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Bars & Clubs

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Britannia Arms
5027 Almaden Expwy., San Jose (408/266-0550)
Too bad there wasn't a pitch somewhere in the back; enough current and former soccer players hang out here to field an 11-a-side round-robin tournament. This neighborhood pub is friendly and airy, with karaoke and trivia nights, electronic darts and a foosball table. Clash and European soccer games are broadcast live on the closed-circuit TV. Cover bands plug in Thursdays through Saturdays around 9:30pm. Open daily, 11am­2am.

Britannia Arms
1087 De Anza Blvd., Cupertino (409/252-7262)
Talking like a Brit isn't required of customers at this friendly pub. But since most of the employees speak with an English accent, Britannia Arms could be ensconced well within the boundaries of the Empire. Fans of football (that's soccer in American) crowd in for live matches shown on a big-screen TV, sipping black and tans, Guinness and John Courage. Darts, billiards and a jukebox liven up the dining area, which features authentic English fare. Tuesday is trivia night; live rock & roll dominates Thursdays through Saturdays; and karaoke is the name of the game on Sundays. Open daily, 11am­2am.

British Bankers Club
1090 El Camino Real, Menlo Park (415/327-8769)
Although the broad range of patrons here thankfully doesn't resemble the fat-cat financiers conjured up by its impressive name, the British Bankers Club is more posh than the average pub. A large green circular couch, wood paneling and stained glass make for a cozy, rather than imposing, atmosphere. Cigar aficionados will be in heaven; although smoking is restricted to an upstairs bar area, the club purveys a selection of cigars, and an adjoining smoke shop offers an extensive variety of cigars and pipe tobacco. Opens at 4pm, closes at around 1am.

C.B. Hannegan's
208 Bachman Ave., Los Gatos (408/395-1233)
This Los Gatos institution stocks an enviable collection of single-malt scotches (95 at recent count) as well as reliable imports and exports for beer drinkers. The downstairs restaurant serves immaculate thick-crust pizzas and soothing pasta dishes. The action is upstairs, where cherubic regulars park on the stools, and the bar ripples with a loud and lively buzz. Open daily, 11:30am­2am.

Duke of Edinburgh
10801 N. Wolfe Road, Cupertino (408/446-3853)
The trappings are Victorian--all dark wood and crushed red velvet--but the Duke has the atmosphere of a typical British pub. Some patrons come to wash down Cornish pasties with pints of Guinness while watching either British or American football on the telly. The darters working the three boards load up the jukebox with tunes by everyone from the Pogues to Sinatra. Between mouthfuls or throws, steady customers--expatriate Brits and American Anglophiles--can be heard arguing about the Beatles' influence on popular music or the correct pronunciation of "pasty." Open till 2am.

Fibbar Magee's
156 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale (408/749-8373)
Minus the scuffs and stains of older public houses, this bright, spacious pub is certainly none the worse for lack of wear. At lunch time, the downtown workers dine on pub fare; evenings find 20- to 30-somethings gathered to watch sports, listen to live music or just hang out. Despite the newness of its fixtures and wood, this welcoming tavern evinces a certain Gaelic inspiration--with soothing green lighting, Irish souvenirs on the wall and the names of soccer clubs etched on glass panels at the top of each booth. Open 11am­2am.

Fibbar Magee's
What's Brew: The new Fibbar Magee's in Mountain View attracts a beer-loving crowd.

Fibbar Magee's
223 Castro St., Mountain View (415/964-9151)
This newly opened Irish pub has all the atmosphere and comfort of a pub "back home," but with the added bonus that it's smoke-free. The spacious cherry-wood interior is complemented by street-light lamps that get turned down a few levels as the evening goes on. Live bands play Fridays and Saturdays, but casual conversation is still possible on the indoor patio. Open daily, 11am­2am.

Flying Pig Pub
78 S. First St., San Jose (408/298-6710)
Sharing sidewalk space with Cafe Zucco, the Flying Pig Pub boasts a long, rectangular, saloon-style bar that serves cocktails, beers, lattes and sodas. The sidewalk cafe exploits the pub's creative kitchen output (quesadillas, potato skins and the like), making even borderline-hungry passersby drool like Pavlov's dogs. The fireplace keeps the Pig roasty-toasty in the winter. The hours extend until 2am, with lunch beginning at 11:30am, Tuesday­Saturday.

Katie Bloom's
150 S. First St., San Jose (408/294-4408)
Katie Bloom's is the watering hole of favor for local suits and nearby San Jose State students. The Irish pub's down-to-earth brass accents, wood bar and '80s jukebox have kept it in business longer than many of the fancier joints at the Pavilion. No distracting televisions, no pool tables, no bad cover bands--just libations, pub food and wooden tables on which to rest beers and elbows. It might be turn-of-the-century Dublin, except for the light-rail trains passing outside. Monday­Friday, 10am­1:30am, and Sunday, 2pm­1:30am.

The Lion and Compass
1023 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Sunnyvale (408/745-1260)
A compass might be helpful in getting to this remote corner of Sunnyvale, but the journey is worth it just for a sip of the bar's specialty: the Brazilian Daiquiri, four kinds of rum, pineapple and vanilla beans--so potent that it easily accounts for the other half of the establishment's name. The business crowd gathers here during the week, the locals on weekends. The pristine modern decor--and a stock-market ticker-tape display--recalls 1980s conspicuous consumption. Open 5:30­9pm.

O'Shea's Pub & Grill
258 Union Ave., Los Gatos (408/371-1861)
This is the kind of neighborhood watering hole that every neighborhood should have. O'Shea's stands on Union Avenue in a suburban district at the very verge of Los Gatos, where the local lugs like to drop by for a bracer and a bit of sports talk. The latest attraction here is the weekday dinner menu with new south-of-the-border daily specials like chile verde. (The pub's popular favorites, such as hamburgers and cheese steaks, are still available.) Full bar and microbrews; electronic darts and video games. Cash only. Open 11am­10pm weekdays; 11am­midnight Friday­Saturday.

Rose & Crown
547 Emerson St., Palo Alto (415/327-7673)
Homesick Brits congregate at this authentic pub at the back of the Emerson-Ramona parking lot. The crowd in the smoke-saturated darts room is always friendly, and though there is no live entertainment, the bartenders and patrons have been known to sing along lustily if the jukebox plays an old favorite. Besides the deep selection of English beers on tap--John Courage and Newcastle Brown among them--the Rose & Crown offers freshly prepared pub food. Four outdoor picnic tables beckon those who'd like a little sunlight with their pint of stout. Open till 1am Monday­Thursday, 1:30am Friday­Saturday and 12:30am Sunday.

Rudy's Pub
117 University Ave., Palo Alto (415/329-0922)
"Palo Alto is a lot like Aspen, Colorado," says one young buck at Rudy's Pub. "There are people who own everything, and people who work for those people. This place is more for, like, the people who work for the other people." Which isn't to say that Rudy's is blue collar. The workers here are workers who work for, say, the owners of Intel and Macy's, not the local plumber. But the atmosphere at the bitter end of posh and precious University Avenue is dressed-down and friendly. Rudy's is small but draws crowds by spinning cool, funkadelic tunes and offering German brews on tap. These classy, crafty elements lend distinction to a neighborhood "worker's" bar snuggled in a tight corner of an uptown downtown. Open Monday­Friday, 11:30am­2am; Saturday­Sunday, 2pm­2am.

Trials Pub
265 N. First St., San Jose (408/947-0497)
What are the bar, the snug and the parlor? Silver-haired owner and barman Robert McVeigh will happily relay information on the particular anatomy of an English pub to any curious barfly. A barstool veteran from Liverpool, Robert runs this Victorian watering hole with his wife, Tracy. The locals, mostly professionals with a taste for British brews, populate this historic 99-year-old building, which has been, among other things, a jail, a barber shop, a restaurant, a hotel and a saloon. On the board are cheap and just-right bar foods such as Buffalo wings, fish bites, chips and the like.

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From the June 12-18, 1997 issue of Metro.

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