Tag Archives: Santana Row restaurants

A Visit to the New Fitoor in Santana Row

The signature appetizer sampler, "Chaats of India,'' at Fitoor.
The signature appetizer sampler, “Chaats of India,” at Fitoor.

You’d be hard pressed to recognize the space at San Jose’s Santana Row that formerly held Amber India. Gone is the once dramatic celestial ceiling complete with shooting stars, which was cutting edge back in the early aughts. In its place is Fitoor, with modern luxuriousness and an elegant clubby vibe, an archetype perhaps more in keeping with this sleeker day and age.

Husband-and-wife restaurateurs Anu and Vikram Bhambri have completely revamped the space down to the studs, creating three distinct dining areas, a rear dining room done up in shades of emerald, a middle dining room gilded in gold accents, and a front lounge with floor-to-ceiling accordion glass windows that can be completely tucked away to make it open-air.

It’s been a busy year already for this enterprising ouple, who also opened the Mediterranean Alora on Pier 3 in San Francisco just two months prior. It joins their other restaurants, Rooh in Palo Alto and San Francisco, and Pippal in Emeryville. And more may be in the works.

The bar/lounge area.
The bar/lounge area.
The glam green dining room.
The glam green dining room.

Fitoor is Hindi for “passion,” and weekends exemplify that with added high energy, courtesy of a live DJ plus fire dancers. On weeknights, such as when I was invited in recently as a guest of the restaurant, the atmosphere is more subdued, with plenty of tables filled with tech types gathering after work.

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Meso Brings Modern Mediterranean to Santana Row With Pedigreed Chef

Bull's blood beets and their greens on a bed of labneh at the new Meso.
Bull’s blood beets and their greens on a bed of labneh at the new Meso.

Renowned Chef Roland Passot now boasts a trifecta of restaurants at San Jose’s Santana Row. Joining his LB Steak and Left Bank Brasserie, his new Meso opened its doors in November in a newer section of the mixed use complex right near tech firm Splunk.

The modern upscale Mediterranean restaurant not only sports an elegant design by Oakland’s Arcsine, the firm that also created the look of Duende in Oakland and Wursthall in San Mateo, but a head chef with an impressive background. Executive Gregory Short spent many years working at The French Laundry in Napa before taking the helm of Masa’s in San Francisco. He even lured fellow French Laundry alum Pastry Chef Eva Wong to join him at Meso.

While a master at French food and techniques, Short acknowledged there was a learning curve for him when it came to Middle Eastern cuisines. But as he told me a few weeks ago when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant, he combed through a myriad of books to hone in on the distinct flavors of the region.

The bar evokes Morocco.
The bar evokes Morocco.
The fountain wall in the dining room.
The fountain wall in the dining room.

Meso, which means ”middle,” immediately transports you to that area with its color scheme of cool blues of the Mediterranean sky and sea. Patterned metal screens, curved archways, and a blue-purple lighted fountain divider in the spacious dining room give the air of modern Morocco.

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Discount on FallFest, Plus Happenings in the South Bay/Peninsula

A scene from last year's FallFest. (Photo courtesy of San Francisco magazine)

A scene from last year’s FallFest. (Photo courtesy of San Francisco magazine)

Fall for FallFest in San Francisco

If you’re mourning the end of summer, you’re sure to rejoice that it’s fall with FallFest, the outdoor foodie fest noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 10 at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco.

Presented by San Francisco magazine, the event supports Meals on Wheels of San Francisco, which provides meals to home-bound seniors.

Enjoy live music, cooking demos, and tantalizing tastes from some of the Bay Area’s premier chefs, wineries and breweries.

Among those participating will be: 25 Lusk, Barbacco, Gaspar Brasserie, Cairdean Estates, and Blackbird Vineyards.

Tickets are $110 in advance; $125 at the door.

Get $10 off your ticket if you purchase before Oct. 2 and use the code: FOODGAL

Tacolicious Comes to Santana Row

San Francisco’s Tacolicious, which already has a venue in Palo Alto, is expanding even farther south with an outpost in Santana Row in San Jose.


It is expected to open sometime around February 2016 in the old Lavazza space.

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Roots & Rye Plants A Stake at Santana Row

Say yes to loaded, smashed potatoes at Roots & Rye.

Say yes to loaded, smashed potatoes at Roots & Rye.


I have joked with Chef-Restaurateur Chris Yeo that some day he will end up operating every restaurant at San Jose’s Santana Row.

Which would be pretty impressive for a guy who describes himself as retired.

Yeo may no longer be in the kitchen these days, but he’s still plenty active. In fact in July, he opened his third restaurant at that upscale outdoor retail-housing complex.

Roots & Rye is a slight departure for Yeo in that unlike his other two restaurants here, Straits and Sino, this one is not heavily Asian-influenced.

Instead, it’s a gastropub, featuring New American cuisine, offered in both small and large plates, as well as about 100 different whiskeys on the menu.

The large lounge area.

The large lounge area.

The expansive, backlit bar.

The expansive, backlit bar.

What it does share in common with his two other establishments is a boisterous, lounge-y vibe with pulsating music playing noon and night. His penchant for bar hostesses in short, tight, black attire also has been carried over here. So much so that I jested that I hoped my husband would not end up with whiplash when we dined here one recent evening when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

The front of Roots & Rye opens up to bring the outdoors in. The bar area takes up about half the restaurant and spills outdoors with chairs set up around cool-looking glass-fronted fire pits. The dining room toward the back makes for a slightly quieter area.

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Half-Price Cheesecake, Steve Raichlen Visits SF & More

The new Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Cheesecake Sale at the Cheesecake Factory

It just wouldn’t be right, would it, if National Cheesecake Day came and went without some scrumptious offering from the Cheesecake Factory?

The company will be offering “Any Slice, Half Price” on all its cheesecakes for dine-in guests on July 30.

Just for the occasion, the Cheesecake Factory also will be debuting its newest specialty: Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake. Oh yes, it’s a layer of vanilla cheesecake loaded with Oreo cookies, then layers of fudge cake, along with Oreo cookie mousse. The whole shebang is frosted in milk chocolate icing, then garnished with a large Oreo cookie wafer.

Lark Creek Blue Coming to Santana Row in August

You may have noticed that Yankee Pier at Santana Row in San Jose is no more.

But don’t worry, the space won’t be vacant for long. The Lark Creek Restaurant Group is completely remodeling the spot for its new Lark Creek Blue, which will open in August.

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