music in the park san jose

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music in the park san jose

With 2020 firmly in the rearview, a new generation of bars and clubs have taken root in the South Bay—alongside many time-honored favorites. 

Whether looking for something New, something To Do, something Bold, something Brewed, or something True Blue, this list has a little something everyone can raise a glass to.


Silicon Valley is always changing, and the same goes for its nightlife. This year, there’s some new flavors on the bar menu.

386 Lounge

386 S 1st St, San Jose 


386 Lounge moved in quickly on the former home of Good Spot in San Jose’s SoFA, converting the former eatery into a neon-lit nightclub ready for drinking, dancing and a whole night out (check that late night food menu). And just as quickly, 386 also established itself as a home of live hip hop and R&B in the South Bay, hosting shows from locals and traveling artists alike. (MH) 

Añejo Cantina and Kitchen 

3132 Williams Rd, San Jose


Only authentic Mexican cuisine here! Latinx owners Christina and Roquel got back to their roots nearly a decade ago having changed the menu from classic American diner (formerly “The Thundermug”) to delicious Mexico flavors. Elevated plates and beverages mingle with modern twists on cultural classics in this fun and spicy environment. (JP)

Good Time Bar

30 Fountain Alley #160, San Jose

408.256.1266 |

Wine culture is always changing, and a new bar downtown is currently poised at its bleeding tip. Good Time Bar in downtown San Jose’s Fountain Alley offers a wide selection of natural wines (wines made from grapes and grapes alone), ranging from reds and whites to oranges and bubblies. Glasses pair well with the bar’s forward thinking snacks, ranging from olives to tinned fish. (MH)

Hula Bar and Kitchen 

30 E Santa Clara St, San Jose 


What started out as a popular Filipino-Hawaiian food truck aptly named Hula Truck, expanded last spring into a full-blown restaurant that serves up dishes of Pacific Island flavor toying with a NorCal twist. The Gorospe family serves up tasty dishes from Rib Eye Tapa Rice Bowls, to Lechon Sisig, to Pineapple Chili Wings, to Spam Musubi and everything in between. (JP)


326 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos

408.442.5913 |

Love some vino, company and good eats? With a name that translates to “true wine,” VinoVero has a selection of honest fine wines and Italian-inspired “cicheto” (finger foods). The Italian eatery offers authentic cuisine hand-crafted by Venetian-born owner, Michele Bevilacqua, within a “bacaro” setting, which translates to a cozy wine bar where people meet for chatting, drinking, wine and eating classic Venetian. (JP)


In the South Bay area, a constellation of breweries celebrate beer’s bandwidth, exploring bold flavors in Pilsners and IPAs, Saisons and Porters—and all that lies between.   

Hapas Brewing Company

460 Lincoln Ave #90, San Jose

408.982.3299 |

All coming in under 10% ABV, Hapas’ extensive list of craft beers covers flavors ranging from light to wheat to sour to red and everything in between. They pride themselves on maintaining a friendly environment that provides open air and natural light. A good time awaits all because their locations are pet-friendly. (JP)

Camino Brewing Co.

718 S 1st St, San Jose

408.352.5331 |

Situated on First Street right near the 280 overpass, Camino Brewing Company is a bright and comfortable brewery serving a variety of tasty beers and meals, often of the food truck variety. Come for the small but compelling selection of beers on tap, stay for the ambiance and its famous beer slushie. (TM)

Faultline Brewing

1235 Oakmead Pkwy, Sunnyvale

408.736.2739 |

An aesthetic delight, Faultline Brewing Company in Sunnyvale is a beautiful building both inside and out. With a fine selection of beers, a good offering of foods and outdoor seating by a lake, Faultline provides what many brewing companies provide, but with a certain j’ai nai se quoi vibe that is simply immaculate. (TM)

ManyFriends Brewing Company

14482 Big Basin Way, Saratoga

669.232.3585 |

As its name suggests, ManyFriends Brewing Company plays host to good company and good brews. They make small-batch, premium craft beer, which they expect patrons to share with friends. ManyFriends offers small bar snacks as well as growlers and packaged beer to keep the fun going. They are a Type-23 Small Beer Manufacturer with a tasting room. (JP)

Narrative Fermentations

101 E Alma Ave, San Jose

408.288.5181 |

Narrative Fermentations pride themselves on their bold flavors, each brew a story unto itself. Take, for example, the Kiwiana, a New Zealand style Pilsner with enough hops to qualify for an IPA. That’s a flavor that speaks more with each sip. NF is also one of the few places where fans can reliably catch live wrestling in the South Bay, hosting many events for the UGWA at the brewery. (MH)

Off the Rails

111 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale

408.773.9500 |

Located on historic Murphy Ave just off the Caltrain tracks, Off the Rails brews up a host of classic flavors for the modern palette. The Murphy Lite and Kolsch are refreshingly crisp, while the Trappist ale and Saison explore the bold, Belgian flavors—with the Raspberry sour sitting comfortably between. (MH) 

Out of The Barrel

1875 S Bascom Ave Ste #560, Campbell &

201 Saratoga-Los Gatos Rd, Los Gatos

With locations in Campbell, San Carlos and Los Gatos, beer lovers can whet their palate all over the South Bay. Out of The Barrel offers a taproom full of rotating draft, canned and bottled beers from an array of breweries. IPAs, lagers and stouts are among the many brews that you can find on the list at any given Out of The Barrel taproom. (JP)

S27 Alehouse & Brewery

461 Perrymont Ave, San Jose

408.599.2739 |

From the brew masters themselves: “We are focused on true to style continental beers and interpretations of modern styles.” Some of S27 Ales’ current beverages include fruit smoothies, basic beers, pilsners, ales and margaritas, to name just a few. With a sleek and sophisticated style, S27 Ales certainly delivers the magic bubbly in style. (JP)

ShaKa Brewing

170 N Wolfe Rd Unit 220, Sunnyvale

408.475.7233 |

Sunnyvale’s ShaKa Brewing has a modern, open interior reminiscent of a coffee shop. Founded by beer buds Shawn and Karl (thus, “ShaKa”), the duo graduated from speakeasy style tastings to full on brewery status in 2020 and now sling an assortment of sippable suds. The Gemini Summer Ale pairs Jasmine with Peach, while the robust Riley Red celebrates the malty side of life. (MH)

Strike Brewing Co.

2099 S 10th St #30, San Jose

469 E Campbell Ave, Campbell, CA

Strike was one of the first of the modern breweries in San Jose, and they remain a perennial favorite. Located one foul ball away from Excite Ballpark (and also in Campbell, between downtown and the Pruneyard), Strike’s beers come down the center like a fastball and land right in the sweet spot. The now classic selection includes IPAs like the Double and the Screaming Hand, as well as more recent curveballs. (MH)  

True Blue

They don’t call them classics for nothing. With so much rapid change in the Bay Area, it’s a comfort to know some South Bay bars and clubs have survived  

Black Watch

141 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos


The closest thing to a time machine in the South Bay. When I first turned 21, my friends and I stumbled in at the end of a very fun Saturday night. The tiny tavern was smoky, dark, packed and full of laughter. Of course, we ordered the famous Kamikaze pitcher. I still remember that first taste of citrusy perfection….and not much else. Walk in today, and you get the same fun atmosphere, same perfect Kamikazes, and possibly the same regulars.  Young newcomers are equally welcome: it’s a South Bay rite of passage. (LP)

Beefy’s Cabin

693 Grape Ave, Sunnyvale


Originally founded in Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong, the inimitable Beefy’s Cabin is known as a dive bar par excellence to those in Sunnyvale. Much like its original location, Beefy’s is a tiny hole in the wall with more atmosphere than the Minneapolis hip hop scene. There’s darts a’ plenty and pool to be played, but like all good dives, it is cash only. (MH) 

Blue Max Lounge

828 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale


A lively little joint on the El Camino Real, Blue Max packs in the fun with karaoke and a DJ on the weekends. Come in hungry as they offer a wide variety of sports bar food in a fun and neighborly setting. They even offer special events and one-off parties once in a while. (JP)

Branham Lounge

1116 Branham Ln, San Jose

408.445.1716 |

First opened in 1969, this neighborhood tavern keeps it mid-century modern with sumptuous leather seats, retro red velvet wallpaper and a deluxe fireplace front and center. Refurbished in 2011, the dark-but-clean lounge has unobtrusive TV screens, a photo booth and a dog-friendly outdoor patio. Young and old patrons mingle over a generous selection of beers on tap and tasty, solidly-performing cocktails. Check out their live stand-up comedy night on Sundays. (LP)

The Caravan Lounge

98 Almaden Ave, San Jose

408.995.6220 |

Caravan, light of my night, fire of my thirst. My sin, my soul. Ca-ra-van: the back of the tongue taking three steps around the mouth (almost drunkenly), as it works the syllables. Ca. Ra. Van. Whether looking for an ever-present Pabst tall boy or for some of the best punk, metal, grindcore and burlesque shows in the South Bay, this humble bar no longer attached to a hotel will forever have its arms open, and be known by the name Caravan. (MH)


331 W Hacienda Ave, Campbell

408.374.3400 |

Karaoke still reigns supreme at Effie’s, Campbell’s little roadhouse on Winchester. Six nights a week, the South Bay’s amateur, aspiring and ascendant singers alike all share the mic, dousing their voices in reverb and belting out the best by 4 Non Blondes and Montell Jordan. Though the bar has been remodeled, the Effie’s experience remains refreshingly unchanged. Hang on. Hold my beer, I think I’m up. (MH)  

The Fountainhead

387 S 1st St, San Jose


Tucked behind Tres Hermanos and Habana Cuba in the back of SoFA Market is a little bar with a lot of flavor. The Fountainhead dispenses draft beers and craft cocktails with an elevated stoner flair, pairing well with the generally well curated hip hop house music. The back patio is an oasis on the block, a great place to hide away for an hour and let the afternoon flow. (MH) 


167 E Taylor St, San Jose


Located in the heart of Japantown, Trials is a true dive bar with a rugged but warm soul to match. Enter into the dimly lit room and feast your mouth on affordable beers on tap and entrance your eyes on the one of the many art shows they put on year round. (TM)

Last Round Tavern

354 E Santa Clara St, San Jose


Founded by a former boxer, Last Round Tavern is a neighborhood bar in the guise of a pizza place—with a left hook to match. One of the last stops on the lonely stretch of Santa Clara St. before it transforms into Alum Rock, the Last Round is one of San Jose’s greats for fight night, an ideal place to sidle up to the bar with a slice and a draft, and catch the upset of the century. (MH)


90 S Second St, San Jose

408.291.0677 |

Long a staple of downtown, Loft was one of the last bars to reopen after lockdown. Now back in the swing of things, the beloved upstairs dance club has staged a welcome return to form, with DJs and dancing on the weekends and $5 well drinks all the time (who else has that downtown?). Loft remains a reliable way to elevate the night out. (MH)  

Paul & Eddy’s Monta Vista Inn

21619 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino


A suburban sports bar with a Bennigans-type vibe of fully adorned walls, Paul & Eddy’s is a neighborhood staple. With a good selection of drinks, meals, pool tables and darts, loiter here long enough and chances are you’ll run into someone you know–a serendipity for which Paul & Eddy’s is famous. (TM)

O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub

25 N San Pedro St, San Jose


Few Irish pubs can hold an artisanal wax candle to O’Flaherty’s. Now serving pints on San Pedro for more than two decades, the little public house has all the wood paneling, front patio seating and seisiún sessions of any spot in Dublin. With an alarming 50+ beers on tap and more than 20 Irish whiskeys to choose from, O’Flaherty’s gets patrons saying sláinte—even if they have no idea how to pronounce it. (MH)

The Office Bar & Lounge

2306 Almaden Rd, San Jose


Tucked into a strip mall, this unpretentious South San Jose lounge walks the line between dive and sports bar. Walk in on a hot day and be greeted by an icy blast of deliciously conditioned air. Beers on tap and strong cocktails top the list of features, as do Taco Tuesdays, live music Sundays, and a cozy private patio. Try the Office Mule before heading to the nearby movie theater. The bartenders are unfailingly warm, but also entirely uninterested in your bullshit, so leave your attitude behind and you’ll feel right at home. (LP)

Trials Pub

265 N First St, San Jose


Unlike say more corporate Anglo offerings, Trials pub is a real deal, meat and taters British style pub. Situated in a historic and landmark building on North First Street, the establishment offers up the best British drinks and meals, acting as a home away from home for our Colonial cousins and a delight for the American punter. (TM)

Woodham’s Sports Lounge

4475 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara


A true character on Steven’s Creek, Woodham’s Sports Lounge is a haven from the everyday. With the feel of a neighborhood bar and the price point of a dive, there’s a little bit of a Cheers feel to this self-declared Sports Lounge. And with one of those best comedy open mics in the South Bay (every Monday) Woodham’s is a place where it’s entirely possible everybody might know your name. (MH)


Anyone looking for something different need look no further. From honkeytonks to oyster beer, the South Bay has no shortage of bold flavors. 

7 Bamboo

162 Jackson St, San Jose

408.279.9937 |

A staple of Japantown since the mid 1970s, 7 Bamboo is arguably the premiere karaoke bar in San Jose. With a healthy selection of food and various liquid courage, 7 Bamboo provides the ideal spacious yet intimate setting to get up and belt out the showtunes you’ve been harboring in your heart for years. (TM)

Cash Only  

78 E Santa Clara St, San Jose

408.288.5252 |

Lovers of Johnny Cash and legal tender unite, Cash Only in downtown San Jose has something for both of you. Also known as a “West Coast honky tonk,” this literally cash only bar pays hefty tribute to the late Johnny Cash in its music and decor, and keeps drinks firmly lodged at a pre-2020 price. Come for the frozen Irish coffees and, before you know it, you’ll have heard all of “I’ve Been Everywhere” as it loops in the bathrooms. (MH)

Cider Junction

820 Willow St #100, San Jose

669.234.2751 |

Beer and cocktails have had their revolutions, and natural wine is shaking up the grapevine, but the humble cider remains too often unsung. Made from fermented apples, ciders are naturally sweet but can disply surprisingly complexity—a complexity on full display at San Jose’s Cider Junction. Whether on the hunt for a classic, single apple varietal or something more bold, like a silky lavender black currant cider, the apple doesn’t fall far from this Junction. (MH)

Dr. Funk

29 N San Pedro St, San Jose

San Jose’s recently opened tiki bar Dr. Funk offers some potent concoctions and an equally potent atmosphere. From tiki classics like Mai Tais and zombies, to local reinventions and gigantic bowl drinks, Dr. Funk’s dizzying drinks match its neon lit thatched roofed interior. And with a patio looking out on San Pedro, this is one of the most comfortable doctor’s offices in San Jose. (MH)

Fox Tale 

30 E Santa Clara St #120, San Jose

408.216.0158 |

Paper Plane isn’t the only bar winning awards in San Jose. Hop Culture Magazine recently named Fox Tale Fermentation Project 2022’s Best New Brewery, celebrating the cozy brewpub for its innovative flavors and neighborhood approach. They’re not wrong, Fox Tale is surely one of the few places one can order a red corn lager—or a saison made with oysters. (MH)


43 W San Salvador St, San Jose

408.792.7356 |

A true mixologist’s bar, Haberdasher offers up some of the most bedazzling cocktails and signature drinks in the area. Coupled with its smooth, almost erotic basement type atmosphere, Haberdasher is the type of place to come and lose yourself in its magical concoctions or even woo a date. (TM)


48 S 1st St, San Jose


With its modern lighting and wide variety of sakes, sojus and Japanese inspired cocktails, Nomikai is like a little Roppongi in downtown. If you squint hard enough after a few Japanese Old Fashioneds, you might even be able to see Tokyo Tower in the distance. Here’s hoping for a 2023 return of their city pop vinyl night. (MH)

To Do

Going out isn’t just about drinking, and the options for entertainment are wide

Art Boutiki

44 Race St, San Jose

408.971.8929 |

With its funky seating and Giallo-like lighting, Art Boutiki is a venue with the air of a supper club. Hosting a cross section of South Bay music from jazz to rock to this month’s International Surf Classic, with a comic shop in the front, Art Boutiki packs a whole lot of character into its little storefront on Race St. (MH)

Cuetopia Billiard Cafe

4700 Almaden Expy, San Jose

408.266.7665 |

My dad took me here 20 years ago so we could bond over brews while he slaughtered me at pool. Jovial and rough-around-the edges, Cuetopia was a fun place back then. In 2023, all made over, it’s even better: 25 pool tables, regulation foosball, arcade games, air hockey, over 40 beers, decent wine and freaking delicious hot dogs. Early in the night when it’s slow is a perfect time to bring the kids for some games—or just an opportunity to chill with a beer and a dog. (LP)


420 South First St, San Jose

There’s plenty of sports bars around San Jose, but there’s only one true esports bar. Guildhouse in SoFA is a gamer’s delight, with countless consoles, board games, a LAN center, card tournaments and more. A favorite during conventions and a home away from home midweek, Guildhouse is the only bar where it’s appropriate for a bartender to say “It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this!” (MH)

LVL 44

44 S Almaden Ave, San Jose

408.331.8419 |

Ambiance is the key word with LVL 44, and this club has it in spades. A rooftop venue with a picturesque view of the San Jose skyline, LVL 44 is a close quarters club with unique drinks, well-paired meals, and an atmosphere that is raucous, and at times, straight contagious. (TM)

Mama Kin

374 South First St, San Jose

408.664.9303 |

It ain’t easy living like you want to, but at Mama Kin, it feels like it is. The bar/restaurant/venue features live music six nights a week and pairs it with a mix of classic dining and cajun options—all with a Latin twist. Located in the former jazz club Cafe Stritch, Mama Kin retains the relaxed vibe of the former while expanding the musical selections into rock, Latin, hip hop and more. (MH) 


52 E Santa Clara St, San Jose,

408.520.4909 |

Though they’re far from the first to throw an arcade cabinet in a bar, San Jose’s Miniboss was the first in downtown to fully commit to the barcade aesthetic. With a host of games ranging from pinball to racing simulators, classics cabinets like The Simpsons and NBA Jam to newer inventions like Killer Queen, it’s the best use of a roll of quarters in downtown. (MH)    


399 S 1st St, San Jose

Not to be confused with the Noid, the Dominos mascot who famously ruins pizzas, Noite is one of downtown San Jose’s newest dance clubs. With salsa nights on Thursday, house music on Fridays and a monthly reggaeton party every first Saturday, this lofted club above Aura brings a fresh view to downtown dancing. Everyone deserves to have a good noite out. (MH)

Rec Room

1 E San Fernando St, San Jose, CA 95113

Since opening in 2020, Rec Room has quickly established itself as a vital part of San Jose nightlife. Boasting an Instagrammable interior, tasty cocktails (that Hennessey.based Rec’d Juice…) and regular DJ nights from local beat maestros like Cutso, Miles Medina and the OTW Collective, Rec Room has everything needed for a whole night out—all with the coziness of your friend’s parents’ basement. (MH)

San Pedro Social

163 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

408.222.1100 l

San Pedro Square got a massive refresh when San Pedro Social opened this past spring. The multipurpose bar/gaming hall/karaoke venue/bowling alley is the first of its kind on the square, bringing a bevy of evening entertainment options to one centralized place. Hang out upstairs, where the drinks fly as fast as the skee balls, or head downstairs for some private karaoke or a lane on the alley. (MH)

Tabard Theatre

29 N San Pedro St, San Jose, CA 95110

408.679-2330 l

Despite announcing the theatre company’s closure earlier this year, Tabard Theatre remains a venue that promises to continue delivering high quality entertainment and show.stopping performances. Their full bar remains intact even as their repertoire company disbands. Check out their upcoming lineup of events. (JP)

The Brit

173 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95110

408.278.1400 l

Patrons who haven’t entered the Brit since its remodel are sure to emit a hearty “wos all ‘is ‘en?” when they see the longtime watering hole’s swanky new patio and filigreed walls. No longer the Britannia Arms, the Brit remains reliable for a pint and some fish and chips. And for the sports fans: flat screens as far as the eye. (MH)  

The Continental

349 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113

408.982.3461 l

Since 2015, San Joseans have been getting down at the Continental, one of SoFA’s most reliable purveyors of the DJ dance night. And with its plush interior and tasty concoctions, this club has more going than just its dance floor. Still, every Thursday, the floor is known to fill up, when local production crew Universal Grammar host their popular DJ event the Changing Same. (MH) 

The Ritz

400 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113

Arguably the most interesting live music venue in downtown San Jose, The Ritz is a sanctuary for the most authentic, avant-garde, and cult-followed acts. Hosting everyone from seminal punk bands to up and coming art freaks, The Ritz caters to the less traveled musical path, and bless them for it. (TM)


While most of America celebrated Pride in June, Silicon Valley holds its own Pride celebration in August. Get ahead of the curve with a visit to one of the South Bay’s fine LGBTQ bars today.

Mac’s Club

39 Post St, San Jose, CA 95113


Probably best known as the oldest gay bar in San Jose, Mac’s Club is quaint and friendly. The location offers a warm vibe that welcomes all. It’s relaxed and inclusive; a perfect place to spend with friends moving from afternoons into the night. (JP)

Renegades Bar

501 W Taylor St, San Jose, CA 95110

Not only does this LGBTQ-friendly joint host a monthly drag show that boasts itself on being both crazy and campy, but it also offers a males-only underwear party called Trousers Down semi-monthly (among many other things!). There is so much to do in this bar on a nightly basis, that one might confuse it for an events venue over a neighborhood bar. (JP)


65 Post St, San Jose, CA 95113


Oh, if these walls could talk! Splash is something of a second home for the LGBT+ community in San Jose, with two full stories of dance floors, countless trivia nights, live music performances, drag performances–you name it–Splash has probably hosted it and has created an enduring, fun, and safe atmosphere in the process. (TM)

More Bars & Clubs of Note

  • Acopio
  • Aji Bar
  • Be.Steak.A
  • Bears
  • Braise
  • Bywater
  • C&J’s Sports Bar
  • Cardiff Lounge
  • Carrie Nation’s
  • Cedar Room
  • Club Caribe
  • Club Fox
  • Court’s Lounge
  • El Jardín Tequila Bar
  • Five Points
  • Fred’s Place
  • G6
  • Henry’s High-Life
  • Hukilau 
  • Khartoum
  • Labyrinth
  • La Oficina 
  • Left Bank Brasserie
  • Los Gatos Lodge
  • Los Gatos Soda Works
  • Mike’s Place
  • Number One Broadway
  • Orchard City Kitchen
  • Original Joe’s
  • The Oxford Kitchen
  • Petisco’s Adega
  • Steamer’s
  • The Cats
  • The Plex
  • The Province
  • The Rose and Crown
  • 3rd & Bourbon
  • Quarter Note Bar & Grill
  • Rocco’s Ballpark
  • Rosie McCann’s
  • Tony P’s Bar & Grill
  • Torinon Panino
  • Sidecar Modern Tavern
  • Sideline Sports Bar
  • The Sportsmen’s Lounge
  • The Vesper
  • Wild Rose
  • The Willow Den (Public House)


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