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  • interior of Adega restaurant in San Jose, California, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo Courtesy of Adega
    Photo caption
    The restaurant's intimate and casual dining room—no white tablecloths here—belies the high quality of its food and service.
  • the bread service at Adega restaurant in San Jose, California, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Rebecca Hurd
    Photo caption
    In addition to bread and butter, the bread service at Adega includes ramekins of salty olives and a light hummus spread made from lupini beans.
  • port-soaked pear dessert at Adega restaurant in San Jose, California, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Rebecca Hurd
    Photo caption
    A dessert option at Adega includes a tender pear soaked in port and filled with bruléed vanilla cream.
  • dinner service at Adega restaurant in San Jose, California, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Rebecca Hurd
    Photo caption
    Adega, pictured here during dinner service, means "wine cellar" in English, an homage to the restaurant's vast wine list dedicated to Portuguese wines.
  • exterior of Adega restaurant in San Jose, California, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Rebecca Hurd
    Photo caption
    Adega is located in an assuming strip mall-stretch of Alum Rock Avenue in San Jose.

Warning: This post will make you hungry.

You’ll be left craving Portuguese food, and tables at Adega—the best place in Silicon Valley to eat it—just got harder to come by.

The restaurant in October became the first in San Jose to earn a coveted Michelin star rating. The family-run eatery is one of only 54 fine-dining establishments in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California’s wine country to receive the nod for 2017.

Reservations at the new hot spot are now available for March. It’s worth the wait.

First, there’s the high-quality, traditionally Portuguese cuisine. Creamy seafood bisque swimming with oysters and bits of lobster. Seared duck breast atop a bed of rice dotted with garlicky pork sausage. Pear soaked in port and filled with bruléed vanilla cream. Those mouthwatering descriptions merely hint at the deliciousness my husband and I enjoyed during a date night at Adega.

Next, there’s the staff’s knowledge of—and enthusiasm for—what’s happening in the kitchen. “What type of bean is the hummus made from again?” I asked a staffer, pointing to a small ramekin. The fluffy, salty spread had arrived alongside house-cured olives and softened butter as part of the bread service.

“It’s called lupini,” she explained while pouring us a 2013 red blend from the Douro region. “It’s like garbanzo: You peel off the outside and eat the inside. In Portugal, they’re a popular snack with beer, which goes with their natural saltiness.” Moments later, she returned with a saucer of whole legumes for us to try. We imagined ourselves sipping a Super Bock at a café in Braga, munching on the Iberian nation’s answer to peanuts.

So, how did a low-key restaurant situated on a strip mall–style stretch of Alum Rock Avenue grab Michelin’s attention?

Executive chef David Costa and pastry chef Jessica Carreira know their way around the cozinha. Before opening Adega in December 2015, each worked alongside top talent in Portugal, including Joachim Koerper, chef-owner of Michelin-starred Restaurant Eleven in Lisbon.

Carreira grew up in the Little Portugal neighborhood that surrounds Adega, which translates to “wine cellar” in English. Her parents, now co-owners of the restaurant, previously ran a wine import business. “We’re told we have the largest Portuguese wine list outside of Portugal,” Carlos Carreira, her father, told me over the phone. “It’s up to 350 different wines.”

The family purchased the business after its previous owners, who ran Sousa’s Restaurant at the same location, retired after 33 years.

“We think there’s a need for more Portuguese cuisine in the Bay Area,” Carlos said. “This [Michelin star] is recognition of that, and we would like to offer more options.” He also let it slip that another location is in the works. “We definitely like the city of San Jose, which is underserved in many cuisines and types of restaurants. It’s surprising that this is the first Michelin-starred restaurant here.”

Silicon Valley has responded by gobbling up dinner reservations, which used to be available a couple of weeks in advance. Want to get in on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night in 2017? Book 90 days in advance on the restaurant’s website. No tables are set aside for walk-ins or last-minute planners.