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The Metro Bars & Clubs 2003 Guide
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Aruba's Island Grill
Four Points Sheraton, 1250 Lakeside Dr, Sunnyvale; 408.738.4888

Hours: Daily 2pm-midnight
Crowd: Late 20s-40s, 80-85 percent hotel guests
Music: Live bands, summer every Thu starting June 19, 5pm-9pm
Decor: Tropical
Signature Drink: n/a
Amenities: Televisions

The residents of this Island are primarily hotel guests, though live music and a beach party theme do bring in some locals. With patio seating by the pool and bright decorative choices, Aruba's often seems more like a resort or a cruise ship than a bar--come here to get your plastic hula on.

Beefy's Cabin
693 Grape Ave, SJ; 408.736.7141

Hours: Daily 10am-2am
Crowd: 20s-50s
Music: Jukebox, alternative, blues, country, vocals
Decor: Western, sporty
Signature Drink: Premium beers on tap
Amenities: Row of five dartboards, pinball, video game, ATM

Beefy's Cabin moved from its longtime West Washington Avenue locale to the former Scotties' haunt. Crowds from both have now come to peacefully commingle and continue to enjoy the bar's smoking policy, as it's a family-run operation in which smoking is legal.

Blue Bonnet Bar
203 S. Fair Oaks Ave, Sunnyvale; 408.245.6651

Hours: Daily 6am-2am
Crowd Age: 30s-mid-60s
Music: Jukebox, classic and recent pop, rock and soul, occasional live bands
Decor: Active athletic
Signature Drink: Beer
Amenities: Three pool tables, dart machine, video games, pinball, Megatouch Maxx, multiple large and smaller TV screens, California Lotto

When the jukebox is blasting and the three pool tables are all in use, the Blue Bonnet Bar seems more like the kind of rumble-waiting-to-happen roadhouse that one sees in movies. But the friendly bar staff instantly put the uninitiated at ease, and the 50-cent microwave popcorn is sure to hit the spot.

Blue Max
828 W. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale; 408.746.9500

Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-2am, Sun 10am-midnight
Crowd Age: 30s-70s
Music: Jukebox, country, rock, classic and newer blues, Thu and Sat karaoke
Decor: Stone, model planes, red, white & blue
Signature Drink: n/a
Amenities: Video games, Infinity, Megatouch Maxx, California Lotto, pool table, cigarette machine

Forget American Idol--the nation's widest range of vocal stylings really warbles up at Blue Max's karaoke nights. Everyone from the solo singer who can nail newer country numbers to the pairs of buddies who sincerely work through classic rock and newer pop take a shot. The bar's unassuming shopping corner locale gives its patrons a respite from the bustle of El Camino Real.

Bourbon One
927 E. Duane Ave, Sunnyvale; 408.736.3993

Hours: Sun-Mon 6pm-midnight, Tue-Sat 6pm-2am
Crowd Age: 20s-40s
Music: DJ Fri-Sat
Decor: Game room
Signature Drink: Chocolate Cake
Amenities: Pool tables, darts

Blink and you might miss its minimall location, but turn your block-rockin' beat radar up and you'll have no trouble finding this local saloon. Regular guys hold up the bar during the day; the kids come out on the weekend to dance to house and techno.

Brass Rail
160 Persian Dr, Sunnyvale; 408.734.1454

Hours: Daily 10am-2am, entertainment 11:45am-2am, lunch 10am-2pm
Crowd: 20s-60s
Music: DJ booth, providing a soundtrack for the dancers
Decor: Mirrors and brass
Signature Drink: New ones invented every few months
Amenities: Five pool tables, two ATMs

The dancers at the Brass Rail keep their private parts covered--barely, sometimes--and even at midday one can find up to three of them dancing at a time on individual stages. There's a no-pressure atmosphere here, and creative drinks are offered periodically; try the months-new Viagra, which goes down as smooth as a chilled lemonade.

The Candid Club
1053 E. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale; 408.246.3624

Hours: Daily 11am-2am
Crowd Age: Middle-aged middle management to young bucks
Music: Music to strip by
Decor: Dark yet homey bar
Signature Drink: Patron (best tequila ever)
Amenities: Women in bikinis, pool, TV

Giving punny meaning to the term "strip mall," the Candid Club anchors an oddball shopping center alongside Indian groceries. Inside, a small stage features women in smaller bikinis. If the entertainment's not your style, feel free to turn your back and view one of the sports-cemented TVs instead. Drinks are half off from 11am to 1pm weekdays; no cover charge.

Club 155
155 S. Murphy St, Sunnyvale; 408.720.1535

Hours: Thu-Sat 8:30pm-2am
Crowd Age: 18-28
Music: DJs, hip-hop and Top 40
Decor: Simple and clean
Signature Drink: No, $3 drink specials
Amenities: Pool tables, foosball, smoking patio

Remember throwing house parties when the parental units were out of town? Club 155 provides all of the fun of those taboo days without the mess of getting grounded. A diverse mix of party-goers 18 and over can get down on the large dance floor; those wishing for a mellow hangout can head upstairs. Smokers enjoy nicotine on the balcony overlooking Murphy Street. A no-sports-apparel dress code is enforced. Cover is $5 for 21+ and $10 for 20 and below.

Fibbar McGee's
156 Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale; 408.749.8373

Hours: Daily 11:30am-1:30am
Crowd Age: 20s-40s
Music: Live bands Fri-Sat
Decor: Dark wood; old country
Signature Drink: Guinness Imperial Pints
Amenities: Two old-fashioned darts, satellite football (i.e., soccer) matches, hearty food menu

It's an oxymoron often used in advertising, but casual elegance does come to mind at Fibbar McGee's. The surroundings and menu are more formal than at most area bars, but the atmosphere certainly isn't. Fibbar McGee's is an Irish bar in America, with all the conceptual morphing one might get reading Finnegans Wake while sunning in a California backyard.

The Forum
146 S. Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale; 408.739.5000; www.sfclubs.com

Hours: Doors open at 9:30pm; dress code
Crowd Age: 21+; some 18+ events; Sun 14-17
Music: Check website for DJ theme nights
Decor: Upscale dance club that caters to younger party set
Signature Drink: Red Bull and Vodka
Amenities: Dance-tastic

Spread over 15,000 square feet and three floors, the Forum began as a glamorous movie theater before being transformed into the equally glamorous Palace supper club. In 2001, the space was taken over by SF Clubs, a San Francisco-based promotions company. SF Clubs recreated the Forum as a European-style nightclub that offers beautiful people an upscale DJ dance environment. It is youth-friendly, with 18-and-overs allowed on Tuesdays and 18-and-unders on Sundays.

The Hiphugger
948 W. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale; 408.736.8585

Hours: Daily 11am-2pm
Crowd Age: 20s-40s
Music: Dancer's jukebox, loud and pumping
Decor: Elevated runways and shiny rods
Signature Drink: n/a
Amenities: Two Megatouch Maxx games, pinball, video games

Attractive women dance in very minimal bikinis to a nearly exclusively male crowd at the Hiphugger, where quiet conversations and solitary reflection are not the norm. Patrons tend to gather with their buddies, while a few inexplicably play electronic games of skill and chance.

Josline's Cafe
404 Town & Country Lane, Sunnyvale; 408.830.9231

Hours: Mon-Thu 7am-9pm, Fri-Sat 7am-10pm
Crowd Age: Everyone welcome
Music: Jazz on weekends
Decor: Eatery with homey touches
Signature Drink: BYOB (Alcohol license pending)
Amenities: Creole cuisine and jazz

What it lacks in flash, Josline's gains in homestyle touches. Chef Harold Welch, a Barbados native, serves Creole favorites tricked out with Caribbean touches. Jambalaya is the house specialty with a generous helping of shrimp, fish, sausage with an added curry kick. On weekends, Josline's hosts live jazz at 7pm.

Lion and Compass
1023 N. Fair Oaks Ave, Sunnyvale; 408.745.1260

Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-10pm, Sat-Sun 5pm-10pm
Crowd: 30s-60s
Music: Via the house sound system
Decor: Marble, tile, wood
Signature Drink: Brazilian Daiquiri
Amenities: Library with century-old books; stock ticker that's under repair at press time

The art of the deal seems alive and well at the Lion and Compass, which serves its share of business clientele. The restaurant and bar are easy to speed by when driving on North Fair Oaks but worthy of a stop for a sophisticated drinking experience.

Murphy's Law
135 S. Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale; 408.736.3822

Hours: Mon-Fri noon-2am, Sat-Sun 10am-2am (9:30am during football season), daily happy hour noon-7pm
Crowd Age: Mid-20s-50s
Music: Thu karaoke, Fri-Sat live bands, jukebox, pop, rock, reggae, blues, old and new
Decor: Various hanging inflated items, sports posters, Marilyn Monroe
Signature Drink: n/a
Amenities: Two electronic games of skill and chance, one dartboard

The length and openness of Murphy's Law give it the feel of a restaurant or microbrewery as much as a bar. The love of sport is apparent throughout, as is the vibe of what life might've been in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Come on in, exhale and enjoy.

Paul & Harvey's
130 S. Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale; 408.736.5770

Hours: Daily 9am-2am; happy hour noon-7pm
Crowd Age: 20s-60s
Music: Jukebox, pop, vocal, country, alternative, old and new
Decor: Neon, carpet and bumper sticker
Signature Drink: Hooter
Amenities: Three pool tables, two electric dartboards, video games, pinball, cigarette machine, pay-phone booth, ATM

There's a sense of the casual hang with a good-looking but low maintenance crowd at this Sunnyvale institution. "Just come as you are. It's a laid-back bar," says "Princess" Maria, one of the bartenders. She adds that Paul & Harvey's trademark drink is a Hooter, which contains "a little bit of this and a little bit of that."

The Quarter Note
1214 Apollo Way, Sunnyvale; 408.732.2110; www.quarternote.com

Hours: Daily 10:30am-2am
Crowd Age: 20s-30s
Music: Sun, Mon, Wed blues and rock jam; Tue live band and karaoke; Thu Synergy, a hip-hop and freestyle rap and jam session, other live music
Decor: Down-home bar
Signature Drink: Bloody Mary, Kamikaze, Long Island Iced Tea
Amenities: Shuffleboard, pool tables, darts, foosball, juke box, TVs

Notoriously tricky to find, the Quarter Note is worth the hassle. Tucked away in a nondescript location in Sunnyvale with plenty of parking, the comfortable bar and grill serves finger foods like taquitos, calamari, potstickers, hot spicy wings and beef ribs for lunch and dinner. A small stage hosts live music seven nights a week.

Rooster T. Feathers
157 W. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale; 408.736.0921

Hours: Wed-Thu 7:15-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 7:15pm-1am
Crowd Age: 21+
Music: No
Decor: Kitschy neighborhood comedy
Signature Drink: Martinis, Love Potion #9 and Sexy + 17
Amenities: Hilarity

After a long day of work, what's better than drowning one's sorrows with a night of standup comedy and one of Rooster T. Feather's signature martinis? The South Bay's longest-running comedy club hosts comedians featured on Comedy Central, HBO, Leno and Letterman. There is a $12 cover and a two-drink minimum.

Scruffy Murphy's
187 S. Murphy St, Sunnyvale; 408.735.7394

Hours: Daily 11am-2am
Crowd Age: Late 20s-50s
Music: Fri live rock, Sat DJs
Decor: Masculine Irish pub
Signature Drink: Guinness
Amenities: Pool table, video game, smoking patio

This casual no-frills Irish pub features a small dance floor for patrons to enjoy live bands on Friday and Saturday nights. On weekdays, sports fanatics can throw back a Guinness while scoping out the latest sports scores on television. Every Tuesday is trivia night, and Wednesday is Irish night.

Shooters Bar and Grill
769 N. Mathilda Ave, Sunnyvale; 408.738.2787

Hours: Daily 10am-2am
Crowd Age: Middle-aged
Music: Jukebox of rock and country
Decor: Neighborhood
Signature Drink: Shots
Amenities: Pool table, pinball, video games, smoking patio

Park your Harley, sit down at the bar and order a round of shots. Patrons can unwind with a game of pool, a favorite tune on the jukebox or a good smoke on the patio. Sports fans can root for their favorite sports team on the big-screen while betting rounds of beer on the game's outcome.

1160 N. Fair Oaks Ave, Sunnyvale; 408.745.7827

Hours: Parties Thu 7:15-11pm, Fri 7:15pm-midnight, Sat 8pm-midnight, Sun 7-11pm
Crowd Age: 21+
Music: DJs
Decor: High school prom nostalgia
Signature Drink: Bottled water, no alcohol served
Amenities: Dance lessons

Love is in the air, and the path to romance is just a box-step away. Starlite holds dance lessons throughout the week before opening up the three dance floors on the weekends. This comfortably wholesome club is a place that even grandparents can enjoy.

111 S. Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale; 408.733.7824

Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 3-10pm
Crowd Age: 20s-50s
Music: Reggae Sun 3-7pm
Decor: Modern conservative
Signature Drink: Stoddard's personal beers brewed on site
Amenities: Outdoor dining

Casual and spacious, unassuming and clean, Stoddard's brews a variety of its own award-winning beers. A great place for friendly get-togethers, Stoddard's has a cafe feel but with stronger drinks. Sundays host live reggae music. Happy hour is every day from 4 to 7pm.

Tarragon Restaurant & Bar
40 S. Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale; 408.737.8003

Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-10:30pm, Sat-Sun 5-11pm
Crowd Age: 20s-50s
Music: Live bands, Greek music Fri; Flamenco Sat
Decor: Warm and modern European
Signature Drink: Martinis, Citron My Face, Sexual Trance and Cheesecake
Amenities: No

Tarragon exemplifies Mediterranean hospitality with a martini menu 50 drinks long. Live music on Fridays and Saturdays intensifies the European illusion while patrons wine and dine in simple elegance. Tarragon is the ideal place for an intimate romantic dinner or girl's night out. Martinis are $3 on Wednesdays.

141 S. Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale; 408.617.9100

Hours: Lunch Mon-Sat 11:30am-2pm, dinner Mon-Sat 5:30-10pm. Wine bar and cocktail lounge is open during normal lunch hours, Mon-Thu 5pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-midnight
Crowd Age: 20s-50s
Music: In-house soft jazz
Decor: Indian
Signature Drink: Kheera Martini (cucumber) and Aam Martini (mango)
Amenities: No

Exotic martinis and an extensive wine bar paired with world-class Indian cuisine--a perfect trifecta. Brian Joseph, co-proprietor and general manager, proves he knows how to tantalize the palate by hiring executive chef Arvind Bhargava, a favorite of President Clinton's.

Metro Bars & Clubs 2003 Features

Five Terrifying Minutes of Fame: Friends don't let friends sing, "Dude Looks Like a Lady" ... and other karaoke tips.

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

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

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

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