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June 21-27, 2006

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Mr. Choe wants you at the Agenda.

Silicon Valley Bars & Clubs 2006

San Jose

Photographs By Felipe Buitrago

Silicon Valley Bars & Clubs 2006:
Intro | Bartender myths | San Jose | Campbell | Cupertino | Los Altos | Los Gatos | Mountain View | Palo Alto | Santa Clara | Saratoga | Sunnyvale | Other cities

358 Culture Lounge
358 N. White Rd, San Jose; 408.254.2881

This upscale dance club and lounge located just out of the downtown district brings a hip nightclub scene to the East Side. The 358 Culture Lounge sports nightly DJs spinning everything from hip-hop, soul, funk and R&B to thumping Latin-tinged dance tunes and Top 40 for the dressed-to-impress east San Jose club set. The club kicks it hard on Sundays when unknown DJs are allowed to man the decks, and 358 Culture Lounge is no slouch on the other nights either, featuring a karaoke evening and special events like the Hot Import Nights tricked-out car shows.

A.P. Stump's
163 W. Santa Clara St, San Jose; 408.292.9928

A sophisticated restaurant and lounge that is a definite powerhouse in the downtown dining scene, A.J. Stump's boasts an excellent seasonal menu of New American Chophouse cuisine using fresh ingredients prepared by classically trained chefs. San Jose movers and shakers crowd into A.P. Stump's for power lunches while dinner sees well-heeled gastronomes drawn by the superb cuisine and a wine list with more than 4,000 bottles. The swank martini lounge feature fine liquors, exquisite aged cognacs and Scotches, a premium well and an impressive cocktail menu.

Agenda Lounge
399 S. First St, San Jose; 408.380.3042

Before all these "ultralounges" started cropping up, there was the Agenda Lounge—a three-level destination for night life. On the main level, Agenda boasts an excellent contemporary cuisine restaurant that caters both to patrons just grabbing a casual bite and to diners seeking a relaxing feast from one of the best California fusion restaurants in San Jose before taking in the action upstairs on the dance floor or downstairs at the Cellar club. The third-floor lounge has been at the forefront of the DJ and live-music scene downtown for years and still showcases the Bay Area's slickest DJ talent and live acts. Partiers who really want to prove their dancing skills show up on Wednesdays for the South Bay's hottest salsa night with lessons taking place early for those who may need a refresher course. Agenda Lounge also books an impressive slate of jazz, blues and funk live music acts both upstairs and on the heated patio off the main dining room.

Alex's 49er Inn
2214 Business Circle, San Jose; 408.279.9737

About as old-school as a San Jose neighborhood bar can get, Alex's 49er Inn in the Burbank District packs the regulars into its strip mall confines for some heavy-handed cocktails that would snap any well-pickled sot's head back. As far as San Jose bars go, Alex's 49er Inn is a classic; it's dimly lit and cheap, has a rickety pool table with a significant lean, shows sports on the ancient tube and any regular can tell newbie patrons all about San Jose before the techies.


Winged Victory: Angels is the place to see and be seen.

400 S. First St, San Jose; 408.885.9588

Angels is a slick representation of the ultralounge phenomenon, with two bars, an expansive dance floor and some of the best local DJ talent. For the well-heeled posh set, the requisite velvet-roped VIP sections are scattered throughout the club where imbibers can kick back with private bottle service while scanning the crowd. Clubbers not looking for the full VIP treatment can still enjoy something more than just another night out. First, the DJs manning the decks really throw down some serious beats. Second, there's the eye candy. Angels not only bills itself as the ultralounge but as a cabaret: meaning dancers, and hot ones at that. C'mon, girls decked out in satin lingerie and faux wings swingin' on swings; how can you go wrong?

Aqui Cal-Mex Grill
5679 Snell Ave, San Jose; 408.362.3456
1145 Lincoln Ave, San Jose; 408.995.0381

Aqui Cal-Mex Grill has two restaurant locations in San Jose, and both serve amazing California cuisine fused with a distinct south of the border flair. Aqui Cal-Mex Grill also sport full bars in both locations with more than 40 different kinds of tequila. The signature house margarita starts with premium silver tequila and adds only the bare minimum of a house-made mix to keep the level of authenticity intact and the cocktail near the danger zone. Both Aqui Cal-Mex Grills get packed nightly with the after-work crowds wending their way back to the suburbs; on the weekends, the restaurants are filled with suburbanites and soccer moms relaxing on the patios.

100 W. San Carlos St, San Jose; 408.278.4555

Arcadia restaurant in the San Jose Marriott Hotel offers five-star New American contemporary cuisine prepared by acclaimed head chef Michael Mina. Arcadia pairs its extensive contemporary restaurant menu with a wine list that's heavy on California varietals without neglecting the best selections from the world's distinctive winemaking regions. Arcadia also boasts a posh bar lounge that attracts a chic and hip night life scene all its own with a singularly innovative cocktail menu based on a solid foundation of the classics. Upscale yet casual, Arcadia features award-winning cuisine presented in a sophisticated atmosphere.

Bamboo Lounge and Island Grill
1355 N. Fourth St, San Jose; 408.392.2468

The Bamboo Lounge and Island Grill in the San Jose Clarion Hotel is a tropically themed restaurant and bar where hotel guests and the after-work crowd can get a little island fix. The Island Grill offers cuisine inspired by tropical dishes that range from the Caribbean to the South Pacific hitting nearly every island group in between. This casual San Jose restaurant doesn't skimp on the portions while still being very wallet-friendly. In retro TV-wit style, the lounge is decked out to look like Gilligan's local bar. The bar hosts live music Wednesday through Saturday, and the Bamboo Lounge doesn't just stick to kitschy Don Ho cover bands. Live acts range from soul and funk bands to blues and jazz.

Blake's Steakhouse and Bar
17 N. San Pedro St, San Jose; 408.298.9221

Consistently one of San Jose's best steakhouse restaurants, Blake's Steakhouse and Bar serves enormous portions of American classics in a no-nonsense two-tiered setting that's charmingly old-school and unobtrusive, allowing diners' focus to remain solidly on the food. Blake's also provides a strong wine selection that is heavy on Northern California winemakers with some interesting selections from San Jose area boutique wineries, and the bar houses nothing but premium liquor. Service is efficient and attentive even when the place is wall to wall with carnivores. Before and after any event at the nearby HP Pavilion, Blake's sees a rush of diners and drinkers that rivals any other restaurant downtown; on event nights, reservations are highly recommended.

Blank Club
44 S. Almaden Ave, San Jose; 408.292.5265

The San Jose live-music club scene is alive and well at the Blank Club, where the local punks, rockabillys, techno freaks, electronica fans, heavy drinkers and rockers hang. The club lands an impressive list of loud local talent, and the small corner stage bathed in red lighting has seen more than its fair share of national touring names that always play to a packed bar. Even when there's no band throwing its power chords down for the moshing drinkers, the club still rocks with nights that can't be found anywhere else. Punk-rock karaoke night gets the week started off right on Mondays, and the booze-soaked party just keeps right on going with Britpop dance nights, Euro-garage DJs, indie, alt, New Wave and the sickest bands around. While other clubs are content with the same cookie-cutter, tragically hip, $9 beer nights with different DJs all playing the same thing, the Blank Club aims its Guns of Navarone-style live music and anything-but-average DJ lineup directly at the San Jo night life scene, gives the traditional punk-rock salute and blows the other downtown clubs away.

Blowfish Sushi to Die For
335 Santana Row #1010, San Jose; 408.345.3848

This sleek and sexy sushi restaurant in Santana Row pairs fresh sushi and innovative creations with a raging night life scene. First off, the sushi really is to die for, and not only for its freshness— the uniquely artistic presentation and care given to each dish bespeaks the Blowfish chefs' dedication to their craft. Second, the night life manages to be both sophisticated and raucous, fueled by convention-shattering cocktails. Blowfish Sushi's decorative style looks like it was ripped right out of the hottest dance club and lounge in Tokyo with Japanese anime projected everywhere, flickering to the bass-heavy beats spun by slick house DJs. Sake serves as a base for a number of drinks, and Blowfish sports a sake list that reads like the storied history of the alcoholic rice beverage sung in a series of shot glasses. San Jose's Blowfish Sushi packs them in on the weekends and not just because it's one of the scant list of clubs in Santana Row that stay open until 2am.

DJ Vinyl at the Blue Monkey

Spin City: DJ Vinyl pats the platters at the Blue Monkey in San Jose.

Blue Monkey
1 E. San Fernando St, San Jose; 408.275.6600

The Blue Monkey lounge is a hot little upstairs nightclub that fills the niche for a slightly more mature venue. The hip thirtysomething set ascends the staircase to immerse itself in a compelling atmospheric mix of upscale martini lounge and Far East opium den. Speaking of beats, the Blue Monkey scores some top spinners to man the decks nightly. Poured expertly by stylish bartenders, the Blue Monkey's signature cocktails go down ultrasmooth, but will snap a head or two back and definitely grease the social wheels. The only passage into the Zen-like designer depths of the Blue Monkey is past the door guys who discreetly enforce a strict dress code keeping the gear stylish, the vibe high and the nightclub full.

Branham Lounge
1116 Branham Ln, San Jose; 408.265.5525

Everything drinkers need in a San Jose neighborhood dive bar, the Branham Lounge provides cheap booze, classic dive bar entertainment and a slew of quirky regulars that seem as if they've been occupying the same bar stools for eons. This venerable bar sports some modern amenities like plasma screens but has kept true to its neighborhood soul with some drunken karaoke and prices that were low a few decades ago.

Britannia Arms
5027 Almaden Expwy, San Jose; 408.266.0550
173 W. Santa Clara St, San Jose; 408.278.1400

Britannia Arms epitomizes the local neighborhood bar in the British pub tradition with an impressive import tap-beer list. On the weekends, patrons cram into these bars for the singles scene, the DJ-fueled dancing and live-music acts of both the original and cover band varieties, while earlier in the week Britannia Arms restaurant and bar caters to belt-it-out karaoke crooners and wannabe rockstars. Both locations of Britannia Arms are local soccer (uh, football) headquarters and always open up early for Euro and World Cup action. The downtown San Jose location gets downright crazy when the San Jose Sharks are playing at the nearby HP Pavilion. Patrons of all stripes also hit the Brit for some down-home British Isle fare like fish and chips, bangers and shepherd's pie.

98 S. Almaden Ave, San Jose; 408.995.6220

The Caravan in downtown San Jose is a dive bar institution that packs in drinkers starting the day off right as early as 6am. Everything is poured heavy and priced right. The slanted pool table hosts some of the best tattooed sharks in town. To further cement its reputation as the drinking home for San Jose's pierced and inked set, the Caravan hosts up-and-coming local punks, indie and alt-rock bands some nights.

Cardinal Lounge
3197 Meridian Ave, San Jose; 408.269.7891

Steeped in kitschy Vegas style, the Cardinal Lounge fills up most nights with SJSU kids downing test tube shot specials and belting out atonal renditions of '80s karaoke mainstays alongside local bar regulars crooning to imaginary lovers and no one in particular. The bar and lounge also just happens to be attached to the Cardinal Coffee Shop, one of the few late-night dining options in San Jose open 24 hours a day. Expect a little sass with the service at the coffee shop after the bars let out because it so perfectly completes the retro shabby casino town charm.

18 S. Almaden Ave, San Jose; 408.293.1387

Chacho's is one of the best Mexican restaurants, offering huge-portioned traditional Mexican fare prepared from family recipes and made fresh daily. Chacho's also boasts a tequila selection that hovers right around 120 varieties with almost 20 kinds of mescal. This bar and restaurant pours some of the most dangerous signature house margaritas in town and, coupled with the excellent cuisine, dispels any wonders about why the small venue is continually packed.

Checkered Flag Bar and Grill
803 Lincoln Ave, San Jose; 408.271.1880

This bar located along the Lincoln Avenue strip heading into Willow Glen is the undisputed king of all things that run on a track, whether they be two-wheeled or four, and prides itself on its moto-heritage. The slew of regulars parks its Harleys out front before descending into the dimly lit interior for a few go-rounds with the cheap and plentiful bar chow and drinks. When there aren't motor sports gracing the Checkered Flag's TVs, non-gas-powered sports take over and are cheered on with equal Budweiser laden zeal at this San Jose bar. This is the place to be for San Jose Grand Prix weekend recaps.

69 E. San Fernando St, San Jose; 408.292.9562

The Cinebar is a venerable dive bar that's usually wall to wall with boozers young and old, from the time it creaks open its door at 6am and pours an eye-opener shot. Everybody drinks at the Cinebar and those that haven't evidently have no clue about what they're missing out on at this classic dive bar. As a downtown drinking institution the Cinebar only has one dive bar rival: the Caravan. But, there's no chance of a '50s style bar rumble because here's the thing, the same cool blend of wizened regulars, punk-rockers, San Jose State benders, rockabillys, drunks, hipsters and unwashed vagrants are completely loyal to both bars, they just split their daily excursions between both.

City Bar and Grill, Hilton Hotel
300 Almaden Blvd, San Jose; 408.947.4444

In San Jose, conventions are the bread and butter, and the downtown hotels start licking their collective chops when convention season rolls around. At that time, the City Bar and Grill in the Hilton Hotel is the place to be for some convenient expense-account dining and drinking. The City Bar and Grill serves huge portions of American steakhouse classics to hotel guests, theatergoers and locals in a relaxed upscale setting featuring an extensive wine list loaded with California varietals. The City Bar and Grill doesn't have the plastic feel that some road warriors have come to expect from other hotel bars because this hotel bar and restaurant goes out of its way to make travelers feel like locals.

Club Caribe
1001 S. First St, San Jose; 408.297.7272

This popular salsa club gets absolutely wall-to-wall with the Latino night life. Thumping salsa, merengue and rumba beats blast from the speakers of DJs and occasional live bands for the stylish patrons showing off their skills on the dance floor. Of course Coronas and tequila are the libations of choice, but the intense dancing here usually takes precedent over drinking.

Club Max, Doubletree Hotel
2050 Gateway Place, San Jose; 408.437.2167

Club Max at the Doubletree Hotel has one of the best happy hours in town, featuring cocktails on the cheap, sports on the tube and a do-it-yourself nacho bar. During the week, Club Max is a totally kicked-back, come-as-you-are San Jose bar, but the weekends are a different story, because Club Max turns into a hot nightclub filled with dressed-to-impress thirtysomething locals and hotel guests having a blast dancing to Top 40 tracks and DJ stylings.

Consuelo Mexican Bistro
377 Santana Row #1125, San Jose; 408.260.7082

A phenomenal local bar and Mexican restaurant that pays homage to Mexican and Latino libations with a staggering selection of tequilas and mescal. This Mexican restaurant has some of the best traditional cuisine anywhere, thanks to executive chef Alex Padilla, with an emphasis on authenticity. The décor was shipped directly from Mexico. The bar and restaurant is almost continually packed with diners, drinkers and shoppers taking a laid-back break from the Santana Row shopping hustle and bustle.

72 N. Almaden Ave, San Jose; 408.287.1737

Cuccini kicks out a seriously hip Middle Eastern club vibe. The thumping sound system pours eclectic tunes, deep house, hip-hop and funk beats over the dance floor while the bartenders pour some heady cocktails. If the hip and hot dancing gets overwhelming, Cuccini has one of the best chill spaces of any San Jose club. The outdoor garden style patio not only doubles the space of the nightclub, but also is the perfect place to kick it with friends and cocktails on summer nights. Cuccini also hits it during the daylight hours, offering unique Mediterranean cuisine that straight-beats the pita out of the local falafel stand, and it sports one of the longest happy hours in town. With rotating resident DJs and special club nights that include a monthly Mediterranean throw-down with smokin' belly dancers, Cuccini definitely sets the dance party bar high.

Cuetopia Billiards Cafe
4700 Almaden Expwy, San Jose; 408.266.7665

The numbers add up: 25 professional-grade pool tables, four foosball tables, dart lanes, seven TVs airing a variety of sports and a cafe boasting Chicago-style hot dogs. But perhaps the best entertainment feature is the staggering beer selection. Cuetopia Billiards sports some 50 draft and bottled beers plus wines and wine coolers for the thirsty pool shooters.

The Den at Fourth Street Bowl
1441 N. Fourth St, San Jose; 408.453.5555
Drinking and bowling go together like peanut butter and jelly, and the Den at Fourth Street Bowl in San Jose is the quintessential bowling alley bar. Local wannabe PBA-ers crowd into the Den for cheap drinks, excellent grub from the adjoining cafe and a nightly karaoke throw-down with tone-deaf amateurs belting out tunes and completely destroying any listening factor these songs may have had—and it's a blast.

The Derby
399 N. 13th St, San Jose; 408.294.4699
The Derby, on the eastern outskirts of downtown San Jose, is the perfect definition of a neighborhood bar because—no bull—when a nonregular walks through the door, the jukebox literally skips a beat and everybody sitting at the bar enjoying long-neck Buds turns around to scope out the interloper. But don't get all freaked out, because the Derby is a friendly joint where blue collars meet up after work to tip a few back and unwind.

Dive Bar

Taking the Plunge: The night life is poised for a clean entry at San Jose's Dive Bar.

Dive Bar
78 E. Santa Clara St, San Jose; 408.288.5252
Not your typical dive bar. There are no wizened regulars downing whiskey and beers at 6am; the jukebox has been updated since 1980; patrons can actually sit at the tables, couches and stools without worrying about ... well, things that people usually worry about in those situations; slick DJs man the decks; and the crowd generally have all of their teeth. Despite its name, Dive Bar is a totally kicked-back nightclub for relaxing and drinking with friends. The art deco interior holds a gaggle of San Jose hipsters lounging on red vinyl couches, chilling to eclectic movies shown on a big screen and down-tempo beats provided by local DJs, all bolstered by the comfort of a huge, well stocked antique bar.

E&O Trading Company
96 S. First St, San Jose; 408.938.4100

The San Jose restaurant and bar outpost of E&O Trading Company melds a unique menu of pan-Southeast Asian cuisine with a lively bar scene. Business types, theater patrons and local hipsters crowd into the chicly appointed bar and restaurant for the excellent cuisine and eclectic cocktails. The place also has a chill patio right on First Street so patrons can kick back with some drinks, nosh on small-plate delicacies and watch the world go by.

El Patron
5635 Silver Creek Valley Rd, San Jose; 408.270.8900

At El Patron, the drink and happy hour menus are almost as big as the food menu, which is huge. The restaurant is spacious and has an outdoor patio for enjoying a pitcher of sangria or margaritas or one of 10 imported beers with any size group. Happy hour times vary according to the day of the week. Saturday there are two happy hour blocks, during which El Patron offers three different tequila samplers—a shot of blanco, reposada and anejo varieties—so you can taste the difference.

The Escape
2942 S. Bascom Ave, San Jose; 408.377.5436

The Escape doesn't qualify as a hole in the wall, because the building on Bascom Avenue kind of stands alone, yet the designation fits Escape to a tee. The interior is dominated by two regulation-size pool tables where local sharks challenge each other for drinks and compete in one of the most intense pool tournaments on Tuesday nights ever seen. But, buying drinks for other boozers at this local bar really ain't too bad because the Escape pours 'em cheap and heavy for an excellent buzz-to-bucks ratio. The Escape caters to a laid-back crowd of blue-collar boozers and Harley junkies that belly up to the bar nightly in this home away from home neighborhood bar.

374 S. First St, San Jose; 408.280.6161

Eulipia was one of the first upscale restaurants in downtown San Jose and still continues the same tradition it started some decades ago of excellent service, distinguished and delectable New American cuisine, offering an extensive California wine list and classic cocktails all in a sophisticated intimate setting. The menu went through a recent upgrade and, although still firmly rooted in the contemporary American style, has added some continental dishes presented beautifully as only Eulipia can do. Eulipia is only open for dinner and does a brisk business with the theater crowds, conventioneers and local diners.

Evergreen Inn and Pub
3273 White Rd, San Jose; 408.223.8846

A local bar in the Evergreen area where neighborhood patrons mingle, watch their favorite sports teams, shoot some pool, drink on the cheap and enjoy inexpensive bar food. The bar specializes in hearty offerings like choice steaks and seafood.

Fahrenheit Ultra Lounge
99 San Fernando St, San Jose; 408.998.9998

Definitely the slickest rendition to date of the ultralounge concept, Fahrenheit sports more than 4,000 square feet of posh drinking, dining and dancing space. Even before crossing the threshold, scenesters know the venue is cool and sexy—any nightclub that puts that much effort into the exterior certainly isn't going to cut corners when it comes to the inside. Fahrenheit presents probably the chicest designer appointments of any San Jose nightclub. It boasts an eclectic menu of California fusion and modern global cuisine, serving lunch, dinner and late-night menus. Led by master mixologist Graham Kimura, the staff is well versed in the art of flair bartending. Bottles are thrown, drinks are lit on fire, heck the bar top is lit on fire.

Fairmont Lounge, Fairmont Hotel
170 S. Market St, San Jose; 408.998.1900

The Fairmont Lobby Lounge inside San Jose's luxurious Fairmont Hotel is a relaxing place to enjoy a quiet cocktail. The Lounge boasts an excellent selection of purely California wines, an extensive list of high-end single malt Scotches and a renowned list of classic and specialty martinis for the discerning drinker. Also, the Lounge offers nightly light jazz live entertainment to accompany this exclusive lounge's elegant ambience.

5th Quarter
1373B Kooser Rd, San Jose; 408.265.7033

This neighborhood sports bar in south San Jose caters to local area sports fans and gets absolutely packed on Sundays during football season. Even when it isn't game day, patrons show up to enjoy the weekend DJs and occasional live music. Monday is karaoke night.

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

The Final Score Sports Bar is all sports all the time, and patrons would be hard pressed to find a more genial crowd of drinkers and fans. It is a neighborhood favorite any day of the week—not just when there's a game on—but the conversation from the loyal patrons does decidedly revolve around sports even when they're engaged in the bar's other entertainment offerings like pool, shuffleboard and darts.

The Flying Martini Brothers Bar and Bistro
69 N. San Pedro St, San Jose; 408.287.6969

The reinvention of the neighborhood bar and restaurant is taking place down on San Pedro Square with the Flying Martini Brothers Bar and Bistro, a hip and casual place to grab some excellent food and a few drinks. With its low lighting, plasma TVs, designer dining area and lounge, the Bar and Bistro boasts an ever-growing list of nightly drinking and dining regulars and after-work decompression seekers. The solid service, good food and stiff cocktails make this casual bar and restaurant a favorite stop on the San Jose bar round.

Garden City Casino
360 Saratoga Ave, San Jose; 408.244.4443

The only place in San Jose where patrons can enjoy American steakhouse classics, choose selections from one of the best wine lists around and then top it all off with a game of Texas Hold 'em is the Garden City Casino. The restaurant serves huge portions of steak, lamb and pork with daily fresh seafood choices. The restaurant has won the prestigious Wine Spectator "outstanding restaurant wine list" award a record 12 times. After dinner, those with a bent for gambling head to the card rooms, which offer all types of poker, exclusive California card games and Pai Gow Tiles.

Gecko Grill
855 N. 13th St, San Jose; 408.971.1826

The Gecko Grill Mexican restaurant and cantina bar serves authentic down-home Mexican food and their specialty house margaritas will certainly snap back a head or two. Also, the cantina bar sports a long list of premium tequilas, fresh sangria and margaritas made the old way to wash down the Mexican cuisine.

Glass Gecko
1872 W. San Carlos St, San Jose; 408.998.3425

Looking for the spot where loyal regulars seek a daily drinking refuge in the Burbank District? Look no further. The Glass Gecko sports all of the normal dive bar appointments: a couple of sport tuned TVs, a classic jukebox, a pool table with questionable geometry and bartenders who are quick with comebacks and heavy with shots.

396 S. First St, San Jose; 408.995.6414

Glo is a weekend-exclusive upscale downtown dance club and lounge in the SoFA district based on the hip ultralounges of New York, Vegas and L.A. Glo sports several dance floors where clubbers get their energy-drink-fueled groove on to the latest dance tracks, funk, old-school and hip-hop spun by a hot slate of premier resident South Bay DJ talent; at special events Glo nightclub boasts national spinners manning the decks. As with any ultralounge, Glo has extensive VIP areas with the requisite bottle service, velvet ropes and bar tabs that could equal the GDP of some small nations. The club is completely decked out in ultra designer chic appointments. Low slung couches, ambient glowing back bars, state of the art lighting and sound and a clientele dressed to the nightclub nines can be found at Glo every weekend night.

Goosetown Lounge
1072 Lincoln Ave, San Jose; 408.292.4835

Goosetown Lounge in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood is like a rocking nightly party with 100 or so close friends jammed into a place that's the size of a modest living room. Seriously, few other neighborhood bars take care of their drinkers better than Goosetown, which serves up single shots that look like doubles, gaming entertainment galore and some downright hilarious karaoke nights.

Gordon Biersch
33 E. San Fernando St, San Jose; 408.294.6785

Gordon Biersch brewery and restaurant is a San Jose bar staple known for its excellent German-style microbrews and superb restaurant fare. The downtown location offers patrons a huge bar area, a lounge and dining sections where everybody feels at home. Gordon Biersch also has one of the finest beer gardens in town, books some live music acts and is a great place to relax year round. The cuisine and beer are and their awesome garlic fries and heady brews can be found at every sports and entertainment venue in the Bay Area.

Grill on the Alley
172 S. Market St, San Jose; 408.294.2244

The Grill on the Alley, located adjacent to the Fairmont Hotel, serves only the best American Kobe beef in an upscale setting. The white-jacketed, knowledgeable service staff is always attentive and ready to answer any questions diners pose or to guide them through a wine list heavy on California varietals.

Hedley Club in the Hotel De Anza
233 W. Santa Clara St, San Jose; 408.286.1000

Ever deam of sipping on a premium cocktail and listening to world-class live jazz? This is the place. The Hedley Club isn't just popular with Hotel De Anza guests. In fact, this bar and lounge's patrons consist more of local movers and shakers than out of towners. The outdoor patio is the perfect spot on warm summer evenings with a gardenlike setting complete with fountains and potted palms that's also smoker-friendly. In the chillier months, Hedley Club patrons warm up next to the wood-burning fireplace inside on plush couches while sampling from the extensive premium liquor selection.

Henry's Hi-Life
301 W. St. John St, San Jose; 408.295.5414

Henry's Hi-Life is a great American steakhouse and barbecue joint that's so locally famous that getting a table in its homey dining room on some nights is an exercise in futility without a reservation. Not that Henry's Hi-Life is a pretentious supper club restaurant; this classic San Jose restaurant and bar is exactly the opposite—and probably has better food. Everything at Henry's Hi-Life restaurant and bar is big; the steaks, the prime rib, the baby backs, the pork chops and chicken can all be served as either full dinners or a la carte and the poured shots follow the same theme. It is located within stumbling distance to both the HP Pavilion and the downtown nightclub scene.

The Huddle
5289D Prospect Rd, San Jose; 408.725.9414

The loyal customers crowd into this strip mall sports bar to root on all Bay Area teams, but especially the 49ers. The drinks are cheap, and the beer selection decent. But most of the fans who frequent this neighborhood bar usually go for the stronger stuff.

230 Jackson St, San Jose; 408.279.4888

Everybody loves Hawaii, but not everybody can be so blessed as to hang out in the island paradise on a daily basis, which is exactly why some ex-islanders started the Hukilau restaurant and bar in San Jose to spread the Aloha. The down-home authenticity of the food here is amazing, and everything from the loco moco to the spam musubi and the ahi poke transports patrons from the friendly confines of this restaurant to the-sun splashed small-plate diners of Hawaii. Hukilau furthers the experience for fortunate mainlanders by hosting live Hawaiian music on the weekends in its backroom tiki bar.

The Improv Comedy Club
62 S. Second St, San Jose; 408.280.7475
A solid destination in the Bay Area for simply hilarious standup comedy acts and comedy troupes. The San Jose Improv books national headliners on a regular oasis with some local up-and-comers rounding out the bill. Housed in the legendary art deco San Jose Theater, the Improv is first rate all the way. National comedy headliners usually do two shows nightly on the weekends.

Jack's Place
167 E. Taylor St, San Jose; 408.293.8995

Jack's Place might not be new or trendy, but after 60 years in business, it's still a great place to meet new friends. Conveniently located in Japantown, the "Best Little Bar in Town" offers 13 varieties of tequila, mixed drinks and cold beer. The bar picks up when the sun goes down and it fills with college students, who get a discount Monday nights, and neighborhood regulars. Three widescreen HDTVs show sporting events.

JJ's Blues
3439 Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose; 408.243.6441

Probably the last bar left in San Jose that throws down live blues music seven nights a week, JJ's Blues has been going for some 23 years and shows no signs of letting up. In fact, it was just named winner of the 2006 Best Night Club of the Year for the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame, by the Bay Area Blues Society. Local blues musicians share the small stage with big-name national tourers. Also, this venerable blues club and the near last of an unfortunately dying breed offer local blues musicians a chance to try their riffs out on a crowd by hosting two open jam nights. JJ's, in the best blues club tradition, keeps the music loud and the drinks flowing.

Brian and Kim at Johnny V's

Fun Couple: Brian and Kim keep the laughs coming at Johnny V's.

Johnny V's
31 E. Santa Clara St, San Jose; 408.947.8470

Johnny V's is a cool local bar where San Jose State students, local boozers, hard-core punks, music fans and average drinkers converge to catch a buzz and some local bands making the harrowing leap from garage to stage. Johnny V's bar also sports DJ nights and hip-hop MC showdowns featuring San Jose and South Bay rappers squaring off. The bar takes good care of its local contingent of drinkers with two-for-one drink special nights and the ever dangerous dollar drink night.

Lido's Nightclub
30 S. First St, San Jose; 408.298.4318

The only bar and dance club in downtown San Jose that sports a truly international night life vibe with a transsexual twist is Lido's Nightclub, where Latino day laborers sip on long-necked Coronas downstairs before the drag queen karaoke starts wailing out of the speakers and a hip Vietnamese dance party full of revelers dressed to the nines goes off upstairs nightly. The cocktails are cheap, and the kitschy décor is one of a kind, just like the clientele.

Loft Bar and Bistro
90 S. Second St, San Jose; 408.291.0677

Loft Bar and Bistro serves outstanding contemporary American and California fusion cuisine in a stunning two-level space, each level with its own bar, lounges and dining areas, and the coolest outdoor patio of any downtown San Jose restaurant. The rooftop deck sits high above Second Street, away from the noise and the traffic, offering patrons a super chill place to kick back with friends for A-list drinking and dining. After the dinner hour, Loft Bar and Bistro morphs into an upscale nightclub scene without the common hassles of some other clubs. Resident DJs spin deep house cuts, Top 40 and down-tempo beats on the weekends; on Thursday nights, club-goers pack into the Loft to catch live jazz.

Mac's Club
39 Post St, San Jose; 408.288.8221

At this neighborhood gay bar, everybody —straights included—is made to feel like this is the exact local bar in which they belong. The friendly vibe is completely undeniable, attracting a wide range of drinkers who come for the almost obscenely strong cocktails but keep coming back for the unique local bar camaraderie. Mac's Club is a bit rundown, but in a completely lived-in way, and the back patio, located off the street between the other buildings, is a phenomenal place to spend a lazy weekend day getting tanked.

Melting Pot
72 S. First St, San Jose; 408.293.6020

The Melting Pot restaurant indulges diners in the Swiss tradition of fondue that gained kitschy popularity in the '70s and now seems to be making a cyclical resurgence along with musical and fashion trends. But seriously, there's nothing quite like sharing a pot of fondue with that special someone especially if it's one of the first intimate outings, because nothing breaks the ice and gets conversations rolling like a pot of bubbling cheese on the table. The Melting Pot also boasts an extensive wine list in case the social wheels ever slow down, and their signature cocktail menu, rife with contemporary takes on the martini, sports some excellent options.

Mexico Lindo Restaurant and Cantina
11 Race St, San Jose; 408.295.7765

Some of the best local Mexican food and a tequila-fueled karaoke "sing"-off can be found at Mexico Lindo Restaurant and Cantina located just outside downtown. SJSU kids and local regulars from the surrounding neighborhoods show up for the Mexican eats, and after a few of Mexico Lindo's dangerous margaritas, commandeer the karaoke stage and belt out tinny renditions of all the favorites. On the weekend nights, more professional tunage can be heard from some local DJs spinning pop hits and dance club tracks.

Miami Beach Club

Don't Tell Keith Richards: The Miami Beach Club features glitzy faux coconut trees.

Miami Beach Club
175 N. San Pedro St, San Jose; 408.298.4900

The hot dance club recently moved to new digs to better accommodate its swelling salsa crowds. The old Club Miami was in a cool upstairs location but just didn't have the space, so many a dancer was left out in the cold; the new Miami Beach Club located a scant few blocks away totally delivers. The club has more than doubled its size and added a huge patio for some much needed chill-out room, because the dancing and music—sometimes from live salsa bands—is always hot. When a band isn't providing the music, some sinfully talented DJs spin salsa, merengue, reggaeton, dance and hip-hop for the club masses.

Mission Ale House
97 E. Santa Clara St, San Jose; 408.292.4058

This downtown powerhouse gets packed nightly with diners, drinkers and dancers reveling in its local bar charm, hot DJ stylings, hotter bartenders and drink specials. Starting off at happy hour with a menu featuring excellent grub for the ridiculous price of $1.95 and cocktails or beers for around $3, Mission Ale House sees a steady stream of SJSU students, blue- and white-collar drinkers, convention types and sports fans. It features two well-stocked bars manned by one of the best bar staffs in San Jose, 24 beers on tap, house-made vodka infusions, three huge rooms packed with drinkers and dancers and a smoker-friendly back patio. During any sports season, but especially during football, Mission Ale House is full of fans cheering on their favorite teams on one of the plasma screen TVs at the main bar or in the ale room.

Moorpark Hotel, the Park Bar and Grill
4241 Moorpark Ave, San Jose; 408.864.0300

The Park Bar and Grill at the Moorpark Hotel is a stylish New American cuisine restaurant and lounge that excels with an extensive wine list featuring California varietals and a signature cocktail menu filled with contemporary twists on classic drinks. The designer boutique hotel styling attracts a hip and mature crowd more into social networking rather than clubbing. The Moorpark Hotel displays a distinguished air of refinement without losing a low-key vibe that includes occasional live music nights.

Naglee Park Garage
505 E. San Carlos St, San Jose; 408.286.1100

The restaurant, a partnership between downtown impresario Chris Esparza, chef Louis Silva and Brendan Rawson, occupies a small, good-looking brick-and-glass space that used to house, you guessed it, a garage. The tiny kitchen (just a rotisserie, stove and oven) is beer-spilling distance from the cozy, L-shaped bar, where brews are served in glass jars, and there's a short but good wine list. This summer will showcase monthly live folk and jazz shows and outdoor movies on the patio, shared with Top Dog.

O'Flaherty's Irish Pub
25 N. San Pedro St, San Jose; 408.947.8007
O'Flaherty's Irish Pub in San Pedro Square gets packed daily with the after-work crowd because of this local bar's potent happy hour specials and congenial drinking atmosphere. The front doors slide open so the Irish drinking party can be had both inside and out. Speaking of an Irish party, every Sunday and Tuesday O'Flaherty's hosts a traditional Irish seisun (roughly translated as a folk music jam session) with a bunch of Emerald Isle expats and those who just want to be drinking Guinness and whiskey while trying to remember how to jig.

Original Joe's
301 S. First St, San Jose; 408.292.7030

A legend among locals, Original Joe's serves big portions of classic Italian and American chophouse fare. The atmosphere screams old-school, from the tuxedoed waiters to the veneer wood paneling to the lounge that would have made the Rat Pack proud. OJ's is a restaurant throwback to better gastronomic days. The wine list hits on some Italian favorites, but also sports a solid California lineup, and the cocktails would do Nick and Nora proud. The very best aspect of San Jose's own Original Joe's is that the more patrons keep coming back, the more they get treated like family.

333 W. San Carlos St, San Jose; 408.294.2558

For well over half a century, Paolo's has been serving loyal customers picture-perfect classic Italian fare with contemporary twists in a sophisticated setting. Paolo's unique garden setting, overlooking the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens, creates a sense of wonderment that doesn't only come from their gourmet Italian cuisine. Their vintage bottle collection comes in around 5,000 bottles. Paolo's resident sommelier has one of the most discerning palates in the Bay Area, and his selections for both their reserve cellar and daily-pouring bottles has earned Paolo's the distinguished award for excellence from Wine Spectator magazine consistently.

211 S. First St, San Jose; 408.282.8888

Paragon Restaurant and Bar on the first floor of the retro chic Montgomery Hotel is a low-key sophisticated space serving rustic New American cuisine with contemporary notions. The sleek designer confines are both expansive and intimate, swathed in earth tones and brushed metal. The execution of the cuisine is nothing short of exquisite. The lounge boasts a huge vodka selection to bolster a contemporary cocktail menu that is heavy on delicious martini variations; and most evenings Paragon hosts live jazz musical acts to provide down-tempo beats.

Patty's Inn
102 S. Montgomery St, San Jose; 408.998.4566
This local bar landmark has, in one incarnation or another, stood the test of time since the mid-'30s. Located just a short crawl from the Caltrain Station and HP Pavilion, Patty's Inn caters to regulars from the neighborhood, harried commuters "missing" their train home, sports fans and San Jose Sharks fanatics. Also, as if Patty's Inn needed anything else to bolster its historical status, this local bar is right across Montgomery Street from probably the absolute best San Jose landmark: the Stephen's Sausage dancing neon pig.

The Place
1058 S. First St, San Jose; 408.297.3473

Located on the southern edge of downtown, the Place is packed from open to close with regulars enjoying cheap beer, stiff drinks and rickety pool tables that cost about the same to play as a gum-ball machine. The Place's claim to dive bar fame however is having the longest bar in San Jose, a boast that is completely unverifiable because, after a few shots and a couple of beers and drunken heads start to spin from the potency, the bathroom seems like it's in another state and the bar just might run the length of Monterey Road.

Plaza Inn
1182 Lincoln Ave, San Jose; 408.292.0132

In spite of its ambiguous name, the Plaza Inn in Willow Glen serves some of the best Mexican food around, and its house margaritas could drop a charging bull. Everything from the authentic kitchen is excellent; seriously, pick any Mexican favorite and there will never be any disappointment.

Poor House Bistro
91 S. Autumn St, San Jose; 408.292.5837

The Poor House Bistro is the converted home of restaurant owner Jay Meduri. Orders are placed at the counter, then you take a seat in what was once a bedroom or wander outside to the front porch. This "New Orleans joint" serves traditional fare like po' boy sandwiches drenched in mayonnaise and stuffed with shredded cabbage, tomato and pickles over your choice of meat or seafood. Louisiana's Abita Ale is served on tap. For dessert PHB serves beignets, New Orleans-style donuts.

Red Stag Lounge
1711 W. San Carlos St, San Jose; 408.292.6777

The Red Stag Lounge is a great dive bar located on the west side of downtown in a nondescript strip mall that suits the Red Stag's ultra low-key vibe. This San Jose neighborhood bar treats everyone as regulars as soon as they walk through the door, be it at 6am when the Red Stag Lounge opens or late into the night when the same morning drinkers are probably in the same bar stools.

Rosie McCann's Irish Pub
355 Santana Row #1060, San Jose; 408.247.1706

Located in swanky Santana Row, Rosie's has to play host to trendy diners and drinkers rather than brogued boozers whose tastes don't stray far from the meat and potatoes spectrum. Even so, Rosie's interior is total old-school Irish with dark wood and a seemingly endless row of tap beers and whiskeys, along with a kitchen that puts out excellent Irish favorites right next to the requisite healthy California fare.

San Jose Bar and Grill
85 S. Second St, San Jose; 408.286.2397

Probably responsible for more San Jose State student hangovers than any other two bars combined, San Jose Bar and Grill takes raucous partying to a whole new level. The bar caters to the sports fan, the casual neighborhood bar drinker, the student study-break bender, the after-work crowd and the DJ-dancing night life scene. On Wednesdays, any self-respecting drinker shows up for San Jose Bar and Grill's Trailer Park Bistro featuring $1 Hamms and a slate of food that would do any double-wide owner proud.

Sangria Restaurant
721 Willow St, San Jose; 408.287.9777

Excellent and authentic traditional Mexican fare and cool bar seats. Owner Javier Ponce imported the saddle-style bar stools directly from Mexico, and after a few of Sangria Restaurant's more than generous pours you'll thank him for the added stability. The expansive restaurant is absolutely perfect for wedding parties and get-togethers and the weekend afternoons are often filled with such events.

Scores Sports Bar and Grill
417 S. First St, San Jose; 408.971.6647

Scores Sports Bar and Grill isn't your average sports bar, it's more like an all-VIP sports, drinking and dancing fan's lollapalooza. It features all the DirecTV sports packages aired on five huge projection screens. On the weekends, slick rotating DJs pump out rock, dance and Top 40 tunes while scantily clad bar-top go-go dancers replace sports as the entertainment of choice. Scores Sports Bar and Grill also provides air hockey, video games, a boxing ring and a mechanical bull—yeah that's right, a mechanical bull.

Seven Bamboo
162 Jackson St, San Jose; 408.279.9937

Seven Bamboo bar in Japantown is a local bar crawl institution and the best place in the South Bay for drunken karaoke. This is one of the best local bars in San Jose, and nothing beats popping in for some cheap beer and house sake and then being treated to the hilarious entertainment that only a packed house of drunken college students can provide.

Seven Restaurant and Lounge
754 The Alameda, San Jose; 408.280.1644

Blending a sleek industrial design and classic French culinary techniques, Seven Restaurant and Lounge traffics in chic contemporary urban dining at its very best. Twin brothers Russ and Curtis Valdez have created a definite contender in the stylishly casual San Jose restaurant scene with a decided bent toward a hip night life vibe. Only the finest liquors and wines are served, the service is impeccable and the after-dinner club scene, with DJs spinning cool house music and down-tempo cuts for the stylish guests, is one of the hippest in San Jose.

Sino Restaurant and Lounge
377 Santana Row, San Jose; 408.247.8880

Striking in both visuals and food, Sino Restaurant and Lounge blends traditional Chinese cuisine with contemporary culinary innovations to create a uniquely cosmopolitan dining experience. The chic designer lounge is filled nightly with San Jose hipsters, and the restaurant indulges them by showing old kung fu movies on separating silk screens.

Vicki from Smoke Tiki Lounge

Bottle Up and Go: Vicki delivers the cold gold at Smoke Tiki Lounge.

Smoke Tiki Lounge
152 Post St, San Jose; 408.292.4266

Smoke Tiki Lounge is the best San Jose nightclub hot spot for that never-ending island beach party. Presided over by a huge backlit tiki god and some of the city's hottest bartenders, the lounge beckons with a hip and retro interior in the Martin Denny mode. But the real party happens out back. The outdoor patio is the largest in downtown and comes complete with its own bar, semiprivate cabanas available to reserve a la tropical VIP style with bottle service and a stage for live music. As if all this retro cool wasn't enough, Smoke also has the best barbecue in town, expertly seasoned and prepared by head chef and barbecue maestro Justin Grady.

SoFA Lounge
372 S. First St, San Jose; 408.294.7632

Located above the contemporary American restaurant Eulipia, SoFA Lounge recalls the big city speakeasies from back in the day where there was minimal signage and a secret knock to get by the burly doorman. SoFA Lounge doesn't quite go that far, but there is a definite lack of mass clubbing herds. An impressive slate of renowned Bay Area DJs dropping eclectic beats provide the sound; slick bartenders provide the cocktails, SoFA Lounge provides the classically swank accoutrements.

South First Billiards
420 S. First St, San Jose; 408.294.7800

Still the premier billiards bar in San Jose, South First has gone from semitraditional pool hall to the swanky Elixir Ultra Lounge and Billiard Club and back. It's now dropped the Elixir element and is back to its roots.

South Side Café
7028 Santa Teresa Blvd, San Jose; 408.226.5424

The South Side Café is a neighborhood bar miles away from downtown and filled to the brim nightly with a distinctive blue-collar and motorcycle set drawn by the bar food and cheap booze, a pool table, dart lanes and, on most weekend nights, a rock & roll band in the corner.

Splash Bar & Grill
65 Post St, San Jose; 408.993.0861

San Jose's premier gay nightclub hosts a slew of dance nights. Some of the best nightclub DJs in San Jose spin dance, Top 40, modern rock, house, hip-hop, techno and Latin beats to the clubbing masses that line up down Post Street in downtown to wait for their turn on the dance floor. Splash nightclub also hosts the best gay karaoke night to kick off the week on Tuesdays.

Stanley's Sports Bar and Grill
1500 S. 10th St, San Jose; 408.999.6718?

Opened Jan. 12 inside the Logitech Ice at San Jose, Stanley's Sports Bar is named after the elusive Cup the Sharks fail to grab. So instead of raucous parties, the chalet-style restaurant and bar serves as a place for local hockey fans to commiserate after yet another disappointing post-season. The bar overlooks the arena's three rink surfaces, has 11 television screens blasting NHL Center Ice, pool tables and a fireplace and, true to Canuck tradition, Molson on tap.

Straits Restaurant
333 Santana Row #100, San Jose; 408.246.6320

Serving amazing Asian fusion cuisine and pairing its culinary adventures with an equally eclectic cocktail menu, Straits Restaurant is a perennially crowded destination restaurant. With a minimalist décor with some Singaporean touches with nightclub-styled lighting and house DJs spinning in the lounge area, this Asian restaurant and bar vaulted the Santana Row scene to San Jose dining and night life prominence and Christopher Yeio, the owner and idealistic head chef, shows no signs of lifting his thumb from the pulse of the South Bay.

Studio 8
8 S. First St, San Jose; 408.279.4444

Studio 8 dance club is a swank rendition of ultralounge decadence done up in expansive posh appointments like a slice of L.A. in the Bay Area. This weekend hot spot sports multiple VIP areas, on the main floor and mezzanine levels, where bottle service is the norm, and clubbers lounge, drink and dance to DJs spinning house, hip-hop and the latest dance tracks.

Taste Ultra Lounge
87 N. San Pedro St, San Jose; 408.885.1016

Taste sports four large rooms done up in swanky lounge adornments. There are two bars inside the nightclub with another one outside on the patio with bartenders pouring up premium cocktails. The dance floor is huge, and an impressive slate of resident and guest DJs man the decks dropping hip-hop, funk, breakbeat, soul and dance beats over the state of the art sound system.

Temple Bar

Temple of Boom: The Temple Bar serves its drinks with a healthy shot of serenity.

Temple Bar and Lounge
52 S. First St, San Jose; 408.288.8518

A hip little club that gets packed on the weekends because it's one of the few places in San Jose where the DJs throw down some seriously original beats. Everything from old and new school, hip-hop, breakbeat, funk, classic soul, dance and reggaeton are pumped out of the sound system, and on some nights it even books live-music acts, usually in the blues and jazz style.

255 N. First St, San Jose; 408.292.0291

The best place in San Jose for some authentic German cuisine in either their rustically appointed dining room or their back patio beer garden. The menu consists of down-home German fare with the best schnitzel and spatzle this side of Bavaria, and the selections from the bar reads like a German liquor store. This German restaurant and bar, in addition to nearly every German beer produced, has one of the wickedest liquors ever bottled. Jaegerti (the spelling may be off, but the description is right on) is like some form of German moonshine that goes down smooth, so drinking a few isn't a problem.

Thea Mediterranean
3090 Olsen Dr, San Jose; 408.260.1444

Led by head chef Alex Padilla, Thea Mediterranean restaurant is fast becoming a player for diners seeking contemporary Mediterranean cuisine in a sophisticated setting. Thea's perfect wine list brings together the regional wines of the Mediterranean, offering selections from Spain to Greece, with some California varietals. In addition to the inspired wine list it has more Ouzo selections than a raucous Greek wedding and a cocktail menu that does a good job recalling the flavors of the various regional inspirations.

Tied House
65 N. San Pedro St, San Jose; 408.295.2739

The Tied House brewery and restaurant on San Pedro Square is a solid bar for conventioneers, Sharks fans, the after-work crowd and regular drinkers to knock back some award-winning brews and dine on some excellent pub-style grub. Plenty of TVs are available for sports fans. The German-style beer garden in back couldn't be more perfect for enjoying a few drinks and some food with friends while catching nearly any sporting event. Boasting four world-class microbrews all the time and a rotating slate of four more seasonal and specialty brews, the Tied House is a beer drinker's institution for quality on-site brewed micros fresh out of the vats.

52 E. Santa Clara St, San Jose; 408.292.7464

Toons has been a major player in the downtown scene for years, catering to San Jose State students, local drinkers, dance club fanatics and anyone who enjoys a raucous party with good music and a few hundred of their closest friends. Resident and rotating DJs provide the high energy and loud hip-hop, dance, old-school, funk and reggae beats. Toons has a game room that's almost as big as the dance club section and comes complete with its own separate bar, a few pool tables and arcade games that recall the heyday of video gaming when Donkey Kong ruled the electronic jungle.

Touchdown Tommy's
5837 Camden Ave, San Jose; 408.723.9981

A friendly neighborhood sports bar where fanatics hang to debate the sporting world and down some drinks with the amicable owner, who used to be a NFL referee before he decided on a less hazardous occupation. Touchdown Tommy's draws a slew of neighborhood regulars and on game days—especially Sundays during football season—and the cheers and jeers can be heard from the street.

Tres Gringos
83 S. Second St, San Jose; 408.278.9888

Modeled after and anything but a sleepy South of the Border resort cantina, Tres Gringos located on San Jose's hard-partying night life strip for SJSU students, is virtually wall to wall nightly with revelers indulging in a much-needed study breaks. A rotating slate of local DJs take care of the beats, that is except for Tuesday nights when the boys over at Tres Gringos decided to up the ante by getting local bands to rock the faux thatch roof off the joint.

Trials Pub
265 N. First St, San Jose; 408.947.0497

Trials Pub is an authentic British-style pub and probably the only bar in San Jose that serves tap beer in traditional imperial pints. The menu is firmly rooted in the British culinary vein, serving fish and chips, bangers and shepherd's pie.

The Vault Ultra Lounge
81 W. Santa Clara St, San Jose; 408.298.1112

The Vault Ultra Lounge is the premier nightclub in downtown for a swanky night surrounded by A-list partiers. Resurrected from the foundation of an old savings and loan bank, Vault Ultra Lounge boasts two separate VIP areas with available bottle service and a personal server for well-heeled club-goers and three bars with stylish drink slingers pouring premium cocktails, and the club also sports an impressive slate of top Bay Area DJ talent spinning dance, funk, hip-hop, soul, R&B and old-school. Vault Ultra Lounge is seriously a hipster playground and clubbers need to really dress the part as this dance club enforces a strict dress code—in short, dress to the nines or the only place you're going to be kickin' it is out in the street.

The V-Bar
355 Santana Row, inside the Hotel Valencia, San Jose; 408.551.0010

V-Bar is the swankiest of the swank lounges in Santana Row and is filled to capacity nightly with upwardly mobile movers and shakers. The dramatically sexy bar is steeped in posh designer furniture with beaded curtains creating semiprivate drinking spaces with low-key house music piped over the sound system. Cuisine comes in the form of appetizers and a small plate tapas-style menu is available from the Hotel Valencia's award-winning restaurant Citrus.

Voodoo Lounge
14 S. Second St, San Jose; 408.286.8636

The Voodoo Lounge in downtown San Jose maintains a super low-key hipster vibe while being a perennially busy see-and-be-seen dance club player in the night life scene. Dim lighting and lava lamps provide the illumination while a rotating slate of prolific Bay Area DJs spinning house, hip-hop, trance, dance, techno and Top 40 provide the beats. Also, the Voodoo Lounge sports some live MC throw-downs on some nights with rappers squaring off onstage, and has started to bring live music back to the masses featuring local up and comers.

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Dance Club
Dive Bar
Gay Bar
Live Music
Sports Bar