A Guide to 15 Top-Notch Gastropubs in the South Bay

| August 21, 2014 | 12 Comments
  • 12 Comments

The restaurant scene is roaring back to life in the South Bay and a common theme among them is restaurants featuring a unique bar program paired to a dining menu equal in creativity. While the concept of bringing together your favorite bar with gourmet bar bites is no new feat, here are 15 top-notch gastropubs in the South Bay.

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Transformed from a cozy wine and dessert bar, 55 South now serves craft cocktails and local brews alongside a menu of modern pub bites. Using small-batch spirits, old favorites such as the Moscow Mule get the craft cocktail treatment. A newly added menu of small plates is served Tuesday through Saturday nights.

55 South
55 S 1st Street, San Jose [map]
Ph: (408) 288-6000
Hours: Sun. – Tue. 7PM – 12AM; Wed. – Sat. 7PM – 2AM
Facebook: 55 South
Twitter: @the55south
Price Range: $$ (Entrees $11-$17)

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Bierhaus in Mountain View brings the feel of a German beer garden to the South Bay. The gastropub offers beers from Germany and Europe as well as a select few craft beers from the States. Grass-fed beef burgers and small plates such as the spaetzle with mushrooms and ham are hearty pairings made to enjoy alongside your litter of beer in the large outdoor beer garden.

Bierhaus
383 Castro Street, Mountain View [map]
Ph: (650) 395-8209
Hours: Mon. 4PM – 9PM; Tues. – Sun. 11AM – 9PM
Facebook: Bierhaus
Twitter: @bierhausMV
Price Range: $$ (Entrees $11-$17)

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Ciano’s Modern Latin Flavors features a menu encompassing the flavors and cooking styles of Latin America. Executive chef, Riccardo Ramirez studied in a focused culinary program, which immersed him in the different culinary cultures of each Latin American region. A menu of flavorful small plates such as the tropical ceviche, makes exploring the menu easy with a table of friends. The cocktail menu also takes Latin inspiration with several different sangrias, classic Latin cocktails as well as Ciano’s house specialties.

Ciano’s Modern Latin Flavors
280 E Campbell Avenue, Campbell [map]
Hours: Mon. – Wed.11:30 am – 9:30 pm; Thu. 11:30 am – 10pm; Fri. – Sat. 11:30 am – 12am; Sun 11am – 9pm
Facebook: Ciano’s Modern Latin Flavors
Twitter: @Cianosmodernlat
Price Range: $$$ (Entrees $18-$24)

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At Liquid Bread, executive chef, John Burke pairs his experience in fine dining with his appreciation for beer varieties at this Campbell gastropub. While there are no table clothes in sight, the food menu reads gourmet with a beer selection to impress any beer lover. Perfect for hoppy ale, the rich burger with béarnaise sauce and herbed potatoes is a crowd pleaser as is the locally sourced chicken and waffles. With more than twenty taps and a fridge of bottles (also available to go) the beer selection ranges from Bay Area breweries, popular domestic craft beers and European imports.

Liquid Bread Gastropub
379 E Campbell Avenue, Campbell [map]
Ph: (408) 370-3400
Hours: Tue. – Sat. 3pm – 11pm; Sun. 1pm – 9pm
Facebook: Liquid Bread Gastropub
Twitter: @LBgastropub
Price Range: $$$ (Entrees $18-$24)

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Tucked away from the main drag of Los Gatos, Jack Rose Libation House pays homage to John Steinbeck (whose former residence butts up against the bars property) with a unique literary themed décor. In honor of the author’s favorite cocktail, the house specialty is the Jack Rose, a refreshing concoction of Laird’s Applejack, house made grenadine, lime juice and simple syrup. The staff makes syrups, bitters and shrubs in house for their cocktail creations. For bar bites Jack Rose serves a tasty menu of cheese and charcuterie boards, small plates and pizzas.

Jack Rose Libation House
18840 Saratoga Los Gatos Rd., Los Gatos [map]
Hours: Mon. – Wed. 4PM – 11PM; Thu. 4PM – 12AM; Fri. – Sat. 4PM – 1AM; Sun. 4PM – 10PM
Facebook: Jack Rose Libation House
Twitter: @JackRosebar
Price Range: $$$ (Entrees $18-$24)

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Good Karma serves an entirely vegan menu that can be enjoyed by anyone who likes their food with big flavor and wholesome ingredients — regardless of your eating preferences. Dishes such as the jerk tofu and vegan bao Buddha bun pair deliciously to Good Karma’s impressive selection of craft beers on tap. With the occasional exceptions for a few imports, the majority of the taps are devoted to local microbreweries. A fridge holds bottled beer available to be enjoyed there or to go.

Good Karma Vegan Café
37 S. 1st Street, San Jose [map]
Ph: (408) 294-2694
Hours: Mon. – Sat. 11AM – 9PM; Sun. 12PM – 7PM
Facebook: Good Karma Vegan Café
Twitter: @GoodKarmaCafe
Price Range: $ (Entrees $10 and under)

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The dining menu at Lexington House is plated and served in the style of fine New American dining. Not to be missed dishes include the artfully plated, textures of beet, with strawberries and honey mascarpone, as well as the Maitake mushrooms, with creamy burrata and toasted crumbs. The restaurant’s bar program features curious cocktail creations made with small batch spirits, craft beer and limited-production wine. Co-founder and bartender, Jimmy Marino develops many of the cocktails including the novel, yet enjoyable Coffee & Cigarettes.

Lexington House
40 N. Santa Cruz Avenue, Los Gatos [map]
Ph: (408) 354-1600
Hours: Mon. – Thu. 5:30PM – 10PM; Fri. – Sat. 5PM – 10:30PM
Facebook: The Lexington House
Twitter: @thelexlg
Price Range: $$$ (Entrees $18-$24)

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It may not seem like an obvious marriage but this gastropub has enjoyed much success with their menu of pastrami sandwiches and menu of Belgian beers.  The Refuge has a rotating menu of twenty-four beers on tap. The selections are predominately Belgian varieties but domestic craft breweries are offered as well. An extensive menu of bottled beer is available as well. To soak up the pungent Belgian ales, Refuge’s dining menu features hearty burgers, cheese steaks and the signature pastrami reuben.

Refuge
1143 Crane Street, Menlo Park [map]
Ph: (650) 319-8197
Hours: Tue. – Thur. 11:30AM- 2:30PM 5:00 pm – 9PM; Fri. 11:30AM – 2:30PM 5PM – 10PM; Sat. 12PM – 10PM; Sun. 2PM – 9PM; Closed Mondays
Facebook: The Refuge
Twitter: @Refugepastrami
Price Range: $$$ (Entrees $18-$24)

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Live music, small-batch spirits and a menu with fresh takes on American comfort dishes have made Blackbird Tavern a happening spot for downtown San Jose culture. Dishes such as the shrimp and grits, pilsner clams and steak frites tastefully fit the American bistro backdrop. On the bar menu, a collection of locally sourced spirits, beers and wine can be ordered in addition to house specialty cocktails by the talented bar staff.

Blackbird Tavern
200 S 1st Street, San Jose [map]
Ph: (408) 278-1050
Hours: Tue. – Wed. 11:30AM – 10PM; Thur. – Fri. 11:30AM – 11PM; Sat. 5PM – 11PM
Facebook: The Blackbird Tavern
Twitter: @Blackbirdtavern
Price Range: $$ (Entrees $11-$17)

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Far-gone from being hot and new, this San Jose veteran restaurant has enjoyed a continued following for its German food, beer and charm. Teske’s Germania pours German beers by the liter and half liter alongside a menu of hearty German comfort food.  In addition to beer, Teske’s serves a menu of traditional German schnapps. The real festivity kicks off during Oktoberfest celebrations with live music and dancing in outdoor beer garden.

Teske’s Germania
255 N 1st Street, San Jose [map]
Ph: (408) 292-0291
Hours: Tue. – Fri. 11AM – 2PM, 5PM-9:30PM; Sat. 5PM-9:30PM; Closed Sunday and Monday
Facebook: Teske’s Germania Restaurant
Price Range: $$ (Entrees $11-$17)

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While food may not be directly available here, Market Beer Company calls San Pedro Square Market home, where a multitude of dining options are just a step away. After making up your mind on where to eat, then comes the harder option: selecting a beer that fits your taste from the several refrigerator cases. Market Beer Company carries a hearty collection of bottled beers from craft breweries around the country as well as imported selections. Bottles are available for take away or to be enjoyed at San Pedro Square Market. Additionally, be on the lookout for special tap takeover events with various local breweries.

Market Beer Company
100 N. Almaden Ave., San Jose [map]
Hours: Mon. – Thu. 11am – 10pm; Fri. – Sat. 11am -12am; Sun. 11am-10pm
Facebook: Market Beer Company
Twitter: @SPSMarketBeerCo
Price Range: $$ (Entrees $11-$17)

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Having recently celebrated their second anniversary, Original Gravity Public House features more than twenty-five taps pouring a rotating menu of beer from craft breweries around the country.* A newly opened second bar keeps up with the weekend crowds, while a backyard patio is perfect for enjoying a cold beer on a warm day. Complementing their beer menu Original Gravity also serves a menu of gourmet sausages with flavors running the spectrum from Texas bratwurst to apricot. A side order of duck fat fries is a must.

Original Gravity Public House
66 S 1st St., San Jose [map]
Hours: Mon. – Wed. 11:30am – 10:30pm; Thu. – Sat. 11:30am – 12am; Sun. 11:30am – 10:30pm
Facebook: Original Gravity Public House
Twitter: @OrigGravPub
Price Range: $$ (Entrees $11-$17)

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A cool collection of unique beers on draft and a menu of fun cocktails make Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant a popular lunch and happy hour destination in Mountain View. Perfect company to the drink menu, is an offering of American comfort food from Stein’s kitchen. Ample seating can be found in the large, open dining room or outside in the beer garden. The housemade sausage plate with toast points and whole grain mustard is ideal for keeping your belly full with hearty food between pours.

Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant
895 Villa St., Mountain View [map]
Hours: Mon. – Thu. 11am – 11pm; Fri. – Sat. 11am – 11:30pm; Sun. 11am – 10pm
Facebook: Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant
Twitter: @steinsbeer
Price Range: $$$ (Entrees $18-$24)

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Large communal tables and outdoor seating make SP2 a great place to meet up with friends for drinks, brunch or just because. The cocktail menu is a refreshing blend of classic recipes as well as SP2 signature creations. The Moonshiners Lemonade and the Cucumber Basil Gimlet are big hits from the bar menu. As for food, SP2’s signature dish is the deliciously tender, soy ginger glazed ribs. Happy hour runs daily from 3 – 7pm with and features a collection of small plates for $5 and beverages priced from $3 to $5.

SP2 Communal Bar + Restaurant
72 N. Almaden Ave., San Jose, [map]
Hours: Mon. – Thu.11:30 am – 12am; Fri. 11:30 am – 2am; Sat. 11am – 2am; Sun. 11am – 12am
Facebook: SP2 Communal Bar + Restaurant
Twitter: @_SP2_
Price Range: $$$ (Entrees $18-$24)

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This cocktail house is next-door neighbors to its sister restaurant, Original Gravity Public House. Those who love to discover a new mixology creation will be at home at Paper Plane with the restaurants enormous bar shelf and talented staff, who will happily find something that fits your taste. A fun menu of small plates feature dishes great for sharing, including the delicious chicken and waffle sliders with a sweet and spicy bacon marmalade.

Paper Plane
72 S. First St., San Jose [map]
Hours: Mon. – Tue. 4:30pm – 12am; Wed. – Sat. 4:30pm – 2am; Sun. 4:30pm – 12am
Facebook: Paper Plane
Price Range: $$$ (Entrees $18-$24)

*Correction 8/22/14 removed copy: Original Gravity proudly owns the claim to San Jose’s first craft beer bar.

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Category: bay area, Bay Area Bites Food + Drink, beer, beverages, cocktails and spirits, Guides

About the Author ()

Jeff Cianci is a freelance food writer based in San Jose. While studying journalism in college, Jeff’s curiosity landed him at a busy California bistro where he experienced a crash course in culinary training over two summer breaks, learning on the job with a very patient chef as his mentor. Around the same time, Jeff married his journalism degree to his appreciation for the restaurant world and determined food writing would be his career path. In his work Jeff most enjoys profiling chefs and learning their background, finding a new favorite restaurant and sharing his experiences with others through his reviews and social media. In addition to KQED's Bay Area Bites, Jeff writes restaurant reviews for Metro Silicon Valley and new restaurant guides for Eater National.
  • la

    Not to burst bubbles but; OG is only 2 years old. Not only does Good Karma hold the title for first and longest running craft beer bar in San Jose, but Ryan Summers is credited by most who enjoy it to have introduced the whole trend here. They have been running strong for over 8 years.

  • Jeff Cianci

    Hi La, thank you for your comment and my apologies for an honest mistake.
    I’m glad you’ve pointed out what a solid job Ryan and the Good Karma staff has done to introduce San Jose to the craft beer scene.

  • Dragisa Milivojevic

    Great article Jeff…

  • larry8lo

    Martin’s West in Redwood City is a very good gastropub too

  • Jeff Cianci

    Hi Larry,
    Thank you for your comment. I’ve enjoyed Martin’s West before and it is certainly a worthy contender for this list but for the sake of organization we kept the “South Bay” to just Santa Clara county.
    The only exception was Refuge (Menlo Park) on the list as it is just across the county boundary.

  • sf

    You left out nomikai – a great find along S. First St. in San Jose. They’ve got great food and very unique cocktails!

  • DublinJohn

    These are all peninsula and san jose dives. This is “Bay Area” bites? Not even close. Sorry but I was hoping to see a few – east bay, north bay and even tri valley eateries. I think the author needs to check the titles before posting them on line to those of us who pay attention to details like “stated locations” vs “listed locations”

  • DublinJohn

    Jeff… you need to get a car and get to other “bay area” towns. :)

  • Michelle D

    The article title does state “South Bay” when listing restaurants. Wouldn’t be inclusive of east bay or north bay restaurants.

  • Matt Kingbob

    What about firehouse No. 1, we were the first Gastropub in San Jose, not the first craft beer joint, but I think the first Gastropub

  • weegee

    Hi DublinJohn- Bay Area Bites covers the Bay Area and beyond. The South Bay is a region we are just starting to explore. BAB has a wealth of restaurant coverage in the East Bay via Jenny Oh’s 5 Bites series:http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/category/restaurants-and-bars/5-bites-restaurant-roundups/

  • Matt Kingbob

    What about firehouse No. 1, we were the first Gastropub in San Jose, not the first craft beer joint, but I think the first Gastropub