Exploring San Jose’s Little Portugal

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Written by: | Last updated on February 29, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes
This article is available in: en_US

There are Little Portugals throughout the world, including London, Toronto, and Newark, as well as a few towns (like Fall River) that have an incredibly large Portuguese population. But one Little Portugal that’s often overlooked is the Portuguese neighbourhood in San Jose.

That’s probably because it isn’t particularly big and comprises of just a few shops, restaurants, and cafes around the located between 33rd street and Highway 101, many of which are dotted in between local Mexican businesses. It certainly isn’t as big as Chinatown or Little Italy in San Francisco, but if you’re in San Jose, it’s worth checking out this authentic taste of Portugal.

As well as the establishments in this Little Portugal neighbourhood, there are also a few in Downtown San Jose.

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One of the most popular places to visit is Popular Bakery, a small Portuguese bakery with azulejos on the outside. You may be tempted to try the pastéis de nata, Portugal’s iconic custard tarts, but the real treat are the Queijadas da Dona Amélia.

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Owner Maria Manuela Torres hails from the island of Terceira where these little cakes come from, and the ones you’ll find here are on par with the ones you’ll find in The Azores. As well as these queijadas, you’ll also find other cakes and breads from the Azores, as well as a small grocery section featuring olive oil, Portuguese coffee, Maria biscuits, and lupini beans.

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For Portuguese groceries, there’s a larger supermarket and restaurant, Bacalhau Grill & Trade Rite Market, down the street and this has everything from biscuits to bacalhau, port and Madeira wine, and just about anything else you could ever need.

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The restaurant serves both Portuguese and Brazilian food and has been in business since 1940. Here you can sample classic Portuguese dishes like bacalhau com natas, picanha, guisado do polvo, and grilled sardines. They also serve Portuguese sandwiches, such as bifanas and linguiça sandwiches.

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ADEGA, situated in the heart of Little Portugal, proudly boasts the distinction of being the first restaurant in San Jose to receive a coveted Michelin star. Remarkably, it is only the second Portuguese eatery in the entire nation to earn this prestigious recognition.

Owned and lovingly run by the Carreira family, hailing from Portugal, ADEGA is synonymous with excellence. The name itself, which translates to “wine cellar” in Portuguese, reflects its renowned reputation for an exceptional wine collection. In fact, they offer the most extensive assortment of Portuguese wines beyond the borders of Portugal itself.

The owners also have a pastelaria in San Jose’s downtown area, Pastelaria Adega. This serves classic Portuguese pastries like pastéis de nata and bolo de arroz, but with a modern twist. Expect to find pastéis de nata with passionfruit, orange, and blueberry, among other innovations. These are some of the best natas you’ll find in the area, so be sure to give them a go.

© Portugalist – lemon-flavoured pastel de nata from Adega Pastelaria
© Portugalist – Coconut flavoured massalada from Ageda Pastelaria

And if that wasn’t enough, they also have a petiscos (Portuguese tapas) restaurant called Petiscos Adega.

Around the corner you’ll find Cafe do Canto, a traditional, unassuming Portuguese cafe, a perfect stop for a café (espresso) and cheese sandwich made with São Jorge cheese.

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Across the highway overpass, you’ll come to Five Wounds Portuguese National Parish, a church that has been a part of the neighbourhood since 1914. According to the San Jose website, it is one of the most photographed, sketched, and painted buildings in the city.

Not far from the church is Goulart’s, a Portuguese sausage company, which supplies many of the local shops and businesses in the area.

For more information about Little Portugal, take a visit to the Portuguese Historical Museum, which is situated in Kelley Park, around 15 minutes by car from San Jose’s Little Portugal. The museum’s exhibits focus on the Age of Exploration and Immigration from Portugal to the US, particularly from the Azores.

Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.