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The Metro Bars & Clubs 2004 Guide
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San Jose

840 North First
840 N. First St, San Jose
Silicon Valley power lunchers mingle with city officials from across the street at this classy joint. They say if you come for a drink, you'll stay for a meal. Not a shabby place at all to contemplate a development deal over a game duet of New Zealand ostrich and venison. Wine list downloadable on the web. (GS)

A.P. Stump's
163 W. Santa Clara St, San Jose
408.292.9928
Rich woodwork, crown moldings, an extensive wine list and gorgeous presentations keep regulars returning to this posh restaurant and lounge. The menu changes daily, whether it's grilled foie gras in the lounge or a ravishing grilled rack of lamb with whole grain mustard spaetzle capped off with some almond mascarpone cheesecake. A mecca for power brokers or business folks. (GS)

Agenda Lounge
399 S. First St, San Jose
408.380.3042
That brick building on the corner of South First and San Salvador no longer has the happy hour upstairs in the nightclub, but on the street level the restaurant offers a wide variety of activities, everything from cheap happy hour deals to live jazz on the heated patio to elegant contemporary cuisine inside. Food, nightlife, lounging—they're all on the agenda. (GS)

Alex's 49er Inn
2214 Business Circle, San Jose
408.279.9737
This dimly lit hideaway is not as sporty as the name implies. There is a TV and a pool table, but mostly Alex's caters to old-school drinkers and Pink Poodle strippers, who seek to sulk and socialize over double shots poured for the price of one. (AR)

Almaden Feed And Fuel
18950 Almaden Rd, San Jose
When the heightened demands of urban life get stale and you find yourself hankering for something rural and unrefined, consider this coppertop bar from the 1800s—one of the last remaining vestiges of Almaden's Wild West. It's got attitude and it's got Harley's, but fear not, they don't make the urbanites dance to "Tequila" on tabletops. (AR)

Aqui Cal-Mex Grill
5679 Snell Ave, San Jose; 408.362.3456
1145 Lincoln Ave, San Jose; 408.995.0381
All you need to know is this: 40 kinds of tequila. Never mind that the restaurant cranks out some of the best Cal-Mex-Asian combos anywhere. The Thai Burritos are especially dynamite. But the bar can be a chic hangout as well. Suits pour in after work. Nuclear families from Willow Glen infiltrate on the weekends. It's fun. (GS)

B-Hive Bar & Lounge
372 S. First St, San Jose
408.298.2529
One of the hottest, sweatiest hip-hop and R&B joints in the Bay Area, B-Hive naturally attracts elements that the police think they have to monitor. But celebrities also frequent the place. B-Legit, Snoop Dogg and folks from the SaberCats, Niners and Raiders have infiltrated the house. Due to highly promoted KMEL nights, the place remains a prominent spot to get crunked up. (GS)


Zoe Keeper: Master mixologist Angie Wrangle juggles bottles at Zoë's Back Bar.

Back Bar at Zoë
418 S. Market St., San Jose
408.971.6646; www.back-bar.com
Zoë Nightclub's back patio area has undergone a not-so-quiet transformation. What was originally the El Sol tiendita has now evolved into an open-air space with a beautiful mahogany wood bar, wicker ceiling fans, pool tables, overhangs, an outdoor Margarita station, Italian cypress trees, heat lamps, stained concrete and a sound system. Owner Jacek Rosicki says it serves as a chill-out space to the darker and louder Zoë. A doorway separates the two clubs, but guests can travel back and forth. (TI)

Bamboo Lounge/Island Grill
1355 N. Fourth St, San Jose
408.392.2468
No matter the occasion, Bamboo's tropically themed bar gleefully conjures up tasty Mojitos and island mixers—this place is like a wedding reception that never ends. An Elvis impersonator hosts karaoke on Wednesday; there are musical performances by famous musicians Danny Hull and Clifford Coulter on Thursday, a '60s/'70s/'80s DJ on Friday; and a "throw your own party" on Saturday—which means "as long as you don't mind sharing space with other patrons, you can bring your own DJ, all your friends, and feel VIP," says the manager. (AR)

Beavers Bar & Grill
1180 Lincoln Ave, San Jose
408.288.9422
www.beaversbarandgrill.com
This bar and grill's transformation from the stodgy Glen restaurant to an innuendo-rich spot offering Beaver Dip and Buttery Beaver drinks has raised more than a few eyebrows on family-oriented Lincoln Avenue. But the down-to-earth grill menu and casual atmosphere, featuring pool tables, stone fireplaces and saltwater aquariums make Beavers a classy spot to watch sports and partake in an ample beer selection. (JH/AR)

Big Lil's Cabaret
157 W. San Fernando St, San Jose
Sketch comedy, vaudeville, damsels, heroes and double-entendres abound at Big Lil's. And their weekly standup comedy show has moved to UPN on Saturday nights. Come down and audition. Throw in dinners catered by Tony Roma's and you've got one of the last remaining true vaudeville hot spots in the Bay Area. (GS)

Blake's Steakhouse And Bar
17 N. San Pedro Square, San Jose
408.298.9221
One of San Jose's best steakhouses, Blake's is jammed before Sharks matches or HP Pavilion events. The bar is situated in the middle of the restaurant and there are plenty of tables—outside and inside—from which to scope out the action in San Pedro Square. Upscale but casual, Blake's is a perfect place to begin a night on the town. (GS)

The Blank Club
44 S. Almaden Ave, San Jose
408.29.BLANK; www.theblankclub.com
The last punk rock nightclub left in this town, the Blank Club will host "Lust for Life" in September, a reunion of the downtown San Jose punk scene circa 1980-1989. Prepare your liver for that one—it should be a doozy. And there's no better place to do it. San Jose counterculture lives on at the Blank Club. (GS)

Blowfish Sushi To Die For
335 Santana Row, Suite 1010, San Jose
408.345.3848; www.blowfishsushi.com
Television screens broadcast PG-13 anime. Black-lacquer tables surround plush banquettes. The sleek and sexy sushi bar has a sake lounge with rice wines broken down by categories: dryness, unfiltered, cedar aged, even "unusual." Sake cocktails take the frat-boy element out of sake consumption; the most intriguing ones are the Mango Mojito (fresh mango and mint with sake) and the Cucumber Cooler (crushed cucumber, sake, lime juice and soda). The closest kin to a dreaded "sake bomb" is the Red Baron—house sake and Rock Star energy drink. Thursday-Saturday, DJs spin similarly pumping music until 2am. (TI)

Blue Monkey
1 E. San Fernando St, San Jose
408.275.6006
Could downtown's upscaling trend be truly taking off? The newly opened Blue Monkey is banking on it. Blending a Far Eastern décor, mood lighting and bottle service to create what owner Mondo describes as a "twist on the Martini lounge," the Blue Monkey will feature DJs and the occasional acid jazz group Wednesday through Friday. Mondo sees the lounge as a refuge for diners who frequent P.F. Chang's and Stratta. Strict dress code. (TV)

Blue Tattoo
170 W. St. John St, San Jose
408.286.1515
There are rumors that the Blue Tattoo is about to transform into Pearl—but the new place will be sure to provide the same sensual dress-to-impress hipster hangout. The building's gargantuan 20,000-square-foot space attracts a truly image-conscious clientele. Make sure you investigate the dress code. Throw those tennis shoes in the closet before comin' on down. (GS)

Branham Lounge
1116 Branham Ln, San Jose
408.265.5525
What better way to finish off an afternoon shopping at Orchard Supply Hardware than with a few drinks at Branham Lounge, a few storefronts away? The facade is aging and so are some of the patrons, but the place checks in with high lounge-y marks—especially if the fireplace is lit. (GS)

The Britannia Arms
5027 Almaden Expwy, San Jose; 408.266.0550
173 W. Santa Clara St, San Jose; 408.278.1400
A San Jose institution, "The Brit" offers a slew of beers—both bottled and on tap. Soccer fans hole up at the place to watch Earthquakes away games and the players themselves show up after home games. At night, cover bands pack the house and folks dance the night away. Live bands, darts, dominos, karaoke, sports, fish and chips, bangers and mash—when it comes to the prototypical pub, The Brit is the real deal. The downtown location features a stylish patio and bar out back, an excellent addition to the local scene. (GS/AR)

The Caravan
98 S. Almaden Ave, San Jose
408.995.6220
Something about a tattooed pregnant bartender singing Journey tunes just makes a place irresistible. Although they no longer offer happy hour food for freeloaders, the Caravan still calls itself San Jose's best dive bar and it's probably right. Only a few folks are old enough to remember when it was actually located inside the Greyhound station. Nowadays, bands play on Thursday and Friday while lubricated barflies pound 'em and play pool. At Caravan the age range is 21 to 121. (GS)

Cinebar
69 E. San Fernando St, San Jose
408.292.9562
At last—the Pogues are back in a downtown jukebox! When Katie Bloom's replaced their eclectic jukebox selection with '70s rock atrocities, Pogues fanatics shook their heads in disgust. But they have a new home at this classic dive bar. Cinebar opened in 1928, making it San Jose's oldest continually operated bar. They've now got shirts, hats, Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap, and even a softball team, for crying out loud. One bartender recently returned from the first annual Modern Drunkard Convention in Las Vegas. "Still feelin' that one," he commiserated a few days later. (GS)

City Bar and Grill
Hilton Hotel, 300 Almaden Blvd, San Jose; 408.947.4444
The convention crowd slips in to get plastered on its expense accounts. Soft jazz emanates from the speakers and drinkers contemplate the classic American grill atmosphere. The Hilton itself doesn't represent the most attractive architecture, but this bar pleasantly improves the overall hotel-convention-center complex. (GS)

Club Caribe
1001 S. First St, San Jose
408.297.7272
A hugely popular Latino dance joint, Caribe rocks on the weekends. Dancin' folk line up around the corner to get in. Cowboy hats abound. The Coronas flow. People show off on the dance floor with the gals dressed in scant attire. Yet another great place to sweat amid the tropical environs. (GS)

Club Four
514 S. Bascom Ave, San Jose
408.279.6618
With easy access on and off the I-280 and a fair amount of parking, Club Four offers just about every amenity a person could hope for in a small club: pool, darts, pinball. Resident DJs bring out the dance crowd in big numbers. Recently bought out by the folks who own T's Cabaret, the club will soon be renamed T's at Club Four, and will have a VIP room, $7 cover, and a handful of beautiful women dancing in a dimly lit room. (TI)

Club Max
Doubletree Hotel, 2050 Gateway Pl, San Jose; 408.437.2167
On Friday and Saturday nights a cover charge is in effect and fashionable attire is required. The rest of the week, slide in and play pool, watch sports, gorge on appetizers or fashionably consume Long Island Ice Tea specials. Happy hour begins at 4:30pm and folks pile in for the after-work nacho bar and drink specials. A slick entertainment lounge whether you're staying at the hotel or not. (GS)

Club Miami
177 W. Santa Clara St, San Jose
408.279.3670
It's lights—and tons of them—camera, action. The best place to sweat in downtown San Jose. Don Johnson meets four $6 Coronas and snakeskin shoes. Hot, sweaty salsa dancing all the time. Both gals and guys dress to impress and the faux palm trees watch from the background. (GS)

Club Palermo
394 S. Second St, San Jose
408.297.0607
Every Friday and Saturday night, Italian restaurant Palermo transforms its Mediterranean environs into an elegant nightclub. There's valet parking, bathroom attendants, coat checks, multiple bartenders and real glassware. There are cozy side rooms for conversation, two dance floors with DJs spinning hip-hop and house, a sitting area with huge tapestries, and an outdoor smoking patio—all packed with the in crowd. (TI)

Coconut Willie's Cocktail Lounge
1099 W. San Carlos St, San Jose
408.971.1737
Karaoke is back at Coconut Willie's and the twentysomethings pour in to sing their hearts out. And, apparently, some of them aren't bad. Willie's has been around a long time and it's still sports meets Hawaii meets Harley-Davidson. Happy deals reign supreme, bands play on occasional weekends and a sign above the bar declares, "This is a drama-free zone." (GS)

Cuetopia Billiards Café
4700 Almaden Expwy, San Jose
408.266.POOL; www.cuetopia.net
When searching for a pool hall with the utmost in accommodations, look no further. Cuetopia boasts 25 pool tables, four foosball tables, seven TVs, a sofa lounge, over 100 varieties of beer and a cafe with an espresso bar and the best darn Chicago style hotdogs in San Jose. (AR)

Delux, at the Moorpark Hotel
4241 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
408.864.0300
The Moorpark Hotel has hit upon a novel concept: the after-work minivacation. From 4 to 9pm every Thursday, Delux at the Moorpark offers up poolside hors d'oeuvres, signature cocktails and music. Nibble a satay skewer, sip a delicate martini, dangle your legs in the pool, bliss out on live Brazilian music and flirt outrageously among the cabanas. The concept is a collaboration between the Moorpark and Giant Creative Services, who also put on events like Gypsy Cinema. Giant Creative's Chris Esparza says the Moorpark is "a handsome, retro place but we're not trying to be vintage-y. This is a place to meet friends, eat drink and be by the water." Delux will continue every Thursday until October. (TI)

The Den, at Fourth Street Bowl
1441 N. Fourth St, San Jose
408.453.5555
Regulars crowd around the half-circle bar while brave souls torture the crowds on the karaoke stage. Plenty of beers are available at this well-worn but well-lit-up place. The faux fireplace and the giant foxhunt mural give the place a feel unlike most bowling alley bars. A hidden, unexploited karaoke heaven. (GS)

The Derby
399 N. 13th St, San Jose
408.287.5399
The Derby still appears to be the kind of place where, when a nonregular walks in, the jukebox stops and everyone turns around to stare. One of the bar stools probably still has the name "Marian" written on it. A truly neighborhood type of joint that stands the test of time. How can you dislike a place whose motto, "Where friends meet," is etched into the building's masonry outside? (GS)

E&O Trading Company
96 S. First St, San Jose
408.938.4100
E&O is a perfect place to take in the great weather while sitting outside on the sidewalk watching the dead buildings go by. Exquisite handcrafted beers go great with exotic specialties from the Orient. Suits pack the place after work and the bar is overflowing sometimes. Drinks like the Mangopolitan and the Pomegranate Margarita are advertised out on the street, luring in potential happy hour drinkers. (GS)

The Escape
2942 S. Bascom Ave, San Jose
408.377.5436
Pool, pizza and motorcycles reign supreme at this legendary suburban joint on Bascom Avenue where San Jose and Campbell fade into one other. Locals, bikers and construction workers swill drinks served by buxom bartenders. Note the designated "Harley Parking" outside. (GS)

Eulipia
374 S. First St, San Jose
408.280.6161
Eulipia first opened in 1977 and the place is stronger than ever. As soon as the Fox California Theater reopens, the opera and symphony folks will meander on in. You'll see expensive sweaters, slow food, great scotch and even more impressive menus. Of the many possible choices these two might suffice: crouch at the bar over a 12-year-old Macallan or sit down and feast on cashew encrusted seared salmon with butterfinger potatoes and lemon beurre. (GS)

The Fairmont Lounge
Fairmont Hotel, 170 S. Market St, San Jose; 408.998.1900
The faux marble bar looks real. The plush couches are inviting. The drinks ain't cheap. Pianists tickle the ivories on the weekends. Exquisite floral arrangements abound, HDTV's flank the walls and hotel guests mix with the theater crowds to imbibe with richness. (GS)

The 5th Quarter
1373B Kooser Rd, San Jose
408.265.7033
As its name implies, the 5th Quarter goes into overtime as a lively destination for sports fanatics—especially during football season. The addition of live music on the weekends and Monday night karaoke has broadened the target clientele by putting it in touch with Gen-X and boomer-aged booty shakers. (AR)

Flying Pig Pub
78 S. First St, San Jose
408.298.6710; www.flyingpigpub.com
Every year, "The Pig" celebrates its anniversary in grand fashion, the way a great local bar should. Hockey fans infiltrate the place before every Sharks game and consume beer, chili, burgers and an occasional Sirloin Caesar Salad. Like its neighbor E&O, a great place to sit outside in the afternoon with a beer. At night, classic rock blasts out of the jukebox and the hordes scream along. (GS)

Garden City Casino
360 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
408.244.4443
More than just an annex for the card sharks, Garden City's lounge/restaurant has won the Wine Spectator award for "One of the most outstanding restaurant wine-lists in the world" 12 times. During dinner hour, the bar remains tame and sophisticated—being sure not to disturb the distinguished dining atmosphere—but in the later hours, after a few hands of blackjack have been won, the energy can elevate into a rather rowdy celebration of fortune. (AR)

Gecko Grill
855 N. 13th St, San Jose
408.971.1826
A tropical oasis right smack in the middle of a somewhat undesirable stretch of 13th Street, Gecko is lit up in orange décor and—you guessed it—geckos. The grill cranks out fresh Mexican food and the bar serves up Mexican beer and custom hot-rodded Margaritas. Out on the patio, folks chill underneath potted palms and awnings. (GS)

Giza Hookah Lounge
18 N. First St, San Jose
408.998.4622
The lights are dim. Couples sit on pillows in the corner and smoke tar-free, low-nicotine flavored tobacco from hookahs—ancient water pipes from some place like Turkey or Greece. DJs spin chill-out tunes and people chill out. All that's missing are a few snake charmers. (GS)


Trip the Light: Partying takes on a whole new shine on Glo's chic lit-up dance floor.

Glo
396 S. First St, San Jose
408.995.6414; www.clubglo.com
The old Studio Theater space across from the Agenda has seen its share of change the past three years. Glo, the newest incarnation, is modeled on suave metropolitan clubs, with a sleek, contemporary décor, several dance floors and bottle service at tables. Thursdays through Saturdays, DJs rotate blends of upscale hip-hop, house, Detroit funk and R&B; Thursday night's "Light" party limits the number of walk-ins allowed, so RSVP at www.synergyproductions.com. Appropriate attire required. (SQ)

GoodFellas Bar & Grill
69 N. San Pedro St, San Jose
408.287.6969
The perfect place to contemplate how everything you ever needed to know about life, you learned from the Rat Pack. Photos of Ol' Blue Eyes, Dino, Bogey and Al Pacino adorn the walls. Tony Soprano would feel at home in the place. The hamburgers are great and 22-ounce drafts are available. Godfather III meets sports bar. (GS)

Goosetown Lounge
1072 Lincoln Ave, San Jose
408.292.4835
Every inch of space is well utilized at Willow Glen's designated rock & roll karaoke bar. Though roughly the size of a large living room, this little place is endowed with a bar, a fireplace, two big screen TVs, a stage, a dance floor, tables, and chairs. However, don't be mislead by the cozy appearance, this secluded hangout is very popular amongst locals, and often becomes the meeting ground for some of San Jose's wildest party animals. (AR)

Gordon Biersch
33 E. San Fernando St, San Jose
408.294.6785
Lagers reign supreme at GB and the place continues to bring 'em in. The regulars now also hold court with GB's new Passport program. Whether it's a light lunch with beer or a long expensive dinner with three beers, GB continues to be a success. You've got corporate types, yuppies, nuclear families from the suburbs, wealthy drunks, lawyers, stockbrokers and convention attendees—fertile ground for eavesdropping on other peoples' conversations over a Blonde Bock or three. (GS)

The Grill on the Alley
172 S. Market St., San Jose
408.294.2244
For that classic hand-stirred Martini amid a posh setting, The Grill is it. As soon as you walk in the place, you're transplanted into a New York or San Francisco-style grill. It could be The Godfather or The Maltese Falcon. Prime steaks and seafood fill up the menu and classic drinks pour behind the bar. It soaks in style. (GS)

Hedley Club
Inside Hotel De Anza
233 W. Santa Clara St, San Jose

408.286.1000; www.hoteldeanza.com
If you could smoke in California bars, this would be a primo smoky jazz club. The atmosphere's all there: Lush sofas. Exotic plants. Mahogany tables. A luxurious hand-painted ceiling. Whether it's a piano/cello duet or a lounge singer, Hedley is a relaxing place to pound a few drinks while the music emanates from the far corner. (GS)

Henry's World-Famous Hi Life
301 W. St. John St, San Jose
408.295.5414
A great American steakhouse and barbecue joint if there ever was one, Henry's has been cranking out slabs and racks of meat for over 60 years. It is indeed a carnivore's paradise right behind the HP Pavilion. And the chowing is not limited to hockey season. Word has it Henry's opens early on Football Sundays for some steak and eggs. Later on in the day, the barflies roll in. (GS)

Hookah Nites Café
371 S. First St, San Jose
1.408.286.0800; www.hookahnites.com
Since last December, locals have had a new place to "hookah up" in downtown. This new cafe, which takes over the space vacated by the old Club Matisse, is a great spot for both veteran smokers and newcomers to this increasingly popular Bay Area trend. Hookah Nites offers a wide range of subtly flavored tobacco, from apple and peach to mango and coconut. (JH)

The Huddle
5289D Prospect Rd, San Jose
408.725.9414
The game is always on at the Huddle. Dressed up in the regular assortment of colorful sports memorabilia, this casual neighborhood bar attracts a very local, very loyal, crowd of Bud-drinking, pool-playing sports fans who can recite such trivia as who played quarterback for the 49ers before Joe Montana. (JH)

Hukilau
230 Jackson St, San Jose
408.279.4888; www.dahukilau.com
Why get smashed on Bud when you get loaded on Hula Girls and Wicked Wahines? Sure, the hangover from these potent cocktails will hurt just as bad (maybe worse), but everything else about the experience will be decidedly sunnier. Hukilau is absolutely awash in Polynesian party spirit, from its intentionally cheesy beachside décor to the outdoor tiki bar. This friendly bar offers live Hawaiian music on Fridays and Saturdays—just don't request "Tiny Bubbles." (JH)

The Improv
62 S. Second St, San Jose
408.280.7475; www.improv.com
The joke is on those South Bay folks who still drive up to the Punch Line and Cobb's in San Francisco to get their laughs. Thanks to a multimillion-dollar renovation of the 100-year-old Jose Theater, the valley now has its own world-class comedy club. The Improv is a true destination spot in a city that sorely needed one. Upcoming headliners include Tommy Davidson (July 15-18)and Ralphie May (July 22-25). (JH)

JJ's Blues
3439 Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose
408.243.6441; www.jjsblues.org
Congress designated 2003 as "the Year of the Blues," stating that the musical genre "is a national historic treasure, which needs to be preserved, studied and documented for future generations." Well, duh. You don't have to tell that to the blues-loving locals who regularly turn out to see the masters of the game, as well as hot newcomers, at JJ's. This cozy venue is an institution, having outlived numerous musical trends, and truly the king of the blues in the South Bay. And it could be yours, since the club is reportedly seeking new ownership. (JH)

Johnny V's
31 E. Santa Clara St, San Jose
408.947.8470; www.johnnyvsbar.com
Johnny V's looks like a pub, but it feels like a club. Call it a pub-club—and a really fine one at that. Music is the big draw here for SJSU students and other locals with discerning ears. The DJ is king at V's, spinning everything from deep dub and reggae to house music and hip-hop. And there's nothing like 2-for-1 Kamikaze shots, offered nightly, to help you get in the mood to boogie. (JH)

Liquid Lounge
175 San Pedro St., San Jose
408.298.4900; www.liquidloungesj.com
Eric DiBlasi, who also owns Blue Tattoo down the street, took over the property that's now Liquid Lounge and gutted it. He ripped everything out, remodeled the bathrooms and the bars, put in all new flooring, red and black vinyl wall covers, a new sound system, redid the front of the building. Now the Lounge sports five full bars, two rooms, multiple dance floors and an outside smoking area. DJs spin hip-hop and R&B, but also experiment with salsa. (TI)

Lou's Village
146 W. San Carlos St, San Jose
408.293.4570
If Captain Nemo opened his own bar/restaurant it would look like Lou's. Most the time the vibe remains traditional and somewhat stuffy—but it's just the calm before the storm, because on Sharks nights and certain weekends, the boat starts to rock, and in no time everyone's singing "yo, ho ho" over pints of frothy lagers and succulent seafood. (AR)

Mac's Club
39 Post St, San Jose
408.288.8221; www.macsclub.com
Called "the Grand Dame of San Jose Gay Bars," Mac's is the type of neighborly joint where everyone—gays, straights and, well, others—can feel comfortable. A bit rundown, but in a good way, Mac's offers video games, darts, an open-air patio and possibly the best Lemon Drops in town. (JH)

Mexico Lindo Restaurant & Cantina
11 Race St, San Jose
408.295.7765
Karaoke draws big weekend crowds as college kids turn out to test their lungs against other Margarita-fueled locals in a battle of who sounds the most like Garth Brooks or Gloria Gaynor. DJs spin a variety of tunes, from pop hits to dance standards, on Friday nights at this surprisingly modern looking bar. (JH)

Mission Ale House
97 E. Santa Clara St, San Jose
408.292.4058; www.missionalehouse.com
This updated version of a traditional ale house is known for being the first, and, often, last stop of the night. Young partygoers drop by for a few brews before an evening of clubbing—and then they often end up here after failing to score, drowning their sorrow with a selection of 32 beers on tap. With its newly added beer garden area, Mission Ale House also does big business with the after-work crowd and Sharks fans. (JH)

Original Joe's
301 S. First St, San Jose
408.292.7030; www.originaljoes.com
In a way, OJ's fills the role of Denny's in the SoFA district. Late-night comments like "Dude, I need to get something to eat" are often met with, "Let's go to Joe's." Serving up mountain-sized pastas and other gigantic entrees well past midnight, OJ's has saved countless partiers from terrible morning-after hangovers. But, be warned, Joe's also serves some of the deadliest cocktails downtown. The heavy hand seems to be the only one Joe pours with. (JH)

Paolo's
333 W. San Carlos St, San Jose
408.294.2558; www.paolosrestaurant.com
For nearly 50 years, Paolo's has been the place to wine in downtown. Sommelier Jalil Samavarchian is known for his excellent taste and, as a result, Paolo's is a consistent recipient of Wine Spectator's prestigious Best of Excellence award. Besides the ample by-the-glass selection, this upscale old-school spot offers a goodly variety of ports and scotch. Make sure to try the signature Ombretta Di Paolo, a twisted, yet tasty, take on the champagne cocktail featuring a mixture of sparkling Italian wine, tangerine vodka and Italian artichoke liqueur. (JH)

Patty's Inn
102 S. Montgomery St, San Jose
408.998.4566
Just a short stumble from the main Caltrain station, this sports-friendly bar is a true haven for commuters looking for a beer and a shot after work. It also does big business before and after Sharks games. Plus, this corner bar is incredibly easy to find—located directly across the street from one of Silicon Valley's most-beloved landmarks, Stephen's Meat Products' dancing pig. (JH)

Pete Escovedo's Latin Jazz Club
400 S. First St, San Jose
www.peteescovedo.com
Opening in grand fashion on July 23, with performances by Sheila E. and special guests, Pete Escovedo's Latin Jazz Club holds out the promise of a first-class downtown nightclub for a city that's starved for one. Escovedo, a renowned Latin jazz percussionist and Bay Area native, lends his name to the club in the tradition of B.B. King's Blues Club, Buddy Guy's Legends and John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom Room. Victor Pamiroyan, Escovedo's manager and entertainment director for the new club, says the format will be live music with an emphasis on salsa orchestras. The club will also be booking a variety of Latin and traditional jazz, big-band orchestras and local R&B and classic-soul groups. There was no public phone number as of print time, but keep an eye out for info coming soon. Dress code enforced. (SQ)

Pink Poodle
328 S. Bascom Ave, San Jose
408.292.3685; www.pinkpoodle.com
Since 1963, this proud member of the San Jose Chamber of Commerce has been offering horny locals, bachelor partiers and dirty old men plenty of gyrating entertainment. Well-endowed ladies take the stage barely clad in lingerie and quickly lose the brightly colored bras and panties while grooving to Kid Rock, Aerosmith and other testosterone-fueled rockers. Somehow I don't think this place needs any added testosterone. (JH)

The Place
1058 S. First St, San Jose
408.297.3473
There is no other place like this place so this must be The Place. At least that's what the steady cast of regulars who turn out to drink beers and play pool at this neighborly joint seems to believe. They also believe size matters, but in terms of length, not width. The Place proudly boasts the longest bar in town, extending all the way from First to Second. (JH)

Plaza Inn
1182 Lincoln Ave, San Jose
408.292.0132
Cozy up in one of the bar's plush booths, after enjoying a big dish of enchiladas in the restaurant, and repeat: "Margarita, por favor!" With or without salt, this cozy inn serves some of the best tequila-laced frozen concoctions in town. And you don't have to worry about hearing Jimmy Buffett while drinking them, just cool Mexican tunes blasting from the jukebox. (JH)

Red Stag Lounge
1711 W. San Carlos St, San Jose
408.292.6777
Located in a strip mall on the north side of San Carlos Street, the Red Stag is arguably the best place to grab an early-morning drink, since few pubs in San Jose open as early Jack Higgins' lounge. Since last year, Higgins has been working on bringing more entertainment to his bar, like free food Sundays, pool tournaments Monday nights, Karaoke Wednesdays and live bands on Friday evenings. Happy hour weekdays from 4 to 7pm. (DH)


Round One: San Jose Bar & Grill keeps things fluid with fast service, flat-screen TVs and a new sound system.

San Jose Bar & Grill
85 S. Second St, San Jose
Not quite a sports bar, not quite a corner bar, the San Jose Bar & Grill has upgraded much of its entertainment system. Management added another flat-screen television, put in a new sound system and expanded the menu with chicken fingers and jalapeño poppers. Dancing is now available weekends, after tables are shuffled off to make way for a dance floor. (DH)

Seven Bamboo
162 Jackson St, San Jose
408.279.9937
The only bar in the South Bay dedicated primarily to karaoke. In business for 25 years, the Bamboo added a video-streaming connection several months ago so friends and family can watch karaokers from home. In fact, the entire karaoke system has been digitized so that entertainers jumping up and down onstage don't make records skip. Buffalo wings available at the Korean restaurant next door. The Bamboo attracts college kids who don't want the hassle of downtown bars as well as grandparents still interested in the party scene. DJ Robert Cortese is the second cousin of City Councilman Dave Cortese. (DH)

Seven Restaurant and Lounge
754 The Alameda, San Jose
408.280.1644
Due to its sleek, industrial design, and French-fused culinary sculptures, Seven has quickly become the crème de la crème for those seeking the hippest and most cosmopolitan of urban lounging. Immersed in glamour and youthful energy, Seven's gorgeous and devoted patrons eagerly submit to Seven's numerous charms, including weekend DJing in the lounge. (AR)

Sharky's Oyster Bar and Grill
1151 Lincoln Ave, San Jose
408.279.0996
More diner than bar, Sharky's is a long and narrow blue-collar joint on the main strip of the tony Willow Glen neighborhood. Oyster shooters, crab cakes and salmon are among the dishes served. Weekend nights cover bands take over the backroom, separated from the quiet counter area in the front. (DH/AR)

South First Billiards and Elixir Ultra Lounge
420 S. First St, San Jose
408.294.7800; www.sofapool.com
A remodeled bar area gives South First an upscale look, including refelted pool tables to match the new earth tones. $10 pool all night Monday, DJs weekend nights, and $10 Margarita pitchers Sunday nights round out some of the perks. The menu has expanded and there's live music every other Sunday. Best of all: no cover—ever. (DH)

South Side Cafe
7028 Santa Teresa Blvd, San Jose
408.226.5424
A blue-collar bar miles from downtown, South Side is the kind of place where you hang loose, eat lunch (hamburger $4.50), throw darts, play pool until the lingerie show starts. Décor is mainly dark signs and beer signs—including Budweiser, Bud Lite, Michelob, Heineken, etc. Live music is—what else?—straight ahead all-American Bob Seger rock & roll. (DH)

Straits Restaurant
333 Santana Row, Suite 100, San Jose
408.246.6320
www.straitsrestaurant.com

An upscale restaurant serving $45 seafood platters that doubles as a chi-chi nightclub weekend nights, with DJ music so loud it's difficult to talk. Even so, Straits tends to attract the young and the wealthy, who spill onto the sidewalk when they need to take a break from the action inside. (DH)

Temple Lounge
52 S. First St, San Jose
408.288.8518; www.thetemplelounge.com
Open Monday through Wednesday starting at 4pm, with happy hour every weekday from 4pm to 8pm, the Temple offers a sacred respite from after-work boredom. Plus, this plush lounge serves up a religious devotion to live music, Thursdays through Sundays—jazz, Afro-Cuban, samba, blues and more. (TV)

T's Cabaret
1984 Old Oakland Rd, San Jose;
408.435.3066

514 S. Bascom Ave, San Jose; 408.279.6618
The old T's strip club has turned into a regular bar, with new hours and no strippers. For those party-seekers who like to watch women in bikinis straddle the stripper's pole, there's a new T's opening a block and a half from the Pink Poodle July 2. (See listing for Club Four.) The new T's, just like the old, will have a full bar. (DH)

T-Bar Lounge
Inside Theatre on San Pedro Square
29 N. San Pedro, San Jose
408.283.0200; www.tosps.com
The former site of the Last Laugh located behind Peggy Sue's upstairs in San Pedro Square is now a sleek and classy theater/lounge with a beautiful bar, delicious food and impressive layout that any artist of any discipline could appreciate. The T-Bar will be booking big band and jazz acts in September. They're also looking into poetry (which would suit the T-Bar perfectly)and experimenting with cabaret. (TI)

Toons
52 E. Santa Clara St, San Jose
408.292.7464; www.toonsnightclub.com
College students may age, but Toons has the formula for eternal youth: seven nights a week of crowd-pleasing music. Reggae, hip-hop, house and the occasional live band—not to mention the two bars—keep things flowing. Those too exhausted to dance find their way to the pool tables and video arcades. (TV)

Touchdown Tommy's
5837 Camden Ave., San Jose
408.723.9981
Touchdown Tommy's is Tommy Meyers' place. And that's why most people come to the cozy neighborhood bar on Camden Avenue—to hang out with Tommy, a man who looks astoundingly like Gene Hackman, and talk sports. As one would expect, Tommy's is decorated with football and sports memorabilia, some of which reflect the owner's short career as an NFL referee. Tommy keeps the Cuervo in the freezer and pulls it out at a rapid rate for those looking for some icy liquid courage. The bar draws a friendly collection of regulars. (JH)

Tres Gringos
83 S. Second St., San Jose
408.278.9888; www.tresgringossj.com
"Bringing you the beach 365 days a year!" is Tres Gringos' boast. It's the Baja beach they mean. Modeled after the owners' favorite resort-town bars, Tres Gringo opens to the sidewalk and invites passersby in with its sunny colors. The kitchen serves up ceviche cocktails and tortilla soup, and the bar doles out Scorpion Bay Margaritas, La Paz Daquiris and the ever-popular Frozen Sombrero (vodka, Kahlua and ice cream). (TV)

Trials Pub
265 N. First St, San Jose
408.947.0497
A person can always count on a welcome, a warm Shepherd's Pie, and a cushy armchair at Trials Pub. Run by British ex-pats, this is the place to find a bloody astonishing selection of imported beers and get a few dart-playing tips while you're at it. (TV)

The Vault Ultra Lounge
81 W. Santa Clara St, San Jose
408.298.1112
www.vaultultralounge.com
When it opens in late June, the Vault should immediately become the South Bay's new hot spot for DJ dancing. The club is located in an old savings and loan building, reportedly one of the first such establishments to open in California. Suitably, the Vault has embraced its legacy in the design, fitting the renovation around the history. Club kids will sip apple martinis near the two original vaults and dance to the latest in Top 40 tunes under the large blue stained-glass ceiling decorated with American eagles. (JH)


V Is for Vodka: And pretty much every other liquid elixir, served up by Susan Hoyt at the va-va-Vbar.

The Vbar
Hotel Valencia, Third Floor
355 Santana Row, San Jose
408.551.0010; www.hotelvalencia.com
Vbar has become the chic, cosmopolitan in-spot for young social networkers who prefer F2Fs to IMs. Paris and Nicky Hilton haven't danced on the bar yet, but if the New York party girls find their way to the South Bay, this is where they'd be. Set apart by rows of beaded dividers, the 155-capacity lounge is dramatically sexy and splurgy with dark wood columns, fabric and leather couches and chairs, marble tiled tables and an impressive selection of elixirs, wine and bubbly. Tapas from the hotel's Citrus restaurant are available. The sound system pipes in house music. An open-air courtyard and balcony overlooking Santana Row make it possible to grab an intimate conversation. (TI)

Voodoo Lounge
14 S. Second St, San Jose
408.286.8636; www.voodooloungesj.com
The Voodoo Lounge creates a little magic with the help of low lights, lava lamps and a loungy DJ vibe. This longtime favorite downtown dance club keeps a low-but-chic profile; there's a VIP room that's reservation-only, and kitschy cocktails like the I Dream of Jeannie Tini, a Cosmopolitan with raspberry Smirnoff, help hipster patrons do that voodoo they do so well. (TV)

Waves Smokehouse and Saloon
65 Post St., San Jose
408.515.9797
Dancing and socializing are the watchwords at Waves, which combines its Wild West bordello interior with a distinctly house music vibe. Everyone is welcome in its plush two-story surrounds, and there are lots of places to get lost, including a rooftop patio. Every Thursday and Saturday Waves transforms into the dancing-est gay scene in the South Bay, with drink specials, DJs, and, on Saturday at midnight, the Senorita Betsy show and sexy go-go dancers. To say more would ruin it. (TV)

Zoë
417 S. First St, San Jose
408.971.ZOES; www.zoenightclub.com
In the past year, Zoë has become exactly what it set out to be—an elegant but unpretentious, comfortable urban nightclub. The DJ music beats low, the blue tiles keep things cool, and the drink specials pack them in. The club draws interesting live music, and a pretty clientele. Here's to a long life for SoFA's Zoë. (TV)


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From the June 16-22, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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