Sunday, January 29, 2006

santana row

santana rowYesterday I was chatting with a person I'll call Doubting Thomas for now, and the subject of Santana Row came up. He dismissed SR as too crowded, expensive and 408. Although some criticism along those lines is valid, Santana Row is a frequent destination for me. In fact, it is where I spent the afternoon.

Santana Row is a highly planned, 3 block-long shopping and residential "neighborhood" in San Jose next to Valley Fair Mall. The main part is a center street lined with boutiques and restaurants on the ground floor and condos and apartments above. The Hotel Valencia and its 2nd-story V Bar occupy the middle, and a mutlti-story Crate &Barrel and Century Theater's CinéArts anchor the ends.

On Sundays, the have a small farmers' market that runs until 3, perfect for a later riser. At farmers' market today I purchased a pomelo, some mandarins and fresh-pressed pomegranate juice. I also gambled on some frozen lobster ravioli from the ravioli stand, but the main purpose of the trip was lunch.

lobster roll from yankee pierSantana Row has a lot of restuarants. Several are San Jose branches of established Bay Area brands (Amber, Left Bank, Straits Cafe, Blowfish). Two more are part of larger chains (Maggiano's , Pasta Pomodoro), but the most interesting ones are from peninsula restaurateurs. Chris Yeo (of Strait's) opened Sino; Tim Stannard (of Village Pub) joined Gordon Drysdale (Gordon's House of Fine Eats) to create Pizza Antica; and, Bradley Ogden (Parcel 104 and Lark Creek Inn) developed Yankee Pier, today's lunch destination.

Santana Row also has many little shops, and my favorite are the ones that make men's shoes. Tod's (the Italian manufacturer with the English name) has a large corner store. Donald J Pliner occupies a corner as well, and the Spanish Camper is directly across from Pizza Antica. It is a perfect place to browse while you are waiting for your outside table at PA.

In future weeks, my faithful readers will learn more about what I love at Santana Row (hint: all the pizzas at Pizza Antica), but for those who are like Doubting Thomas and haven't explored Santana Row, I encourage you to head down one evening or weekend afternoon. It might even be worth the drive down from the city.