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[whitespace] Bars, Clubs and Coffeehouses 2000

Santa Clara

BackBeat
777 Lawrence Expwy, Santa Clara 408.241.0177

Hours: Wed-Fri 5pm-2am, Sat 6pm-2am, Sun 5pm-2am
Crowd Age: 25-40
Music: Swing music Sun, DJ entertainment for the rest of the week
Decor: Lots of purple, gold and blue; velvet walls; lush carpeting
Signature Drink: None
Dancing: '70s and '80s dance hits, house music, disco, high energy and Top 40, and Lindy Hop lessons
Games/Amenities: Cigar bar
Ambience: Opened in October 1997, the upscale BackBeat occupies a space previously owned by a kids' pizza restaurant. You won't find a single trace of cheese at the hippest, classiest and most talked-about club in the South Bay. The BackBeat's opulent, sophisticated rooms, including the highly regarded Jungle Room cigar bar, suggest a plush, Deco-style club from a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musical designed by the Purple Rain-era Prince's interior decorator.


Birk's
3955 Freedom Circle, Santa Clara 408.980.4600

Hours: Daily 5-10pm plus lunch Mon-Fri 11:15am-2:30pm
Crowd Age: 28-45
Music: No live music
Decor: Wood, brass, copper, marble and glass
Signature Drink: Martini
Dancing: None
Games/Amenities: None
Ambience: Named one of the top 100 Northern Californian restaurants by the Epicurean Rendezvous Awards for six years straight, this 11-year-old upscale grill restaurant includes an often busy bar stocked with martini makings, microbrews and single-malt Scotches. The restaurant's interior has remained the same since 1989: timeless, sleek and cosmopolitan, like something out of San Francisco's financial district.


Blinky's Can't Say
1031 Monroe St, Santa Clara 408.980.4600

Hours: Daily, 10am-2am
Crowd Age: 30-45
Music: No live music
Decor: Glass-fronted bar with mirrors behind
Signature Drink: None
Dancing: Yes
Games/Amenities: Jukebox, darts, pool, arcade games
Ambience: Dick "Blinky" Aregger, the blind ex-proprietor of Blinky's Sports Café, bought the old Cypress bar and reopened it as Blinky's Can't Say on New Year's Day, 1999. The walls are adorned with snapshots of famous sports moments like "The Catch" (49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark's legendary end-zone catch) and autographed photos of players from just about every major Bay Area sports team, including the Niners, the Raiders, the Giants and the A's.


Blinky's Sports Café
3145 El Camino Real, Santa Clara 408.241.3933

Hours: Mon-Wed 10am-2am, Thu-Sun 6am-2am
Crowd Age: 30-45
Music: Blues, lite rock and country acts on Sat
Decor: Cherrywood bar is a remnant of a 200-year-old San Francisco hotel
Signature Drink: Vodka, gin, bourbon and brandy
Dancing: Every Sat
Games/Amenities: Shuffleboard, pool, darts, keno, lottery, big-screen TV
Ambience: This friendly 25-year-old sports bar may have changed owners (Dick "Blinky" Aregger sold the place to Ned Kristovich to concentrate solely on running Blinky's Can't Say on Monroe Street), but it still puts on shuffleboard, pool and dart tournaments and Make a Wish Foundation fundraisers. "I don't want to change everything, or you lose your customers," Kristovich says. About the only thing that's been altered is the carpeting.


By-Th-Bucket
4565 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara 408.248.6244

Hours: Sun-Tue 11am-10pm, Wed-Thu 11am-11pm,
Fri-Sat, 11am-midnight
Crowd Age: 30-40
Music: No
Decor: American casual
Signature Drink: Draft beer
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Televisions for sports
Ambience: Even the tropical fish have fun here. Just watch them over the rim of a chilly pint, or through the steam of a custom-made pizza. Aimless chatter erupts after 5pm; lend an ear and hear the news of the world from odd and extraneous angles. Comfortable digs provide ample elbow room for holding court with friends and enemies alike.


City Espresso Roasting Company
5237 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara 408.248.4500

Hours: Sun 8am-10pm, Mon-Thu 7am-10pm, Fri-Sat 7am-11pm
Crowd Age: 25-35
Music: No live music
Decor: Art Deco
Signature Drink: Mocha freeze
Dancing: None
Games/Amenities: PCs for customers obsessed with their Internet stocks
Ambience: City Espresso may seem like your average late-'90s high-tech coffeehouse, but it also offers a homey, quiet and old-fashioned ambience, with walls covered with tapestry and artwork for sale. Jazz and blues play in the background as you read your co-worker's latest unfunny email joke about a priest, a rabbi and Bill Clinton.


City Lights Espresso
1171 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara 408.296.0415

Hours: Tue-Fri 6:30am-11pm, Sat 7:30am-11pm, Sun 9am-9pm
Crowd Age: Early 20s
Music: Live music on Fri and Sat
Decor: Earth tones, lots of brown and green
Signature Drink: Vanilla mocha
Dancing: None
Games/Amenities: None
Ambience: The atmosphere at City Lights is friendly and lively, with lots of activities, like open-mic nights on Wednesdays. Supreme Court whipping-boy-of-the-moment Bill Gates, who reportedly likes to go here when he's in town, will need a lot of cheering up at City Lights.


The Claran
1251 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara 408.296.9558

Hours: Sun 9am-2am, Mon-Fri 11am-1:30am, Sat 9am-2am
Crowd Age: 21-55
Music: Jukebox
Decor: Basement rumpus room
Signature Drink: Beer
Dancing:
Rarely
Games/Amenities:
None
Ambiance: A popular spot with locals and Santa Clara University students, The Claran is a dimly lit lounge with a lot of character (or maybe it has a lot of characters). It happens to be located in the characterless Franklin Mall, but that can't be helped.


Coleman Still
2221 The Alameda, Santa Clara 408.261.2221

Hours: Mon-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri 11am-11pm, Sat 5-10pm, Sun, 4-9pm
Crowd Age: All ages
Music: No live music
Decor: Like a rhinestone cowboy
Signature Drink: Pool-sized margarita
Dancing: None
Games/Amenities: Lotto, keno, big-screen TV
Ambience: The bar in the back of this family steakhouse, famous for its margaritas, salad bar and '70s-style décor, includes a fake gas fireplace to keep drinkers warm.


The Hut
3200 The Alameda, Santa Clara 408.296.6024

Hours: Sun-Sat, 1pm-2am
Crowd Age: 21-55
Music: No live music
Decor: Corner bar
Signature Drink: Beer
Dancing: None
Games/Amenities: None
Ambiance: Located across the street from Santa Clara University, The Hut is a locals hangout by day and a college bar by night. The patrons are generally well-behaved, but things can get loud on weekend nights. The older bartenders have been around a while and are walking repositories of local history.


JJ's Blues
3439 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara 408.243.6441

Hours: Daily, 6pm-1am
Crowd Age: 30s-40s
Music: Sun-Tue open jam sessions, Wed-Sat, nationally known blues and R&B
Decor: Blue-collar, dimly lit
Signature Drink: None, but draft imports are the most popular
Dancing: Always
Games/Amenities: Pool table
Ambience: Blues fans love this small but immensely popular 18-year-old institution for its music and hole-in-the-wall atmosphere--it even attracts conventioneers and other out-of-towners. "From the outside, it doesn't look like much," owner June Stanley says, "but when you come inside, you'll be surprised because any night you come in, a great band will be playing here."


Martin's
1828 Main St, Santa Clara 408.243.7976

Hours: Mon-Sun, 6am-2pm
Crowd Age: Variety
Music: No live music
Decor: Homey, with wood paneling and neon
Signature Drink: Purple Hooter and margarita
Dancing: Yes, to jukebox music
Games/Amenities: Pool, shuffleboard, darts, pinball, keno
Ambience: Like Cheers, everybody knows your name at this neighborhood bar, which has been in business since 1938. Located in an otherwise residential neighborhood, Martin's is a place you can feel right at home. Have a drink at the bar while watching a ballgame or shoot some pool while listening to '70s rock.


McNeil's
800 N. Kiely Blvd, Santa Clara 408.244.4038

Hours: Daily, 10am-2am
Crowd Age: 25-45
Music: Wed, karaoke night; Thu-Sat, live music
Decor: Neighborhood bar, neon signs and wood paneling
Signature Drink: Purple Hooter, Sex on the Beach, margarita and Long Island Iced Tea are the most popular drinks
Dancing: Thu-Sat
Games/Amenities: Megatouch machines, stuffed-animal crane machines, pool, darts
Ambience: Live rock acts take the stage four nights a week at the laid-back McNeil's, which has been in business for more than 40 years. Try your hand at darts, join a pool league or stop in for karaoke on Wednesdays.


Mission City Coffee Roasting Co.
2221 The Alameda, Santa Clara 408.261.2221

Hours: Mon-Wed, 6am-11pm, Thu-Sat, 6-mid, Sun, 7am-11pm
Crowd Age: 30 or older
Music: No live music
Decor: Old warehouse with exposed brick
Signature Drink: House coffee, "Mission City Primo Roast"
Dancing: None
Games/Amenities: None
Ambience: The atmosphere at this coffeehouse, located across the street from Santa Clara University, is relaxed and casual, allowing SCU students to both study and socialize. Jazz and classical tunes play in the background during the daytime, when Mission City is usually populated by older professionals. Then the college kids take over at night and bring with them the sounds of Phish, the Grateful Dead, bands from the '80s and John Hughes soundtracks.


Peppermill
2909 Lakeside Dr, Santa Clara 408.988.3282

Hours: Sun-Thu 6am-12:30am, Fri-Sat 6am-2:30am
Crowd Age: Variety
Music: No live music
Decor: Red and blue neon; purple, red, blue and green carpeting
Signature Drink: Ice-cream mixed drinks, piña colada, strawberry daiquiri
Dancing: None
Games/Amenities: None
Ambience: Both Peppermill restaurants in Santa Clara and Cupertino are identical in design to the flashy, neon-lit Reno hotel/casino of the same name (they're all owned by the same company). The centerpiece of the Peppermill's Fireside Lounge is a fountain with a flame in the center.


Tinker's Damn
46 N. Saratoga Ave, Santa Clara 408.243.4595

Hours: Mon-Fri 3pm-2am, Sat-Sun 1pm-2am
Crowd Age: 21 and over
Music: No live music
Decor: Neon, brick and wood
Signature Drink: Long Island Iced Tea
Dancing: Every night features house music
Games/Amenities: Pinball, pool, arcade games
Ambience: This warm and clean gay-owned-and-operated club is a friendly presence on Saratoga Avenue, offering free parking and hosting barbecues every Sunday. The older crowd prefers to knock back cocktails, while the younger crowd, which usually arrives at around 9, rules the dance floor.


Woodham Lounge
4475 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara 408.296.9810

Hours: Mon-Fri 1pm-2am, Sat-Sun noon-2am
Crowd Age: 30s-50s, younger in evenings
Music: Country & western singer David Keenan
Decor: Homey and clean
Signature Drink: Tequila
Dancing: Only during birthday parties
Games/Amenities: Jukebox, shuffleboard, pool, darts, Megatouch machines
Ambience: With its unmistakable neon sign outside, sporting two martini glasses, Woodham Lounge is that kind of homey neighborhood bar where everyone's on a first-name basis. It's been a fixture on Stevens Creek for more than 30 years.


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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.

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