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736 W. Dana St, Mtn. View 650.968.3007
Hours: Mon-Sat 7pm-2am; Sun 6pm-midnight
Crowd Age: 21-40
Music: Live salsa on Fridays
Décor: Swanky bar meets spacious dance studio
Signature Drink: Corona
Ambience: Alberto's is a great place to come to learn to dance, or to polish steps. It's also a terrific place to watch great dancing. Salsa lessons are available every evening except Wednesdays, when lindy/swing lessons take the floor, and Saturdays, when "Rock'n Spanish" is in effect. Basic and intermediate lessons each run for an hour and range from $5 to $10 depending on the night. Would-be dancers might consider Friday as a fine night to show off the latest steps, as it's the only night when there's live music. The rest of the week DJs put out the sound. There's a lot of room for dancing, but also a long bar and some table and booth seating. Wallflowers, don't be scared--Alberto's is also a fine place to sit and have drinks.
301 Castro St, Mtn. View 650.428.1275
Hours: Mon-Thu until 11pm; Fri-Sat until midnight
Crowd Age: All ages
Music: Live jazz, Brazilian and the occasional clarinet-bassoon duet
Décor: The well-appointed bookstore and cafe
Signature Drink: Cafe Borgia
Games/Amenities: Lots of books and magazines to peruse
Ambience: For bookish sorts longing for a bit of culture, the upstairs cafe sports all the coffeehouse accoutrements (the chalkboard menus, the pierced, dressed-in-black staff) and overlooks the bookstore itself. Patrons are free to bring up some reading selected from PI's great book and magazine selection, or flip through a few of the Trivial Pursuit cards left on every table. Tuesdays are said to be a blast. That's when the Brazilian band comes in with plenty of extra instruments for audience participation. Coffee + books + live music = hopped-up brain-teasing fun for the whole family! No alcohol here.
California Billiards Club
881 E. El Camino Real, Mtn. View 650.965.3100
Hours: Daily 11am-2am
Crowd Age: 18 and up
Décor: Newly renovated pool hall
Signature Drink: Beer, wine, soft drinks
Games/Amenities: 34 tables, pinball and shoot-'em-up arcade games, foosball
Ambience: California Billiards Club is a serious place for pool. The day I visited a tournament was underway offering a first prize of $210. There is a gigantic eight-ball emblazoned in the middle of the carpet. Adorning the walls are spray-painted murals of pool balls and hands in various positions holding cues. And the cool lighting ices the cake and gives things a serious edge. Pool costs $10 per hour for two, and the hungry can order a full range of tavern-type food at low prices (basket of fries goes for $1.75, $4 pizza) but this may not be the place to get dinner on a regular basis. Beers range from $3 to $4.
The Lime Light
228 Castro St, Mtn. View 650.903.4833
Hours: Tue 9:30 pm-2am, Thu-Sat 9pm-2am, Sun 8:30pm-midnight
Crowd Age: 20s
Signature Drink: Liquid Cocaine (shot of Jagermeister, Goldshlager and 151)
Games/Amenities: Unparalleled people-watching
Ambience: This is the pleasure palace of Mtn. View and offers an eyeful of bumping, grinding and bouncing booty. The two dance floors give clubbers a choice of music--depending on the day, the main floor DJ spins Trance, Top 40 and club hits; go upstairs for hip-hop. The predominantly Asian crowd is flush with attractive women wearing stiletto heels (tough for dancing, good for looking!) and dapper, if a little sweaty, guys. The Lime Light is huge, with three levels, and easily accommodates up to 400 or 500 people. It's a refreshing departure from straight-ahead peninsula bars.
241 Castro St, Mtn. View 650.961.0108
Hours: Daily 5pm-2am
Crowd Age: 28-40
Décor: Irish pub
Signature Drink: Red Bull and Vodka
Dancing: Better believe it
Games/Amenities: Pool tables, air hockey and video golf
Ambience: With a good sound system in place, Molly Magee's definitely gets points for energy. The bass reverberates like a piece of low-frequency heaven. The place gets crowded, mostly with people in the meat-market mentality. Drink a beer, soak up some bass and make eye contact with all the beautiful honeys there to meet a millionaire while there's still time.
251 Castro St, Mtn. View 650.961.7744
Hours: Sun-Wed 5pm-midnight, Thu-Sat 5pm-2am
Crowd Age: 21 and up
Music: Saturday DJ
Décor: Chi-chi pool hall
Signature Drink: Kamikaze
Games/Amenities: 10 tables, full bar
Ambience: The sign out front advertises that Pockets is the "smallest dance club ever," a strange boast indeed for a pool hall. However, the owners have struck a unique balance between billiards and bar scene. The interior is a far cry from the average pool room where the budget cuts are always made on ambience. Instead it makes pool players feel they're in some chic private club. The wait for a table on a Friday night can be up to an hour. Don't miss the upstairs dance floor where DJ Purple spins on Saturday nights. Eat beforehand, however, as Pockets offers no food. Games cost $10 per hour, $12.50 on weekend nights.
1400 N. Shoreline Blvd, Mtn. View 650.964.0780
Hours: Daily 11:30am-2:30am
Crowd Age: 18 and up
Décor: Bowling alley minus the lanes
Signature Drink: Coors light
Dancing: Only following slick bank shots
Games/Amenities: 27 tables, three arcade games
Ambience: This ol' faithful pool hall has lots of tables and is right around the corner from the Century 16 cineplex, making it the perfect place to kill a few hours while waiting to get into the latest blockbuster. No surprise on the clientele--mostly male, but mellow, with various ages and ethnic backgrounds. Teenagers wearing Pantera T-shirts shoot peacefully next to sharks wearing docksiders with no socks who carry their pool cues in protective cases. Beers are available at the front desk.
The Sports Page
1431 Plymouth St, Mtn. View 650.961.1992
Hours: Daily 10am-2am
Crowd Age: 21-50
Music: Live music, Karaoke twice a week
Décor: MTV Spring Break meets the barbecue pit
Signature Drink: Bocce Ball (vodka, amaretto, pineapple and orange juice)
Games/Amenities: Beach volleyball (June and July), pool, darts, pinball, coin-op basketball.
Ambience: A couple of pickled Thursday night regulars tell me that the Sports Page is the "best hidden bar in the Valley," and that it's a great place to come on a Sunday afternoon or before a Shoreline show (the Amphitheatre is close by, as is Century 16). Nice on warm days--there is a sand volleyball court in back, plus lots of picnic table outdoor seating. Among the recommended nights is Friday night happy hour, when Silicon Valleyites leave their cubicle warrens and hop over for a drink. Don't miss the barroom bonus: a photo booth complete with thick, billowy curtain for documenting late-night mischief that is best forgotten.
954 Villa St, Mtn. View 650.965.2739
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am-midnight, Sun 11:30am-10:30pm
Crowd Age: 21-45
Music: Saturday evening jazz
Signature Drink: Cascade Amber (brewed in-house)
Games/Amenities: Plenty of Tied House souvenir T-shirts
Ambience: It's all about the beer at the Tied House, which brews its own. Bartender Donovan reports that up to 250 people can pack in to slurp up fresh ales and lagers on the weekend. And the place can handle it: it's got high ceilings and fans for expelling that beery taproom stench into the night air. Curious and oblivious patrons alike are afforded a view through glass of the gigantic beer vats from whence TH's nectar comes (and of their 16 flavors, 8 are on tap at any one time). The beer is tasty, and cannot be found in stores. During summer months check out the patio/beer garden in back.
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Knight Dreams: Black Watch--where swords cross and Stoli freezes over.
United Nations: Lido's Nightclub, where world beat has a whole new meaning.
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Rod's Roadstop: Britannia Arms at Almaden wears it well.
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From the June 21-27, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.
Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. MetroActive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.
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