Once an agricultural depot from the sleepy days of the valley of heart’s delight, the Farmers Union has taken on a new life in San Jose as a modern gastropub, complete with a huge central bar and massive projection TV. With its location in historic San Pedro Square not far from SAP Center, a menu of comfort food and extensive on-tap beer selection, the Farmers Union aims to be downtown San Jose’s sporting event gathering spot.

Dating back to the late 19th century, the original Farmers Union building served as a general store and bank for the valley’s early farming community through the 1960s. Former San Jose mayor Tom McEnery, who is part owner of Farmers Union, has been a key player in the redevelopment of the building. According to general manager Aaron Williams, McEnery was moved to do something with the Farmers Union building after discussing with friends that the “doorway” to San Pedro Square remained vacant.

McEnery also contributed something to the restaurant’s decor that pays homage to the building’s past: installed above the restaurant’s kitchen doors is a stained glass window, depicting a horse-drawn wagon driving through the valley. The window, which also bears the words “Farmers Union,” is newer than the building—McEnery commissioned it in 1960.

The restaurant’s centerpiece, a large 36-seat square bar offers good views of multiple HDTVs and a 200-inch projection screen. The bar will serve more than 50 different beers on tap, ranging from California craft beers such as Karl Strauss and Lost Coast to imported varieties such as Chimay.

The menu is a blend of gastropub fare and California cuisine spiced up with marmalades and sauces by Chef Charles Crossley. To match the wide-ranging beer selection, there are filling bar bites such as poutine, short-rib sloppy joe sliders with Pt. Reyes bleu cheese or a pretzel braid with cheddar ale fondue. A grilled butcher steak with salsa verde and sweet potato fries, barbecued salmon with smoked chili butter and the Union burger with white cheddar and housemade bacon marmalade are seriously tasty menu highlights as well. “We want this to be a third place,” Williams says. “You have your home, your work and we want to be that other third place you come to hang out.”

The Farmers Union
151 W. Santa Clara St.; San Jose.