Devoted to downtown: For about 35 years, Eulipia has stuck with downtown San Jose, and that tenure included downtown's gloomiest days, when it sometimes seemed that Eulipia, Camera One and Original Joe's were the only lights on in the South First Street area. Through it all, Eulipia has been an arts community magnet, and a favorite of music and film lovers attending performances at the California Theatre.
Starting next week, those arts lovers will have a cool new hangout on South First. After a months-long renovation, Eulipia is being reborn with a new purpose, new menu, new hours, new generation of ownership and new jazz-inspired name, Cafe Stritch.
Original owners Steve and Kathleen Borkenhagen chose "Eulipia," a term coined by a favorite jazz musician of theirs, noted instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who died in 1977. "Stritch" is the name for a straight alto sax with no upturned bell -- one of the instruments Kirk played.
After buying the restaurant from his parents, new owner Michael Borkenhagen transformed the circa-1919 building into a hip cafe, bar and coffeehouse that pays homage to Kirk with a huge mural by artist Erin Salazar and a stage for live music of all kinds.
Borkenhagen, who will run Stritch with siblings Melissa and Maxwell, brought in consulting chef David Ramsay (Myth Taverna, Dio Deka) to help create a new menu of trendy small plates. Think artisan pizza, ribs, chicken and waffles, breakfast brioche, desserts,
Look for high-end beverages, including Chromatic Coffee at the espresso bar, craft beer on tap and cocktails, as well as much longer hours, from 8 a.m. to midnight many nights.
Cafe Stritch's soft opening is timed for the run of the Cinequest film festival nearby. The cafe will serve a very limited menu from Feb. 26 to March 10, then launch officially with broad offerings. Also coming soon: sidewalk tables made from reclaimed materials, and comfy seating amid artworks upstairs.
Details: 374 S. First St., San Jose. 408-280-6161.
Artisan tacos: The trendy San Francisco taco stand that turned into a brick-and-mortar success in the Marina and the Mission has ventured south, to Palo Alto. But you won't find an S.F.-style burrito on the menu here. Instead, Tacolicious creates upscale tacos with such fillings as guajillo-braised short ribs or butternut squash and poblano peppers (the emphasis is on hormone-free meats and organic veggies), and also makes tilapia ceviche, tuna tostadas, guacamole and more. Wash your meal down with an agua fresca, a Mexican beer on tap or one of more than 50 tequilas. Owner Joe Hargrave knows his high-end ingredients: He's a business-side veteran of S.F.'s Lulu and Rose Pistola. The new Tacolicious is already catering to its college clientele. The website announces, "Stanford students, take note: Tacolicious will be open until midnight." Details: 632 Emerson St. (at Hamilton). 650-838-0500; www.tacolicious.com.
Send your South Bay and Peninsula restaurant tips to Linda Zavoral, firstname.lastname@example.org.