Night & Day Dining: Experience New San Jose Outdoor Markets
With more than 250 days of sun in Silicon Valley, we enjoy the area’s glorious weather in many ways, including the opportunity to savor a meal outside whenever possible. This year, two new outdoor markets in San Jose offer a different way to dine al fresco. You can sample a wide variety of cuisines, check out local produce or simply sway to the sounds of live music while basking in the warmth of friends and family and community during the long, lazy summer evenings.
Night Markets on the Rise
Night markets originated in the Far East with the advent of electricity, allowing makers to sell their wares at night without the oppressive daytime heat. In the past few years, night markets have opened in major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City, often with the original Asian-themed food at the core of the offerings and always with a sense of belonging to the local community through food, drink and family fun.
San Jose is tapping into this trend with the new Taylor Street Night + Market in San Jose’s Japantown. Dan Gordon, co-founder of Gordon Biersch, describes how the local business community came together to create this new weekly event: “The night market is a cultural fusion of food, art and music along with beers and ciders. We partnered with San Jose Jazz for incredible live musical talent, Moveable Feast for an ever-changing selection of food trucks and San Jose Made for artisans to display and sell their wares.”
So what makes Taylor Street Night + Market different from regular farmers markets? For starters, there are expert brewers on hand to talk about the refreshing craft beers being served. With the adults well occupied, kids can get the giggles playing the larger-than-life Connect 4 game. One of the great things about outdoor markets is kids are free to run around and, well, be kids.
The new event pops up every Thursday night from 5pm to 9pm at the Gordon Biersch Brewery, 357 E. Taylor St., offering a great warmup for your weekend. Whether you’re in the mood for Asian Fusion fare or a gooey grilled-cheese sandwich, up to 10 food trucks are on hand dishing out authentic, locally sourced street food. Moveable Feast’s signature red buckets and wooden picnic tables, along with strings of bright lights, give the scene a fun beer-garden vibe.
A Taste of the French Countryside, City Style
Open-air daytime markets are a way of life in many parts of Europe and very prominent in the south of France, where items branch out far beyond fruits and vegetables to include linens and clothing. Communities flock to these markets as frequently as we might visit our grocery store. Vendors know their customers, and buyers know exactly where their food items are made or grown.
If you’re not planning a trip to Provence anytime soon, you can conjure up this community feeling by taking a leisurely stroll through the new outdoor French farmers market, Le Marché at Santana Row in San Jose. Set amongst the European-style buildings, Le Marché features over 50 vendors offering organic vegetables and fruit, local cheeses, flowers, herbs, olives, bakery items and more.
“We sought out farm-fresh food products not often found at other Bay Area farmers markets. For example, a local farm brings their French mara des bois strawberries, offering their intense flavor in a small glossy red berry,” says Gail Hayden, director of the California Farmers’ Market Association, the organization that brought the market together.
Wondering what to do with all that beautiful produce you couldn’t resist? Each week includes a food demonstration from a local chef, highlighting items from the market in easy-to-prepare recipes for home cooks. And if you don’t feel like cooking, Le Marché includes prepared food items such as crêpes, rotisserie chickens, miniature quiches and even made-to-order rock oven pizzas.
What better way to spend a summer evening than trying out a new kind of dining experience? Meander around either of these markets and you’ll find yourself nibbling some delicious food, enjoying the outdoor seating and warm summer nights and maybe even making a new friend or two.