music in the park san jose

.The Rebirth of Silicon Valley Nightlife: A Guide

The search for the perfect third place begins here

music in the park san jose

Like most other aspects of modern culture, the nightlife scene is in perpetual flux. Among the recently departed, for instance, are Camino Brewing Company south of downtown San Jose, Gilroy’s Bitter TapHouse and Rosie McCann’s on Santana Row. But as some exit the stage, new places emerge. Each year, in Metro’s Bars & Clubs issue, we welcome newcomers and salute establishments that continue to thrive.

Change isn’t just measured in closings and openings. There’s also the more subtle matter of changing tastes. This year marks the first time that daily users of marijuana in the U.S. surpassed the number of those who consume alcohol daily—a shift that has been a long time coming, as legalization widens and recreational pot use grows.

The hospitality industry is also seeing changes in how people consume alcohol. According to reporting by Forbes, consumers who are now reaching the legal drinking age are fueling a trend for alternatives to alcoholic beverages. And at the other end of the generational spectrum, boomers have learned that moderation is key to maintaining good health in later years.

But all this does not mean that the South Bay’s nightlife need suffer. Everyone, of all ages, still has a deep need for a “third place”—a shared communal watering hole that shelters us when we’re not at home (the first place) and the office (the second). What matters far less than what is consumed there—food, beer, wine, cocktails, coffee—is that the people who come to these spaces feel a sense of belonging, a feeling that they can relax, settle in and spend time with other people, meeting old friends or making new ones.

When we go out, sometimes we want live entertainment. Other times, it’s a night on the dance floor. Or a spot to watch the game with friends and not break the bank. Perhaps we want to play some games ourselves—pool, darts, shuffleboard, video games. And sometimes it’s all about what’s in the glass—and for those nights, the South Bay is rich in cocktail programs that challenge the senses.

In this year’s Bars & Clubs issue, we’ve created a drink menu of sorts, with each type of establishment represented by a different classic beverage. Hopefully it will help curious nightcrawlers find the right space with the right crowd at the right time.

New Twists

Here are some of the latest flavors to emerge in the Silicon Valley nightlife scene, from sports pubs to restaurant bars.

Burbank Bites & Billiards
398 S Bascom Ave, San Jose | 408.661.7615 | instagram.com/burbanksbnb
Due to open before Fourth of July is Burbank Bites & Billiards, with food, music, karaoke and, yes, billiards on the menu. The bar took over the space once occupied by 7 Stars Bar and Grill, and it’s located in the Burbank neighborhood, near to the famed Pink Poodle, the area’s only all-nude strip club. Club co-owner Shane Gariday reveals that this neighborhood bar and grill will serve “a unique mix of bar bites and fancy plates that falls somewhere in the middle,” created by chef Dan (@DanGrubs2 on IG).

Copita Tequileria y Comida
1098 Lincoln Ave, San Jose | 408.600.0810 | copitarestaurant.com
Bay Area chef Joanne Weir’s first restaurant in Silicon Valley debuted at the end of October, with a full lunch and dinner menu in the main dining areas and a taqueria menu in the Rooftop Bar. In addition to the intriguing flavor blends in the mixed drinks, diners can get airborne on flights of tequila (blanco, reposado, añejo and extra añejo), mezcal and bourbon, or fuel up on zero-proof libations.

Fitoor
377 Santana Row, Suite 1140, San Jose | 408.705.2233 | eatdrinkfitoor.com
The latest from former tech veterans Anu and Vikram Bhambri, who created the acclaimed ROOH restaurants, is a glittering homage to Indian food and culture. The food is as elaborate as the decor, and the drinks are divided into five categories: water, fire, earth, air and space. Energy is high on Friday and Saturday evenings, with fire dancers and a DJ spinning Hindi remixes and global club favorites.

Meyhouse
640 Emerson St, Palo Alto | 650.521.0935 | meyhouserestaurant.com
Jazz lovers on the Peninsula were gifted with a new hangout shortly after the arrival of Meyhouse last August. The Turkish restaurant, a sister location to Sunnyvale’s Meyhouse, took over the space formerly occupied by Gordon Biersch. Since the fall of 2023, a portion of that space has been devoted to intimate jazz concerts for 20 to 30 guests on some nights. Tickets can be purchased on the restaurant’s website, with a $20 minimum for food or drink; shows are at 5 and 8pm. Upcoming acts include vocalists Miss Faye Carol and Tony Lindsay, saxophonist Kenny Washington, and the Osaka Organ Quartet. Regular restaurant reservations for two seatings nightly are available on Open Table. (Side note for adventurous drinkers: the menus feature raki, an anise-flavored spirit that is “an integral part of Turkish drinking culture.”)

Poor House Bistro
317 W. Saint John St, San Jose | 408.292.5837 | poorhousebistro.com
One of the most anticipated arrivals on the entertainment scene finally opened its doors in August 2023, when Famiglia Meduri Poor House Bistro (its new, longer name) finally completed its move to San Jose’s Little Italy district. From Wednesday through Sunday, Poor House sets the table with New Orleans, Creole and Italian cuisine served with a side of live music, usually with a rootsy vibe.

President’s Terrace
488 University Ave, Palo Alto | 650.843.9755 | graduatehotels.com
A remodel of downtown Palo Alto’s President Hotel came with a gift to locals: a new rooftop bar that offers a bird’s-eye view of PA’s serene downtown with the Santa Cruz Mountains offering a dramatic backdrop to the west. The drink menu, created by SoCal cocktail craftswoman Bad Birdy, includes the geographically specific Peninsula (mezcal, lime, pink guava, gardenia essence).

Rollati Ristorante
181 E Santa Clara St, San Jose | 408.444.4080 | rollatiristorante.com
Debuting in fall of 2023 from Vine Hospitality, Rollati Ristorante is the Italian sister of Left Bank Brasserie. Located at the Miro apartment complex across from City Hall, Rollati rolls out handcrafted pasta and its signature thousand-layer lasagna, and other Italian favorites. Italian and California varietals dominate the wine list, and cocktails include the on-point Limoncello Spritz and Blood Orange Garibaldi.

Still O.G. and Alter Ego Cocktail Club
66 S 1st St, San Jose | 408.703.2084 | stillog.bar
Good news/better news: Bar crawlers who miss Original Gravity will find in its place not one but two bars. Inside Still O.G., a vinyl listening lounge, the meticulously crafted scene includes a streamlined bar, high-fidelity audio equipment and shelves glowing with vinyl records. Inside Alter Ego, a romantic, dimly lit speakeasy, the concise food menu is complemented by an expansive selection of cocktails and spirits. Together they make up a standout spot for date nights or a fun, classy evening out.

Urban Putt
201 S 2nd St, San Jose | 408.352.5403 | urbanputt.com
Opening up on Leap Day 2024, Urban Putt completely transformed the old Camera 12 building in downtown San Jose into a fantasyland where players bat brightly colored balls through a number of locally significant tableaux, including replicas of the San Jose skyline, the Electric Light Tower at History Park and the Winchester Mystery House. And the wild decor extends into the bar and dining area, with fluorescent colors and geometric shapes surrounding patrons as they consume appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, salads, pizzas, local beers, cocktails and mocktails.

Boulevardier

With a name meaning “frequenter of Parisian boulevards,” this 1920s cocktail seems the right beverage for toasting the live music clubs that bring crowds out to South Bay streets.

Art Boutiki
44 Race St, San Jose | 408.971.8929 | artboutiki.com
Part boho gift shop, part art installation and part concert venue, Art Boutiki creates a scene all on its own just outside the downtown core. The live music calendar is eclectic: Upcoming shows include a record release party by Frunkyman and shows by New Orleans band Bon Bon Vivant and folkish artist Noaa Reinecker. There’s a real sense of community at this venue, and patrons can feel like part of the family by pitching in on efforts to fight the lingering effects of the pandemic by lending support through GoFundMe and Patreon.

Caravan
98 S Almaden Ave, San Jose | 408.995.6220 | caravanloungesanjose.com
It’s impossible to achieve any understanding of San Jose without spending at least some time at the Caravan. In addition to affordable drinks, Caravan pours out a mix of karaoke, open-mike nights, comedy shows, DJ nights and—most important—live music. A letter-perfect dive bar that opens daily at 2pm, it’s been witness to the birth of many a punk band. A downtown legend, may it stand forever.

Club Fox
2209 Broadway, Redwood City | 831.334.1153 | clubfoxrwc.com
This lively spot for live music in Redwood City’s downtown area is close to the Caltrain station and located next to the much larger Fox Theater. Sound quality is good and the space is comfortable; the music runs the gamut: blues jams, comedy sets, country music, Latin rock and tribute acts keep the beat. It also hosts Music in the Square, which takes place in the city’s Courthouse Square.

Guild Theatre
949 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | 855.999.4025 | guildtheatre.com
Since reopening as a venue, this former movie palace has brought varied acts to the stage. The sound is clean in the theater, and the lobby creates an old Hollywood vibe. Upcoming acts include Jackie Green, Old 97’s, Steep Canyon Rangers and Junior Brown.

The Improv
62 S Second St, San Jose | 408.280.7475 | improv.com/sanjose
Some big names in comedy have walked through the doors since the Improv took over this repurposed vaudeville theater in 2002. Plush seating and food service make for a great date night, lubricated by laughter and liquor.

Mama Kin
374 S First St, San Jose | 408.664.9303 | mamakinsj.com
An indispensable component of San Jose night life, Mama Kin serves up many forms of culture in a First Street night spot where the bricks are steeped in local history. Food, drinks and entertainment six nights a week flow through this two-story nightlife landmark. The cuisine doesn’t take a back seat—from black-bun burgers to vegetarian and vegan options, the choices are varied—but what sets Mama Kin apart is the musical menu, serving up live R&B, blues and more, plus karaoke and country line dancing.

Quarter Note Bar
1214 Apollo Way, Suite 403, Sunnyvale | 408.732.2110 | quarternote.com
In one of Sunnyvale’s many business parks, the Quarter Note brings the rock with five nights of live music every week, plus karaoke the rest of the week. An on-site kitchen sustains drinkers with pizza and burgers. A variety of bands take over the elevated stage on weekends, and the house band welcomes musicians on the other nights.

The Ritz
400 S 1st St, San Jose | 408.982.3784 | theritzsanjose.com
Located at the epicenter of downtown San Jose’s SoFA District, the Ritz books an intriguing blend of music, from touring acts to local bands to creative DJ concepts such as KPOP Night, the Taylor Party and Kendrick vs. Drake Night.

Rooster T. Feathers
157 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale | 408.736.0921 | roostertfeathers.com
A full-time comedy club since 1984, Rooster T. Feathers provides an invaluable platform for local jokesters and also attracts touring comedians. For instance, Rooster regulars saw Ali Wong and Hasan Minhaj here instead of at the large halls they’re playing this summer. Guests must be 21 and over, and there’s a two-drink minimum.

Hurricane

The classic drink of New Orleans’ Bourbon Street epitomizes these South Bay clubs, where moving to the music is the main attraction.

The Continental
349 S 1st St, San Jose | 408.982.3461 l thecontinentalbar.com
House music is in the house, with a coterie of DJs setting the mood at this SoFA District dance club. The cushy interior, welcoming patio and tasty drinks ensure that the crowd will be entertained off the dance floor as well. Open nightly until 1:30am.

Liquid Lounge
32 S 3rd St, San Jose | 408.293.3800 | liquidloungesj.com
DJs keep up the beat on weekend nights, mixing genres while the bartenders crank out the drinks. Asian fusion suffuses the menu, which offers appetizers, side dishes and entrees. 

The Loft Bar & Bistro
90 S Second St, San Jose | 408.291.0677 | loftbarandbistro.com
The party continues at this well-loved upstairs dance club, which opened up in 2005. Smiling faces abound, with groups of friends hanging out, dancing and enjoying the rooftop space. Club nights are Thursdays through Saturdays, with dinners served Fridays and Saturdays. The club also often hosts private events.

LVL 44
44 S Almaden Ave, San Jose | 408.331.8419 | lvl44.com
This rooftop club offers a scenic view of the San Jose skyline that patrons can enjoy when they’re not getting busy on the dance floor. Expect bottle service and high spirits Thursdays through Saturdays until 2am. Like many other DTSJ clubs, it’s also available for private parties.

Nova
83 S 2nd St, San Jose | novasj.com
Regular DJ nights with local talent keep the crowd moving to Latin, reggae, R&B and hip hop. Mexican fare and tequila rule the menu options. Open Thursdays through Saturdays, 7pm to 1:30am.


Pure Nightclub
146 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale | 408.732.2121 | purenightclub408.com
The place to catch an EDM show in Santa Clara County. The nightclub offers eye candy and ear candy on Friday and Saturday nights in downtown Sunnyvale. Upcoming are shows by Kalan.FrFr, Valentino Khan, and a Bollywood takeover on June 15.

Rec Room
1 E San Fernando St, San Jose | recroomsj.com
Inviting the South Bay to “come and get rec’d,” this upstairs bar opened in 2020 and has gone on to gain a loyal following with its well-designed interior, appealing cocktails and regular DJ nights.

Cosmopolitan

Before Carrie Bradshaw made it a go-to girl drink, the Cosmopolitan was rooted in gay culture, getting its start in Provincetown’s party circuit. Honor its history at these inclusive bars.

Mac’s Club
39 Post St, San Jose
A welcoming outdoor patio and friendly regulars make this inclusive gay dive bar a regular spot for downtown nightcrawlers. It’s also a fun hangout on holidays and during Pride season. Speaking of which, Silicon Valley Pride’s seventh annual Official Pride Bar Crawl will kick off there at 4pm on June 22.

Renegades Bar
501 W Taylor St, San Jose | renegadesbar.carrd.co
Part of the South Bay’s LGBTQI+ scene since the late ’70s, Renegades keeps up a busy schedule. In addition to karaoke and trivia, there are Thirsty Thursdays (past themes include Leather and Uniform Night and Latex Night—follow on Facebook for details), the twice-month Trousers Down party and the monthly Lip Service, which features a “rotating cast of performers from the full spectrum of drag.”

Splash
65 Post St, San Jose | splashsj.com
Though it takes all of the senses to fully appreciate this video dance bar, the sense of sight is key. Two full stories of dance floors, live shows, drag performances, images flashing all over the walls—it’s an eyeful. A perennial winner as Silicon Valley’s top LGBTQI+ night spot, Splash offers so many different club nights that following on social media is the only way to keep track.

Sidecar

In addition to cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice, a sidecar can be any item served with a drink. At these neighborhood bars, drinks are accompanied by other diversions: trivia nights, karaoke, or the full trappings of a barcade.

Courts Lounge
2425 S. Bascom Ave, Campbell | 408.559.9880
Many dive bars sport dartboards; Courts takes it to a different level, with 10 total—enough to attract the attention of the Santa Clara Valley Darts Association. Full bar; no food.

Cuetopia Billiards Cafe
4700 Almaden Expy, San Jose | 408.266.7665 | cuetopia.net
This classic billiard parlor is set up for fierce competitors to come in and work the 25 pool tables, regulation foosball, arcade games, dart machines and air hockey. More than 40 beers pair well with the bar’s Chicago-style hot dogs.

Guildhouse
420 S 1st St, San Jose | guildhouse.gg
What could be better than a place where grown-ups can share the pleasures of playtime? Board games, consoles, card tournaments, a LAN center and more keep everyone busy at this esports bar. Sandwiches and snacks keep the gamers going, as do the cocktails laced with Red Bull.

Miniboss
52 E Santa Clara St, San Jose | 408.520.4909 | sjminiboss.com
Putting one of downtown’s landmark buildings to good use since 2019, Miniboss serves as a monument to arcade history, with more than 30 arcade cabinets and 12 pinball machines. Playful cocktails include Winter on Nibiru, Prince Ali Ababwa, the Darksaber and Ursula’s Curse, as well as nonalcoholic options. Order pizzas like the Great Cornholio or Magnum P.I.E. until 11pm; fries, wings and carnitas ramen are served until 1am. Closed Mondays.

San Pedro Social
163 W Santa Clara St, San Jose | 408.222.1100 | sanpedrosocial.com
Multitasking takes on a different meaning at San Pedro Social. Patrons leave work behind and split their attention on any number of games: bowling, arcade games, corn hole, basketball hoops, pool, shuffleboard. There’s also a room for karaoke. Reservations are available through Open Table for karaoke and bowling.

Silhouette of a glass

Top Shelf

These night spots share one thing in common: whether it’s fermented brews or craft cocktails, wine flights or shots, what’s in the glass is what really matters.

Bartenders Union
7421 Monterey St, Gilroy | 408.337.5886
A bold choice, the name Bartenders Union promises a venue that even a hospitality professional will enjoy. On the one hand, it’s a neighborhood bar for South County locals. On the other, a lot of thought goes into what gets served here, from clever cocktails to a collection of craft brews—IPAs, blondes, sours and more—from all around California.

Cash Only
78 E Santa Clara St, San Jose | 408.288.5252 | cashonlysj.com
Cash Only’s craft cocktails can be had for cash only—and it’s Cash only on the soundtrack. As befits a West Coast honky tonk dedicated to the man in black, whiskey takes the starring role.

Cider Junction
820 Willow St, Suite 100, San Jose | 669.234.2751 | theciderjunction.com
This Willow Glen place for flights and bites offers something different: Instead of wine, the focus is cider. Specifically, more than 20 ciders on tap and another 40-plus in cans and bottles.

Dr. Funk
29 N San Pedro St, San Jose | drfunksj.com
A sweet toast to all things tiki, Dr. Funk has settled into the South Bay bar scene as a go-to for tropical tipples. Bar-food standards just get a dusting of tropical flavors—curry fries, coconut shrimp, Hawaiian ribs—but the drink menu is spot on. Mai tais and zombies are on the menu, but so are more evocative choices: Siren’s Shore, Shaman King, Phoenix Rising and Shipwreck, the latter of which promises to send drinkers to the shoals with two rums, cachaca, tiki bitters and a fruit salad of other flavors. 

55 South
55 S 1st St, San Jose | 408.288.6000 | The55south.com
A deep shelf of whiskeys sets 55 South apart, but lovers of other forms of alcohol will be well served—and also well fed by a menu designed to complement the creative cocktails.

Five Points
169 W Santa Clara St, San Jose | 408.982.5816 | fivepointssj.com
Its name is a hat tip to the infamous neighborhood chronicled in Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, and the bar’s mission is to bring “a little bit of old school New York to downtown San Jose.” With drinks as sophisticated as the namesake neighwas rough. Five Points achieves a big-city vibe. Reading the ingredients in these creative cocktails, with exotic potions imported from around the world, fosters a yearning for international travel.

Fox Tale Fermentation Project
30 E Santa Clara St #120, San Jose | 408.216.0158 | foxtalefermentationproject.com
Unique in the lively Bay Area brewery scene, Fox Tale truly is a project devoted to fermentation. The store sells specialty fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, and there are creative nonalcoholic options, from various kombucha flavors to concoctions like Nocturnal Dance, with fermented strawberry and lemon verbena syrup, and Bubbly Beer Tea, with fermented fresh hop syrup.

The Fountainhead
387 S 1st St, San Jose | 408.642.5270
Located inside the SoFA Market food hall, the Fountainhead serves up local craft beers, wine and seasonally inspired cocktails made with small-batch spirits. Bonus points for the back patio, offering a comfortable spot for day drinking.

Good Time Bar
30 Fountain Alley, Suite 160, San Jose | 408.256.1266 | goodtimebarsj.com
Since launching in the spring of 2023, Goodtime Bar has emerged as a standout destination in downtown San Jose, attracting wine lovers and food enthusiasts alike with a selection of natural wines and creative cuisine. Wines range from reds and whites to oranges and bubblies.

Haberdasher
43 W San Salvador St, San Jose | 408.792.7356 | haberdashersj.com
A repository of cocktail excellence where every drink tells its own story. The menu typeface is Courier, which fits these literary works, each one inspiring a flight of the imagination. The minuscule snack menu carefully provides nuts with different flavor profiles: salty, savory and a sweet heat. Open Wednesday-Thursday and Sunday from 5pm to midnight, and Friday and Saturday until 1am.

Hapa’s Brewing Company
460 Lincoln Ave, Suite 90, San Jose | 408.982.3299
114 S Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos | 408.963.3942
722 Laurel St, San Carlos | 650.400.1233
hapasbrewing.com
Still less than a decade old, Hapa’s has grown beyond Santa Clara County, bringing such brews as Hungry Dog IPA and the Pesky Penguin sour up the peninsula to San Carlos. All three locations are closed Mondays.

Paper Plane
72 S. First St, San Jose | 408.713.2625 | paperplanesj.com
With its 10th anniversary just behind it, Paper Plane still sparkles like a champagne cocktail. But one doesn’t need to choose anything so pedestrian when ordering from the bar here. WIth the help of the descriptors applied to each libation on the menu here, one can choose just the right drink for every mood. Varied fare from apps to dessert is served until 11pm.

VinoVero
326 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos | 408.442.5913 | vinoverousa.com
Tour Italy’s vineyards with the aid of a wine list that ranges up and down the boot, from Piemonte and Veneto to Sicilia and Calabria. The kitchen features cicheti—small plates typical of Venetian eateries—Wednesday to Sunday, opening at 4pm and closing “when people leave.”

Silhouette of a pint glass

Black & Tan

Santa Clara County offers a united kingdom of drinking establishments, from Irish pubs to Brit-flavored beer halls.

The Brit
173 W Santa Clara St, San Jose | 408.278.1400 l thebritsj.com
Two dozen brews on tap, a roomy and welcoming patio, and plenty of flat-screen TVs make the Brit a solid choice for a variety of crowds, from afternoon drinkers to SAP Center crowds looking to extend their evening a little longer. Hearty fare is on the menu: Fish and chips are in the spotlight, but other options include curries, bangers and mash, and even Brit Tacos (filling options include beer-battered cod and corned beef).

Britannia Arms Almaden Valley
5027 Almaden Expressway, San Jose | 408.266.0550 | britanniaarms.com
A South San Jose landmark open until 2am, Britannia Arms offers revelers all sorts of comfortable places—indoors and outdoors (dog friendly!)—to imbibe and enjoy various theme nights: karaoke, trivia, bingo, DJ sessions and live bands. The menu is large; particularly notable for fans of Brit fare are the four kinds of meat pies, five types of bangers, and a choice of haddock and cod for the fish & chips.

Katie Blooms
369 E Campbell Ave, Campbell | 408.379.9687
When this night spot in downtown Campbell gets too busy, there’s always the outdoor patio. The menu has all the U.K. highlights, like bangers and mash or sausage rolls. And then there’s the Irish Car Bomb: Jameson Irish Whiskey and Baileys Irish cream dropped into a half-pint of Guinness.

Molly Magees
241 Castro St, Mountain View | 650.961.0108 | mollysmountainview.com
Since 1997, every day feels like St. Patrick’s Day at this Irish pub in downtown Mountain View. In addition to plenty of whiskeys from both sides of the pond, bartenders also serve craft beers on draft and signature cocktails. Distractions include an outdoor patio, a pool table, and DJ nights.

O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub
25 N San Pedro St, San Jose | 408.947.8007 | oflahertyspub.com
Transporting a patch of Ireland to San Pedro Square for more than two decades, O’Flaherty’s keeps the Guinness flowing along with plenty of Irish fries, corned beef tacos and shepherd’s pie. Earthquakes fans flock on game nights, and the weekly calendar includes karaoke, trivia and DJ music. The most Irish night of all is Tuesday, which features a live Irish seisiún, with music in the “spirit and feel of the Irish tradition.”

O’Malley’s Sports Pub
2135 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View | 650.965.1162
This sports bar with an Irish accent has something for everyone, including 37 beers on tap, a full bar, wine and even mocktails. A dozen TVs put sports front and center, but there is also Game Night on Wednesday, plus karaoke on Monday, pool, and a bevy of drink specials. In addition to the usual weekday 4-7pm happy hour, O’Malleys has an industry happy hour Mondays through Thursdays from 2 to 11am, plus all day Sunday.

The Rose & Crown
547 Emerson St, Palo Alto | 650.327.7673 | therosepa.com
Other pubs may have more authentic English food and more UK ales and stouts, but the establishment’s Tudor-style farmhouse pleases true Anglophiles. Palo Alto’s oldest bar, it’s a favorite among Peninsula locals and Stanford students.

Trials Pub
265 N First St, San Jose | 408.947.0497 | trialspub.com
First, there’s the setting: a Victorian building that dates back to 1894, it’s an optimal backdrop for a British style pub. The menu covers all the bases, but what’s even more impressive is what’s on tap: Guinness, Bass and Harp are givens, but other UK brews include Smithwick’s Ale, Boddingtons Cream Ale, Dragon Slayer IPA and Strongbow Cider. Open Tuesday through Saturday.

Silhouette of a boilermaker (shot glass inside a pint glass

Boilermaker

This concoction with working-class roots fits right in at local sports bars. But the most important spirit is rooting for the team along with other fans.

Blue Max Sportsbar
828 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale | 408.771.6022 | IG: @BlueMaxSunnyvale
The math is good: 20 flat-screen TVs, 15 beers on tap, and $4 for PBR on draft. Other enticements that draw regulars are karaoke on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; pool and beer pong; and a jukebox to supply tunes. Though there’s no kitchen currently, any outside food is welcome.

Fred’s Place
2534 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View | 650.940.9838 | fredsplace.tv
Sports bar amenities are provided, but there are also activities that keep the regulars entertained when there isn’t a game. Nine beers on tap, pool tables, pinball, Thursday night karaoke and Monday Trivia Night are found inside, advertised with a classic sign complete with neon. Open until 2am.

Mike’s Place
5837 Camden Ave, San Jose | 408.723.9981
This dark bar lights up when the array of big-screen TVs are turned to the big game. Otherwise, regulars divert themselves with karaoke, pool and darks. Beer and shots flow freely, especially during happy hour, which is weekdays 3–7pm.

Rocco’s Ballpark
2531 Newhall St, Santa Clara | 408.564.0810
Aside from the sports-friendly name, the Ballpark lures fans with 11 flat-screen TVs and 15 beers on tap. Those who don’t follow the major leagues can still enjoy teamwork on trivia, pool and darts. Competitors can keep up their strength with takeout food. Patrons give thumbs up to the knowledgeable bartenders and (two bonuses) bar stools with backs and charging stations for cell phones at most of the seats. Open 11am-midnight.

Sportsmen’s Lounge
2368 Pruneridge Ave, Santa Clara | 408.244.4600
Sports is in the name and in the DNA of this local watering hole. In addition to multiple TV screens, patrons will find pool tables and dartboards. The friendly staff serves up beer, shots, Bloody Marys and more, and some find sustenance with in-house snacks or takeout from nearby China Delight. 

Woodham’s Sports Lounge
4475 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara | 408.244.2899
Widely hailed as an essential neighborhood joint, Woodham’s is, despite its name, more than a sports bar. Of particular note is the Open Mic Night, every Monday from 8 to 11pm. Other social activities include Vinyl Night, live bands, and a series of DJs (follow on Instagram for the who/what/when).

Old Fashioned

One of the most popular cocktails of all time, the old-fashioned is always in vogue. And so are these venerable South Bay bars.

The Bank
14421 Big Basin Way, Saratoga | 408.483.7252 
Setting up shots since 1972, the Bank is the spot to stop off after a Mountain Winery concert. Regulars like the draft beer, but another favorite is the Dublin Classic—Jameson and ginger ale.

Black Watch
141 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos | 408.354.2200
Stained glass and swords are eye-catching components of this timeless tavern in the town of the cats. In business since 1959, the Black Watch is as old as most baby boomers but its appeal crosses generations. Ask the bartender if the drink of choice is still the kamikaze pitcher, and he’ll say, “Most definitely.”

Branham Lounge
1116 Branham Ln, San Jose | 408.445.1716 | thebranham.com
A habitat for lounging since 1969, this neighborhood tavern warms things up with cushy seating, retro decor and a fireplace. Other amenities include an outdoor patio, a photo booth and the obligatory big-screen TVs—though the live entertainment provided by open-mike comedians and DJs is more engaging.

Goosetown Lounge
1072 Lincoln Ave, San Jose | 408.292.4835
This hangout on Willow Glen’s main drag encloses a bar, big-screen TVs for monitoring the big games, a small dance floor, and the main attraction: a stage for karaoke on weekends. The fireplace adds a welcome coziness in the winter.

Henry’s Hi-Life
301 W St John St, San Jose | 408.295.5414 | henryshilife.com
It doesn’t get more old-fashioned than this beloved steak joint. Though it’s only been in business since 1960, the building itself—which was moved to its present location shortly after the 1906 earthquake—warrants its own historical marker. The online bar menu cuts straight to the chase, listing the premium booze that goes into the cocktails poured at the restaurant’s well-worn and well-stocked bar.

Jack’s
167 E Taylor St, San Jose | 408.287.5225
Behind the neon sign, the inside of this bar is timeless: dark, narrow, with TVs aglow as patrons down shots and beers. The outside patio is a thoroughly contemporary, well-designed spot to enjoy craft beer and appetizers, sandwiches and burgers, as well as pies from Jtown Pizza.

Khartoum
300 Orchard City Dr, Suite 101, Campbell | 408.379.6340 | khartoumlounge.com
Downtown Campbell may have lost LVL Up this past fall, but thanks to several longtime bars, party people still have somewhere to go. Since 1973, revelers have made their way to Khartoum, with its decorative stained-glass windows and Tiffany-style lamps. On busy nights, the place is packed.

Paul and Eddie’s Monta Vista Inn
21619 Stevens Creek Blvd Cupertino, CA 95014 | 408.252.2226
This Old West–style saloon is a classic setting for a classic neighborhood bar. Inside this bar, which celebrated its 80th anniversary a year ago, it feels like a little piece of valley history survives here on busy Stevens Creek Boulevard. The neon sign on the awning promises pool and darts; the inside delivers the same, plus reasonable drinks.

Paul & Harvey’s
130 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale | 408.736.5770
This decades-old bar caters to locals with all the must-have amenities: darts, pool, pinball, jukebox and walls and ceiling encrusted with signage, providing a neighborhood hangout and a welcome touch of continuity in downtown Sunnyvale seven days a week.

7 Bamboo
162 Jackson St, San Jose | 408.279.9937 | 7bamboolounge.com
A bar as old as karaoke itself—which got its start in Japan in the 1970s—this cocoonlike bar has allowed generations of San Joseans to live their dreams of pop stardom. As befits its status as a Japantown landmark, 7 Bamboo pours more than 50 different kinds of Japanese whiskeys as well as several unusual Asian spirits.

Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary, queen of brunch drinks, symbolizes restaurant/bars combos, where food is anything but an afterthought.

Alehouse and Bistro
707 1st St, Gilroy | 408.767.2673 | alehousebistro.com
The Alehouse and Bistro came out of the gate in February of 2023, offering a very wide menu with a little bit of everything, from small plates to sandwiches to main dishes. Flavors are as diverse as Silicon Valley; to list a few: poke bowl, bibimbop, loco moco, Baja calamari, Japanese curry and a classic ribeye. The bar pours cocktails, wine and, naturally, an intriguing assortment of ales.

Cedar Room
1875 S Bascom Ave, Campbell | 408.717.4715 | cedarroomlive.com
Located adjacent to the Pruneyard Cinemas, the Cedar Room offers food, cocktails and live entertainment, including regular Drag Brunch events, Queen Bingo and live shows of various musical flavors.

Effie’s
331 W Hacienda Ave, Campbell | 408.374.3400 | effiesrestaurantandbar.com
Classic comfort food ensures a loyal clientele for this Campbell restaurant. But even without the food, the restaurant’s cozy bar draws its own acolytes Wednesday through Sunday with one of the South Bay’s liveliest karaoke scenes. At the top of the menu is Effie’s Famous Bloody Mary, made with Absolut Peppar Vodka and a housemade mix. 

Hop & Vine
1435 The Alameda, San Jose | 408.977.0111 | hopandvinesj.com
Located on The Alameda, next to the picturesque Towne Theater, Hop & Vine offers a superior grazing experience designed to pair with West Coast craft suds and geographically diverse wines. Order the white or red flight, or create your own.

Littlest Little Italy
320 W Saint John St, San Jose | 408.709.1212 | littlestlittleitaly.com
San Jose’s Italian roots flourish in the Little Italy neighborhood, located between the SAP Center and Highway 87. Sample five different establishments in one spot at Littlest Little Italy, which brings together the hearty Italian sandwiches of Torino Panino, slices from Bibo’s, appetizing cold cuts from the Salumi Bar and alcoholic accompaniments from Birre by Pour Decisions and Ancora Vino. Closed Monday.

Olla Cocina
17 N. San Pedro St, San Jose | 408.606.7999 | ollacocina.com
Food may be foremost on the mind of many patrons of this Mexican restaurant, which has occupied a sweet spot on San Pedro Square since 2016. But the bar menu offers more than a dozen drinks with a Latin spin. Margaritas come in multiple flavors—prickly pear, spicy, cucumber and tradicional—but there are more unusual choices as well, such as the Anticuado, with bourbon, nixta corn liqueur, chile pasilla and angostura bitters.

Laughing Monk Brewing and Gastropub
1235 Oakmead Pkwy, Sunnyvale | 408.736.2739 | laughingmonkbrewing.com
Thankfully, though the name Faultline Brewing Company is no more, this beautifully designed brewpub in Sunnyvale continues under a new name. (Faultine’s Scotts Valley outpost also changed its name.) Under any name, this is still a picturesque place to quaff and nosh, and about a half-dozen of the most familiar Faultline brews—including the Redwood Ale—are still available.

Los Gatos Soda Works
21 College Ave, Los Gatos | 408.402.5111 | losgatossodaworks.com
Located in a historic building where sodas were actually bottled (1907-1937), this bar and restaurant has a cocktail to fit every palate and every mood. Soapbox Racer is laced with Michter’s Rye, while Studio 54 blends Tito’s Vodka with Asian Pear Sake. And there’s the award-winning A Man and His Mule, which tarts up the usual vodka and ginger beer with lime cordial, pink peppercorn and green chartreuse.

Park Station Hashery
1701 Park Ave, San Jose | 408.320.1711 | parkstationhashery.com
In San Jose’s pleasant Rose Garden neighborhood, cyclists, local craft beer fans and loyal locals flock to Park Station—particularly its outdoor dining area. Servers pour a variety of wines and beers on tap.

Tempo Kitchen & Bar
7560 Monterey St, Gilroy | 408.855.1111 | tempokb.com
A fixture in the Gilroy nightlife scene since 2021, Tempo dishes out eats and entertainment Wednesday through Sunday. Karaoke, comedy, DJ music and live bands take over later in the evenings, and food is served starting at 3pm on weekdays and 11am on weekends.

The Vesper
394 E Campbell Ave, Campbell | 408.680.0401 | thevespercampbell.com
West Valley culinary go-to couple Jim and Angelique Stump named their cocktail-forward bar and restaurant after the cocktail created by Ian Fleming in his first James Bond novel, and like the drink, the Vesper’s ingredients are simple yet compelling: comfortable seating, bold menu items and complementary cocktails.

More Bars & Clubs of Note

Peninsula

Amandine | 235 1st St, Los Altos | 650.204.9222

Dutch Goose | 3567 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park | 650.854.3245

Mervyn’s Lounge | 236 Castro St, Mountain View

Murdoch’s Bar | Inside State Street Market, 170 State St, Los Altos

Opal Nightclub | 251 Castro St, Mountain View

Roger Bar and Restaurant | Ameswell Hotel, 800 Moffett Blvd, Mountain View | 650.744.1030

Rootstock Wine Bar | 331 Castro St, Mountain View | 650.963.9916

Savvy Cellar Wines | 750 W Evelyn Ave, Mountain View | 650.969.3958

Mid-County

Bare Bottle Brewing Company | 2520 Augustine Dr, Santa Clara | 408.564.5722

Beefy’s Cabin | 693 Grape Ave, Sunnyvale | 408.736.7141

Duke of Edinburgh | 10801 N Wolfe Rd, Cupertino | 408.446.3853

Fuego | 140 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale | 408.786.0434 

Off the Rails | 111 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale | 408.773.9500

Oxford Kitchen and Gastropub | 195 S. Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale

ShaKa Brewing | 170 N Wolfe Rd Unit 220, Sunnyvale | 408.475.7233

Taplands | 1171 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara | 408.709.2990

X Bar/Homestead Bowl | 20990 Homestead Rd, Cupertino | 408.255.5700

Downtown San Jose

Aji Bar & Robata | Signia by Hilton San Jose, 170 S Market St, San Jose | 408.998.1900

Aura Kitchen and Bar | 389 S 1st St, San Jose | 408.838.0393

Club Caribe | 1001 S 1st St, San Jose

Enso Bar and Grill | 97 E Santa Clara St, San Jose | 408.909.3676

Fuze Lounge | 58 S 1st St, San Jose | 408.564.0488

Hukilau | 230 Jackson St, San Jose | 408.279.4888 | 

Last Round Tavern | 354 E Santa Clara St, San Jose | 408.286.9710

Little Wine House | 350 W Julian St, Bldg. 4, San Jose | 408.471.8039

Miami Beach Club | 417 S 1st St, San Jose | 408.242.9621

Mosaic Restaurant and Ultra Lounge | Inside Four Points by Sheraton, 211 S 1st St, San Jose | 408.282.8800

Myth Taverna and Lounge | 152 Post St, San Jose | 408.286.7678

Nomikai | 48 S 1st St, San Jose | 408.287.7199

Old Wagon Saloon & Grill | 73 N San Pedro St, San Jose | 408.971.9346

Original Joe’s | 301 S First St, San Jose | 408.292.7030 | 

Petiscos | 399 S 1st St, San Jose | 408.320.2884

San Jose Bar & Grill | 85 S 2nd St, San Jose | 408.286.2397

San Pedro Square Market | Home to four bars: San Pedro Square Market Bar, Market Beer Company, Three Sisters and Alma Tequileria | 87 N San Pedro St, San Jose

SJZ Break Room | 310 S First St, San Jose | 408.288.7557

SP2 | 72 N Almaden Ave, San Jose | 408.333.9267

Strike Brewing Co. | 2099 S. 10th St, San Jose | 669.342.6480

Tiki Pete | 23 N Market St, San Jose | 408.713.2900

Other San Jose Neighborhoods

Acopio | 399 S 24th St, San Jose | 408.293.5241

Añejo Cantina and Kitchen | 3132 Williams Rd, San Jose | 408.261.3714

Bay 101 | 1788 N 1st St, San Jose | 408.451.8888

Bears Cocktail Lounge | 1872 W San Carlos St, San Jose | 408.998.3425

Braise | 1185 Lincoln Ave, San Jose | 408.294.2919

Casino M8trix | 1887 Matrix Blvd, San Jose | 408.244.3333

Club Rodeo Rio | 610 Coleman Ave, San Jose

El Jardín Tequila Bar | 368 Santana Row, Suite 1050, San Jose | 408.320.2411

Final Score Sports Bar | 1126 Saratoga Ave, San Jose | 408.296.9591

Hyde Park Lounge | 1070 N 4th St San Jose | 408.275.1681

Left Bank Brasserie | 377 Santana Row, Suite 1100, San Jose | 408.984.3500

Narrative Fermentations | 101 E Alma Ave, San Jose | 408.288.5181

Park Lane Lounge | 5152 Moorpark Ave, Suite 20, San Jose | 408.300.6009

Petiscos | 1614 Alum Rock Ave, San Jose | 408.926.9075

The Plex | 800 Embedded Way, San Jose | 408.225.1843

The Province | 1788 N 1st St, Suite 10, San Jose | 408.796.1699

Redi Room | 4340 Moorpark Ave, San Jose | 408.257.7770

Sideline Sports Bar & Grill | 7028 Santa Teresa Blvd, San Jose | 408.226.2226

Stevie’s Bar and Grill | 2705 Union Ave San Jose | 408.559.0904

Straits Restaurant | 333 Santana Row, No. 1100, San Jose | 408.246.6320

Strike Brewing Co. | 2099 S 10th St, Suite 30, San Jose | 669.342.6480

Topgolf | 10 Topgolf Drive, San Jose | 408.404.6436

VBar | 355 Santana Row, San Jose | 408.551.0010

Willow Den Public House | 803 Lincoln Ave, San Jose | 408.891.0212

West Valley

Be.Steak.A | 1887 S Bascom Ave, Campbell | 408.963.2092

The Bywater | 532 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos | 408.560.9639

Cardiff Lounge | 260 E Campbell Ave, Campbell | 408.340.3830

Carry Nations | 8 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos | 408.354.1771

The Cats | 17533 Santa Cruz Hwy, Los Gatos | 408.354.3060

Coach’s Sports Bar & Grill | 2240 S Winchester Blvd, Campbell | 408.379.2654

Double D’s | 354 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos | 408.402.3407

Flowers | 14577 Big Basin Way, Saratoga | 408.647.2727

The Hook Sports Bar & Grill | 2369 Winchester Blvd, Campbell

Los Gatos Lodge | 50 Saratoga-Los Gatos Rd | 408.354.3300

Los Gatos Parkside | 145 W Main St, Los Gatos | 408.560.0099

ManyFriends Brewing Company | 14482 Big Basin Way, Saratoga | 669.232.3585

Number One Broadway | 102 S Santa Cruz Ave, No. B, Los Gatos

Orchard City Kitchen | 1875 S. Bascom Ave, Suite 190, Campbell | 408.340.5285

Out of the Barrel | 1875 S. Bascom Ave, Suite 560, Campbell | 408.676.8332

Out of the Barrel | 201 Los Gatos Saratoga Rd, Los Gatos | 408.827.4090

Rootstock Wine Bar | 217 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos | 408.354.7668

Tasting House | 368 Village Ln, Los Gatos | 408.348.1807

Wild Rose Eatery and Bar | 200 E Campbell Ave, Campbell | 408.340.5136

South County

Capos Event Center | 7588 Monterey St, Gilroy | 669.500.6810

El Michoacano Restaurant | 6966 Chestnut St, Gilroy | 408.842.5877

Running Shop and Hops | 17500 Depot St, Suite 100, Morgan Hill | 669.258.5950

Vines & Pints | 7511 Monterey St, Gilroy | 669.253.6179

Pop’s Public House | 1300 1st St, Suite A, Gilroy | 408.337.5981

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