Local, alternative perspective. Insightful stories for the Santa Clara Valley.

EAT HERE: A REVIEW OF THE FOOD, RESTAURANT & GROCERY SCENE AT DOWNTOWN WILLOW GLEN

Among its residents and daily visitors, San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood remains a perennial favorite, largely known for its familial, hospitable and casual character… plus, its many food service businesses and grocery stores.  Taking a walk through the downtown Willow Glen scene, it’s realized that restaurants, groceries and other food and beverage stores have created a special relationship with the neighborhood (if not San Jose and the south bay itself).  Before this was ever Silicon Valley, agriculture and food culture deep-rooted itself in the life of this community.  As much as the city’s environment has seemingly changed, much of the breath of the old life still lingers here.  It’s like a subtle whiff from a kitchen…  it alerts the memory of things past, as much as it tempts the senses of real and actual hunger.  

A review of downtown Willow Glen’s many food, beverage (and drug) establishments is as much a “walk down memory lane, ” as it is an appreciation of the present marketplace.

So, let’s take a walk down the avenue and side streets…

  • Lincoln Avenue, downtown Willow Glen; including the “main street” of the avenue  from its crossing at Willow Street to Minnesota Avenue; then expanded to include Curtner Avenue to Paula Street.  A total of two miles.  (see map)

Follow along with this guide (section by section), as de·Anza Post leads a tour across Lincoln Avenue and Willow Street…

LINCOLN AVENUE (Downtown Willow Glen’s main street)

LINCOLN AVENUE, off from WILLOW STREET (West)

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— Willow St (West)/ off from Lincoln Avenue —

  • Bill’s Cafe is a Willow Glen tradition serving breakfast and lunch to locals for about 30 years.  It was founded here at its original location on Willow Street, near the intersection of Lincoln Avenue.  Daytime dining is the specialty; that’s beginning each day slicing fresh fruits, squeezing fresh orange juice, baking croissants, and cinnamon rolls, and whipping up homemade soups from scratch. An extensive breakfast menu covers all of the classic breakfast traditions, along with an extensive selection of creative specialties.  Breakfast at Bill’s is served all day, along with a wide choice of lunch items that range from classic sandwiches to salads and daily chef’s specials. You’ll also find influences from the owner’s family, like the Greek Lemon Soup; or, from the staff family, Chilaquiles and Chorizo Scramble.  The food comes big and hearty.  A family group of restaurants, it now has several locations. (Facebook).

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  • The Table is one of downtown Willow Glen’s relatively newer restaurants but operated by one of San Jose’s more senior Chef’s, Jim Stump.   This urban neighborhood restaurant focuses on seasonal ingredients, hand-crafted cocktails, and progressive wines. The Table’s credo is to bring together delicious food, fun drinks, and good people… the collective elements of hospitality.  The cuisine is contemporary American, paying tribute to the people and cultures that call this valley home.  The Table believes in establishing relationships with local farms and ranches in the goal to understand the origins of everything that’s cooked; as well as to seek out only those ingredients produced with integrity and care.  This philosophy continues from the kitchen into the beverage program. The Table is a product of our community, providing a dining experience that’s homey, familial and friendly. (Facebook)

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 LINCOLN AVENUE, SOUTH OF WILLOW STREET

— Willow Glen Town Square building —

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  • Opa! was founded near the corner of Lincoln & Minnesota Avenues in 2008, but has since moved from this smaller and former location to the opposite end of the avenue at Willow Street.  Located in the Willow Glen Town Square, the name of this restaurant is taken from a popular Greek exclamation, such as with dancing, the breaking of dishes and a celebration of life.  Opa! serves fresh, homemade foods that are both affordable and enjoyable. Come here for daily, homemade traditions and spirit of the Greek family tradition.  The atmosphere is homelike, warm,  cozy and friendly.  Value and customer satisfaction are the pillars of this establishment.
  • Willow Street Wood Fired Pizza was founded here in Willow Glen at a little brick building on the corner of Willow Street and Lincoln Avenue; whereas, it’s now incorporated into the larger Willow Glen Town Square building.  It’s still at its original location and home but expanded with the new architectural addition .   Willow Street Pizza opened its doors in 1991 and continues to serve individual size pizzas made to order, cooked in a wood-fired oven.  Additional locations are now in downtown Los Gatos and Westgate. (Facebook)
  • Willow Glen Creamery is a family-owned business, originally founded here as Willow Glen Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream Company at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Willow Street, as of the year 2002.  They started serving real frozen custard  as of the year 2006 and called it “St Louis Silk,” due to its smooth texture.  Locals bring their dogs for a free doggie yogurt.  Many nights, you may see long lines, especially during summer.  As of 2010, they opened a second location in downtown Campbell; whereas, the original Willow Glen location became incorporated into the newer Willow Glen Town Square building as of the year 2012. (Facebook)
  • Crepevine is a popular family-built restaurant that was created to be a gathering place for families, friends, professionals and students. One of the several locations that are brought to Willow Glen, come here to see a broad menu in which you will find something exciting to eat.  Crepe vine is mindful of youngest guests, who will never be disappointed.  Crepevine provides the freshest, healthiest, ingredients that they can buy, such as organic, fair-trade coffee; cage-free farm eggs fed only wheat and corn; ocean raised Canadian salmon; and 100% natural beef that has never been given any antibiotics or hormones. Most of their fruits and vegetables are purchased from local farmers and growers. They use 100% Grade A pure maple syrup. All dressings and sauces are made from scratch in their kitchen, including the pancake mix.
  • Main Street Burgers traveled the country in search of inspiration for a great burger, then returned to create the best tasting burger and the ultimate milkshake. To achieve this, they use only Niman Ranch beef that’s ground fresh daily and served on custom fresh-baked buns with local produce.  Ice cream comes from a small, local and family owned business that creates premium and rich flavors for hand-scooped, thick shakes.   Main Street began in the nearby town of Los Gatos and opened their second store in Willow Glen. (Facebook)
  • Lou’s Village.  (Closed in Willow Glen, formerly at Willow Glen Square.  Soon relocating at downtown San Jose’s San Pedro Square as Lou’s Beach Shack.   See de·Anza Post’s farewell tribute and review from Willow Glen, here.) (Facebook)

— Willow Glen Town Square, side parking lot and curbside  —

  • Jamba Juice is about smoothies, smoothies, and more smoothies. Fresh-squeezed juices. Yogurt and fruit blends. Wheat grass shots. Slow-cooked, steel-cut oatmeal made with 100% organic oats. Healthy baked goods.   The company began in San Luis Obispo, California, as of the year 1990; but is now headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area at Emeryville, California.  It has become a publicly traded company with hundreds of U.S. domestic locations, as well as several international stores.  (Facebook)
  • Noah’s Bagels is a neighborhood based, deli inspired restaurant that serves a variety of signature sandwiches, fresh-baked bread, home-style soups, tempting sweets and, of course, bagels.  Noah’s is part of Einstein Bros. Bagels,  a bagel and coffee chain in the United States with hundreds of locations.   The brand known as Noah’s Bagels was founded on College Avenue in nearby Berkeley, California; whereas, by 1995, the chain of 38 stores was sold to Einstein Bros. (Facebook)
  • Peet’s Coffee & Tea is a premier specialty coffee and tea company in the United States, founded in Berkeley, California as of the year 1966.   The idea began years ago to simply open a coffee store with a roasting machine inside, but instead, the company became a pioneer in the American coffee industry revolution.  Peet’s original outlet is still located on the corner of Walnut and Vine in the so-called “Gourmet Ghetto” of north Berkeley (close to the University of California).  This brand actually pre-dates Starbucks and served as a model for that other enterprise.  Today, Peet’s has since been acquired (as of the year 2012),  by the German company Joh. A. Benckiser.  Peet’s is dedicated to sourcing high-quality beans, hand-roasting them in small batches and delivering them fresh daily to coffee lovers at their stores (and other outlets. (Facebook)
  • Powell’s Sweet Shoppe is styled as an old-time, old-fashioned, old-world candy store taken from America’s imagination. Powell’s sells ice cream and sweets, but what they really offer are memories.  A visit creates that moment when you exclaim, “I feel like a kid in a candy store!” or “I haven’t seen that since I was a kid!”   Children and adults alike, enjoy Powell’s. (Facebook)
  • Yuki Sushi began in nearby Santa Clara back in 1987 and came to Willow Glen in 2009.  The two locations are still a proud family affair bounded by a rich tradition of excellence.  Yuki Sushi was founded on the idea to have a place to cultivate a love of executing fine Japanese cuisine in the United States. (Facebook)

— Garden Theatre Building —

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  • Top Nosh Cafe uses only the finest epicurean ingredients to create delectable flavor combinations from around the world. They use only premium, natural ingredients like free-range chicken, halal beef, gourmet cheeses, unbleached flour, cage-free eggs, creamery butter and pressed olive oil.  Top Nosh Farmers Market Pies are handcrafted in small batches, wrapped in a golden pastry crust and quick-frozen to stay at their best until the moment they are served. (Facebook)
  • Sushi Kazoo has been serving authentic Japanese Cuisine to Willow Glen for over a decade and remains one of the favorite Sushi and Japanese restaurants in San Jose and Silicon Valley. Located at the Garden Theater, it’s framed in a cozy and historical place.  Sushi Kazoo offers a perfect blend of culinary excellence, tradition, experience and carefully selected fresh ingredients… a delicate combination of traditional Japanese cuisine and western flavors. Master chef cuisine — with artistic cooking and creative inspiration — create a wide and varied menu.

— Garden Theatre, curbside and back parking lot —

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  • BevMo! local store offers a range of wines from around the world, saki, vermouth, port, spirits , and beer. Also find gifts, wine accessories, and gourmet food.   A privately held corporation based in Concord, California, it was founded as of the year 1994 as Beverages & More!, but it then re-branded as “BevMo!” in 2001. As of 1995, Wilfred Wong was hired as cellar master.  He is a well-known wine competition judge and writer, mostly for his assessment of wines on a 100-point score system.  Wong keeps a blog on the company’s website.  (Facebook)
  • Subway sandwiches was founded in 1965 and is the world’s largest restaurant chain, with over 41,000 locations in more than 100 countries, offering a wide array of better-for-you sandwiches and salads. (Facebook)
  • Aqui Restaurant & Saddle Bar was founded back in the year 1994 when it introduced Willow Glen to its “Cal-Mex” menu, a chef inspired California cuisine blended with fast food know-how.  Aqui creates fine dining food using the flavors of the Southwest, Asia, California and Latin America.  Decor is casual and artful.  Order-at-the-counter food service makes it affordable… no fuss of waiters or tipping and no long wait.  Visitors enjoy a full bar, including the homemade “Industrial Strength Margarita.”™  The restaurant uses organic greens, natural pork, chicken breast and fresh produce. High quality and seasonal ingredients are featured in daily and nightly specials. (Facebook)

Willow Glen Farmer's Market: exposed, wide open spaces, high noon… baking on the blacktop.

  • Willow Glen Farmers’ Market is located in Downtown Willow Glen behind the Garden Theater on Lincoln Avenue.  For the 2015 season, the market will return as of Saturday, May 2nd. The market will be every Saturday from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm through Oct. 31 this year.  Visitors are welcome to stroll the avenue and pick up delicious organic produce for dinner while supporting local farmers.  Free public parking is available in the Bank of America parking lot, just a short stroll away from the market.  See de·Anza Post’s review of the Willow Glen Farmers Market, from the last year 2014.  Hopefully, with changes at the avenue, things will be better as of May 2015. (Facebook)

LINCOLN AVENUE

SOUTH of MEREDITH AVENUE to LINCOLNSHIRE WAY and BRACE AVENUE

  • Round Table Pizza was opened at Lincoln Avenue as of  the year 1977, while its brand has a heritage of creating pizzas for over 50 years.  The first little Round Table pizza parlor was in Menlo Park, California in 1959; whereas, the chain now includes hundreds of restaurants across the west coast.  Round Table’s trademarks are freshness, innovation, and craveable flavors in everything, from pizzas to sandwiches.(Facebook)
  • Edna Ray is south bay Chines restaurant that’s been around for over 50 years and was brought to Willow Glen as of the year 2008.  The original was founded in nearby Los Gatos at Santa Cruz Avenue as of 1963.  The name is taken from a combination of the husband and wife team, Edna and Ray.  The husband, Ray, was born in China,  served as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps and later settled locally in the county.   He opened Tao Tao Cafe around 1951, Sunnyvale’s first Chinese restaurant; then followed by Edna Ray in Los Gatos in 1963.  After Ray’s passing, local time head chef of Mandarin Gourmet (and his wife) took over the local institution.
  • Hay Market is a “friendly neighborhood place with a hip, urban vibe, modest prices, and an eclectic menu that dispels the notion that the South Bay is a parochial culinary backwater.” (Facebook)

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  • Plaza Inn Mexican Cantina is a small, local, family-owned establishment that’s been serving traditional style Mexican food for years.  It includes a sports bar.  Drop in for casual, affordable and authentic foods with generous platters.  Chips and salsa keep coming, too.  Located at 1182 Lincoln Ave, telephone (408) 292-0132.

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  • John’s of Willow Glen (aka John’s Xln’t Foods) was established at Lincoln Avenue as of the year 1976.  A family business, John’s has become a cornerstone of the Willow Glen neighborhood, serving longstanding family recipes of Greek, Italian, and American comfort foods.  Enjoy generous portions, excellent quality, affordable prices and great service. (Facebook)

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  • Mariette Premium Chocolate is a purveyor of premium hand-made truffles, chocolate covered fruits, nuts, and many other confectionary products.  Look for their blue and white retail shop on the Avenue. (Facebook)

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LINCOLN AVENUE

SOUTH of BRACE to MINNESOTA AVENUE

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  • Taiwan Gourmet Chinese Cuisine first opened its doors in 1982, whereas, it’s made a mark as one of Silicon Valley’s best gourmet Chinese Restaurants.  Dishes are  innovatively presented with freshest ingredients and the family’s hospitality is dedicated to providing visitors with warm and friendly service in a richly decorated setting.  The dining room is always set with creative tropical flower arrangements, in addition to intricate oil paintings that were created by partnering proprietress.

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  • Yogurt Cove is a self-serve, family owned Frozen Yogurt shop with only premium dairy that is Gluten free and contains zero animal fat fillers, so it is Kosher and Vegetarian. Numerous toppings are available, ranging from nuts & granola to chocolate rocks. Extensive selection of cold toppings includes fresh berries and melons.  There’s also loads of sauces and several that are heated.  Heated marshmallow sauce is a decadent treat. Welcoming Cape Cod decor is set out with a heated exterior patio. Free Wi-Fi and dog-friendly patio welcome you…  plus, complementary frozen yogurt cups for your four-legged companions. (Facebook)
  • CVS Pharmacy is conveniently located on the avenue and is one of the nation’s leading retail pharmacies, with 23,000 pharmacists supporting customers in more than 7,300 locations across the country.    Food and other retail items are available. (Facebook)
  • Bertucelli’s La Villa Delicatessen is a long time established favorite at Lincoln Avenue, known generationally in Willow Glen and San Jose simply as “La Villa” and mostly for their homemade ravioli and sandwiches.  La Villa was started in 1947 by the Giacomelli family, who then sold it to the Palestro family, who then turned it to the current Bertucelli family.   As the business continued, Willow Glen residents returned year after year.   At holiday season, local families order ahead for the ravioli and wait in line outside the door.   To this day, 50 years after its founding, La Villa remains as one of the Avenue’s oldest and most popular stores.  Traditional Italian foods are prepared and sold over the counter, along with other specialty goods.   The establishment has become a symbol of Willow Glen’s strong Italian-American heritage, bringing back generations of memories for many locals.  (Facebook)

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  • Le Boulanger (LuhBoo-Lawn-ZHAY) “the baker” opened in nearby Los Gatos back in the year 1981 and continues to offer one of the Bay Area’s best, award winning sourdough breads.  Their bakeries also feature a full cafe menu and espresso bar.  The Willow Glen shop is located at the old Bergman’s department store building.   The bakery business has expanded (18 locations) but remains a family owned business, a tradition of three generations.  Le Boulanger offers retail, wholesale, catering and events.  Come here to find fresh and best-tasting bread, highest quality ingredients, NO additives or preservatives.  The menu includes sandwiches made with fresh house-made bread, soups prepared daily, fresh salads, gourmet pizzas, and a full-service espresso bar. (Facebook)
  • Siena Bistro is an intimate 40-seat restaurant hidden behind the main street in downtown Willow Glen.  Due to the location, Siena bistro is a “secret” to some people.   A patio offers al fresco dining.  A wide selection of salads and pasta are offered.  House favorites include fresh salmon, sole almondine or beef bourguignon.  California and Mediterranean wines are an accompaniment to any meal.  Brioche bread pudding, limoncello Tiramisu or any of the house-made desserts are perfect endings. (Facebook)

House of Nutrition

  • House of Nutrition is a neighborhood health store that sells supplements, sports nutrition, pet medications & homeopathic beauty products.  Location 1371 Lincoln Avenue; telephone (408) 292-4109; Hours: 10 – 6 Monday – Friday, 10 – 5 Saturday, 12 – 5 Sunday.

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Vin Santo Ristorante is in historic

  • Vin Santo Ristorante is owned and operated by a husband and wife team that travel back and forth to the husband’s native Italy and bring that imagination back to the neighborhood with authentic Italian dishes.   Together, they have created a quaint, intimate atmosphere that is perfect for any special occasion. The venue offers a patio, bistro, bar and dining room… all of which offer a unique experience. The restaurant is located within Willow Glen’s historic downtown fire department, now transformed and known as “Adobe Hall.”  See a complete review of Vin Santo in de·Anza Post’s feature. (Facebook)

LINCOLN & MINNESOTA AVENUES

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  • Dolcetto Cafe & Market is featured prominently at the corner of Lincoln & Minnesota Avenues and has quickly become known as a neighborhood authentic Italian style café, focusing on seasonal ingredients.  Dolcetto’s credo is “Ama La Vita, Mangia Bene” or “Love Life, Eat Well.” (Facebook)
  • 20 Twenty Cheese Bar is located at the old Rossi Building, near Minnesota Avenue, featuring curbside ambiance.  Wines on draft and an ever-changing cheese menu are included at this establishment, which features new American inspirations, sandwiches, and tapas bar foods.(Facebook)
  • Elaine’s Cafe (Closed)
  • Grapevine (Closed)
  • Domus (Closed)

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  • Starbucks has several locations in Willow Glen, including here at the corner of Lincoln and Minnesota Avenues.  The American global coffee company and coffeehouse chain is based in Seattle, Washington. (Facebook)
  • Pizza My Heart was founded in 1981 at nearby Capitola Beach.   At a site that was not much larger than an average bedroom, the tiny Capitola restaurant become a landmark for surfers and beachgoers alike.  “Stoked” with their success in Capitola, Pizza My Heart soon made a big upgrade with a sit-down establishment in downtown Santa Cruz a few years later.   Serving pizza “by the slice, ” or the entire pie, has been the tradition.  In 1997,  Pizza My Heart founders merged their operations with Pizza-A-Go-Go, thereby growing the business into multiple locations.   Still, they’ve remained constant to their belief that fresh, hand-tossed pizza and the best local ingredients make a great pizza – the way locals like it.  Pizza My Heart is family owned and has no plans to franchise or sell out. (Facebook)

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  • Minnesota Market is a convenience store/mini-market. Located at 1093 Minnesota Avenue; telephone (408) 292-4455.  It is formerly known as Quick Stop.

LINCOLN AVENUE/CURTNER AVENUE

  • Taqueria Tlaquepaque is a traditional, no-nonsense Mexican style restaurant with affordable prices and casual atmosphere.  It has three locations, all in the proximity of downtown Willow Glen: 699 Curtner Avenue; 721 Willow Street; and 2222 Lincoln Avenue.

LINCOLN AVENUE

NORTH of WILLOW STREET to BROADWAY AVENUE

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  • Manley’s Donut Shoplocated at 1080 Lincoln Avenue.  Open 5:00am to 2:00pm. Telephone (408) 292-1750.

— Addresses at 1072-1074 Lincoln Avenue —

  • Jake’s Restaurant/Pizza & Sandwiches has served Willow Glen since the year 2000 with casual dining in a friendly atmosphere. The perfect meeting place for lunch, a family night out, or the rendezvous spot for your sports team.   Jake’s provides a reasonably priced family oriented neighborhood restaurant with pizza, sandwiches, wings and salads at the top of their menu.  Join the here for ball teams, neighborhood meets and  a casual place for a beer, glass of wine and great food. (Facebook)
  • Puerto Azul Restaurant is a Mexican style restaurant.  Located at 1072 Lincoln Avenue, telephone (408) 297-1300.
  • Goosetown Lounge was established as of the year 1996 and named for the largely Italian-American part of the greater Willow Glen neighborhood that was once known by the nickname “Goosetown.”  Years ago, Willow Glen and Goosetown were part of San Jose’s “Fourth Ward”; whereas, Goosetown was a more poor section of the neighborhood that was originally marshy with lots of roaming geese; then, later, to become paved over with block after block of concrete.  Today’s Goosetown Lounge sits closely on the border between traditional Willow Glen and old-time Goosetown, that place whereabouts that traditional working-class Italians dreamed of crossing over the barrier and living the American dream.  Years forward, this small-scale and quaint lounge has become a well-known traditional neighborhood hangout.  Neighborhood friends watch their favorite sports team on a big screen TV, or have fun with karaoke on a Friday and Saturday night. (Facebook)
  • Jen’s Cakes makes all custom cakes and large orders done to order, with the idea that it’s best to plan in advance.  Think of booking wedding cakes from 18 months to just days before, or as provided availability of schedule. Cupcake and special occasion cake orders should be booked 7 days in advance. Mini desserts are a pleasure to make, but 10 days advance notice is appreciated. (Facebook)
  • Cucina Bambini is a “hands-on” cooking school for children.  Its culinary education covers a wide range of cooking techniques, along with safe food handling, etiquette, and nutrition. Children of all ages build confidence, as they’re encouraged to use their creativity in this fun and relaxed kitchen environment.  The school provides individual classes, cooking series, summer camps, home school courses and field trips. (Facebook)

LINCOLN AVENUE

NORTH of GLEN EYRIE to COE AVENUE

  •  El Abuelo Taqueria includes many exciting menu items that blend traditional Mexican tastes with unique, continental flavors.  Located at 1005 Lincoln Avenue. Telephone (408) 293-4470.  (Facebook)
  • Arteaga’s Food Center is a Mexican specialty and full-service grocery store that’s family owned, with multiple units at various Bay Area and northern California neighborhoods. (Facebook)

LINCOLN AVENUE

NORTH of PAULA STREET to PARKMOOR AVENUE

  • Bits & Pieces Bakery makes fresh desserts daily for in-store pick-up or local delivery. Check out their web page to place online pre-orders for delivery. (Facebook)
  •  Mr. T’s Liquor Locker, located at 900 Lincoln Avenue. Telephone (408) 280-1986.
  • One Stop Liquor, located at 801 Lincoln Avenue

WILLOW STREET
(EAST, from LINCOLN AVENUE)

— Willow Street East/Blewett Avenue —

  • Jack in the Box located on Willow Street, just off the corner of Lincoln Avenue.  It is one of the nation’s largest burger chains, with more than 2,200 locations. You can order anything on the menu, from  breakfast items to cheeseburgers, to tacos, seasoned french fries and real ice cream shakes any time of day or night.  (Facebook)
  • Baskin Robbins is also on Willow Street, just off of Lincoln… It’s the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops and has created more than 1,000 different ice cream flavors and a variety of delicious treats.  It was founded in 1945 in Glendale, California; but, is now based Canton, Massachusetts.  They sell ice cream in nearly 50 countries.(Facebook)
  • Sweet Mango Chinese & Burmese Cuisine is managed by a husband and wife team that introduces a combination of Burmese and Chinese cuisine to Willow Glen. Patrons of Taiwan Restaurant may recognize the patroness, as she worked there as a server for a decade before deciding to open her own place. And the patron, himself, started the successful New Flower Drum in San Carlos, which he sold a year ago.  The couple wanted to own their own restaurant locally, but also try something new.  A fellow cook joined them to add in the Burmese element in the kitchen. The two chefs offer a variety of dishes and the line between what is Burmese and what is Chinese is somewhat blurred. Burmese cuisine has long been influenced by those of China, Thailand, and India. (Facebook)

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— Willow Street East/ Curtiss Avenue —

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  • Flower Flour Cafe is an award-winning European Bakery, Café and Flower Boutique in Willow Glen of San Jose.  Found at downtown Willow Glen, but offset from the Avenue, it’s a unique and artful retreat at which to find premier pastries, cakes, café cuisine, as well as flowers and gifts.   (Facebook)

— Willow Street East/ Spencer Street —

  • Taqueria Tlaquepaque is a traditional, no-nonsense Mexican style restaurant with affordable prices and casual atmosphere.  Locals come here for homestyle Mexican food.  It has three locations, all in the proximity of downtown Willow Glen: 699 Curtner Avenue; 721 Willow Street; and 2222 Lincoln Avenue.

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WILLOW STREET (EAST) and BIRD AVENUE

— Willow Plaza —

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  • Blue Water Seafood & Crab is a husband and wife managed restaurant.  It was created after the proprietor had dreams of leaving his work at a big chain restaurant and opening his own place.  He wanted to cook and serve his favorite foods. Opened as of the summer of 2012, the couple found the perfect place in Willow Glen and put a lot of work into the spot to make it their own.  Being originally from Maryland, Seafood & Crab are some of the proprietor’s favorites; whereas, his wife is a “land lover” who appreciates a good burger.  So, the menu has something for everyone, including kids.  A life-sized, animatronics shark creates an awesome focal point, as well as a tribute to the local hockey team, the San Jose Sharks.  (Facebook)

— Willow Glen Plaza —

  •  Taqueria Tlaquepaque is a traditional, no-nonsense Mexican style restaurant with affordable prices and casual atmosphere.  It has three locations, all in the proximity of downtown Willow Glen: 699 Curtner Avenue; 721 Willow Street; and 2222 Lincoln Avenue.

WILLOW STREET (WEST) at MERIDIAN AVENUE

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— 1111 Meridian Avenue (at Willow Street) —

  • Togo’s was first opened in 1968 at William Street near San Jose State University in San Jose and has since expanded into a chain of approximately 250 to 350 fast and casual sandwich restaurants.   It’s still headquartered here in San Jose; whereas, the Willow Street & Meridian Avenue location has long been established in the neighborhood, around the bend from Willow Street Park and down the street from downtown Willow Glen.  Togo’s, as a company, has come a long way from being just a sandwich shack in an old building, as it remains as one of the city’s most successful and continuous foodservice businesses.  The brand name is taken from the lettering on an old menu board sign, “Sandwiches To Go,” with To Go being on the second line.  According to well-known local legend, it was back in 1971 that the shop was purchased by a local San Jose State University student.  A second location was opened in downtown San Jose in 1974.  The first franchise was sold in 1978.  Moving forward, as of 1997, Togo’s was acquired by the Dunkin’ Brands; then, again, by Mainsail Partners, a Bay Area-based firm.  This latest partnership includes a former president of Baskin-Robbins ice cream shops; so, the Togo’s stores have often been placed nearby the other well-known foodservice brand.  Here in Willow Glen, you nearly drive across Willow Street, from Meridian Avenue to just across Lincoln Avenue… that’s driving less than a mile  from Togo’s (with a sandwich), then to Baskin-Robbins (for an ice-cream).  Like always, the Togo’s still features its menu on a board sign that’s over the counter, assigning a number to each and every sandwich, of which there are at least 25 different types featured at one time.  (Facebook)
  • Plant Based Pizza is making the best food for you and your health.  They believe all the vitamins you need are present in veggies; as well as that their mission is to make you enjoy new tasty flavors through innovative recipes every day.  Vegan orders are accommodated. (Facebook)
  • Maverick’s Mexican Grill (under construction as of March 2015)
  • Starbucks at 1087 Meridian Avenue, phone 408-723-1425. See the previous paragraph for more information.  Alternate nearby locations: Lincoln & Minnesota Avenues; Meridian & Hamilton Avenues. (Facebook)
  • Yum Yum Donuts began in 1971 at its first shop in Highland Park, California. This shop is still in operation and is one of the highest volume shops in the chain.  Yum Yum’s founder spent time in North Carolina working with the founder of Krispy Kreme Donuts, learning the trade.  By 1973, Yum Yum had three shops and was anxious to expand, so it became a partnership.  They remained open 7 days a week, put in time and effort and eventually developed new locations.  Its local shop is at 1090 Meridian Ave, across from Togo’s and Starbucks.  (Facebook)

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EDITOR’S NOTE: revised as of 6 April 2015.  First publication of this article occurred as of Friday 27 March 2015; however, it shall be subject to continuous revisions and updates, as with business and neighborhood changes.

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