Olla Cocina (San Jose, CA) – I was looking for a delicious (and cute) place to eat in San Jose awhile back, and came across Olla Cocina. My first thought was – how have I never heard of this place?! It’s a large Mexican restaurant right on San Pedro near the square! I’ve been in that area so many times that I’m shocked that I’ve never walked past it. In any case, I finally made my way there a few weeks back.
It’s a giant, airy space that’s designed in a modern way but incorporates Mexican culture and design in its decor. When you walk in, you see these fun chair swings on the side (which is most definitely a great photo op) along with a side area that can be used for private events decorated with posters. There’s a bar front and center and Olla has a variety of wines and beers.
I really loved this skeleton wall that’s near the windows as well as these traditional skull art pieces that were painted on pages of books. They were such large, stunning pieces that I couldn’t stop staring at them during my lunch.
While deciding on our meal, we homemade chips and salsa. Lunch runs until 4, which I think makes it a great option for people who work in the area – whether you want an early or late lunch. Happy Hour runs from 4 to 6:30 pm during the weekdays, where shared plates and drinks are discounted. The green salsa was better than the red one, in our opinion, but both are great. I was a little sad I didn’t order guacamole, but we got so much food that it didn’t even matter in the end lol.
I ordered Sopes (three corn patties, white bean puree, mixed vegetables, cotijja cheese, crema, lettuce, salsa roja and lime), but I believe our server didn’t hear it so it never came. I’ve only had sopes a couple of times so I was intrigued to try it again, but in hindsight our entrees and our individual sides were so large that she probably knew we wouldn’t finish it. 😉
My sister and I each ordered Street Corn (aka Elote), which is corn (of course), tajin, crema, and cotija cheese. Our server did warn us that it’s really large and it could easily feed the two of us, but I was hungry and didn’t listen lol. She was totally right – it’s worth the $6 because you get so much! It tasted great, I love the cheesy saltiness from the cheese and the spice and tang that tajin provides on naturally sweet corn. I do think I could do without the crema since my bowl started getting more watery as a result of it. This was so good though and I totally had to take it home because I could not finish it and my entree at the same time.
I ordered the Baja Fish tacos, served with breaded snapper, guacamole, chipotle crema, and jalapeno citrus coleslaw. The fish was light and so crispy as I bit into it. I got nice and chunky avocado, which was great! It really made the entire dish fresh and flavor with all of these vibrant flavors. I could do with a little less coleslaw just because it made it hard to fit a taco in my mouth and would fall out lol. I’m not an elegant taco eater at all.
My sister ordered the Carne Asada tacos, with diced carne asada, cilantro, and diced onions. The carne asada was so nice and juicy, flavored perfectly. The green sauce that was served with it was really spicy – but it tasted great (if you can handle it!). I liked the simplicity in the toppings, because I could just be fine with onion, cilantro and maybe cheese on a taco and be incredibly satisfied.
Overall, I’m really glad I finally checked out Olla Cocina. It’s a giant restaurant that’s decorated fantastically and totally has potential for some great Instagrammable moments (if that’s your thing). It also looks like a great place to get together with friends, whether for dinner before a night out or for a birthday! I can’t wait to come back again and introduce it to other people!