The café scene has been so fluid lately that I had to update the list after just 3 months. Here are Mr. Nguyen’s latest rankings for the San Jose coffee shops. There has been some turnover, new girls coming into the scene, old ones leaving, and a few shops renovating and changing names. The majority of the coffee shops have raised their prices to $6 per cup of coffee and $7 per juice or smoothie to keep up with how expensive San Jose has gotten. The rankings reflect the cafes as a whole (girls, venue, coffee, food, service, girls, smoking/non-smoking, and girls).
*The information in this blog is provided “AS IS” with no warranties and confers no rights.
*The opinions expressed by the mrnguyen.org bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of mrnguyen.org. Mrnguyen.org is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the bloggers.
1. Paradise Cafe
2400 Monterey Rd.
San Jose, CA 95111
Paradise Café is back from its yearlong hiatus with a vengeance. They are now #1. The venue is nice, the staff is outstanding, and the service is top notch. I’ve been here a few times since it re-opened, and I have to admit that their staff is probably the best in San Jose right now. At any given time, they have about 3 or 4 girls working. Their notables include Christine, Ruby Renegade (from MFC/Pornhub/myrubyr.com), Kelly (smokin’ hot), Jenny (from HS/Pandora/Tao). Huong (BK), Erin, Victoria, Lucy, and Shannon round out their crew. They have plenty of TVs for your sports viewing pleasure and a nice outdoor patio with umbrellas and heaters for cold weather. Parking can be problematic at times, but I just park across the street at the motel if it’s full. The location is somewhat out of the way for those working the tech scene, but they do have some great options for lunchtime dining around their shop for those engineers looking for a spot to eat and drink Viet coffee. The Plant is nearby with my favorite, Halal Guys, and Paradise is a block from Chick-Fil- A. My number one qualm with this shop is the indoor smoking, but the outdoor patio allows those sensitive to cigarette smoke to escape it. I believe this is the only remaining SJ coffee shop with $5 coffee.
2. Fantasy Café
1040 McLaughlin Ave
San Jose, CA 95122
2444 Alvin Avenue
San Jose, CA 95121
Fantasy Café (formerly CN1) and Dream Café (formerly CN2) have slipped a little in the last few months after losing both Tran and Christine. Thankfully, they still have Nicole, and they have hired Kitty from Wave as well. The cafés are lingerie/bikini only, but their uniforms are probably the most creative of all the cafes and leaves a little bit to the imagination. Boss lady, Chi Uyen, has a great eye for Vietnamese café fashion. The waitresses are by far some of the hottest girls in the history of Vietnamese coffee shops in San Jose. Kathy, Missy, Anna, Angela, and a few new waitresses round out their roster. These two cafes are a great place to take people who are new to the Vietnamese coffee scene. No one I have brought has ever been disappointed. Lunch time is the best time. Fantasy and Dream Cafe have banned the smoking inside all day and night. Coffee is now $6/cup.
3. HS Coffee & Juices (a.k.a. Hotspot Café) (www.instagram.com/hs_sj)
2133 Morill Ave.
San Jose, CA 95132
Hotspot remains high in my book because of the great service. The location is a bit far from the hustle and bustle of Little Saigon, but it is well worth the drive. The attire is strictly PG, but it’s a somewhat refreshing change from the more risqué cafes. They’ve branded the Hotspot name and have been known to pass out T-shirts and sweaters with their brand on it. The venue is spacious, and the waitresses are extremely friendly and attentive. They make an effort to remember the regulars by name here, which actually gives this place a more intimate feel. Smoking has been banned completely. Some of the notable waitresses include Jay-Lynn, sisters Nhi and Kathy, Solenne, Paulette, Karen, and boss lady, Thuy-Anh and sister, Mai. Christina is a very notable addition to the Hotspot team and has quickly become one of my favorite waitresses if not my favorite. It would be nice if she worked more than 2 days a week there. They have plenty of TVs to watch your favorite sporting event, Vietnamese and Korean pop, or EDM and hip hop music videos. During football season, it’s probably one of the best places to watch every single football game on TV. They offer a variety of food and drinks for a very affordable price. I wish they had beer on the menu though. Coffee is now $6/cup, and I was somewhat disappointed when I had to pay $7 for OJ. They are applying for a liquor license, and beer will soon be served here. Visit their Instagram site to get updates on who is working.
4. Em Quyen
1998 Tully Rd.
San Jose, CA 95122
I believe the general consensus is that Em Quyen is the best risqué café right now. Most guys on this forum love this place, and it’s a constant subject of conversation. I’ve decided to move it to #4 in a tie with Nguyen Espresso because Nguyen Espresso has stepped up its game. It’s a great place to grab a cup of coffee in the morning before work. With smoking banned all day, this place is one of the cleanest. Ngoc, Nina, and Rebecca keep EQ one of the best cafes in San Jose. Newcomer, Lisa, was a great addition to EQ, but she didn’t last very long unfortunately. Quyen is still one of the prettiest owners around SJ. This place gets packed frequently, and due to the small size of the café, it’s not uncommon to share tables with complete strangers. There are plenty of HD TVs to watch your favorite soccer matches or football games. No food is served here, but you can run next door to Subway or the taqueria, and bring your food over to enjoy the games on TV. Coffee is $6/cup. The shop closes around 5 or 6 PM.
4. Nguyen Expresso
1659 Tully Rd.
San Jose, CA 95122
I’ve decided to move NE up to the #4 spot in a tie with EQ. They have improved the talent level. From my last few visits, the average age of the staff seems to have dropped. Jessa, Janet (of CN fame), Kathy, Lisa, Lien, and Katie are a few of their notables. Risqué factor is like EQ. Venue is small and cramped, but it is clean (relatively speaking) due to the non-smoking policy. The service is decent. This place is recommended for newbies to the coffee shop scene if they want to see what these cafes are all about. Coffee is $6/cup.
6. Palm Café (formerly Wave Café) (www.instagram.com/palm.cafe)
1969 Tully Rd.San Jose, CA 95122
I decided to move Palm Café to #6, but it could be higher if they banned cigarettes. The waitresses rank high on the hotness scale, and their uniforms do not leave a lot to the imagination, but the smoke absolutely kills this place. I would like to visit this place more often, but I can only stand the cigarettes for so long. Tina, Kitty, and Julie make this place worth going to. Rose is also a great addition to the roster. They do serve beer here, which bumps this place up a few spots.
7. Pandora Café
1174 N. Capitol Ave.
San Jose, CA 95132
I have mixed opinions about this cafe. Pandora is big with lots of TVs, but I can’t frequent this place much because of the cigarettes. The girls dress like they do at Hotspot, so essentially tank tops and mini-skirts. They have recently brought in waitresses from the OC, and if they continue to do this, it should draw a larger crowd to their shop. As a result, I’ve moved them up a couple notches. The venue itself looks nice and is very spacious, and they do serve food here as well.
8. Thoa Café
999 Story Rd.
San Jose, CA – Vietnam Town
Thoa Café monopolizes the café scene in Vietnam Town. Unfortunately, Thoa Café allows smoking all day now, and as a result, I have not moved this place up the ladder. My favorite waitress here is Jasmine. She is very easy on the eyes and very friendly at the same time. Waitresses are dressed in lingerie. It’s located conveniently next to Pho 90 and Com 90. Coffee is $6/cup.
9. Tylan Café
1743 Berryessa Rd.
San Jose, CA 95133
Tylan is a decent, little café. Coffee is good, and they have plenty of TVs for sports. They allow smoking inside and out, unfortunately. Parking can be horrendous at times. But they do have their loyal regulars there.
10. Lush Café
950 Story Rd.
San Jose, CA
Formally known as Café 168, Bliss, and Lan Café, this shop recently renovated. This café is okay. The venue itself is dark and smoky most of the time. Attire is lingerie and bikinis. I’d come here more often if they would ban the cigarettes. I believe they went through another name change again, but I haven’t confirmed it yet.
11. Quynh Huong
2441 Alvin Ave
San Jose, CA 95121
Quynh Huong Café is formerly Courtyard/Vogue and is still located across the street from Chuck E Cheese off of Tully Rd. I haven’t been able to check this place out, personally. Phuong (formerly Ozone and Tao) works here. It’s a nice, big venue with plenty of TVs. They have a wide selection of food and drinks, including alcohol. The cigarettes ruin this place. It does not make sense to me why they have a huge courtyard if they are going to allow smoking inside. Non-smokers can’t escape the smoke, inside or out..
12. Lavender Cafe
1054 Story Rd.
San Jose, CA 95122
Lavender is the former Thuy Em and Sao Café. I haven’t paid this place a visit, but based on what people have written on this board, it doesn’t seem much different than before. Some of the same girls from the past are working here now. And it sounds like alcohol is served as well. It may still be worth going to, but the cigarettes are the only reason I don’t frequent this place at all.
13. Café Quyên
1692 Tully Rd.
San Jose, CA 95122
This café has set the bar a decade ago in terms of dress code, so much so that the police and media have picked on this place more than any others. But it has lost its luster when compared to the glory days of a few years back. Current dress code is lingerie. The venue is small and cramped, and they do not have all the sports channels a café should have to watch your favorite sports. Due to the low level of talent and overall feel, I’ve moved this place out of the top 10. The café closes around 5PM.
14. M Café
Located on Burdette Rd. next to Lee’s Laundromat. This place is currently the best Vietnamese
quan nhau in San Jose.
15. 408 Café – Still confirming the name change
1692 Tully Rd. Ste 1, San Jose, CA 95122 – behind National Summit bank. Next to Quyen Café.
16. Paris Café
403 N. Capital Ave., San Jose, CA (24 Hour Fitness plaza)
17. Xinh Xinh Café
1075 Tully Rd, at the corner of Mc Laughlin. Same plaza with Com Tam Dat Thanh.
18. Dolce Expresso
Located at the corner of Quimby and Tully Rd. Same plaza with Michael’s.
19. Café Dạ Thảo
Located on Story Road across the street from Walmart.
20. Got Hong
Located in the same plaza as Café Quyen and Café 408