Clojure/west is only feeding us lunch on Friday. That leaves us to our own devices for Friday's dinner, after-after-party drinks, Saturday's lunch, dinner, and drinks.
Furthermore, Clojure/west's website lists the official guide from the city of San Jose, which includes a lot of duds and places far away from the conference venue. There's not much I like about Downtown San José but the few things I do enjoy are places to eat and drink.
For the impatient, here's the map of everything.
As a student at San José State, I spend a lot of time in this part of town and have compiled a short list of places to eat and drink while you're in town for the conference. If you're venturing further afield than downtown or just want to hang out. I exist on the Twitters as @nuclearsandwich
I've included below a description of my usual haunts and a like to Google's walking directions from the conference hotel.
To my mind, Good Karma is the best food in Downtown San José. Yes it's a vegan restaurant but the food is stellar. They have a selection of entrées such as Spicy Basil Tofu and Chana Masala which they serve on a plate with brown rice and house gravy, or in a wrap. The spicy basil tofu and Pra-Ram are my favorites at the moment. The other best thing about Good Karma is their amazing beer selection. Even if you don't make it out for the food, treat yourself to a good beer. I wrote most of this article from Good Karma. If you're an IPA fan, Good Karma currently has a host of exceptional IPAs including Russian River's Pliny the Elder, one of my favorites in the genre.
La Lune Sucrée
La Lune Sucrée only opened up recently. It's above average for a student's lunch and I generally consider coming here a treat. They have a number of French staples such as croque-monsieur which I cannot speak toward, but their Apple and Brie (with ham if you want it) sandwich has walnuts and cranberries and is quite yummy as is the vegetable quiche. They also have one of my favorite ginger ales but it comes in massive one liter bottles.
Single Barrel is cocktail heaven. Your first drink here, you're not allowed to order from the menu and you'll probably never want to. Instead your bartender is going to ask you what sort of flavors you enjoy and through a serious of questions, arrive at a cocktail that suits you well. Come in the mood to relax and take your time with the drinks here as they aren't cheap. Also be warned that they don't take groups larger than six since it is a speakeasy in a low-ceilinged basement. They have chess, checkers, Connect Four, and Scrabble so long as you keep the volume down.
Tandori Oven is mostly here because some of you won't want to eat at Good Karma for every meal. I've eaten here once or twice and never been disappointed, but there's better Indian closer to where I live so this restaurant is not in my regular rotation.
Satori Tea Bar
Satori Tea Bar isn't a place to eat lunch or dinner and the hours are quite restricted. However, if you need to take a break and go somewhere quiet and contemplative where you can drink delicious oolongs and rare greens or try the delicious guayusa, which is similar to yerba mate but sweeter.
A quick stop at Satori for tea to go would also be nice walking back from the Mmmoon
Despite its silly name, The Mmmoon makes really delicious empanadas both sweet and savory. The sauce they use is quite unique and although I've seen it in a number of other empanada restaurants throughout the Bay Area, this is the best one I've had. Lunch here can be cheap and filling. They also deliver within five miles of their location which includes the conference venue.
I've only eaten at Grande because the school regularly hosts mixers with IBM, Cisco, and NetApp here. The pizza is alright and they have a few "good enough" beers and an inexpensive happy hour that coincides with the dinner break.
This is the quintessential college eatery. The food here won't be great, but when you're starving at 2AM it will be a feast. Their orange salsa is also raved about but I don't think much of it. I tend to avoid La Vic because the food is only "vegetarian" if you're willing to apply large double quotes to the term. It made the list because you've not properly been to Downtown San José until you've been to La Victoria.