San Jose, Cajun-style: There's a new culinary scene in downtown San Jose. James Prince's Louisiana Bistro recently opened in the old 19 Market space, with a chef with Southern roots: Dee Green Jr., formerly of Papa D's Taste of Nawlins in Mountain View. They're serving up gumbo, jambalaya, catfish and crawfish etouffee -- with warm, addictive sweet-pepper cornbread -- based on recipes from Dee's home in Bogalusa, La. (Wouldn't Bogalusa make a great name for a new cocktail?) There is live blues and jazz on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays -- and on Tuesday, March 4, for Mardi Gras. Open daily for dinner/drinks, weekdays for lunch. 408-295-1300; louisianabistrosanjose.com.
Coming soon is Da Kine Island Grill, which owners Rena and Pete Be envision as a full Hawaiian experience, from tiki cocktails to island food faves (Spam musubi, anyone?), live music and traditional hula. Rena, who hails from the Kalihi community on Oahu, created a menu based on three generations of family recipes. Look for a poke bar, saimin bowls, kalua pork, pupus and fresh fish, plus guava chiffon cake from Aki's Bakery. The Be family dipped their toes in the restaurant waters with Da Kine Cafe in Sunnyvale before launching this more ambitious venture. Details: 23 N. Market St., San Jose; www.dakineislandgrill.com.
Mmm, tacos: If you've ever stopped at the Cholita Linda pop-up booth at Oakland's farmers markets, then you know: Those Latin America-influenced tacos, sandwiches and agua frescas are all kinds of awesome. Now Vanessa Chavez is opening a bricks-and-mortar version with Baja-style fish tacos, pressed sandwiches (mmm, BLTs with chipotle aioli), Peruvian style rotisserie chicken and other street food and comfort fare. Chavez and her husband, Murat Sozeri, did a sneak peek taco night at the new place last week, so the official opening is imminent. Keep tabs on the progress at cholitalinda.com. Peek through the window at 4923 Telegraph Ave., Oakland.
Peet's perks: Emeryville-based Peet's Coffee & Tea is jumping on the "all you need is us" bandwagon by launching a line of grab-and-go lunch fare in a move similar to what Starbucks did with Pascal Rigo's La Boulange. Peet's has booked chef Arnold Eric Wong, from South San Francisco's Raison D'etre bakery (and E&O Asian Kitchen), to create a lineup of healthy sandwiches and salads, with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free noshes, too. Among the new menu items at Peet's across Northern California: applewood smoked ham sandwiches ($6.95) with roasted garlic aioli, herb-roasted turkey sandwiches ($6.95) with pumpkin seed pesto, a black lentil salad ($4.95) with feta, and a quinoa salad ($4.95) with chickpeas and roasted peppers.
Branching out: Who better to take over a storied Michelin-starred space than the owners of a Michelin-starred restaurant? After operating All Spice in San Mateo to great acclaim, chef Sachin Chopra and his wife, sommelier Shoshana Wolff, will open their second restaurant, Game, this spring in the former Masa's in San Francisco. As the name indicates, Game will specialize in wild game preparations (think bison, pheasant, venison). The legendary Masa's had a fine-dining run of 30 years, starting with founder Masataka Kobayashi and chef Julian Serrano.