warm night can make for a good time. Just avoid Blush’s signature cocktails. They go for $5 during happy hour, but they should be skipped at any price. The drinks are loaded with ice to the top in tall glasses and filled with a choice of syrupy sweet fruit mixer and vodka or rum—and then topped with one of four equally syrupy sweet flavors of ice slush. That’s right, a sweet, over-iced cocktails crowned with a layer of slurpee.

If you’re trapped in the body of a 17-year-old girl the cocktails will sound totally awesome, but if your taste in drinks ranges beyond booze-spiked Kool-Aid, you’re advised to steer clear of the childish cocktails and ask for a real man’s (or women’s) drink.

The Lusardi building is far less built out than the other half of the market across the way, so Blush looks a little stark, but it is an appealing space that opens up to an outdoor lounge. I didn’t stay late enough for the place to morph into its loungier identity, but hearing Journey and Boston booming from the stereo system didn’t entice me to stay. 

Service on my visit was less than professional. The all-women waitstaff seemed to have been hired more for their looks than their skills on the floor.

San Pedro Square Market is filling out nicely, but there’s still a bit of work to be done in the raw-bar department. 

Blush Raw Bar and Lounge
100 N. Almaden Ave.,
San Jose 408.477.2191