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Blue Lagoon
Floor Burns: Santa Cruz club crawler Julie Zera cuts loose with the fire on the Blue Lagoon dance floor, one of the few local nightspots to offer the public a welcoming party on any night of the week.

An A-to-Z guide to the
county's bars and clubs

THOUGH IT may be tiny, Santa Cruz is full of inhabitants who appreciate a quenching drink, a warm chair and good conversation. Fortunately, the town's builders have accommodated this civic characteristic, making sure there's least one bar on every corner.

From well-stocked Pacific Avenue to the sandy beaches of Aptos, from the redwoods of Boulder Creek to the cliffs above the Monterey Bay, there's a place for nearly every taste, persona and mood.


Photographs by Robert Scheer

Article by Karen Reardanz

Traci Hukill, Eric Johnson, Conan Knoll, Chris Miehl, Mary Spicuzza and Christina Waters contributed to this almanac of alcohol.

1116 Pacific Ave., SC, 457-8213
The Acapulco has the best of both worlds--an outdoor deck perfect for people-watching on Pacific Avenue and a quiet little lounge tucked in back of the Mexican restaurant. Sit amongst the Corona flags and plastic decorations while mingling with the regulars, and be sure to ask for the detailed drink menu offered by the Acapulco's full bar. Then select the Peggy Lee tunes on the jukebox, relax into the soft couches and slowly sip that mango margarita or Malibu Wipeout. The veteran bartenders there are real pros. No cover.

Aptos Club
7941 Soquel Dr, Aptos, 688-9888
Once inside this neighborhood bar, the realization strikes that for a sleepy town like Aptos, this place is pretty cool. The live band is good when it sticks to fast electric-rock improvisation. The decor is very comfortable, dark enough to hide the average age of the customers, but light enough to be able to make your way around. The club offers pool, video poker, pinball and, for the more athletic, an outdoor horseshoe pit. The crowd is mostly the middle-age party set. Older but not unenthusiastic patrons here are looking for a good time, as attested to by the pantyhose left on the men's-room sink. No cover.

2591 Main St., Soquel, 462-5100
A cocktail lounge, not a bar, thank you very much, located in the Italian eatery, Aragona's offers seasonally pleasing spots to sit back and sip. Decks and patios offer heat relief in the summertime, and a roaring fire melts the winter chill. Whether imbibing the full bar's indulgences while waiting to eat, enjoying a meal or stopping by for a slow one after work, Aragona's is a timeless spot. No cover.

Asti Cafe
715 Pacific Ave., SC, 423-7337
This hole in the wall has enough character, and characters, to appeal to a wide variety of boozehounds. Within five minutes of a recent arrival, a brawl broke out, and the boys in blue were called in to mop up the mess. Shortly after, stepping over the handcuffed pugilists, two yuppie couples came in to soak up the stimulating atmosphere. Young drunkards mingle easily with old, having a mutual understanding brought on by the same passion for longnecks and cuesticks. It makes you wonder what it is about this place that holds young and old, rich and poor, in its thrall. The dark, gritty, smoky atmosphere where basic instincts rule even appeals to Quentin Tarantino when he's in town. No cover.

The Avenue
711 Pacific Ave., SC 426-3434
Flaunting a recent face lift, the Avenue has reached the pinnacle of its architectural existence. The recent renovations include nicely appointed private booths, a wood floor and a tasteful back patio sporting what looks like a outdoor bar. All in all, it's a place where urban professionals in their early 30s would feel quite comfortable. However, these looks are deceiving--the crowd harks back to the days when the walls were bare plywood and sports posters covered gaps in the construction. In those days, it was more like a rumpus room. As the video games and tight shirts would suggest, college kids looking for love still fill the place on Friday night. No cover.

Bittersweet Bistro
Sweet and High: Bittersweet Bistro owners Marge (left), Elizabeth and Thomas Vinolus not only indulge patrons with exquisite food, like this tiramisu, but also offer up an array of libations from their full bar.

Bittersweet Bistro
783 Rio Del Mar, RDM, 662-9799
Come for the glamorous setting, stay for the great dessert. The restaurant/bar is beautifully decorated with polished wood, shiny mirrors and walls glistening with gold. The full bar offers a variety of delicious wines for the sipping. This upscale bistro has become famous for its food and decadent desserts, both of which have earned chef Tom Vinolus the reputation as a gifted culinartist. It may cost more than the neighborhood dive, but patrons unanimously agree it's worth it. Expect an affluent crowd. No cover.

Blue Lagoon
923 Pacific Ave., SC, 423-7117
Times are changing, and so is the good ol' Blue. There's a new sign out front, new bodies on the dance floor and far more het men scamming on women than ever before. Still, the Blue remains the best place in town to get down to techno and disco. Its full cocktail bar offers an amazing selection, and a birthday celebration isn't the same without one of the bar's famous Flaming Dr. Peppers. Expect a diverse crowd, from the leather-clad to those in velour hip-huggers. Don't be shocked if there's a line out the door--more and more people have come to know and love our city's oldest queer bar. Cover varies.

Bocci's Cellar
140 Encinal St., SC, 427-1795
It's next to impossible to get bored at historic Bocci's Cellar. Between the bocci ball courts, Italian food, live dinner theater on Sunday evenings and frequent visits from local bands, the restaurant with a full bar is a virtual sensory feast. It's part of an old house built by the Urbani family in 1885, the same family who first opened Bocci's in 1925. This out-of-the-way spot has a rustic wooden charm and, though just off busy River Street/Highway 9, it feels like a romantic little getaway from the usual bar scene. Live music on the weekends. No cover.

Boulder Creek Brewery
High Eye Cue: Mountain homeboy Jim Blue takes aim in the game room of the Boulder Creek Brewery, the San Lorenzo Valley's brewpub haven.

Boulder Creek Brewery & Cafe
13040 Hwy. 9, BC, 338-7882
Boulder Creek's answer to yuppie microbrews, this cozy wooden brewery offers a tasty selection of hopsy, homebrewed concoctions you won't find anywhere else--the tangy Pale Ale, thick, chocolately Mudslide and the applauded Redwood Ale are on-the-mark choices. Attracting local mountain types on weeknights and folks from all over on the weekend, BC Brewery also offers a veritable smorgasbord of cafe munchies, desserts and coffee drinks all served up by Dave, the cool-under-pressure barkeep. Gaming types'll be sated by the two pool tables, darts and pinball machine that hold down the backroom fort.

Brady's Yacht Club
413 Seabright Ave., SC, no phone
Brady's Yacht Club oozes with character. Inside the brick-red building and below the small wooden boats perched above the bar, a tight collection of local characters ranging from lawyers to fishermen frequently gathers. Although everyone seems to know each other on a first-name basis, in no way do the folks here exclude any passerby wanting to join in the friendly conversation. Be one of the first 20 to enter the Monday night pool tournament or stop by on Sunday, and there is a good chance the barbecue will be charring up some food out back. No cover.

325 Soquel Ave., SC, 425-7665
More akin to a swanky billiards room than a sleazy pool hall, the Breakroom affords a welcome break from the shady, smoke-filled spots of yore. With 19 up-to-date pool tables lined all in a row and walls of dark wood surrounding it, the long shiny bar is stocked full of all the best microbrews. It's all complemented by swirling paisleyesqe carpets, hanging black-lacquer lamps and a small game room. Monday is Ladies Night, when all the female pool sharks can play two-for-one games from 7pm until 2 in the morning. Must be 18 and over. No cover.

Britannia Arms

Britannia Arms
8017 Soquel Dr., Aptos, 688-1233
Britannia Arms offers an easy transport to the British pub world of our brothers and sisters across the sea with its rich green and brown decor, darts, satellite dishes (telecasts of cricket and polo, perhaps?) and a multitude of TVs. There's also a complete menu of British pub fare--bangers and mash, fish and chips--all to be washed down with ale, wine, beer and spirits from its expansive bar. And for those who've knocked back one too many, Britannia offers a free London cab to take patrons to and from home, even back again in the morning to pick up their cars. How's that for English kindness? Live music on weekends. No cover.

Brookdale Lodge
11570 Hwy. 9, Brookdale, 338-7633
So you've never been to the Brookdale Lodge, you say? Well, get there on the double. Unlike any bar this side of Twin Peaks, this lodge is a sensory overload. Start with the cozy bar area, featuring plush velour booths and hardwood tables--all resplendent in a rich, orange-red hue--and a full bar stocked with beer, wine and all the hard stuff. Then saunter into one of the finest stage areas of any place in the county--cavernous, with a checkerboard dance floor, and a dark and spiky chandelier. It's also one of the spookiest rooms this side of The Shining and sports a wall-sized, watery peek at the depths of the lodge's swimming pool. Music on the weekends, mostly cover bands and hippie fare. The Blissninnies and Old Dead Bug are big faves. Cover varies.

Café Rio
131 Esplanade, Rio Del Mar, 688-8917
The perfect place to take your sweetie for a evening of jazzy tunes, cocktails and a glorious sunset, Cafe Rio's been a California coastal fixture for almost 20 years. A restaurant as well as a full bar, it attracts upscale locals looking to swill a little wine or knock back a scotch on the rocks on weekends or after work. Soul, R&B and jazz acts like Al James and India provide the musical accompaniment on Friday and Saturday nights. Great place to watch the sunset or the fog roll in. No cover.

Callahan's Pub
507 Water St., SC, 427-3119
Driving down Water Street, look for a squat, dark building with a guitar painted on the side. This is a great place for down-and-dirty blues, but come prepared to drink nonalcoholic fare till the nightspot gets back its temporarily suspended liquor license. The place should be rockin' to the best in local blues in the very near future, so have a little patience. Cover varies.

Carniglia's Seafood
49A Municipal Wharf, SC, 458-3600
Tucked into the Santa Cruz Wharf, this seafood restaurant/bar supplies all the fixings for a romantic evening, including a blonde wood bar with a wide view of the Monterey Bay. Get there a little before dusk and you'll get an eyeful of a spectacular sunset. Whether you're waiting for a table or making Carniglia's home for the night, the tasty cocktails, view and gracious staff are guaranteed to accommodate your every whim. No cover.

Castaways Lounge
3623 Portola Dr., SC, 462-1319
Probably not the first place you'd take your mom (unless Mom wears a tube top and smokes Winstons), this Eastside institution is nonetheless an oddly comforting place. A few twinkly lights, two serene aquariums and a genuinely nice bartender lend a soothing quality to a rough-around-the-edges lounge that's seen plenty of achey, breaky hearts over the years. Now neighborhood all the way, Castaways plays host to middle-aged barflies who sit around and yuk it up over what's happening on the TV while their more ambitious pals play pool or darts or pick a good Frank Sinatra song from the juke box. No cover.

1133 Pacific Ave., SC, 423-1336
The oldest and mightiest of Santa Cruz venues, the "Cat," as it's affectionately nicknamed by locals, boasts an 800-plus stage area. Born in the '60s as a coffeehouse, it quickly became the hotspot home to a plethora of musical acts. Not only bringing in area artists, the Catalyst can pat itself on the back for attracting some of the biggest names in the biz--Public Enemy, Emmylou Harris, Pearl Jam, No Doubt and, most recently, Neil Young. You'll hear it all here--hip hop, country, old-school rock and, of course, the perennial pop acts. It serves food daily, has two full bars, multiple pool tables and a tropical, vine-ensconced atrium where smaller acts sometimes play. Though mostly 21 and over, some shows let the young'uns in. Cover varies.

1 Chaminade Lane, SC, 475-5600
Chaminade is a feast for the eyes as well as the belly. Redwood forests, blue outer-bay waters and spectacular local art feed the eyes while the Sunset Dinning Room serves up delectable buffet-style dinning for the midriff. Some of the favorites at the Chaminade are the Friday night seafood buffet and the Sunday champagne brunch. If you're in the mood for relaxation, ease into the Bayview Lounge for some drinks with friends and let the cheerful staff and jazzy piano players take care of the details. For a special treat, pamper yourself with some excellent valet service. No cover.

Chez Renee
9051 Soquel Dr., Aptos, 688-5566
One of the most attractive venues in the area, this landmark Aptos bistro is famous for its food--California ease with French and Italian accents. You'll find the highbrow set here, luxuriating in their meals and savoring a chilled libation. A full bar is guaranteed to tickle the fancy of scotch connoisseurs with its extensive array of top-of-the-line and rare labels, as well as a premium wine list. You'll be glad you came. No cover.

Way Cool: Clouds bartenders Katy Means (left) and Carol DaVernois keep the customers content and quenched with cold, cold martinis.

Clouds Downtown
110 Church St., SC, 429-2000
Post-Catalyst graduates, aging hippies, raconteurs and tasteful tourists all find aid and comfort in this adult's pit stop bordered by an accessible, full-service restaurant. Owners Lou and Christi Caviglia set the smart, laid-back tone, and quiet tables in the back offer semi-private oases for meetings and after-work unwinding. While younger patrons often feel restless amidst all the dark carpeting and polite bar chat, the over-40s come here to prove that they can still function without a remote control in their hands and with a flip quip on their lip. Attractive setting, very popular as a rendezvous spot before movies and dinner. No cover.

Cocoanut Grove Ballroom
400 Beach St. at the Boardwalk, SC, 423-2053
A little bit of cultural history is housed in this Boardwalk institution. Built back in the '40s, the elegant ballroom has seen its share of big names, magical nights and frolicking patrons. James Brown, Glenn Miller, Tito Puente and David Crosby are just some of the acts who've done their magic on the retro bandstand. Future musical highlights include Rosanne Cash and the Kingston Trio. Though mostly for drinking-aged folks, the Cocoanut Grove also plays host to high-schoolers with its frequent disco parties. Cover varies.

Compass Grille & Bar
West Coast Santa Cruz Hotel, 175 W. Cliff Dr., SC, 426-4330
Inside the hotel formerly known as the Dream Inn, there is a little cocktail bar that epitomizes swank. The dimly lit lounge, with a candle on each table, is a great spot for listening to the surf while watching the waves crashing on the beach. It's perfect for a quiet conversation--unlike many bars, the music here is low and tame. The crowd is mostly business people and other hotel clientele, and the staff and bartenders are friendly and accommodating. No cover.

Corner Pocket
3102 Portola Dr., SC, 475-9819
A pool hall pure and simple, the Corner Pocket is Pleasure Point's home to ball-knocking college types, surfers and working stiffs. With low lighting, three pool tables and a bar stocked with cold suds and wine, it's the perfect spot to unwind after a dog-day afternoon or to welcome the weekend. No cover.

Costa Brava
1222 Pacific Ave., SC, 425-7871
Costa Brava would probably make out OK even if the bartenders weren't very friendly. It's got a lot going for it: prime downtown location, classy but unpretentious decor, good food and some of the best jazz and Caribbean music in town, often free of charge. There's good beer on tap, as well as single-malt scotches and small-batch bourbons, and there are generally several varieties of wine uncorked and available by the glass. So, if they wanted to, the bartenders could probably be rude as hell--but they're very friendly. Cover varies.

Crepe Place
1134 Soquel Ave., SC, 429-6994
As if being home to some of the most decadent food in town isn't enough, the Crepe Place also boasts a full bar. Located near the entrance, the small, lacquered-wood bar is enhanced by high tables, golden railings and the old-time posters adorning the walls. Whether one is stopping by for a quick drink before the evening's activities or waiting for a table, it's comfortable and relaxed. This place offers Monday Martini Night with $2.50 martinis (try the sinful vanilla one) from 4:30pm till midnight, as well as a killer happy hour. Live music Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. No cover.

Crow's Nest
Salsa Fresca: Conga player Carlos Betancourt beats the drum for Orquestra Gitano at one of the Crow's Nest's many nights of live music.

Crow's Nest
2218 E. Cliff Dr. at the SC Yacht Harbor, SC, 476-4560
Like a grand old galleon, this venerable drinking (and eating) establishment keeps sailing right along, only stopping to pick up devoted new passengers. It's a one-size-fits-all type of place--bring Aunt Agnes from Fresno out to sip a noontime sherry and watch the gorgeous ocean view, or come at night to toss 'em down and cut a rug. Definitely not a Gen X place, the Nest caters to the yachting--or wannabe yachting--crowd, folks who have at least one divorce already tucked in their baggage. Good drinks, seasoned atmo, plenty of aging yet aerobicized bods upon which to feast your eyes and intentions. Cover varies.

De Laveaga Golf Course & Lodge
Upper Park Road, SC, 423-1600
Just what the doctor ordered after a long afternoon of holes-in-one, this bar/restaurant, located above the 18th hole, will provide tuckered-out golfers and caddies with an easy cocktail. With high ceilings and spacious seating, plus an outdoor deck, this lodge is not for night owls--it shuts its doors around 7:30pm. No cover.

Don Quixote
6275 Hwy. 9, Felton, 335-2800
Settle yourself into this Mexican cantina smack in the wilds of the redwoods, and you'll find yourself a home for the night. Playing host to thirsty locals and out-of-town folk looking to rest their weary eyes after battling the curves of Highway 9, Don Quixote offers a little slice of old-time elegance mixed with Corona flags and barstools (there's enough of those to seat the whole blooming town of Felton). Illuminated red and blue bottles of tequila, gin, whisky and more provide a serious adornment to the expansive bar area. Live music rolls through on occasion in the adjoining dining area. Cover varies.

Duffy's Sports Cafe
219 Mt. Hermon Rd., Scotts Valley, 438-6627
As the name implies, this Scotts Valley institution takes the sports world very seriously. A welcoming spot to drop by and catch a game pretty much any day of the week--there's a satellite dish that sucks in sports you've never even heard of--Duffy's offers a wide selection of beer and wine to satiate even the thirstiest of jocks. No cover.

Fast Eddy's Billiards
4300 Capitola Rd., Capitola, 462-1882
A name that's been synonymous with "pool hall" for the better part of 20 years, Fast Eddy's boasts 17 pool tables, an arcade, beer, wine and pizza from a kitchen with uncertain hours. Patrons of all ages (but mostly twentysomethings) squint at cue balls and take aim while classic rock blares overhead. The smoke is thick, the lighting isn't too dim and everyone's minding his or her own business. The clever billiards player will wait for a weeknight, when plenty of tables are available. The dedicated people-watcher, however, will be entertained on any night. No cover.

211 Esplanade, Capitola, 462-1881
One in a stream of Esplanade watering holes, the Fogbank captures its own special essence of Capitola nightlife. A restaurant as well as a bar, it has a spacious, darkly wooded interior, a friendly bar staff and an expansive array of bottles and jugs chock-full of intoxicating libations. Nautical and sporty, the place hosts all kinds--fisherman, beach bums, yuppies, truck drivers--cutting a rug on the dance floor to live rock & roll and blues on weekend nights. No cover.

Front Street Pub
516 Front St., SC, 429-8838
The Santa Cruz Brewing Company and Front Street Pub is a local institution. For over a decade, this downtown spot has been brewing and bottling its own creations. The Thursday "Happy Evening" prices can't be beat and the garlic fries have quite a kick--just don't order them if you're in a hurry. The Brewery is user-friendly, with large wooden booths, a back room full of pool tables and pinball games, a patio and frequent entertainment by local bands. The Lighthouse Amber and F.G.S. are definite winners. Don't expect cocktails, though--it's beer and wine only in these parts. No cover.

Gilbert's Seafood Grill
460 Municipal Wharf, SC, 423-5200
With one of the best locations in Santa Cruz County--right smack in the heart of the wharf, thank you--Gilbert's pulls in inquiring tourists and old-time regulars. Obviously a seafood restaurant, it still has a full bar that'll unload strong cocktails, fruity wines and frothy beer, all while granting a glorious seaside view. No cover.

Henfling's Firehouse Tavern
9450 Hwy. 9, Ben Lomond, 336-8811
Roadhouse blues, anyone? A rustic, woody tavern, dimly lit and sporting a low glow from cigarettes and the neon beer signs bedecking the walls, Henfling's comes complete with a long bar, multiple TVs and mile-high tables and stools. All sorts hang here, from neighborhood locals to tune-craving twentysomethings to age-old barflies. A small stage in the back corner plays host to music acts at least five nights a week. Anything goes, mostly blues and rock & roll, with a little country for good measure. Big names pass through now and then, so keep your eyes and ears open. Cover varies.

303 Soquel Ave., SC, 426-7770
Microbrews mingling with a little cocktail elegance, Hindquarter allows a harbor for those tired of frequenting college hangouts and smoky dives. It's for people who appreciate a good drink (such as a Manhattan neat), a timeless setting and good conversation. Remodeled about a year ago, Hindquarter still offers the same great food and all the classic ambiance you remember. No cover.

Hollins House
20 Clubhouse Rd., SC, 459-9177
The sort of clubhouse you might never have thought you'd be able to join, Hollins House is refined yet friendly--no one will be whispering about who let you in. With echoes of its former incarnation as a swanky country club, a visit here is more than worth the effort, if for nothing other than its amazing view of Santa Cruz. It also has elegant cocktails and an excellent wine list. No cover.

Hurry Back Inn
910 41st Ave., SC, 475-4932
Sort of like hanging out in a biker clubhouse, the Hurry Back Inn is about as no-frills as a bar can get. The only offerings are wine and beer, stocked in a coppertone refrigerator, no less, and the decor is beyond college-boy dorm room, replete with bikini girl posters, a Playboy pinball machine and enough sports pennants to impress the baseball commissioner himself. Though small, dark and dank, the Hurry Back Inn is full of character, friendly folk and down-home spunk. No cover.

Ideal Bar and Grill
106 Beach St., SC, 423-5271
Primarily billed as a restaurant, Ideal also has a bar--and a darn good one at that. Located right at the mouth of the Santa Cruz Wharf and settled seductively along the sand, Ideal also has an interior as light and breezy as the beach air--viney greenery winds its way around the nooks and crannies, and surfboards and surfer pix adorn the walls. There's a square bar chock full of all the gin, whisky, vodka, beer and wine any one drinker can handle and holds a bird's-eye view of the live music stage. Tunes accompany the dining and drinking almost every night, plying the yuppie-esque crowd full of all the smooth jazz, rock and pop it could ever desire. No cover.

JJ's Saloon
4714 Soquel Dr., Soquel, 462-1631
It sort of feels like a family reunion down at JJ's: old Uncle Fred and Aunt Lila holding down the bar while third cousin Darnell pulls beers and pours shots. All the other cousins are racking 'em up at the pool tables or playing shuffleboard in this happy, brightly lit bar. The music leans toward pop alternative (thanks to the Cabrillo factor), the decor is fluorescence-meets-nostalgia and the restrooms should win an award for cleanliness. A good place to relax, escape pretense and catch up on old times. No cover.

Jose's Cantina
1336 Pacific Ave., SC, 425-7575
The din at this hot spot inside El Palomar restaurant on Fridays and Saturdays is unbelievable, as is the essence of hairspray and Eternity and the preponderance of Tommy Hilfiger. One astute observer calls it The Peach Pit After Dark--95060's answer to Beverly Hills' place to be. Yes, it's an upscale meat market, but that's not to belittle Palomar's impressive collection of premium tequilas and unique way with a high-octane beverage. The adjoining taqueria serves up tasty tacos and burritos as an added benefit. Overall, the bar's airiness, happy clamor and many interesting sights make it a fun, if overwhelming, place to spend a weekend night drinking with friends or strangers. No cover.

Jury Room
712 Ocean St., SC, 426-7120
Located smack across from the steps of the County Government Building, this aptly named haunt is a little like your Great Aunt Esther's living room. With a slightly older clientele and a few young adventure-seekers, it's a comfortable, first-names-only joint. We happened upon Madge's 55th birthday party one Saturday night, where well-wishers were line dancing and flailing to the Village People's "YMCA." There was a full party buffet, and ol' Madgie was milling about offering her pan of Jell-O shots to any takers. Strictly a whisky and beer joint, the Jury Room is no spot for those piña colada sippers, but it is, of course, the "Home of the Giant Gopher"--ask the resident barkeep the story behind that one. No cover.

Knight Owl Cocktail Lounge
529 Seabright Ave., SC, 426-2513
If you've been 86'd from every other bar in Santa Cruz for being drunk and disorderly, then this is the place for you. The carpet is thick with spilled beer, cigarette butts and peanut shells, and there's a strange scent a-brewin'. This is a hard-rockers' haven: Drain a coupla shots of Yukon Jack and headbang along with the AC/DC cuts blaring through the tinny speakers. No cover.

320-2 Cedar St., SC, 427-2227
A Santa Cruz institution for over 20 years, Kuumbwa attracts some of the top names in both classic and experimental jazz. A nonprofit club propelled mostly by the success of big-name sellout shows, donations and grants, it offers an outlet for both local performers and those of worldwide acclaim--Fridays tend to see area artists playing world beat, trance and acid jazz, and the Monday Night Concert Series boasts the crème de la crème of the jazz world. Nestled in between downtown SC's Bagelry and Poet & Patriot, it's an intimate venue with mostly sit-down shows for all ages. Wine, beer and tasty grub served in back. No smoking. Cover varies.

Larry's Surf and Turf
215 Esplanade, Capitola, 475-6215
If you have a pair of cowboy boots collecting dust in your closet, bring 'em out and get yourself to Larry's. At this restaurant/bar where anything could happen and probably will, there's a wide-open dance floor where locals and out-of-towners can do their best disco-bunny impersonation. Featuring a full bar and an indoor patio with an ocean view, Larry's also has a live DJ spinning all the best dance tunes on the weekends. No cover.

Malone's Grande Grille
4402 Scotts Valley Dr., Scotts Valley, 438-2244
A meeting place for Scotts Valley folk for over a decade, Malone's offers a relaxing entrée into the evening or weekend. At this full bar and restaurant, you can fill your tummy and quench your thirst in one stop. Unwind with a cocktail, good friends and lively conversation. No cover.

221 Esplanade, Capitola, 476-2263
Capitola's very own meat market, Margaritaville is not necessarily a place your mom would frequent, unless she's looking to hook up with a hot young stud for the night. Well-coiffed, tanned college types and older professionals stock the restaurant bar with loud conversation, wafting perfume and able bodies. Margaritas are a specialty (duh), and the place is located right smack on the water. The outdoor bar and tables allow a meaty view and ideal spot for any romantic interludes that might pop up. No cover.

265 Center, Aptos, 688-7004
A seaside bar on the edge of the Pacific, the Mediterranean is for the gaming variety. Though no longer the home of shuffleboard, it still has darts, pinball and a big-screen TV. For those not looking to actually move, sit back and watch the people sail by. Catering to a mix of locals and touristy types, it also hosts live music on Saturdays. No cover.

Municipal Wharf, SC, 423-4441
Allowing a surfside view of the Pacific Ocean, West Cliff Drive and Lighthouse Point, Miramar is the place to go for inexpensive margaritas any afternoon of the week. Sneak out of work a little early and unwind with a tall, cool, frosty one for only 99 cents. Happy hour runs every day from 3:30-5pm. Barely legal college types, gawking tourists and working folk all take comfort in the windowed bar or outdoor canopy. Slather on some sunscreen, don the sunglasses and enjoy. Live music on the weekends. No cover.

Mobo Sushi
105 S. River St., SC, 425-1700
Mobo is defined as "the shape of your mouth when eating something delicious." Mobo Sushi uniquely blends traditional and unconventional flavors and serves them up with live entertainment every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. A complete bar on one side, a sushi bar on the other, Mobo offers sake, beer, wine and all the fixings to wash down The Flying Tiger, Landshark, Mad Dog or any other Japanese fare the friendly sushi chefs roll up. No cover.

Moe's Alley
1535 Commercial Way, SC, 479-0600
With an unseemly location on the outskirts of Santa Cruz--though recently joined by the expansive Toys R Us and Circuit City--Moe's has all the makings of a classic roadhouse joint. Smoky and dimly lit, it appeals to all walks of life--from aging hippies, old-time bluesmen and cowpokes to college kids, hipsters and singles. It's a clean, comfortable spot to enjoy live music any night of the week: mostly blues powerhouses--Joe Louis Walker, Charlie Musselwhite, Angela Strehli and Duke Robillard, to name a few. Moe's also hosts a new Wednesday Funk Night, complete with mostly local bands playing the best in funky covers and original material. Rumor has it it's become quite popular among the young folk. Full bar. Live bands nightly. Cover varies.

99 Bottles of Beer
110 Walnut Ave., SC, 459-9999
The quintessential bar for those who love their suds, 99 Bottles has a warm brick-and-hardwood interior that just begs you to settle in for the long haul. As the name implies, there's a huge selection of the frothy stuff, from local microbrews to foreign beers--drink 'em all (not at one sitting, silly), and you'll find yourself on the wall of fame. Features an upstairs gaming room and a ton of pub food to complement all that beer. No smoking. No cover.

One Double Oh Seven Club
Smiles of a Summer Night: Santa Cruz resident Iris Vogel, charming the pants off another patron, knocks back a cold one at SC's One Double Oh Seven Club and Smoking Parlor on Soquel Avenue.

One Double Oh Seven Club
1007 Soquel Ave., SC, 425-9589
A bumper sticker above the bar says Free Men Smoke (it's been amended to read "anything they want") and the rest of the club's name is "... and Smoking Parlor." But the 1007 is more than a hangout for radical cigarette aficionados. In addition to a couple of pool tables, both varieties of dart board (electronic and cork) and an old-fashioned pinball machine, the 1007 features a real ping-pong table as well as a jukebox with retro-cool sounds of the '70s. There is always sports on all four TV screens, and the Club sponsors bus trips to select games (including the upcoming July 3 Giants-A's Battle of the Bay). No cover.

One-Eyed Mike's
9410 Mill St., Ben Lomond, 336-2234
Formerly the home to San Lorenzo Valley's biker hangout, La Salsa Bar & Grill, this Ben Lomond spot is named after its owner, who, as rumor has it, will pop out his eye if you're really, really good. A cavernous space chock-full of local sports fans and family types, along with the occasional straggling biker, Mike's is a sporting spot with playoff game celebrations, TVs, pool tournaments and all the beer you can chug. Friendly, spacious and offers good old fun. No cover.

Over the Hill Gang Saloon
3530 Portola Dr., SC, 476-3679
This country watering hole is a little bit of a ghost town in the heart of Pleasure Point. Dimly lit, scattered with regulars any night of the week and boasting one of the sweetest, service-oriented barkeeps this side of the Rockies, the Over the Hill Gang supplies all the ammo to have you swaggering like the Duke himself. A rustic decor with rifles, swinging saloon doors, a homemade sign reading "No Whining" and a fully stocked bar--though you microbrew fans better get used to swigging Bud. Bring your truck, your bucking bronco and a strong stomach--you'll be knocking back Boilermakers like a champion before the night is through. Clean, friendly and a ton o' fun. No cover.

Palapas Cantina

Palapas Cantina & Restaurant
21 Seascape Village, Aptos, 662-9000
A cut above the average resort lounge, Palapas lives up to its name by offering dreamy sunsets, tropical ambiance and cozy lounge nooks in which to flirt and linger. The bar specializes in drinks designed to be sipped at your leisure, and this is a prime tequila fueling depot boasting plenty of the very top añejos, including limited-edition Patron. The world-class margaritas made with fresh fruit are better than your images of fancy cruise cocktails with umbrellas on top. Order some quesadillas and salsa fresca, and sooner or later somebody beautiful will walk your way. No cover.

1133 Pacific Ave., SC, 454-0600
An intimate venue, though it can pack in a whopping 600 club-goers, Palookaville plays host to live music many nights of the week. Sporting an excellent sound system and a formidable lineup of musicians--Maceo Parker, De La Soul, Herbie Hancock, Ani DiFranco, Fury 66--this downtown venue allows showgoers to cut a rug on its expansive dance floor. For those not inclined to boogie, there's an upstairs balcony and plenty of tables arranged for the best views from a seated position. Easily munchable food is served--pizza, sandwiches, desserts--as well as beer and wine. No smoking allowed. Age limit depends on the show. Cover varies.

Pasatiempo Inn
Hwy 17 and Pasatiempo Dr., SC, 423-5000
Where everybody knows your name--but might not want to the next morning. This dyed-in-the-wool roadhouse masquerading as a generic suburban happy hour hangout offers the timeless joys of stiff cocktails, syrupy bar patter and polyglot denizens who lean strongly toward Silicon Valley in age, size, shape and Weltanschauung. The cozy, over-stuffed nooks that frame the minuscule bar are truly comfortable and, after that second glass of Fetzer, start feeling a whole lot like your new home. The dance floor cooks on weekends with joined-at-the-hip twosomes who aren't married--at least not to each other. A boon for baby boomers raised on too much James Bond metaphysics. No cover.

Pearl Alley Bistro
110 Pearl Alley, SC, 429-8070
Dark wood, bohemian and very French, this copper-topped bar is well worth a trip. A wine bar stocked with a lengthy list of Burgundies, Bordeaux, merlots and the like, it's a choice opportunity to tour the tastes of French vineyards without leaving home. The owners have recently added a full bar to the mix, so those in the audience who favor beer and the hard stuff needn't wait outside. And, of course, the bistro sports some of the finest culinary treats in the county. No cover.

Poet & Patriot

Poet & Patriot Irish Pub
320 Cedar St., SC, 426 8620
Is it a Guinness-induced fantasy, or did we once see someone playing the spoons at the Poet? When Celtic musicians aren't fiddling and drumming in the front room, the place overflows with university types tossing back pints and talking about their goatees and the revolution--in that order. The other room is dedicated to darts, which gets a little serious at times, and the barstools belong to old hippies and card-carrying Irishmen. Dark, low-ceilinged, smoky-aired and sticky-tabled, this is a bar that feels like an old friend with interesting opinions. Word to the curious: Reading the walls is good edutainment. No cover.

The Point
3910 Portola Dr., Live Oak, 476-4442
Once known as Skinny McDoogle's, the infamous biker bar complete with Harleys all in a row and noontime strip shows, it's now spit-shined as The Point. Clean and bright, with pool tables, an outdoor dining area, full restaurant and bar, and a dance floor that takes center stage, it's the only local home to Monday night country & western line dancing--one and all are invited to don those chaps, turn up the Billie Ray and do the Electric Slide till the cows come home. No cover.

Polivio's Back Door
E. Cliff Village Shopping Center, 15th and E. Cliff, SC, 475-7600
Karaoke, karaoke, karaoke! Yes, sirs and madams, this is the spot to get onstage and sing your little heart out to all the cheesiest songs in the book--think college girls belting "Like a Virgin" and cowboys strutting to Michael Jackson. But there's more to the Back Door than karaoke--it's a full bar and a solid neighborhood spot that keeps the die-hards coming back. No cover.

Portola House
3326 Portola Dr., SC, 476-2733
A steakhouse is a steakhouse is a steakhouse, but one with a comfortable, rustic bar is a place to call home. Whether washing down some hearty beef or just unwinding with a premium wine, this friendly, cozy bar attracts local business types on the way home, neighbors looking for something to eat and the regulars who've made the Portola House a staple for over 20 years. No cover.

Red Room
The Santa Cruz Hotel 1003 Cedar St., SC, 426-2994
Hello?! Feel like you're in the wrong decade? Well, you're not. You're just in the Red Room, easily the loudest, most irritating, most forgiving place to get a drink in town. After the restaurant next door stops serving, you can even smoke here, which makes the Red Room technically the last bastion of either civilization or perdition. The frequently pierced, the almost-retired, the grunged, the lifted, the alternatively gendered, the manic--they all come here, sooner or later, and form an immediate pod of evening camaraderie. After 9pm, laughter at this bar becomes a collective bonding ritual. Even the socially deficient leave with new best friends. A rite of passage. A way of life. Periodically, edgy music groups perform. No cover.

Rosie McCann's Irish Pub
1220 Pacific Ave., SC, 426-9930
The newest drinking hole on the Pacific Avenue strip, Rosie's is already a veteran, having seen its share of St. Paddy's days and surviving a handful of downtown festivities. This one's a pub through and through, from the winded, kilt-clad bagpipers to the thirst-quenching selection of 24 on-tap ales. The spacious seating and long bar allow plenty of leg room for large dart-playing parties, leisurely knocking back the juice of the Emerald Isle and munching on hearty pub grub. Live music takes the stage weekend nights. Cover varies.

Rush Inn
113 Knight St., SC, 425-9673
Every hipster college student in America today seems to know that the really real scene, the true mark of cool, is to be found at the dive bar. As a result, bars like the Asti and the Avenue, which used to be reserved for working stiffs and day drinkers (known as "characters"), are now populated mainly by twentysomething kids slumming for genuine experience. Not so at the Rush Inn. This is the real real deal, a bar where people go to drink and spend time together. Nothing more than that. No cover.

Sanderling's Lounge
#1 Seascape Rd., Aptos, 688-6800
Nestled in the spiffy Seascape Resort, Sanderling's affords a stunning view of the ocean through the lounge's huge windows, a welcome incentive to wait for one of the restaurant's tables. Frequented by business types and dinner patrons, this richly paneled bar is developing quite the regular clientele. The approaching summer months also allow outdoor imbibing on the lounge's patio or poolside area. No cover.

Santa Cruz Hotel Sports Grill
1001 Cedar St., SC, 460-1072
The spot that used to house Emi's now has a spanking new look, from the decorations on the walls to the libations it pours. It's bright and airy with a long oak bar and paneling, green floors and ceiling, but if sports make you cringe, this might not be the place for you. It's a barrage of football, baseball, hockey and basketball from the moment you enter till the minute you leave. But the non-sports-minded can rejoice, there's also piped-in classic rock, a full menu of munchies and all the beer and wine one drinker could wish for--it also boasts Red Tail on tap, as well as 16 others. No cover.

Sea Cloud
650 Municipal Wharf, SC, 458-9393
Part coastal fern bar, part '90s seaside romance, this second-story waterhole sports an endlessly diverting panorama of wind, wave and sailboats. Many have been mesmerized by surfers longboarding along Steamer Lane as seen through the bottom of a glass of Tanqueray and tonic. The polished bar hosts convivial locals and strangers of every legal age and body type. Movie stars, bikers, French backpackers and Kuwaiti land barons play musical martinis on these barstools, while well-dressed local professionals line the window seats for romance, gossip and whistle-wetting evenings (all day long on weekends). Prime whale-watching while sipping tequila sunrises. Civilized pirate ambiance with nice appetizers on the side. No cover.

Seabright Brewery
519 Seabright Ave., SC, 426-2739
One of the most popular spots on the Eastside, the brewery boasts beers brewed on-site, a menu of appetizers, burgers and salads, and one of the finest outdoor patios for sun-soaked afternoons and heater-warmed nights. Tuesday marks the famed "Neighborhood Night"--though even those from outside the burg are welcomed with open arms--for a night of knocking back discount pitchers from 3pm till closing with current and future friends. Seabright ushers in the weekend with live music every Friday evening, with bands that play everything from soul to rock to zydeco dance tunes. No cover.

7500 Old Dominion Court, Aptos, 688-8987
The Seacliff Inn's restaurant, bar and dance spot, Severino's is a spot for well-heeled, cultured adults looking to let loose for a night. Don those spiffy clothes, be on your best behavior (at least until you've downed a few martinis) and soak in the sights and sounds, which include live jazz and pop on the weekends, an outdoor patio and a trickling waterfall. It may be more of a place your parents would gush over, but it's still a comfortable, attentive nightspot. No cover.

Silver Bullet
603 Front St., SC, 426-5726
The Silver Bullet may not have an espresso machine or an endless selection of fruit-flavored microbrews, but it's got something that transcends the trends--character. This dimly lit and smoky dive, famous for its Wednesday "Drink and Drown" night, has a full bar, dart boards and comfy chairs. Conveniently located downtown, it's almost always hopping with Jordache-clad regulars, students and friendly down-to-earth working folks. The Silver Bullet is the perfect place to take relatives from the Midwest to make 'em feel right at home. No cover.

Sir Froggy's Pub
4771 Soquel Dr., Soquel, 476-9802
Probably the most "normal" drinking oasis in the county, this bar conjures the ambiance of Cheers. The bartender knows everybody's name, and the entertainment is provided by a pool table. Though not a rockin' nightclub, this is a nice mellow place to kick back, talk to fiends and enjoy the slow speed at which Soquel operates. No cover.

Tampico Lounge
820 Pacific Ave., SC, 425-9821
Tampico may be a mild-mannered Mexican restaurant by day, but at 10pm the lights go down, the ashtrays are passed around and the lounge gets swinging. With its large maroon faux-leather booths packed with random people, a jukebox with everything from Vincente Hernandez to Al Green, icy margaritas and hot food, Tampico is everything a lounge should be. Throw in its full bar, friendly bartender (known to sit down and chat with her adoring clientele) and complimentary chips and spicy salsa, and it's pretty damn close to paradise. No cover.

611 Ocean St., SC, 426-7100
Once home to the now-defunct Curtain Call Lounge, Holiday Inn's newest drinking hole is a combination of hotel sterility and Santa Cruz spunk. With terra cotta walls and a long, dark-wood bar allowing plenty of elbow room for sucking down gin and telling woeful tales to the bartender, Tastings attracts hotel guests and die-hard regulars, but is valiantly trying to bring the hipsters in with live music bookings Thursday­Saturday nights, showcasing local world beat, jazz and flamenco talents. No cover.

Watering Hole
2405 Mission St., SC, 469-4653
Nestled between Upper Crust Pizza and Tam's Chinese Food, the Watering Hole remains the only tavern that makes the Westside its home. This cozy little hole-in-the-wall, once Paul's, finds enough room for a pool table, dart board and full bar. It has a real neighborhood feel, a mix of local folks and students coexisting in harmony set to a soundtrack of old Eagles tunes. No cover.

Wharf House
Sparkling Waters: Consummate Wharf House bartender Gene Ervin fizzes up some sodas for those preferring a nonalcoholic route to thirst quenching in front of the Capitola Wharf's panoramic view. The place boasts the harder stuff, too.

Wharf House
1400 Wharf Rd., Capitola, 476-3534
A rustic perch at the very end of the Capitola Wharf, this seafood restaurant's cozy bar offers a welcome respite from the workday or sunburned afternoon at the beach. Serious cocktails are a specialty, but there are also cold beers and aged wines to quench your thirst. Nautical, as a beach tavern should be, it's an appealing room with a view. No cover.

White Cockade
18025 Hwy. 9, BC, 338-4148
Small, rustic and comfortable, this Scottish pub nuzzled in the chilly depths of the redwoods has a full bar stocked with British faves, and a separate, but inclusive, dining area. With walls bedecked by Margaret Thatcher photos, signs boasting "Gun Owner" and lots of wood, it's a warm tavern for locals to mingle. No cover.

White Magnolia
8041 Soquel Dr., Aptos, 662-1890
White Magnolia's bar is an elegant site to behold. One can indulge in a before- or after-dinner drink while sitting at the square bar or relax on the outdoor canopied patio. Light and airy with a blond interior, high tables and a marble bar, White Magnolia hosts live local jazz, pop and world beat acts on Sunday afternoons and also boasts Wednesday and Thursday evening happy hours, when all drinks are half-price. No cover.

1 Rancho Del Mar Shopping Center, Aptos, 688-4433
The Windjammer may call a strip mall home, but it does know how to host a party. Whether you're in the mood to put on your disco shoes and boogie or just want to stare into your industrial drink all night, there's always a barstool with your name on it. With a large dance floor and trippy laser lights, the Windjammer also boasts live music acts on weekends. No cover.

Laughing Matter: A group of tanned, toned and libidinous Capitola folks enjoys Zelda's outdoor sunspot while sipping cold beer and cocktails one sunny afternoon on the sprawling Esplanade deck.

203 Esplanade, Capitola, 475-4900
A casual spot to enjoy a drink, eat a meal and soak in the rays on the sun-drenched deck, Zelda's is located on the sandy shores of Capitola's Esplanade. Attracting a local yuppie crowd, from beachcombers to Docker-clad worker bees, it also has live music taking the stage every night of the week, highlighting local rock & rollers, pop stars and jazzy crooners. No cover.

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

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