Good Karma Artisan Ales and Cafe

Bar, Eatery

37 S 1st St
San Jose, California, 95113-2402
United States

(408) 294-2694 | map

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Ratings by afrokaze:
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Reviewed by afrokaze from Oregon

4.28/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4
This place is a serious hidden gem - I must have passed right by it hundreds of times & had no idea how much good beer was on tap! About 12 taps, a pretty eclectic set of beers with some rare stuff thrown in: Belgians, strong ales, Russian River Sours, hoppy stuff, etc. and they're always changing. The people are nice, food is amazing (this is coming from a non-vegan) prices are reasonable, and the vibe is low key. A great place to really relax and enjoy a great food/beer pairing. I usually try to stop in twice a month or so to see what's new & I'm never disappointed. Service gets bonus points from me because most employees seem into beer & fairly knowledgeable, plus they use the right glasses. Can't go wrong here!
Feb 07, 2012
More User Ratings:
Rated: 4 by acurtis from New Jersey

Jan 17, 2022
Rated: 4.27 by BerryKumquat from California

Sep 21, 2018
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Reviewed by Travler from Illinois

4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4
Good Karma is very hipster, but very friendly to all. The guys behind the bar are very sharp and ready to discuss/advise regarding the beers on tap.
As for the beers on tap, this is my kind of place. I don't need 80 tap handles to chose from to make me happy. Good Karma has on the order of 20 tap handles, and all of them are delicious craft beers from a wide range of styles.
The food is all vegan. I'm not vegan, but appreciate good food of any type. The pulled "pork" tacos were delicious and filling. I think the "pork" was black bean based--the seasoning was really good. I also had their kimchi bowl (I was pretty hungry). The kimchi was house-made, and really tasty--took me back to the ROK.
I'll definitely be back when I'm in town.
Oct 26, 2017
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Reviewed by smcolw from Massachusetts

3.79/5  rDev -11.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.75
This may be the most literal hole-in-the-wall I've ever experienced. This bar is about 16 feet wide and 30 feet deep. There are many quarter kegs and old soda dispensers at the entrance.

Service is typical of places like this. A man with a long beard was changing kegs and said he'd be right with me. 10 minutes later he asked what I wanted. My first choice was kicked, so an alternative was offered and accepted.

There are plenty of beers to keep one dinterested but it is catch as catch can.

The selection of draft beers is limited to 22 taps which feature a good blend of big and small micros.

For consideration, the food menu appears to be vegan.
Feb 09, 2017
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Reviewed by cherche from Washington

2.7/5  rDev -36.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3
this place has some great beers on tap but every time i have gotten beers there they taste stale - i am guessing they dont do a good job of cleaning their lines. i did have a sour there once that tasted great but i have probably have 5 or 6 pale ales, ipas, and dipas that were all terrible and all were beers i had prior or since and really enjoyed. a little hipsterish but not bad and has a small outdoor area that is decent.
Apr 29, 2016
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Reviewed by SunDevilBeer from Massachusetts

3.81/5  rDev -11%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4
Cool hippy/hipster spot in downtown San Jose.

Around 20 taps, mostly with darlings of the beergeek scene. I knew they got Pliny the Elder regularly so that's why I went there a few times.

Servers were really the hipster caricature: long beards, tattoos, piercings, etc. Everyone was nice enough.

Some strongly recommended taps simply weren't that good. So I mostly stuck to PtE.

Had a few "pulled pork" vegan tacos that were tasty I'm not a vegan but still they were good.

Prices are high, but so is everything in Silicon Valley. No Happy Hour to offset high prices either.

Cool place to get a PtE fix if you're in town.
Feb 19, 2016
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Reviewed by Mista_Carta from California

4.15/5  rDev -3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4
Cool little spot in Downtown San Jose just wish Dowtown SJ wasn't so scummy—don't get too drunk here... Great tap list. Bottles to go if you desire. They usually get a keg of Younger. Often have a couple SARAs on tap. They participate in SF Beer Week... Vegan food. Not particularly my thing but not terrible—nice to have something to nibble on. Overall, fun kooky little hippie joint with great beers!
Feb 08, 2016
Rated: 4.04 by lpetr752 from Massachusetts

Dec 22, 2015
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Reviewed by chrisjws from California

4.68/5  rDev +9.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5
This place was doing craft beer in San Jose before craft beer became cool in San Jose. Lots of great choices now, but these guys deserve some props for doing it the longest and doing it damn well.

Vibe is super chill, about what you'd expect in a vegan/rasta kind of place. Music in the background. Eclectic art. Lots of character and characters galore. Patio seating where you can observe the weirdness that is 1st street in downtown San Jose.

Quality is very good. Correct glassware, well maintained lines, place is nice and clean.

Service is very good. These guys/girls know their stuff and they'll help you without talking down to you if you're not a huge beer nerd.

Selection is excellent. They always have interesting stuff on tap. Pliny the Elder is regularly on, as is Cellarmaker, Sante Adairius, Almanac, Alpine, and lots of other great beers. They also have an excellent bottle selection of current and older vintages.

The food is also excellent. Don't let it being vegetarian sway you away. The Chile Verde and Jamaican Jerk are on point, especially wrapped in a tortilla. Get the food and the beer, you won't regret it.

Overall one of the best places in downtown San Jose if you want some great craft beer. They're a short walk away from other great places like OG, ISO, The Brit and University Chicken.
Jun 01, 2015
Rated: 4.31 by Canada_Dan from Colorado

May 08, 2015
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Reviewed by Leftofthedial from California

4.76/5  rDev +11.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5
Best beer bar in the South Bay. Small place but with an awesome staff, solid vegan food, and a phenomenal tap list that tends to be quite IPA and sour heavy. I've seen some pretty ridiculous beers there before (Spontaneous Cheer, West Ashley, to name a few) but even on a regular day their offerings are impressive.
May 03, 2015
Rated: 3.95 by mig100 from Texas

Feb 16, 2015
Rated: 4.45 by sjrodriguez from California

Jan 22, 2015
Rated: 4.51 by Fogindex from California

Dec 24, 2014
Rated: 5 by ChrisISO_SJ from California

Dec 11, 2014
Photo of dbannister
Reviewed by dbannister from California

4.75/5  rDev +11%
This place consistently has great beer that can't be found in San Jose. The service is great and you can also grab some vegan grub there. Pick a nice day and head over here and get a seat outside to enjoy the "interesting" people walking up and down the street.
Oct 23, 2014
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Reviewed by Wrigleyf from Georgia

5/5  rDev +16.8%
Made my first stop here while traveling based on the ratings and went back for a second trip. Neal and Andy know their beers. Although others might have more taps, this was the best high quality tap selection I've seen. Great conversations and energy. Highly recommend.
Oct 10, 2014
Rated: 4.5 by fishthe from California

Sep 16, 2014
Rated: 3.23 by brywhite from California

Sep 04, 2014
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Reviewed by JesseLara from California

4.63/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5
A true hidden gem. Solid beer selection, solid food selection, solid people working the bar. What more can you ask for? Maybe a little more room as it is smaller than expected for the crowds they can draw, but with a tap list like theirs, it's worth it!
Jul 03, 2014
Rated: 4.5 by rowbow from California

Jun 10, 2014
Rated: 4.75 by largadeer from California

Jun 03, 2014
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Reviewed by Mattodon from California

4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 3
Friendly staff who do know some stuff about beer, they'll be glad to chat it up with you about whatever.
I've never had their food, but tons of people go in and out buying it and they all love it.
The beer selection here is very nice, they'll have whatever you're craving and you'll probably want to buy a bottle to take home also.
Apr 26, 2014
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Reviewed by NRo from California

4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4
I stopped in to pick up two bottles of Almanac FtB, and stayed for dinner.

The place is tiny inside, with some outdoor seating in front. Their beer selection was impressive. Besides what's on tap, they have a well-stocked variety of bottles.

I'm not a vegan, and you don't have to be to enjoy the food here. I had the stuffed bell pepper and the gluten-free mashed potatoes. Each came with their own sauce, and they were delicious.

The food is in a glass display and the server/bartender will heat your selection and bring it to your table.

I had a very pleasant weeknight dinner, but I imagine it gets crowded on weekends.
Jan 25, 2014
Rated: 4.25 by wakeuptothesun from California

Dec 28, 2013
Rated: 4.5 by cjw333 from California

Dec 07, 2013
Photo of MasterSki
Reviewed by MasterSki from Canada (ON)

4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
My favorite place in San Jose. Went here for the vegan spread and was shocked by the awesome draft list and bottle selection. Lots of great stuff from Russian River, The Bruery, Alpine, etc.
Nov 27, 2013
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Reviewed by Flyingvtard1 from California

4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4
Great tap selection! Lots of local craft and belgian imports. Bottles too. They get tons of special releases that are hard to find too ie Lagunitas' Waldo, Drakes Aroma Prieta and Russian River's Pliny the Younger.

As for the food, it's the first time I've been turned onto vegan cuisine and i must say it is absolutely delish! The vegan pork buns, Jamaican Jerk and Pa Ram are all really good.

The vibe is kinda vegan artsy hippy/hipster. With indy music playing and art for sale on the wall from local artist.

Honestly the best place in San Jose area to get a fine beer!
Sep 26, 2012
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Reviewed by adamdarcy from Michigan

5/5  rDev +16.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5
I'm floored...flabberghasted (sp?) ...thoroughly surpised by this place. I found the listing up here, and my ignorant mind thought, vegetarian and PtE on way. But as fate would have it, my flight back to Michigan got canceled, so I made a beeline here. The food is incredibly good, and goes great with the PtE on draft. (Should I have the Firestone Walker DIPA next or another Pliny??). Proprietors are so down-home, nice and knowledgeable. The atmosphere reminds me of several places I used to frequent in Austin, TX and Okayama Japan - both college towns. Cool music and great atmosphere. Try this place and you will become a regular!!
Jan 21, 2012
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Reviewed by KimenTshom from California

4.53/5  rDev +5.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4
Good Karma has become a major beer destination in downtown San Jose. You would be hard-pressed to find a better selection of beer on tap, and they are constantly rotating.

The restaurant started as a small hole-in-the-wall vegan place with mostly Vietnamese mock meat options. Excellent food, but no alcohol. More recently the restaurant changed owners and moved closer to San Jose State University. This also brought about major changes in the food, decor and most importantly BEER! They usually have around ten different ready-made vegan food options, all of which tend to be quite good. The beer ranges from local(ish) California craft brews liked Russian River to hard-to-find imports from Germany and Belgium. They regularly have beer on tap that you will not find anywhere else in the south bay.
Jan 07, 2012
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Reviewed by willjschmidt from California

3.95/5  rDev -7.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3
A small vegan cafe located in downtown San Jose. They have ready made vegan food in a case that they heat up when the order is placed. It was pretty good, but I'm not sure I would rush back here for the food. The taps were outstanding. They have 11 taps, when I stopped in they had:

-Ballast Point Sculpin
-Cuvée Van De Keizer
-Duchesse De Bourgogne
-DFH Palo Santo Marron
-Stone Cali-Belgique
-Lost Abbey Jugement Day
-Nectar Hemp Ale
-Lagunitas Gnarleywine
-Firestone Walker Solace
-Tripel Karmeliet

Most was served in the correct glassware. In the craft beer wasteland that is the Silicon Valley, this place has one of the better selections.
Sep 21, 2011
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Reviewed by Rzzzzz from California

3.53/5  rDev -17.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5
Best tap selection I've come across in San Jose. On my last visit I think I chose from Pliny The Elder, Duchesse de Bourgogne, Dogfish Head Palo Santo, FW Velvet Merlin, Lagunitas, and a handful of other quality craft beers.

Food is decent for vegan, certainly not terrible. Service is friendly but tends to lean towards slow/inattentive in my experience. If you're in a hurry you may need to wave for attention once or twice. Place is tiny, though, so it's not hard to flag someone down.

Located right across from the light rail station, or they'll validate parking.

College crowd mostly, good music playing always. Nice folks, and hey, it's craft beer in San Jose, so give 'em your business.
Aug 19, 2011
Good Karma Artisan Ales and Cafe in San Jose, CA
Place rating: 4.28 out of 5 with 33 ratings