Grub Shack, San jose

Great Food at Grub Shack in Santa Clara St in San Jose, CA

I knew I was walking towards my first Hawaiian meal and it was a just a few steps away from the office. My first reaction after entering this place was: "Hmm...What is it? Is it a hole in a wall, or is it a restaurant? No, it is a shack - exactly like its name suggests." If you expect to see a crew hanging around in beach shorts or in colorful tees, you are bound to be disappointed. Their color of choice is black: black tees  are matched with black gloves in a live display kitchen larger than the eating area. A few minutes and you know the message: they want you to know that they really cook their food from farming onward. They want you to see it and believe it before you get to experience it. They would make sure that you see a few kitchen fires as part of the experience being dished out.

They, of course, know that all of their tables when put together occupy lesser space than most dinning tables at homes in the U.S. do. That is exactly what they don't want you to focus on. They have stacks of  to-go boxes and packaging visible at eye level. The second message is: "We are a tiny restaurant. So, how about placing a to-go order? You may enjoy it more in your own home."

The Location

Grub Shack is located in a corner building right on the intersection of 3rd Street and Santa Clara Street in downtown San Jose. Street parking is available but it maybe a little difficult to find. Your best bet is the parking garage on 3rd street between Santa Clara and St. James.

Address: 93 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

Phone: 408 977 1665

The Hours

  • Tue-Fri 11 am - 2:30 pm,
  • Tue-Fri 5 pm - 8:30 pm,
  • Sat 12 pm - 8 pm. (Sunday and Monday closed).

The Ambiance

If ambiance is high on your priority, this place shouldn't be on your list. Grub Shack is for those who are looking for great food and good prices. It is a tiny establishment with seating for just eight and a couple of more can stand and eat. They have tried to give an artistic touch and theme to it, which is just about OK. This place gets its customers from nearby offices and San Jose State University. They have a big live kitchen that occupies most of the space in the restaurant.

This place is not for leisurely dinning. Come, eat and go.

The Service

It took us about 10 minutes to order and another ten minutes to be served. There is no table service, you grab your plates and move to the table. They do give you extra plates, if required. All plates are disposable. So are spoons, forks and knives.

The Price

This place is pocket friendly. $30 for three, it could be $30 for four too. Portions and prices are on expected lines.

The Food

How do you define Hawaiian food? My take is, Hawaiian food is the mother of fusion cuisine. It is an amalgamation and  fusion of imports from Japanese, Modern American, Filipino, Chinese, Korean and many other cuisines. These influences are very strong and there are very different styles that coexist in a single dish. This place doesn't offer a zillion choices, so over three to four visits, one can try the full menu and figure out what works best.  My colleagues who recommended this place and accompanied me knew the menu well and had their favorites too. I decided to soak in the character of the place instead of figuring out what needed to be ordered.

We ordered sliders, tacos, and one portion of chicken wings. Sliders came with fries or macaroni salad. We took macaroni salad with one and a side of fries. The portions were decent for all. Essentially, we had four food items on the table: Kalua pork tacos, shrimp sliders, fries and chicken wings. The Kalua pork tacos had three sets. The dish looked complex with several components configured together. I did try to make out all that was there. In the end, I decided to do so by eating the same instead. Pork, tortilla, extra easy egg and orange sauce. It was difficult to stop once I started eating. They were too good. I allowed the yolk to spill over on my plate and polished it off with the second tortilla. This slider was a complete meal for one person. Recommended.

Shrimp Slider had three sets too. For us, it was perfect. All of us got to eat one each. It is a shrimp sandwich with a tomato slice. The shrimp has batter on it and is fried. With the first bite, you tend to want more: that crunchy taste of shrimp and loads of juice makes for a mouthful of  flavor. They were really very delicious. Of course, one needed to stop counting calories. Recommended.

The Adobo glazed wings were too salty. They had flavor but the excess of salt spoilt the taste. I am not sure whether it was just us or whether their recipe was wrong. If you order these, do make sure that the salt is to your taste. Not recommended.

The fries were awesome! There were spices, fresh parsley and their house sauce. In all, it had a great taste. Recommended.

This street has over twenty restaurants. It is tough for a restaurant to survive if it doesn't create a niche for itself. It looks like Grub Shack has created a niche and is all set to grow bigger.  Do visit!


Published On: Wednesday, May 29th, 2013