Orchestria Palm Court: Where the players play

Close to the convention center, a hop, skip, and a jump away from Cesar Chavez park, and right next to The Stage Theater (also a new SJ favorite haunt–more on that in a future post!) you’ll hear the delightful, twinkling sounds of a multitude of pianos…but only a couple nights a week for a few hours a day.

The hidden San Jose gem we’re featuring today is the truly unique Orchestria Palm Court, a walk back in time to the early 1900’s where the comfort food is outstanding, the waiters wear sleeve garters, and you’re entertained by player pianos that come to life one-by-one, providing a merry soundtrack for your meal.

Surrounded by invisible musicians

Orchestria features music written in the ‘teens and 20’s of last century, played as you would have heard it then—on music machines. Fitting, really, that these machines, considered “high tech” in their day, are now at home one of the world’s most important birthplaces of modern technology. The owners plan their musical selections based on seasonality, including French music for Bastille Day, specific composers’ music for their birthdays, and carols for the whole of December. That said, they’ll also take your special request for your favorite jazz or ragtime song from the era—you know you have one.

Is that a…phone booth?

The decor and ambience is like nothing you’ve ever seen before—especially in San Jose. The building itself is a refurbished brick building from 1910, and the inside is made to look like a bar or restaurant from the early 20th century—complete with kitschy lamps and chandeliers, travel posters, rolls and rolls of player piano music stacked high, and–of course—the aforementioned plethora of pianos. Also featured is a self-playing violin from 1925, the “Violano-Virtuoso” which uses electromagnetic technology to play along with a piano accompaniment.

Tips:

  • RESERVE, RESERVE, RESERVE: Because they’re only open about 6 hours a week, they’ll likely be fully booked if you try to walk in.
  • Order the Austrian Goulash. Your life will be changed for the better.
  • Don’t just dine and dash! Get up and look around—this place is like a museum, restaurant, bar, and concert all in one.

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