Silicon Valley Bars and Clubs 2016

Dive Bars & Old Favorites

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Cinebar—where everybody has a hard time remembering your name.

Dive bars have no windows, and if they do, they're tinted or shuttered. Just like the English pub or public house, the dive is a gathering place, but unlike its English cousin, the American dive is not an extension of society—it is a respite from it. It's a place to return to yourself without distraction, meet old friends, make new ones and indulge in a private moment as a group. A good dive will never betray the true hour of the day. An excellent dive will make you lose track of time. Here are a few choice locations.


Legend has it that once upon a time all Greyhound stations had a built-in bar named The Caravan. But at some point, attitudes toward bus travel and mid-day cocktail hour changed, and the Caravans around the country were removed. Luckily, this particular installation is located in a building down the block from the station, where it still operates today. Over the decades, our Caravan has blossomed into a lively gathering place. It hosts live music at night, cheap drinks always, and still showcases most of the original decor. The bar staff are friendly, but the bathrooms can be a bit mean. 98 S Almaden Ave, San Jose.

Hyde Park Lounge

Go down Fourth street, toward 101, and you'll spot the Hyde Park Lounge on the right. It is situated in a quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of Japantown. Bigger than most dives around, Hyde Park Lounge has all the things that make a dive great: cheap drinks, no natural light, friendly bartenders, and a collection of distractions ranging from billiards to random wall hangings. 1070 N 4th St, San Jose.

Kevin's Place

Probably unbeknownst to the owners, this dive, formerly known as The Place, was immortalized in skateboard culture by long-gone Sonic Skateboards. Sonic used the dive's signage art as one of their brand incarnations. Anyone over 30 who used to get around on four polyurethane wheels will recognize the sign and stop in. 1058 S 1st St, San Jose.

Blinky's Can't Say

Located in an often forgotten stip mall in Santa Clara—as most good dives should be. Strip malls were a dive bar haven in the days of yore, but alas, most have been replaced by franchise operations serving up cheap eats or even cheaper haircuts. The only things Blinkey's delivers are drinks, distractions and good times. Friendly bartenders make this a near perfect dive, if it weren't for the street-facing windows. Although tinted, Blinkey's allows a bit too much California sunshine. As they say, it's good enough for government work. 1031 Monroe St, Santa Clara.

Patty's Inn

Arguably the oldest bar in town, Patty's Inn has benefited mightily from the hockey fish that play a few blocks down. Although also window-clad, this dive gets a pass by virtue of its age. There's a trunk above the door that, legend has it, is a sarcophagus. The outdoor patio, pool table, 19th-century construction and inexpensive libations all make it a great dive. If you don't like it, go across the street and catch a train. 102 S Montgomery St.

Johnny V's

This thriving dive is named after creator Johnny Van Wyk. If you're old enough to be reading this in print, and were around in the early 2000s, you probably remember Kleidon's. Johnny took a ramshackle corner dive and turned it into a proper watering hole while hosting massive dance/music events. Many of today's children owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Van Wyk's ability to gather their parents and show them a good time. Johnny V's still supplies the most exciting stretch of Santa Clara Street in San Jose. 31 E Santa Clara St, San Jose.


Most locals mistake this dive's name for referencing the rich cinnabar ore deposits that made the area famous during the Gold Rush. The truth is downtown San Jose was full of cinemas during the golden age of film. The Cinebar catered to moviegoers. Today the place serves the type of people you wouldn't want mowing your lawn. Coupled with the unsavory staff, expensive drinks and bare walls, Cinebar is the only dive on this list to avoid at all costs. The place is always empty for a reason. If you've ever been there, you understand. (In case you don't have a sense of humor, this bar is actually awesome.) 69 E San Fernando St, San Jose.

The Bears

If you and your Boo Boo need to relax a bit after antiquing around San Carlos Street, dip into The Bears. Actually, go to The Bears regardless. Located on one of the most undisturbed stretches of mid-century San Jose, it's a great dive. Billiards, drink specials, an open floor plan and a view of what was one of the hottest strips in the area—about 40 years ago. If you're as smart as Yogi, bring your Boo Boo to The Bears. 1872 W San Carlos St, San Jose.

Antonio's Nut House

321 S. California Ave., Palo Alto

Have some free peanuts and cheap drinks while listening to music on the jukebox that you can control.

The Bank

14421 Big Basin Way, Saratoga

Party it up next to a cozy fireplace while watching a sports game and drinking a cocktail.

The Back Door Lounge

37422 Fremont Blvd, Fremont

Speakeasy vibe with a back alley entrance and late hours.

Beefy's Cabin

693 Grape Ave., Sunnyvale

Free darts and weekly pool tournaments with awesome beer.

Black Watch

141 N. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos

Kamikaze pitchers.

Britannia Arms

5027 Almaden Expwy., San Jose

173 W Santa Clara St, San Jose

Don't fight the obvious truth—if there's a big game people are at The Brit.

Bogart's Lounge and Techpub

1209 Wildwood Ave., Sunnyvale

"Techpub" might be a misnomer for this gritty little strip-mall dive.

Court's Lounge

2425 S. Bascom Ave., Campbell

The epitome of a dive bar, the pool tables and dart boards compliment the jukebox and loud music.

The Escape

2942 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose

Drink and game, with free pool, Wii and excellent drinks.

Fred's Place

2534 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View

This hidden gem dive bar is known for its trivia nights on Mondays.

Goosetown Lounge

1072 Lincoln Ave., San Jose

Willow Glen's popular karaoke bar.

Mac's Club

39 Post St., San Jose

Your friendly neighborhood gay bar with a cozy back patio and cheap drinks.

The Office

2306 Almaden Rd., San Jose

Hole in the wall bar good for watching a game and relaxing while listening to your favorite tunes on the juke box.

The Oasis

241 El Camino Real, Menlo Park

This bar is part of a dying breed of sports bars and is known for the great ambiance and beer.

San Jose Bar & Grill

85 S. Second St., San Jose

$2 Tuesdays done changed the game.

Rookies Sports Lodge

1535 Meridian Ave., San Jose

Arguably the best sports bar in the South Bay with a friendly staff and packed house.

Red Stag

1711 W. San Carlos St., San Jose

Don't be fooled by the questionable looks of the outside of this bar, this dive bar has karaoke and a decent selection of hard drinks.

7 Bamboo

162 Jackson St., San Jose

Japantown's go-to karaoke joint.

7 Stars Bar & Grill

398 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose

Star Wars inspired bar with cold beer, booze and snacks for the munchies.

Willow Den

805 Lincoln Ave., San Jose

This hangout and chill bar will make you clap your hands while playing giant jenga and and enjoying a convivial game of pool.

Intro | Craft Cocktails | Craft Beer | Wine | Juice Bars | Coffee | Dance
& Live Music
| Dives & Old Favorites | Gentlemen's Clubs