Shrimp with zucchini noodles
Resetting Breakfast with a Squash Gratin

Blues, food and fun at Poor House Bistro

Poor House Bistro © Bob Mack IMG_2142IMG_2152San Jose, California is home to the Poor House Bistro, PHB, one of the best places for New Orleans-style food and blues music. Jay Menduri, proprietor of PHB, has created an environment that is comfortable, exciting, and fun.

The restaurant is in a neo-classical house built in the early 1900s and owned by the Menduri family since 1951. Members of the family lived in the house off and on until 2000 when Jay Menduri began remodeling it to house PBH. The restaurant opened in 2005.

As you walk through the wrought iron gate, you might be greeted with the sound of B. B. King as he riffs on Lucille. Continuing up the front stairs and across the porch, you enter the former family home and pass through what may have been the living room to the counter, where you order your food and beverages.

In addition to the everyday lunch special (half a Po Boy and cup of soup) there are daily main course specials. The regular menu runs from Jambalaya and Po Boy sandwiches to crawfish pasta.

Poor House Bistro © Bob Mack IMG_2142On our last visit Tracy ordered the muffaletta sandwich (salami, ham, mortadella, provolone and olive salad mix). Her half-sandwich was so huge that she took half of it home and the two of us had it for lunch the next day. My BBQ shrimp Po Boy was not as large, though was plenty of food. The shrimp was tender and the toppings (shredded cabbage and pickles) were perfect. Choose this sandwich if you like very, very, very spicy food. It is super hot and I love hot food.

If you are not in the mood for a sandwich, the choices include crawfish pasta, gumbo (seafood or chicken and sausage), jambalaya, red beans and rice, salads, and burgers. I can’t visit PHB without getting an order of beignets for dessert (served warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar). If you’ve never eaten beignets you have to try these deep fried fluffy pastry squares.

There are lots of seating options. A tent runs alongside the restaurant housing tables, a bar, and the stage used for live music. There are also two indoor dining areas, three tables on the front porch and a dog-friendly patio area in front.

PHB has live music seven days a week. Acts range from all comers at the open mic night, to well-known regional and national musicians. There are also several fundraising events every year, and special music events with all-day entertainment and food.

Poor House Bistro is easy to get to at 91 S. Autumn Street in San Jose, California. They take reservations for groups of seven or larger. You can reach them at (408) 292-5837 or on the web at

There is small parking lot behind PHB and metered street parking. There is an abundance of parking except when something is going on down the street at the SAP Center. The easiest ways to get to PHB are via Caltrain or VTA light rail, both only two blocks away, or to ride your bike. There are bike racks right outside the front entrance.


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