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[whitespace] Bars, Clubs and Coffeehouses 2000

SJ Outskirts

AJ's Bar & Grill
393 Lincoln Ave, SJ 408.292.3445

Hours: Mon-Sat, 8am-1am
Crowd Age: Young-at-heart
Music: DJs
Decor: Flesh, flesh and nearly naked flesh
Signature Drink:
Purple Hooter
Dancing:
Only by the swivel-hipped pros
Games/Amenities:
Pool, pinball, darts and G-strings
Ambience: Sweat, testosterone and a slight whiff of failed romance permeate this workingman's bar, where scantily clad dancers shake a thin line between dreams and reality. Not for the white-wine-spritzer matrons.


Alberto's
956 Park Ave, SJ 408.288.5928

Hours: Daily, 9am-10pm
Crowd Age: The gamut
Music: Jukebox
Decor: South of the border
Signature Drink: Margarita
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: TV
Ambience: Killer sopes and industrial-strength margaritas keep families, downtowners and gay men side by side like a Tequila Sunrise. Smooth and low-key, the tiny bar is a chimney glass of various flavors--all real.


Alex's 49er Inn
2214 Business Circle, SJ 408.279.9737

Hours: Daily, 6am-2am
Crowd Age: Late 20s-50
Music: Jukebox, old and new
Decor:
Neighborhood
Signature Drink:
Double shots, single price
Dancing:
No
Games/Amenities
: Karaoke, dartboard, pool table, video games
Ambience: More construction workers than Netscape nerds, Alex's is a bastion of Redwings, not Topsiders. Leave the Mudslides and Fuzzy Navels to your fancy bars; this is the kind of place to throw back a boilermaker and pray that one of the dancers from the nearby Pink Poodle will sashay through the door.


Almaden Feed & Fuel
18950 Almaden Rd, SJ 408.268-8950

Hours: Sun-Thu 10am-11pm, Fri-Sat 10am-2am
Crowd Age: 30s to 40s
Music: Live; country, rock & roll, blues rotate each week
Decor:
Wyatt Earp meets Bob Seger
Signature Drink:
The "KGB"
Dancing:
Yes
Games/Amenities: Karaoke, dartboard, pinball machines, video games
Ambience: Just like Marshal Dillon's saloon, but Miss Kitty rides a Fatboy and is the one wearing the chaps. Little bit country, little bit biker, real down home. Warm the belly with a brew and, if you're hungry, a handful of ribs and links. Good-time, rip-it-up dance place.


American Pizza & Sports Bar
1070 Leigh Ave, SJ 408.292.1662

Hours: Sun-Wed 11am-10pm, Thu-Sat 10am-1:30am
Crowd Age: Grown-ups in the bar, kids in the kiddie arcade
Music: Old-school jukebox
Decor:
Niners rule! No, Raiders rule!
Signature Drink:
Brewskies, bro'
Dancing:
No
Games/Amenities:
Game room with video, pinball, pool tables, keno
Ambience: Sports and hops, hops and sports and now 'n' then a little pizza. With TVs everywhere, including a honkin' big-screen, count on getting a jersey fix with that reasonably priced draft.


Angelo's Arena Cafe & Grill & Sports Bar
11 Race St, SJ 408.295.7765

Hours: Daily, 7am-2am
Crowd Age: Mid-life crisis
Music: Jukebox
Decor:
Hall of Fame photos of movie stars and sports figures
Signature Drink:
Ouzo
Dancing:
Occasionally, when there's live music
Games/Amenities:
Karaoke
Ambience: Although it's been here since long before the Sharks were a spark in some sports promoter's eye, Angelo's is now teal-central. Swim in and dig the great Greek and Italian menu or suck up a few after the game.


Aqui Cal-Mex Grill
1145 Lincoln Ave, SJ 408.995-0381

Hours: Sun-Thu 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-9:30pm
Crowd Age: Terminally young
Music: No
Decor:
Montezuma with a side of Silicon Valley
Signature Drink:
Blue agave tequila
Dancing:
No
Games/Amenities: Restaurant, TV
Ambience: Right there in the upper ventricle of Willow Glen's heart, this upscale taqueria's bar brings in a young crowd that knows its tequila from its Tanqueray. Good thing, too, because Aqui has a fine selection of cactus juice to lubricate social intercourse. And when it's time to sop up the excess liquid? Grab a plate of nachos from the restaurant.


Bay 101, Sutter's Sports Bar
1801 Bering Dr, SJ 408.451.8888

Hours: 6am-2:30am
Crowd Age: Mature
Music: No
Decor:
Football, baseball, soccer--you name it
Signature Drink:
Beer
Dancing:
No
Games/Amenities:
Big-screen TVs, bigger food menu
Ambience: The real action's outside the door with the croupiers and card sharks. But when the casino shakes 'em dry, this is the place to head for libations. A guarantee--most of the customers are either very, very happy (Yippie, I won!!) or very, very unhappy.


Branham Lounge
1116 Branham Lane, SJ 408.265.5525

Hours: Daily, 9am-2am
Crowd Age: Indeterminate
Music: Jukebox
Decor: Mystifying
Signature Drink: Shaken, not stirred
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Darts
Ambience: Just like its name promises--a lounge, replete with Sinatra, firelight and the requisite lizards and lizardettes. Privacy trumps socializing here, so think of this as a destination bar for the drinking doubles-living single kinda life.


Britannia Arms-Almaden
5027 Almaden Expwy, SJ 408.266.0550

Hours: Daily, 11am-2am
Crowd Age: 23 and up
Music: Live bands Thu-Sat
Decor: Casual British
Signature Drink: Guinness, Newcastle and Bass
Dancing: During bands
Games/Amenities: Darts, foosball, trivia, karaoke
Ambience: This friendly sports bar draws a diverse crowd of regulars, Brits and newcomers who come to enjoy the many amenities it has to offer. Traditional British fare such as kidney pie and Britannia Arms' famous fish and chips are enjoyed with British brews, darts tournaments, live UK soccer and NHL games as well as live bands and karaoke on Sundays.


Cafe Cameroon
1102 Saratoga Ave, SJ 408.615.7530

Hours: Wed-Thu noon-10pm, Fri-Sat noon-2am, Sun noon-11pm
Crowd Age: Young 20s
Music: Afro-Caribbean via DJ
Decor:
Tropical
Signature Drink
: Tusker (an African beer)
Dancing: Yes
Games/Amenities:
No
Ambience: Hot as the tropical sun and even more sensual, Cafe Cameroon serves up south-of-the-Equator sounds and eats to those who wish to experience Africa without the expensive airfare. Plan to boogie till you drop on Saturday nights to Afro-Caribbean tunes.


The Cardinal Lounge
3197 Meridian Ave, SJ 408.269.7891

Hours: 11am-1:30am
Crowd Age:
You're not getting older--you're getting better
Music: Adult contemporary, disco
Decor:
Jim Thompson noir
Signature Drink:
Martini
Dancing:
Yes
Games/Amenities:
Karaoke
Ambience: Older boppers and longtimers find a home here in a dark interior that's easy on the nerves. Take a load off and hang out with the regular Joes and Josephines before the Cardinal's '50s feel puts it in mortal jeopardy of being "discovered."


Club Max
Doubletree Hotel, 2050 Gateway Place, SJ 408.453.4000

Hours: Mon-Sat, 4pm-2am
Crowd Age: Mid-30s on up
Music: Live dance music Thu-Sat, DJ Tue-Wed
Decor:
Intimate
Signature Drink:
Sex on the Beach
Dancing:
Tue-Sat
Games/Amenities:
No
Ambience: Still known for its signature happy-hour buffet, Club Max keeps 'em hopping each night to danceable tunes. For the commitment-phobic, this is a great place to meet and greet out-of-towners, never to be bothered with them again.


Club Rio
610 Coleman Ave, SJ 408.920.0145

Hours: Wed-Sat, 9pm-2am
Crowd Age: Variety
Music: Spanish rock, live bands
Decor: Mirrors and disco balls
Signature Drink: None
Dancing: Yes
Games/Amenities: None
Ambience: Next door to Club Rodeo on Coleman Avenue just north of downtown San Jose's club scene is Club Rio, a dance spot that plays mostly Spanish rock and musica tropical. Occasionally featuring national Mexican bands, the spacious Club Rio draws a mostly Hispanic crowd that dances the night away under stringed lights and disco balls.


The Drying Shed
402 Toyon Ave, SJ 408.272.1512

Hours: Daily 4-10pm plus lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm and Sunday brunch 10am-2pm
Crowd Age: 30 plus
Music: Fri-Sat DJ
Decor: Rustic
SIgnature Drink: Gold margarita (made by Denise)
Dancing: Fri-Sat
Games/Amenities: Head games
Ambience: One of San Jose's veteran establishments where neighboring locals find solace from the wicked world. Old-school furnishings plus walls of farm tools and country living still work to great effect here. The bar remains a friendly place to enjoy generous cocktails made by barkeeps with loving dispositions.


Eight Forty North First
840 N. First St, SJ 408.282.0840

Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-10pm, Sat 5-10pm
Crowd Age: 20-40
Music: In-house CDs: jazz/big band swing
Decor: Elegant
Signature Drink: Caren's Lemon Drop
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Televisions for sports and stocks
Ambience: Eight Forty North First is still the place where local politicians and bureaucrats quaff premium wines (mostly chardonnay), take sustenance (usually at lunch) and get the place buzzing with late-breaking scuttlebutt. Elegant features and comfortable seating provide optimum opportunity for relaxation and people-watching. Muted lighting enhances elegant effects.


The Espresso Garden
814 S. Bascom Ave, SJ 408.298.0808

Hours: Mon-Wed 6:30am-9pm, Thu-Sat 6:30am-11pm
Crowd Age: 30s and up, sometimes with the kids
Music: Acoustic stage five nights a week
Decor: Coffeehouse
Signature Drink: Vigal coffee
Dancing: None
Games/Amenities: Board games are available: Scrabble, Monopoly, checkers, chess
Ambiance: Tucked in a small mini-mall across the street from Valley Medical Center; it's easy to drive by this little cafe on the edge of Campbell, but it's worth stopping in. This is a real coffeehouse, and five nights a week it's also a hot spot for acoustic blues, folk and jazz, among other things. Not only is it the antidote to Starbucks, you also might catch owner Judy Hackett rehearsing old jazz standards on a slow Tuesday night.


Fifth Quarter
1373 Kooser Rd, SJ 408.265.7033

Hours: 11am-2am
Crowd Age: 25 plus
Music: New and classic rock Fri-Sat
Decor: Casual
Signature Drink: Purple Hooter
Games/Amenities: Video games, pool, darts, big-screen TV
Ambience: Lovers of athletic endeavors pour like gin into this place. Raucous chitchat grows to a deafening roar in the evening. Football is usually the main topic of discussion in and around the bar, but baseball is starting to creep into the dialogue. Rock & roll takes over on the weekends, when dancing becomes the main sport of choice.


The Foxtail
551 W. Julian St, SJ 408.286.4388

Hours: Wed-Sun, 5pm-2am
Crowd Age: 21 to mid-40s
Music: DJ Wed and Fri-Sun
Decor: Upscale casual
Signature Drink: Long Island Iced Tea
Dancing: After 9:30pm
Games/Amenities: Video games
Ambience: Foxtail remains San Jose's premier gay dance club. Casual atmosphere stripped of pretensions makes this place warm and inviting. A well-stocked full bar with plenty of premium beers, some by the pitcher, continues to please discriminating imbibers. Those needing a break from the lively antics can relax among the flora in the patio or backyard.


4th Street Bowl
1441 N. Fourth St, SJ

Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-2am, Sat-Sun 6:15pm-2am
Crowd Age: Late 20s to early 30s
Music: Mon-Sat, karaoke; Thu-Sat, DJ till 2am
Decor: Well worn
Signature Drink: Anything with alcohol
Dancing: Thu-Sat
Games/Amenities: Video games, billiards, bowling
Ambience: 4th Street breaks the mold of typical bowling alley lounges, offering a worn but inviting appearance that comes alive in the shadows of the night. Wrought iron and red velvet take on goofy personalities amid the background of this never-boring watering hole. Seasoned drinkers hold court on a regular basis, adding color like strokes of neon paint.


Garden City
360 Saratoga Ave, SJ 408.244.4443

Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm,
Sun 5-10pm
Crowd Age: 30-50
Music: Live jazz piano or guitar
Decor: Vegas elegant
Signature Drink: Martini
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Card room
Ambience: Step inside the Garden City and step into another time, another place one might call Las Vegas. The trappings of high-stakes gambling hum in the background of the restaurant like a nuclear reactor. Premium red meats and old-school continental cuisine is served at high-backed booths under tall alpine ceilings. At the bar, martinis are shaken and stirred to the war stories of the card room.


Giuseppe of Willow Glen
1072 Lincoln Ave, SJ 408.292.4866

Hours: Tue-Fri 11:30am-2pm, Tue-Thu and Sun 5-9pm,
Fri-Sat 5-10pm
Crowd Age: 30s
Music: Karaoke Fri and Sat
Decor: Elegant; patio seating
Signature Drink: Martini or premium Italian and California wines
Dancing: Fri-Sat
Games/Amenities: Televisions for sports/video games
Ambience: One could not ask for a friendlier place to twirl into a plate of pasta. Elegant furnishings allow for romantic interludes in both bar and restaurant. A feeling of big-city Rome and its worldly trappings comes to the senses on silver slippers. Owner Guiseppe Salsiccia remains the perennial charmer, greeting guests with open arms.


The Glen
1180 Lincoln Ave, SJ 408.288.9422

Hours: Mon-Sat, 4pm-midnight
Crowd Age: 25 plus
Music: No
Decor: Elegant billiards scene
Signature Drink: Cosmos/premium beer
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Billiards, fine dining, big-screen TV
Ambience: The Glen is an all-in-one billiard hall where you can dine on good food or simple snacks, buy cigars, sip espresso or just watch. There is an upscale look to this place, but it's actually very casual and comfortable. The bartenders know the latest drinks and will mix them up without hesitation.


Hard Work Cafe
1620 Almaden Rd, SJ 408.289.9675

Hours: Daily, 6pm-2am
Crowd Age: 30-40
Music: Latin/Tex-Mex, Fri-Sat
Decor: Blue-collar basic
Signature Drink: Beer
Dancing: When there's music
Games/Amenities: Pool, video, jukebox
Ambience: The Hard Work is the everyman's getaway, where friends can meet without worry or stress, where the spirit of community prevails. Once you enter the place you become part of the family, like it or not. Latin bands on weekends belt out tunes that dislodge the most sedentary. And you don't have to know the steps to have fun on the dance floor here. Bad attitudes take a hike.


Harry's Hofbrau
390 Saratoga Ave, SJ 408.243.0434

Hours: Daily, 11am-11pm
Crowd Age: 20-50
Music: Background
Decor: Hofbrau casual
Signature Drink: German and premium beers on tap
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Televisions for sports
Ambience: Harry's is the definitive populist meadhall where adults of all ages come to quaff mugs of frothing lager while digging through wholesome steam-table comestibles. The aromas of roasted meats and sauerkraut waft like silk veils along the long row of bar stools. It's a rollicking, good-natured establishment with enough German bric-a-brac and patron chatter to keep the sensibilities on red alert.


Jack's
167 E. Taylor St, SJ 408.293.8995

Hours: Daily, 6am-2am
Crowd Age: 20s-40s
Music: Jukebox
Decor: Elegant
Signature Drink: None
Dancing: Sometimes
Games/Amenities: Various TVs, darts
Ambience: There are many TVs at Jack's; most are showing sports (all satellite games are on) but some are showing other options like sci-fi movies for people who aren't in the mood for a game. The crowd here is mellow and composed of many regulars who gather for a good time; when they are feeling wild, they've been known to let loose and boogie to the jukebox music.


Kubota Restaurant
593 N. Fifth St, SJ 408.279.8440

Hours: Nightly 5:30-10pm plus lunch Mon-Sat 11:30am-2pm
Crowd Age: All ages
Music: Light jazz
Decor: Modern with touches of traditional Japanese art
Signature Drink: Sake
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Full bar and sushi bar
Ambience: A popular restaurant with a sushi bar for at-your-whim California rolls, Kubota also has another bar, stocked with a fine selection of top-shelf sake and Japanese beers. Kubota is divided into four dining sections and offers good, affordable Japanese food and yummy desserts like Bananas Foster, tiramisu and green tea ice cream.


Latin Village
1897 Alum Rock Ave, SJ 408.259.7712

Hours: Thu, Sun and Mon noon-10pm, Fri-Sat noon-2am
Crowd Age: 21 and up
Music:
Mexican
Decor:
Casual
Signature Drink:
Cerveza
Dancing:
Si
Games/Amenities: Pool table
Ambience: Come feel the Tejano vibe at the Latin Village in east San Jose. Dance to cumbias, rancheras and mambos played by the band of caballeros while you sip beer or tequila. Parking is free but limited, so arrive early. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.


Lou's Village and Shark's Cove Bar
1465 W. San Carlos St, SJ 408.293.4570

Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-10pm, Fri 11:30am-11pm,
Sat 4:30-11pm, Sun 4:30-9pm
Crowd Age: All ages; 21 and up in bar
Music: Overhead music
Decor: Nautical in restaurant; SJ Sharks teal and memorabilia in bar
Signature Drink: Johnny B. Goode--cousin to the Kamikaze
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Big-screen TVs, banquet facilities, shuttle to San Jose Arena
Ambience: The full Lou's Village East Coast seafood menu is available at the adjoining Sharks Cove sports bar, including Cajun popcorn and lobster. Since 1946, Lou's has offered free bar appetizers weekdays from 5 to 7pm. The Sharks Cove features authentic sports memorabilia from Pelé to Steve Young, the Sharks to the 49ers, and a huge collection of longboards and Sharks signatures on the walls.


Patty's Inn
102 S. Montgomery St, SJ 408.998.4566

Hours: Daily, 9am-2am
Crowd Age: 21 and up
Music: Jukebox
Decor: Typical sports bar
Signature Drink:
Beer
Dancing:
No
Games/Amenities:
Pool table, game room, karaoke
Ambience: A neighborhood bar that has enjoyed the traffic generated by the opening of the nearby San Jose Arena, Patty's Inn is the place to get drinks before a concert or Sharks game. A 1930s-era watering hole that serves up pizza and sandwiches, Patty's features affordable prices, generous pours and karaoke on Fridays.


Pauly's Rainbow Lounge
501 W. Taylor St, SJ no phone

Hours: Daily
Crowd Age:
21 and up
Music: Variety of pop, rock, dance, soul, country, Latin and disco
Decor: Modern, designed by local artist Randall Robertson
Signature Drink: Draft beers, scotches and liqueurs
Dancing: Yes
Games/Amenities: Jukebox, pool table, darts, huge satellite TV
Ambience: Patrons of this new gay bar in San Jose are greeted by a rainbow flag at the entrance and plenty of interesting artwork. Located at the corner of Taylor Street and Coleman Avenue, this fun and friendly bar with upbeat, two-tone aqua and blue walls is a popular place that welcomes regulars and newcomers alike.


Pink Poodle
328 S Bascom Ave, SJ 408.292.3685

Hours: Sun-Thu 11:30am-midnight, Fri-Sat 11:30am-2am
Crowd Age: 18 and up
Music: Hip-gyrating music
Decor: Does it matter?
Signature Drink:
Soda (no alcohol served)
Dancing:
Only by the totally naked
Games/Amenities:
TOTALLY nude women
Ambience: San Jose's only all-nude strip bar, established in 1963, gets the party started early--at 11:30am--for those anxious to see the Poodlettes take it off. Next to Babyland at the corner of San Carlos Street on one side and an adult bookstore on the other, the Pink Poodle offers table dances and regularly features porn stars.


The Place
1058 S. First St, SJ 408.297.3473

Hours: Daily, 10am-2am
Crowd Age: 25-35
Music:
DJ plays a variety
Decor:
Casual
Signature Drink:
Beer
Dancing:
Yes
Games/Amenities:
Pool table, pinball, darts, Megatouch
Ambience: This small neighborhood bar has a friendly atmosphere and a DJ spinning tunes for those who feel like dancing. Wedged between a fix-it shop and a tire store downtown, The Place has entrances on both First and Second streets. Regulars and newcomers gather to drink Corona and play Megatouch or pinball.


Plaza Inn
1182 Lincoln Ave, SJ 408.292.0132

Hours: Daily, 1:45pm-12:30am
Crowd Age:
21 and up
Music:
Jukebox, Spanish-language music
Decor:
Mexican
Signature Drink:
Tequilas and margaritas
Dancing:
No
Games/Amenities:
Pool tables, games
Ambience: Located in Willow Glen behind an office building, the Plaza Inn has a friendly atmosphere, authentic Mexican food and drink and killer salsa. Choose from a fine selection of tequilas or try a tangy margarita while waiting for your food and listening to the sounds of laughter and Latin music.


Red Stag Lounge
1711 W. San Carlos St, SJ 408.292.6777

Hours: 6am-2am daily
Crowd Age: Middle
Music: Jukebox
Decor: Neighborhood divey
Signature Drink: No
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Lotto, pool, TVs, a video game
Ambience: Pool, lotto and cheap but potent drinks are the order of day at this straightforward neighborhood bar. The Red Stag's half-timbered pub look has pretty much been usurped by tropical Corona ads and Budweiser bikini babes these days, but one way or the other, that doesn't seem to faze the crowd of relaxed regulars who come here to shoot pool, try their luck at lots of different lotto-oriented games, or crank up a tune on the jukebox.


The Saddle Rack
1310 Auzerais Ave, SJ 408.286.3393

Hours: Wed-Fri 6:30pm-2am, Sat 7pm-2am
Crowd Age: All ages
Music: Country, both DJ and live music
Decor: Very, very Western
Signature Drink: No
Dancing: Dance lessons Wed-Fri, 7:30-9pm
Games/Amenities: Mechanical bull, barber chair for doing shots, vocal contest, pool tables
Ambience: The place may be huge, but the Saddle Rack has ample personality, with wagon wheels and rustic woodwork and friendly servers aplenty. The cavernous country & western club houses three dance floors, seven bars, a gift shop, the aforementioned mechanical bull, and all the cowboys and cowgirls you can round up in Silicon Valley--even judging from the weekday night crowd, that's a lot.


Sam's Log Cabin
245 Willow St, SJ, 408.298.3066

Hours: Mon-Wed 11am to "whatever," Thu 11am-11pm,
Fri-Sat 11am-midnight
Crowd Age: Late 30s to middle-aged
Music: Monthly big-band swing concerts, other live music every Friday night, jukebox
Decor: Very homey, half vintage living room, half sports bar
Signature Drink: None
Dancing: Every Friday, goes with the live band
Games/Amenities: Lots of TVs, books lying around
Ambience: When it comes to well-established drinking establishments, Sam's Log Cabin is an oldie but goodie. Founded in 1933 (the year Prohibition was revoked, as a menu declares), Sam's holds one of the first liquor licenses ever issued in California. The place is appealingly cluttered with ephemera, everything from stained-glass lamps to a football signed by Steve Young to a "cactus" made of twisted grape vines and adorned with Christmas lights.


Sangria Restaurant
721 Willow St, SJ, 408.287.9777

Hours: Sun-Thu 10am-9pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm
Crowd Age: All ages
Music: No
Decor: Bright colors, ethnic masks and wall hangings
Signature Drink: Sangria
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Cool saddle stools!
Ambience: Sangria's decorator had a healthy sense of whimsy--and perhaps a slightly malicious sense of humor: the lights hanging in the foyer prove that sombreros make mighty fine lampshades, but the stools at the bar, outfitted like saddles, are definitely suited to the most agile of tipplers--oh, and don't even think about trying to sit sidesaddle. But the unconventional furniture is part of what makes this brightly painted, friendly restaurant so appealing.


Seven Bamboo
162 Jackson St, SJ, 408.279.9937

Hours: Open Tue-Sun 3pm-2am; closed Monday
Crowd Age: Mostly college, but some older business people too
Music: Karaoke!
Decor: Neighborhood divey (neon beer signs, wood paneling, cheesy cocktail napkins)
Signature Drink: No
Dancing: Not officially
Games/Amenities: Karaoke!
Ambience: From a Japanese love song to a decidedly screechy version of the Oakridge Boys' "Elvira," the walls of venerable Japantown karaoke spot Seven Bamboo have heard--and withstood--it all. Friday nights bring in the most rambunctious and diverse crowd; the onstage antics can range from stone-cold-serious torch singers to a woman waving around a sex toy like a microphone, but where else could you find such folks so blissfully coexisting?


Sharky's of Willow Glen
1151 Lincoln Ave, SJ, 408.279.0996

Hours: Daily, 10am-midnight
Crowd Age: 30s to middle-aged
Music: Jukebox
Decor: Lots and lots of sports memorabilia
Signature Drink: None
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Electronic darts, TVs
Ambience: Sharky's has real sports bar chops, right down to the bikini girls 'n' motorcycles calendar hanging behind the bar and the sports memorabilia hanging everywhere. Sure, there's a good whiff of testosterone in the air here, but females don't seem to steer clear. After all, as its name and mostly teal decor imply, the cause that Sharky's champions transcends gender, age and everything else: rooting for the Sharks.


South Side Cafe
7028 Santa Teresa Blvd, San Jose 408.226.5424

Hours: Daily, 10am-2am
Crowd Age: Varies
Music: Live country, rock and blues Fri-Sat; karaoke Tue and Thu
Decor:
Basic neighborhood cocktail lounge
Signature Drink:
No
Dancing:
Yes--small dance floor
Games/Amenities: Dartboards, pool table, touch-screen games
Ambience: This local hangout might seem a bit intimidating when you first step inside the door. But don't worry. Its natives may be restless, but they're unlikely to bite. The fairly rustic decor includes spacious booth seating, four dartboards and a pool table. Tuesday and Thursday nights draw in a dedicated karaoke crowd that tries its hand at everything from Garth Brooks to Aerosmith.


T's Cabaret
1984 Oakland Rd, San Jose 408.435.3066

Hours: Mon-Sat, 11:30am-2am
Crowd Age: 21-45
Music: R&B and rock music plays all day; club choice
Decor:
Comfortable bar atmosphere
Signature Drink:
No
Dancing:
Not for patrons
Games/Amenities:
VIP room
Ambience: Making a play on words with its teasing T&A moniker, this dimly lit gentlemen's club features alluring bikini-clad dancers. The club's well-designed setup--a center runway and two side-stage areas--allows for three girls to perform at once. Its bikini-only policy makes this adult club as much a hangout as a not-quite-nudie bar with people socializing and drinking while the dancers strut their stuff.


Three Flames
1547 Meridian Ave, SJ 408.269.3133

Hours: Sun-Wed 11am-10pm, Thu-Fri 11am-11pm,
Sat-Sun 4-11pm; bar open till 1:30am
Crowd Age: 40 plus
Music: Live Top 40, rock and oldies Tue-Sat; karaoke every Sun
Decor:
Plush and old-fashioned
Signature Drink:
No
Dancing:
Yes
Games/Amenities:
No
Ambience: As a bar, here's one that serves as a reminder of a bygone era; now, even a bygone century. The regulars at the bar tend to be an older, moneyed crowd that feels right at home in the fairly old-fashioned atmosphere. The air of extravagance and the Vegasian flair may be especially exciting for the younger set looking to partake in some of the passion and romance of decades gone by.


Uncommon Grounds
1445 The Alameda, SJ 408.287.4112

Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-11pm, Sat-Sun 8am-11pm
Crowd Age: Teens to early 20s
Music: Contemporary, adult, dance and big band
Decor:
Retro, sunny side up
Signature Drink: Iced Turtle
Dancing:
No
Games/Amenities:
Board games, house music Thursdays
Ambience: The name and owners may have morphed in the past few years (Cafe Leviticus, Bank Cafe), but this coffeehouse--now Uncommon Grounds--has kept the beauty and history of the old Bank of Italy building alive. Enjoy the classic architecture of H.A. Minton while sipping a latte and reading the morning paper.


Vahl's Restaurant & Lounge
1513 El Dorado, Alviso 408.262.0731

Hours: Wed-Sun 11:30am-10pm; bar open daily until 11pm or midnight
Crowd Age: Old-fashioned, more mature crowd
Music: Live Italian music every Sat
Decor:
Papier-mâché birds and fresh-cut flowers year-round
Signature Drink:
No
Dancing:
Yes, Sat
Games/Amenities:
Jukebox largely stocked with classic tunes
Ambience: Tucked away on a quiet street in Alviso, a million miles from the fast-paced rat race of Silicon Valley, is Vahl's Restaurant and Lounge. A funky combination diner and cocktail lounge, Vahl's is known for its hearty American fare and a full bar stocked for a more mature crowd well-versed in the art of ordering a real drink.


Willow Glen Coffee Roasting Co.
1383 Lincoln Ave, SJ 408.297.9077

Hours: Mon-Thu 6am-10pm, Fri 6am-11pm, Sat 7am-11pm, Sun, 7am-8pm
Crowd Age: All ages
Music: Fri-Sat jazz, pop
Decor:
Homey with Al Gore photographs
Signature Drink:
Vanilla frappe (a yummy ice-cream drink)
Dancing:
None
Games/Amenities:
Board games
Ambience: White-washed walls with black-and-white-checkered floors and lots of plants fill this charming 1930s-era edifice. Small rounded tables are topped with flowers--a nice touch. Munch on pastries but don't look for more than that if you're hungry. Coffee-drinker burnouts might find chai mixed with soy milk a welcome treat.


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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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