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Melissa Baeza, Tony Duque, Silvia Shannon
Twice as Nice: Melissa Baeza and Silvia Shannon each plant one on their pal Tony Duque while drinking up at Fuel.

Fuel in Love

A place to fill your tanks and then some

By Dara Colwell

44 Almaden Ave., SJ 408.295.7374

AS A San Franciscan relocating to San Jose, I'll admit, I prepared myself to relinquish a thriving bar scene peppered with funky-assed dives and a diverse crowd of freaks.

Then the word "Fuel," started coming up. I kept hearing it, whispered at first, and then audibly circling through the staff room. "Great place" was the consensus. Although I wasn't sure what exactly "great" translated into down here, I was definitely game.

I'm happy to say, Fuel is, without a doubt, superb. I walked in and immediately thought, "Yep, this is it!" An open-air European-style cafe by day, with sliding windows facing a calm stretch of Almaden Avenue, the bar transforms into a deco jazz club/sumptuous cabaret as the evening unfolds. Housed in a former auto showroom, the bar emanates a certain continental je ne sais quoi which delightfully suffuses everything from its beer to its attitude.

With a wide-ranging mix of music--from mellow lounge and spicy salsa to energetic swing--that rotates from night to night, Fuel appeals to an eclectic clientele. Whether the drink is a sugary SPA (Sweet Piece of Ass) or a bitter Guinness poured to English standards, there's enough choice here to suit a variety of tastes. Think of Fuel as like hanging out at a cool friend's house--you trust his taste, you dig his music and you're into his roommates. Plus, he's got a stocked bar.

The colorful mural map on the ceiling speaks volumes about the bar's attitude. It's a map of the world. And as any good tourist knows when he traipses across the globe, it may be wise to look presentable, but having an open mind is what the adventure is all about. Fuel is a welcome stop off the beaten path carved by homogenous bars. A definite thumbs up.

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From the June 22-28, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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