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The Metro Bars & Clubs 2003 Guide
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Antonio's Nut House
321 California Ave, Palo Alto; 650.321.2550

Hours: Daily 10am-1:45am
Crowd Age: Daytime, working-class stiffs in their 30s to 40s; at nights, Stanford kids and locals ages 21 to 40
Music: Jukebox: classic rock to Black Sabbath to No Effects
Decor: Laid-back, unpretentious
Signature Drink: Washington Apple
Amenities: Big-screen TV's, five pool tables, two foosballs, Lotto, Keno, electronic darts, video games, pinball

"People like to call it a dive bar, but it's really a neighborhood bar, or maybe a cross between," says bartender/manager Kelley Gorman. A local hangout for 30 years, Antonio's is a sprawling, informal place, with its trademark peanuts shells scattered all over the floor and a caged mechanical gorilla in the corner ("The owner's wife," chips in Gorman). Drinks are inexpensive, and there's a grill when hunger calls.

Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society
Douglas Beach House, Miramar Beach, Half Moon Bay; 650.726.4143

Hours: Various Sun afternoons, Sat evenings; visit www.bachddsoc.org for calendar
Crowd Age: 30 and up
Music: Live music
Decor: Quaint seaside cottage
Signature Drink: Wine
Amenities: Deck with ocean view, catered buffet

Set atop the cliffs overlooking Miramar Beach, this unique venue flaunts dramatic scenery, first-class jazz, classical and world musicians and Pete Douglas, a charming host and a real character. A converted beach house offers a casual social atmosphere with a lofty weathered wooden deck; inside, curl up on the couch in front of a crackling fireplace. Bring a picnic to enjoy outside or indulge in the catered buffet, which is designed to complement the music of the night. A small bar sells wine, beer and soda.

Blue Chalk Cafe
630 Ramona St, Palo Alto; 650.325.1020

Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 11am-3pm; dinner 5pm-10pm; bar open Mon-Sat 10am-2am
Crowd Age: Mid-20s to mid-30s
Music: Jukebox
Decor: Pool hall meets Mexican courtyard
Signature Drink: Everglade Lemonade, Voodoo Martini
Amenities: Four pool tables, darts and shuffleboard

Blue Chalk's grand central staircase, sweeping up to the balcony bar, belies the cafe's relaxed and airy quality. The building was once an English tea house. Nowadays, the food is down-home Southern cooking, and the place is packed on weekends, says bar manager Meiling Warmkessel. A downstairs billiards room is a prime spot to hang out.

British Bankers Club
1090 El Camino Real, Menlo Park; 650.327.8769

Hours: Daily 11am-1:30am
Crowd Age: 20s-50s
Music: Sat live local bands, Fri DJ
Decor: Upscale English pub
Signature Drink: Cosmopolitan
Amenities: TV, foosball, darts, video games, puzzle games

The BBC is a throwback to the heyday of empire-building, replete with Tiffany lamps, stained-glass windows, red leather couches, buffalo heads and an early-1900s mahogany bar. A smaller bar and the sports room are upstairs. "We have a friendly, diverse crowd--I'd call them splendid," says Tommy the bartender. On Friday and Saturday nights, the tables are cleared away to make room for dancing, American-style.

Cafe Fino
544 Emerson St, Palo Alto; 650.326.6082

Hours: Lunch Tue-Fri 11:30am-2pm, dinner Mon-Sat 5:30pm-midnight, closed Sunday
Crowd Age: All ages, but tends to be mature
Music: Live blues and jazz every night
Decor: Art Deco and white tablecloths
Signature Drink: Cosmopolitans and martinis
Amenities: Grand piano

Owner Fred Maddelena, white-haired and elegant in his suit and tie, personally greets every patron who passes through the doors of his small, Old World supper club. It's Maddelena's trademark graciousness that makes this club buzz, as well as the live jazz and blues. "We're teaching young people about cabaret," says Maddelena, formerly of Club Indigo in Toronto (where he showcased stars such as Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan and Harry Belafonte). Classic movie posters adorn the walls, on loan from cafe regular and Stanford Theater owner David Packard.

City Pub
2620 Broadway St, Redwood City; 650.363.2620

Hours: Sun 11am-10pm, Mon-Wed 11am-11:30pm, Thu-Sat 11am-midnight
Crowd Age: 0-60
Music: No live music
Decor: Cozy warehouse
Signature Drink: Beer
Amenities: Big wood-burning fireplace

If the kids are hungry but dad needs a beer--and he needs to choose from 24 imports and microbrews on tap--then sidle up to City Pub. Find a seat inside the brick brewery style interior, or cop a squat at a sidewalk table and watch downtown Redwood City go by. At night, the place embraces a more yuppie drinking crowd, but patrons can still order from the full meat and potatoes menu.

The Dutch Goose
3567 Alameda De Las Pulgas, Menlo Park; 650.854.3245

Hours: Sun-Tue 11am-midnight, Wed-Sat 11am-2am
Crowd Age: 17-40
Music: Jukebox tunes
Decor: Log cabin meets game room
Signature Drink: Draft beer
Amenities: Pool table, video games, large indoor side patio, outdoor patio

Everyone from grandpa down to little Jimmy can bust a gut at the Dutch Goose, where they offer a variety of hot sandwiches and burgers. The Spicy Deviled Egg is the perfect accompaniment to an icy cold draft beer. Both patios are roomy and would accommodate a family birthday party or frat house reunion.

The Echo
1579 Miramonte Ave, Los Altos; 650.967.0969

Hours: Tue-Fri 11am-midnight, Sat 4pm-midnight; Sun 5pm-11pm
Crowd Age: 45-65
Music: Fri-Sat Piano bar
Decor: Neighborhood
Signature Drink: Whatever they happen to be pouring at the time
Amenities: Karaoke (Sun), TVs

People who have been coming here for years mingle with people who have been coming here for decades. This is the spot for serious drinkers who value familiarity over fashion trends. This is where the other half drinks on the peninsula.

The Edge
260 S. California Ave, Palo Alto; 650.289.0222

Hours: Restaurant: Mon-Thu 5-10pm, Fri-Sat 5-11pm, happy hour 5-8pm, free buffet 6-7:30pm; bar: Tue, Fri 9pm-3am, Sat 8pm-3am; doors usually open at 7pm for live shows
Crowd Age: Restaurant 21-35; club 18-35
Music: Live bands and DJs
Decor: Converted gymnasium
Signature Drink: Sake bomb
Amenities: VIP room, jukebox, pool table, Pac Man table, heated outdoor patio

The Icon Supperclub is a distant memory now that the Edge is back in action. This all-ages rock club has been through some significant changes but now stands as a new and improved version of the old Edge, with a nice restaurant that serves California cuisine with a rock & roll flair. Two-dollar Tuesdays, Friday night dance parties and Salsa Saturdays make up the weekly dance nights, alongside rotating touring nationals from Meshuggah to Bad Religion to Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society.

Empire Grill & Tap Room
651 Emerson St, Palo Alto; 650.321.3030

Hours: Bar Mon-Fri 11:30am-1am, will close early if slow
Crowd Age: 30s-40s
Music: Jazz CDs
Decor: Traditional New York elegance
Signature Drink: Martinis
Amenities: Two TVs

The Empire Grill & Tap Room is a double shot of big-city class. The restaurant boasts a 45-foot solid mahogany bar, straight-backed wood booths and an upscale ambience. The garden patio takes visitors to a different world: tables sheltered by heat lamps, a bubbling stone fountain, heavy wisteria draped over the trellis. The bar features 16 beers on tap.

Fanny & Alexander
412 Emerson St, Palo Alto; 650.326.7183

Hours: Tue-Wed 4pm-when it seems right, Thu-Sat 4pm-1:20am
Crowd Age: Early 20s-late 30s
Music: Fri-Sat live music, Thu DJ
Decor: Casual
Signature Drink: Cosmopolitans
Amenities: TVs

This nondescript, brick-walled bar/nightclub gets seriously jumping on weekends as cover bands crank out Top 40 funk and disco, and rowdy partyers spill out into the street. But don't worry, those seeking a bit of peace and quiet can retreat to the patio and bar out back. In a whimsical touch, Fanny & Alexander's owner Doni Malaise named his establishment for Ingmar Bergman's film.

Flamingo's Night Club
1776 Broadway St, Redwood City; 650.299.1622

Hours: Tue, Fri-Sun 9pm-2am
Crowd Age: 21-34
Music: Live band Tue, Fri-Sun
Decor: Miami Vice
Signature Drink: Remy Martin
Amenities: Ladies night/dance contest Tue and Sun, pool table

Now this is a nightclub. Mirrored walls, flamingo-adorned entryways--consider the stops pulled. Sashay through the bar to the dance floor, where the house band, Los Trancos, parlays all styles of Latin music. Ladies can "dance real sexy" and win $100 on Tuesday nights. The men have their chance on Sunday.

Fox Theater and Little Fox
2209 Broadway, Redwood City; 650.369.4119; www.foxdream.com

Hours: Depends on event
Crowd Age: Depends on event
Music: Folk, bluegrass and world-music acts
Decor: Refurbished Art Deco theater
Signature Drink: Name your poison--two full bars
Amenities: Comfortable seats, balcony, free parking

Redwood City had a problem. It lacked an entertainment venue--a place with comfy chairs that could attract headliners and customers the way the Circle Star used to. In 2001, Mike Monte and John Anagnostou realized a four-year dream when they reopened the opulent Fox Theatre. The duo hooked up with the folks at Montalvo, and the stages came alive with great music from names like Tony Bennett, Tom Jones and B.B. King. The dream didn't stop there. Last summer the ribbon was cut on the Little Fox, an adjoining venue with a capacity of 240. The intimate space is perfect for quirkier acts, the bookers know where to find 'em and the town now has a potential jewel on its hands.

Gordon Biersch
640 Emerson St, Palo Alto; 650.323.7723

Hours: Sun-Wed 11:30am-11pm, Thu 11:30am-midnight, Fri-Sat 11:30am-1am
Crowd Age: Mid-20s-mid-40s
Music: No
Decor: Spacious brewery and restaurant
Signature Drink: On-site brewed beer, as well as GB Manhattan, SF Lemonade, Raspberry Iced Tea
Amenities: Four big-screen TVs, tuned to sports

The unpretentious, friendly atmosphere of Palo Alto's Gordon Biersch is characteristic of the entire 16-restaurant chain, but this establishment can lay claim to being the very first Gordon Biersch, opened in 1988. The restaurant brews its own lagers, with four in-house beers available at all times. Specialty beers include pilsners, dunkles, marzens and seasonal beers such as hefeweizen. Co-owner Dan Gordon (who is said to be the living, breathing embodiment of Norm from Cheers), went to brewery college in Germany; Dean Biersch is the restaurateur.

The Island
4141 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; 650.493.9020

Hours: Daily 7am-2am
Crowd Age: 35-60
Music: Jukebox rock
Decor: Dive bar
Signature Drink: Cigarettes
Amenities: Pool table, darts

A spider web covered "Ode to Beer" hangs on the wall at the Island, while the regulars hang on to their seats like gambling grannies at the Vegas slots. Liquor, 10 varieties of cigarettes and an assortment of beers stock the bar. A perfect place to go to chase a shot of nicotine with a shot of whiskey.

La Bodeguita Del Medio
463 California Ave, Palo Alto; 650.326.7762

Hours: Bar, Mon-Sat 5pm-midnight
Crowd Age: 35-45
Music: Fri-Sat 7pm-10pm live Cuban music (guitar and vocals)
Decor: Sophisticated tropical
Signature Drink: Mojito
Amenities: Walk-in humidor and cigar room in back

In Havana, La Bodeguita Del Medio was the favorite hangout of Ernest Hemingway; in Palo Alto, this was the destination spot for President Bill Clinton, back in the day. The bar offers some 50 premium aged rums. If the din gets to be overwhelming, check out the quiet, soothing cigar room and patio in the back, where cigars are also sold.

Lavanda Restaurant & Wine Bar
185 University Ave, Palo Alto; 650.321.3514

Hours: Lunch Mon-Sat 11:30am-3pm, dinner Fri-Sat 5-11pm, Sun closes at 9pm
Crowd Age: 30s-40s
Music: No live music
Decor: Sophisticated
Signature Drink: Wine
Amenities: Social conversation

The 1-year-old Lavanda's mahogany and marble bar offers a chic spot at which to sip fine wines. Connoisseurs can choose from 30 wines by the glass. "It's a comfortable place for people to meet in an upscale and sophisticated environment," says co-owner Bruce Schmidt (noting this is especially true for single women). The bar also offers a tapas-style menu.

140 University Ave, Palo Alto; 650.323.9449

Hours: Daily 11:30am-10pm
Crowd Age: 21-25
Music: Superloud techno beats
Decor: Sushi bar meets frat house party
Signature Drink: Sake bomb!
Amenities: Full sushi bar, strobe lights, smoke machine

While the doors close at 10pm, the wild crowd is still going until 11 or midnight, standing on chairs shouting, "Sake bomb, sake bomb!" as they pound it back like good college kids should. Jump-start a small group of friends via contact high or gather 20 of your closest pals for a special event--either way, Miyake is an instant party in a box.

The Oasis Beer Garden
241 El Camino Real, Menlo Park; 650.326.8896

Hours: Daily 11am-2am
Crowd Age: 0-100
Music: Jukebox
Decor: Frat house
Signature Drink: Beer
Amenities: Video games

No, they don't actually grow beer here, but they do make a pizza with ranch dressing--and they'll even make it for you at midnight! Stanford students, jocks of all ages and their families and friends watch sports or shoot the breeze in giant wooden booths carved with the initials of anyone who's ever been there. Roll on in for video games and America's pastime: Getting drunk and eating pizza, that is.

The Old Pro
2865 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; 650.325.2070

Hours: Sun-Mon 11:30a-11pm, Tue-Sat 11:30am-2am
Crowd Age: 25-55
Music: CNN Sports Center News
Decor: Game room
Signature Drink: Beer
Amenities: Pool table, foosball, video games and tons of TVs

The Old Pro fits sports fans like a well-oiled baseball glove, but anyone can slip right in and enjoy the game with this eclectic, campy crowd. Lisa recommends the ribs and will pour you a cold one to wash it all down.

Pavilion Bar at Spago
265 Lytton Ave, Palo Alto; 650.833.1000

Hours: Bar, Mon-Fri 11:30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm
Crowd Age: Mid-30s-mid-50s
Music: Background
Decor: Euro-elegance
Signature Drink: Cosmopolitans
Amenities: TV

The Pavilion Bar at Spago is a separate open and airy room with patio tables and a long bar, a retractable roof and French pastel murals adorning the walls. The entire Spago menu is served, as well as a bar menu featuring burgers, pizza, Caesar salad and other snacks. Despite the fact that Spago is the creation of world-renowned celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, the bar itself is casual and relaxed. "It's not stuffy, and the crowd is very eclectic," says bartender Mike Wray.

Q Cafe & Billiards
529 Alma St, Palo Alto; 650.322.3311

Hours: Sat-Wed 4pm-2am, Thu-Fri 11:30am-2am
Crowd Age: 20s
Music: Wed-Sun DJ dance
Decor: Old brick warehouse turned dance club
Signature Drink: Stanford Zombie
Amenities: Pool tables, dartboards, large-screen TV

While Q Cafe has TVs showing sports and several pool tables, this place is mainly an pickup spot for young peninsula playas looking to get freaky on the dance floor. The clientele changes slightly with the music, which ranges from Top 40 on Wednesdays to hip-hop on Sundays, but the one constant is that clubgoers must dress to impress if they are looking to get it on at Q Cafe.

Rose and Crown
547 Emerson St, Palo Alto; 650.327.7673

Hours: Daily 11:30am-1:30am
Crowd Age: Mixed; younger on Fri nights
Music: Sun live jazz; jukebox (voted best jukebox in Santa Clara County by City Search in 2002)
Decor: Classic English pub
Signature Drink: Guinness (only serves beer and wine)
Amenities: Tue pub quiz trivia, Mon standup comedy, darts

This cozy Brit-style pub smack in downtown Palo Alto sustains its own little tight-knit community with live jazz (a new offering), standup comedy and its ever-popular quiz night. "All the cool people hang out here," says Rose and Crown's owner, Tony Babb. The bar, which offers beer and wine, features a cluttered mix of Guinness posters, mirrors and stained-glass windows. There's also a back patio with funky picnic tables and umbrellas. Food includes burgers, salads and "the best fish and chips anywhere," adds Babb.

Rudy's Pub
117 University Ave, Palo Alto; 650.329.0922

Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2am; Sat-Sun 2pm-2am
Crowd Age: 21-40
Music: Thu-Sat DJ--house and hip-hop
Decor: Rumpus room
Signature Drink: Blaster
Amenities: TV's, foosball, dominos, darts

"Cheap food, warm beer and lousy service" is the guiding motto of Rudy's Pub, a hangout at the outer edge of Palo Alto. "It's a friendly, laid-back getaway from downtown stuffiness," says Los Altos resident and carpenter Chip Tate, a Rudy's regular for some 14 years. The music is loud, the dance floor in back is packed, the crowd is mixed and there's no room for pretentiousness. Play dominoes with the bartender, but the price is steep. Loser has to do push-ups--no joke.

Straits Cafe
3295 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; 650.494.7168

Hours: Dinner Sun-Thu 5:30pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm
Crowd Age: 20s-50s
Music: Mellow Jazz, live music occasionally
Decor: Elegant with an Asian flare
Signature Drink: House infused vodkas, Ginger Drops, Mangopolitans
Amenities: Lovely outdoor patio complete with waterfall

Nestled between two run-down motor inns, the Straits Café is a clandestine treasure. Stop in and have a delicious, designer drink made from one of the house infused vodkas or sample the chile crab while hobnobbing with the diverse, well-educated crowd. The patio provides an exotic setting for a romantic escape or a break from the standard happy-hour meeting spot.

430 Kipling St, Palo Alto; 650.328.6722

Hours: Bar, Mon-Fri 11:30am-11:30pm, Sat-Sun until 12:30am-1am
Crowd Age: 25-40s
Music: No live music
Decor: Sophisticated
Signature Drink: Cosmopolitans, Lemon Drops
Amenities: Garden patio with pond and fireplace

Zibibbo's cozy wood bar up front (there's also one in back) embraces a dozen small tables and is a peaceful setting to kick back and enjoy the passing scene. The full menu is offered at both bars, as well as selections from a 600-strong wine list. There's also courtyard seating. "There's a good ambience here; it's very relaxed, almost loungy," says bar manager Darryl Wong. "And we have James Bond glasses," says one bartender, holding up their supersized martini glasses.

Metro Bars & Clubs 2003 Features

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Caffeine Nation: A list of coffeehouses--the cream of the crop.

Thanks, Designated Driver!: An appreciation, and some tips, for the nondrinker.

Send a letter to the editor about this story to letters@metronews.com.

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From the June 19-25, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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