Poor House Bistro, a Cajun Style Eatery in Silicon Valley: Review

Poor house Bistro is a New Orleans style restaurant in San Jose, California. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

70 Days Across America

Poor House Bistro claims to be the only authentic Cajun style eatery in San Jose, California. Located within walking distance of San Jose Diridon Station, it makes a perfect spot for a quick bite before boarding or alighting from a train. Live entertainment livens things up after dark.

Why I’m Here …

After spending a wonderful week visiting an old friend in Santa Cruz, California, it is time to travel to Sacramento, the state capital. It is also next stop on my epic journey, 70 Days Across America.

The two cities are roughly 150 miles apart. And the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to travel between them is to drive.

Unfortunately, I no longer have a California driver license so driving is out of the question.

Using public transport, there are only three options:

  • First, taking the bus, which requires a transfer in Oakland;
  • Second, taking the bus and the train, which requires a transfer in San Jose;
  • Third, taking the shuttle and a flight, which requires a transfer in San Jose.

My preference is to go by train. And I am thrilled when my friend offers to drive me to the train station in San Jose.

The trip from Santa Cruz to San Jose goes by way of the densely forested Santa Cruz Mountains. And the drive is absolutely breathtaking.

We arrive in just enough time for lunch. I first go into the train station to buy my ticket. Then we go to the Poor House Bistro, which is the closest food and beverage outlet to San Jose Diridon Station.

The Ambiance …

A large poster next to the front door of the restaurants lists activities and special promotions.  Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
Inside, it looks like a home that has been converted into a restaurant. Which is is exactly what it is;. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
There is a self-service drinks station next to the eatery’s cashier. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

The Poor House Bistro is housed in a California style bungalow, which has a large front porch.

Next to the front door is a large poster with a schedule of activities and special promotions. Events include open mike nights, jam sessions, and live bands. Blues bands are often featured.

Diners place their orders at the counter and help themselves to beverages. Then they seat themselves in one of the dining rooms. There is also outdoor seating in the patios in front of and to the side of the restaurant.

The Menu …

Samples of the day’s specials are both on display, and they both look yummy. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

The main menu runs from starters with yummy sounding names like blackened chicken wings and Cajun popcorn to sides like Creole slaw, Jambalaya cup, and Zappa chips.

There are “authentic” New Orleans hot po boys (i.e. poor boy sandwiches), seafood po boys, and Muffaletta sandwiches.

Poor House specialties run from Crawfish pasta to BBQ shrimp platters. and red beans and rice. Not to mention soups, salads, and New Orleans style desserts.

The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner.

It serves brunch on Sundays with yummy sounding options like pecan pancakes with fresh fruit, creamy grits andn slow roasted meat, and biscuits and Trasso cream gravy.

Our Lunch …

Crawfish Remoulade Salad. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

My friend decides to go healthy and opts for the Crawfish Remoulade Salad.

New Orleans Combo. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

I decide to go for broke. So I order the New Orleans Combo. It consists of a sample of gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans and rice. And it is served with corn bread.

The Verdict …

Okay, but not great. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Many, many, many years ago, I was friends with someone that was born in rural Louisiana.

One New Year’s Eve, we co-hosted a party, and her mother made three batches of gumbo: hot, very hot, and really hot.

Only three of us tackled the really hot: my friend, my friend’s mother, and I. Everyone else opted for either the hot or the very hot. And even the hot was too hot for some of the party-goers!

All I can say is this.  If you’ve ever had gumbo prepared by someone from rural Louisiana, the version served at Poor Boy Bistro is likely to disappoint.

It was good, but it wasn’t great. To be honest, I found the food a bit bland.

So I might give the place another try if I were in the neighborhood. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat there.

The Location …

San Jose Diridion Transit Center. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

The restaurant is a four-minute walk from San Jose Diridon Station at 65 Cahill Street in the Lakehouse district near downtown San Jose.

The vintage 1930s era train station is a transit hub for San Jose, Santa Clara County, and Silicon Valley.

Built in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, the station is served by Caltrain, the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE), the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light rail system, and Amtrak.

Several bus lines also make stops at the station.


This review of the Poor House Bistro  is part of a series chronicling my epic journey, 70 Days Across America. 





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