Mosaic 2014 top restaurant picks

The Mosaic workshop is known for its access to the many exquisite dining options in downtown San Jose, and although the two weeks of Mosaic flew by in a wink, it was just enough time for the Mosaic Class of 2014 to scout out its favorite eateries near San Jose State University. From a morning coffee run to a fancy night out — we’ve got you covered.

WHISPERS CAFE & CREPERIE

Adorned with a colorful wall-sized chalkboard menu and a spacious dining area, Whispers Cafe & Creperie is a relatively high-end restaurant, but still feels like a quick urban cafe. The wide variety of foods, although more on the pricey side, range from soups and salads, savory and sweet crepes, and burgers with fries, giving customers a large selection to choose from. Savory crepes generally cost $9.75 each, and are served with greens and a choice of fruit or potatoes. Most sweet crepes are $6.75, and are served with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. The sitting area expands outside, where tables are surrounded by glass walls and shaded by umbrellas.

A favorite from the Mosaic students at Whispers is the “Tetrazzini” crepe — a savory crepe with chicken breast, mozzarella cheese, olives, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Whispers: 150 S. 2nd Street, San Jose, 95112. 408–297–2850.www.whisperscafe.com

M-Sun, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

PHILZ COFFEE

The brightly painted walls with the aromas of warm coffee beans and freshly baked pastries give Philz Coffee the classic “coffee shop” feel. Philz is always an early morning favorite to wake up the Mosaic students for a day of hard work, providing just the right amount of flavor and caffeine. Although the menu is fairly upscale — $3 for any regular small coffee and $4 for a large — the hand-poured drinks and friendly customer service are worth the trip. Coffee enthusiasts are seen happily chatting as they wait in line, or simply enjoying a cup of coffee on the velvet couches. The Tesora ($3 small) was the original coffee that started it all, and is a buttery caramel medium roast. Served hot, it stays true to the rich flavors of coffee, and is especially recommended by the store to first-time customers. The Iced Mint Mojito, $4 for a small, adds a sharp freshness to every cup with real mint leaves, and is raved by coffee critics everywhere. Customers can also throw a fresh sprig of mint on their cup, adding an extra boost of flavor and color.

Philz Coffee: 118 Paseo de San Antonio Walk, San Jose, 95112. 408–971–4212.www.philzcoffee.com

M-F 6:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Sat & Sun 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

LA VICTORIA’S

If a tasty traditional Mexican taqueria is what you seek, La Victoria’s does not disappoint. Called “La Vic’s” by Mosaic students, the restaurant is fairly accessible, offering either a sit-down experience or a speedy to-go service. La Victoria’s attracts Mexican cuisine lovers from all over the Bay who are willing to travel the extra mile to taste the gooey goodness of their comida. This restaurant is a local Mosaic favorite, with the most popular item being the Super Burrito. Rich and flavorful, this burrito includes meat, cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, and other ingredients, all wrapped up in a package of tortilla bliss. The Super Nachos are also a great pick, if you’d like some extra crisp to your meal. But most of all, be sure to ask for some of La Victoria’s special sauce — spicy and creamy, you will be left begging for more.

La Victoria’s: 140 E. San Carlos Street, San Jose, CA 95112. 408–298–5335. www.lavicsj.com

M-Sun, 7 a.m.-3 a.m.

HYDRATION COFFEE & TEA

A lesser-known but no less beloved food spot, Hydration Coffee & Tea can be considered a secret gem of downtown San Jose. This Taiwanese cafe has a petite ambiance, with a smaller eating area, making it the perfect place to grab a bite and hang out with friends. Service is extremely speedy, and the employees are quite good-natured as well. Hydration offers a variety of foods and beverages, ranging from bento boxes and noodle bowls to milk tea. Thus, it’s a great location to grab a snack or sit down for a meal. Of all the meal choices, Mosaic students find the Crispy Chicken Bento Box to be extra tasty and filling. The fruit smoothies at Hydration are also a favorite, particularly the mango smoothie. A wide selection of drink additions makes for an enjoyable experience.

Hydration Coffee & Tea: 310 S 3rd St, San Jose, CA 95112. 408–298–9968.

M-Th 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-12 a.m., Sun 12 p.m.-9 p.m.

TENGU SUSHI

With a friendly staff and traditional sushi, Tengu Sushi is a great stop for those craving some Japanese cuisine. The sushi place is small in area, but serves great food at a reasonable price, with most meals under $10. There is quite a selection of sushi, guaranteeing that everyone can find something to please themselves on the menu. Students at Mosaic like to try different combinations of the Sushi Burrito, a treat most sushi restaurants don’t offer. The Sushi Burrito is a large sushi roll as big as a burrito, with different choices of fillings to add inside. The teriyaki chicken filling is highly recommended, and highly praised as well. As for traditional rolls, Tengu Sushi has a great variety of sushi in smaller portions, making for a great treat or light dinner as well.

Tengu Sushi: 111 Paseo De San Antonio Walk, San Jose, CA 95112. 408–275–9491.tengusushi.net

M-F 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat 12 p.m.- 5 p.m., closed Sunday

THE FARMERS UNION

Surrounded by wooden furniture and warm lighting, The Farmers Union is a chic and cozy eatery located in the heart of San Jose’s downtown dining area. With its tall glass windows and strings of bright lights, this restaurant can’t be missed from afar. Farmers Union is a lively but relaxing way to spend the night, bustling with friendly employees and the clinking of plates. The comfort food served here is decently priced, with entrees are around $10, and are high in quality and taste.The Mac and Cheese, baked in a dish and pleasingly sophisticated with fresh bread crumbs and garnish on top, was ordered all around the Mosaic dinner table. Sitting by candlelight and drinking tall glasses of ice water, the Mosaic students couldn’t have been happier with their experience at the Farmer’s Union.

The Farmers Union: 151 W Santa Clara Ave San Jose, CA 95113. 408–277–0545.www.thefarmersunion.com

M-Th 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Sat 4 p.m.-11 p.m., Sun 4 p.m.-10 p.m.