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The Metro Bars & Clubs 2005 Guide
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Los Gatos

#1 Broadway
102 S. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
Situated in a multiunit building better suited for dentist and insurance offices, Numero Uno attracts crowds in their 30s and up with happy popular rock and disco bands. When the spacious dance floor heats up, the sweaty can dry off on a balcony overlooking Santa Cruz Avenue, and they can bring their drinks—a rarity for LG patios. Expect a cover charge on hot nights.

180 Restaurant and Lounge
15 1/2 N. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
For over three decades, Mountain Charley's has shared a staircase with a cross-lobby neighbor. The spot recently went live as 180 Restaurant and Lounge. Executive chef Nick Oifu prepares a menu that samples a little bit of everything that Los Gatos does well—steaks, chops, seafood, Asian dishes. The décor got an industrial makeover. They've sandblasted the brick to return it to original rustic. They installed steel on the walls. Bars in Los Gatos range between noisy, quiet, biker, tony and frat boy. Upscale lounge is finally in the mix.

Black Watch
141 1/2 N. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
Belying this small pub's dark and somewhat scary exterior is a darker and much scarier interior. But belying that is a crowd that often includes the young and hip, hard-driving rock and blues music powered by an iPod. Oh, and the signature drink? A Kamikaze pint poured daintily into your shot glass.

Boulevard Tavern
15043 Los Gatos Blvd, Los Gatos
They say it's a former biker bar, although the "former" seems not to fit. If there aren't Harleys outside, they must be in garages somewhere, waiting for their owners to walk home once closing time rolls around.

C.B. Hannegan's
208 Bachman Ave, Los Gatos
Hannegan's is the home of the area's biggest St. Patrick's Day celebration. No music plays at this split-level pub, so chatter serves as the soundtrack. The outdoor patio, complete with fireplace, allows visitors a way to change up the scenery, which one regular says "feels like home—with green aprons."

Carrie Nation's
8 N. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
The utility hitter of the Los Gatos bar scene, this small and popular place can play every role necessary. Its medium lighting and simple, tasteful décor (framed pictures! In a bar!) make it a quality candidate for before- or after-dinner drinks. In the back, a big screen and other TVs and a decent-sized seating area are Super Bowl party-ready. Its proximity to other bars and popularity among cab drivers make this a popular place for young, sharp-featured folks to get regrettably drunk and hook the hell up, for once.

The Cats
17533 Santa Cruz Hwy, Los Gatos
This saloon, cuddled against the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains on the highway, sneaks up on drivers like a morning alarm clock. But once inside, quickly poured beverage in hand, patrons can be lulled into a dreamy rest by the hovering-low ceilings, faint lighting and, often, live folk or other music. The mismatched chandeliers and Adventure Land exterior only add to the charm.

Double D's Sports Grille
354 N. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
With 22 TVs, every channel imaginable and impeccable service, Double D's is widely regarded as the best sports bar in the South Bay. Whether it's an NBA playoff game or a tape-delayed square-off between the Rhein Fire and Berlin Thunder, the smiley staff here will find a TV, find the channel and find you a beer—fast. A menu of great variety and a semiseparate game room make D-squared a happy destination for kids and families. For sports fans, it's heaven.

Goguen's Last Call
408 N. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
Ample and comfy seating help this dive bar live up to its name as a solid place to spend last call or the several hours before. A cast of regulars in their late 20s and up hold court at the bar and out front of this strip-mall watering hole on the dark end of Santa Cruz Avenue. But swarms of college-aged locals and others are known to invade the bar, its pool tables and tasty selection of brews.

Forbes Mill Steakhouse
206 N. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
Forbes Mill is full of surprises. First, owners Dean and Darin Devincenzi and Ron Garald—the visionaries responsible for the nearby Double D's Sports Grille—beat the odds by transforming the old Stovie's Pasta & Pizza location into one of the most popular culinary destinations in the South Bay. Now, Forbes has taken over the title of hottest watering hole in Los Gatos. Young, well-dressed, thirtysomethings drink pricey cocktails and chat each other up while unwinding after a long day and enjoying a trendy selection of specialty drinks such as chocolate and banana martinis.

Johnny's Northside Grill
532 N. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
Keeping an eye on the game, the match, the tourney and the race is no sweat from every seat in this small bar and grill—there's even a TV on the patio out back. And if watching the game won't hook the kids' attention, they can hit up the convenient basketball hoop in the back parking lot. At Johnny's, regulars cozy up to the bar to share a beer and a tale while families flood the patio after baseball games or family outings.

210 E. Main St, Los Gatos
Slightly upscale but funky, Kuleto's attracts the established and the soon-to-be. It's of medium size, this restaurant/bar, but curtains and pillars slice it into smaller, more intimate and digestible pieces. The tones are safari, but the angles are sharp and give the joint a sense of importance.

La Hacienda Inn Hotel
18840 Saratoga-Los Gatos Rd, Los Gatos
Stationed among the trees, between the downtowns of Los Gatos and Saratoga, La Hacienda has a reputation for attracting the older-than-50 crowd. But some there are looking to kick that rep, and they hope the Friday and Saturday live music can do the trick. A mix of oldies and contemporary rock draws a steady crowd of regulars who get loose on the dance floor and cool off on a covered patio.

Los Gatos Brewing Company
130 N. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
A popular roster of seasonal homemade beers and engaging staff make this classy, hangar-sized restaurant/bar a great choice for drinks or food—especially during happy hour, weekday afternoons and all day Tuesday, when those beers are a buck cheaper and the pub menu is 30 percent off. Plenty of TVs allow for keeping an eye on the game during a casual yet lively yet romantic yet highly efficient first date.

Mountain Charley's Saloon
15 N. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
Perhaps the place to party hard in the LG, Mountain Chuck's provides twenty- and thirtysomethings a solid chance to hook up, or at least to strike out trying. Overlooking the town's main drag, two full bars can't quell the booze-thirsty crowds here, where the dance floor is packed from Tuesday to Saturday. Live bands blast funk, rock and pop on Fridays, but partiers really swamp the floor when the DJ drops in with 50 Cent or Eminem. DJs spin Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, too, and every night but Wednesday will cost you $8 and sometimes a lengthy wait in line. Slipping a 20 or flirting endlessly could—could—score a quick and easy entry. But don't bet on it.

Steamer's Grillhouse
31 University Ave, Los Gatos
Settling in for hours here isn't out of the question, with a warm red wine or a crisp El Agave Margarita (Herradura Silver, Citronge Orange and fresh-squeezed orange juice) in hand. The colors are earthy, the chairs padded, the ceiling sweeping with curves, the music often smooth and loungelike. On the weekends, party-goers warm up at Steamers before frolicking into downtown for a night of fun.

Three Degrees Restaurant and Bar
140 S. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
This downtown hotel's bar and restaurant debuted inside the Toll House Hotel last year. The wall between the formerly separate restaurant and lounge was removed to allow for free traffic between the bar and dining area but it may as well apply to the wall between stuffy and relaxed. Enjoy happy hour on the outdoor patio from 3:30 to 6:30pm with appetizers and signature cocktails for $3.

The Wave Room
50 Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, Los Gatos (at the Los Gatos Lodge)
The Los Gatos Lodge bar had a long reign as one of the area's top pickup bars, lasting from the '60s all the way into the '80s. In fact, no less of an authority than Hustler magazine once ranked the place as the top pickup bar in the country. The place has a tropical theme—complete with beach balls, hanging paper lanterns, fishnets and one Los Gatos cat dressed in Rastafarian gear. The tropicalia extends to the drink menu; try the Golden Island, a sweet mix of gold rum, Cointreau and tonic, or the Ship Wreck, an equally sugary blend of rum, pineapple juice and Barcardi 151. Soak up the alcohol with the appetizer menu, featuring such goodies as Cajun-fried calamari and teriyaki beef skewers.

Wine Cellar
50 University Ave, Los Gatos
Previous listings have saddled this secretive cellar as a destination for fortysomething romantics. But the young students and graduates, in hopes of finding their Mrs. Robinson, must've gotten wind, because bartenders say the crowd age now ranges from mid-20s to late-30s. The funky drinks, including a cucumber/vodka number and a fresh-squeezed Baja Special, Thursday's free Latin jazz and the once-a-month house DJ probably help attract the South Bay's well-groomed, suede-loafered youngsters to this perfectly lit restaurant/bar. (JT)

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From the June 22-28, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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