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[whitespace] Santa Clara

3955 Freedom Circle, Santa Clara 408.980.6400

Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-11pm, Sat-Sun 5-11pm
Crowd Age: 20s-50s
Music: Soft rock
Decor: Timeless upscale
Signature Drink: Martini
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Cigars, two TVs at the bar

A sleek wooden bar, brown leather booths, marble floors and glass shelves stocked with single-malt scotches lend this restaurant/bar a classy air. A popular after-work hangout for the high-tech crowd and a hot spot for out-of-town business folk from nearby hotels, Birk's serves a classic American grill menu and provides a sophisticated yet relaxing dining environment.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A bull

Blinky's Can't Say
1031 Monroe St, Santa Clara 408.985.7201

Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-2am, Sun 9am-2am
Crowd Age: College students and up
Music: Jukebox
Decor: Sixties lounge meets sports bar
Signature Drink: Everything
Dancing: On weekends
Games/Amenities: Jukebox, darts, pool table, arcade games

The name is a product of the owner's wacky humor, which the employees share as well. This diverse hangout is a favorite of SCU students and local old-timers. The neighborhood sports bar plans to up its image and is in the process of getting an entertainment license, installing a dance floor and eventually featuring live music.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: Raccoon

4565 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara 408.248.6244

Hours: Sun-Tue 11am-10pm, Wed-Sat 11am-11pm
Crowd Age: 25-35
Music: Contemporary jazz
Decor: Home-style Italian
Signature Drink: By-Th-Bucket Margarita in an 18-ounce glass
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: TVs at the bar

Many people see the name of this restaurant/bar and write it off as a fast-food joint, according to the bartender, but he swears, "If you can get past the name and come inside, you'll be very pleasantly surprised." The Italian murals and posters, white linen tablecloths, and tropical fish aquarium mixed with a traditional dose of sports mementos (including signed jerseys of all your favorite 49ers) lend this establishment a casually elegant atmosphere. True to its namesake, By-Th-Bucket serves most of its food--well, you guessed it--by the bucket. The steamed clams and mussels are a favorite among regular customers. In addition, the new downstairs private banquet room is a suitably secluded area for bachelor and bachelorette parties.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: Grrr, a tiger

City Lights Espresso
1171 Homestead Rd, Suite 190, Santa Clara 408.296.0415

Hours: Mon-Fri 6:30am-9pm, Sat 8am-5pm, Sun 9am-3pm
Crowd Age: 18-65+
Music: Open mic with karaoke on Thu (7-9:30pm)
Decor: Homey
Signature Drink: Vanilla Mocha, Vanilla Latte Blast
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Outdoor patio seating with umbrellas

This quiet, cozy coffeehouse is an escape for all ages with plush couches, student art décor and a friendly staff, where "everyone knows everyone." City Lights also serves a popular lunch menu, with a different combination of specialties every day, such as the popular panini, quiche and salad, tuna melt and fruit smoothies.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A little bear

The Claran
1251 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara 408.248.4682

Hours: Daily 10am-2am
Crowd Age: 21-55
Music: Jukebox, karaoke, DJ
Decor: Sports den with brick accent
Signature Drink: Orange Stolichnaya with Red Bull
Dancing: Thurs and Sat 9pm-1am (with karaoke and DJ)
Games/Amenities: TVs, pool tables, darts, arcade games, pinball

This 1960s-style lounge has comfy padded brown booths running along the back wall, couches, a looming fireplace and wood-edged Formica bar. Recent renovations include an extended dance floor, new floor tiles, carpeting and remodeled bathrooms, which keep the humor of this classic hangout familiar yet fresh. The Claran has recently started accepting credit cards and has an exciting new ATM machine, which is especially handy for the dewy-eyed college crowd that dominates after 11pm.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: Bull

The Hut
3200 The Alameda, Santa Clara 408.296.6024

Hours: Sun-Fri 3pm-2am, Sat 11am-2am
Crowd Age: College students
Music: Jukebox
Decor: Airy corner bar
Signature Drink: Beer, beer, beer
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Pool table, pinball, darts

Located right next to campus, this territorial bar is inhabited by Santa Clara University students, and graduating seniors still come with their fathers to have a preceremony shot on the big day. The bartender says patrons are generally good kids, and things are calming down now that summer vacation is here. The Hut also offers outdoor patio seating with a barbecue grill, which private parties can make use of.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A bronco--the SCU mascot

Martin's Lounge
1828 Main St, Santa Clara 408.243.7976

Hours: Daily 6am-2am
Crowd Age: 21-80
Music: Jukebox
Decor: Sports bar
Signature Drink: Cocksucker or Buttery Nipple, Pucker
Dancing: Yes
Games/Amenities: Pool table, darts, pinball, shuffleboard, five TVs

This 60-year-old establishment still caters to some of the customers who have been there from the beginning (and who are now pushing 80). Martin's gets crowded during the evening after all the family men get off work and want to watch sports, chat with the witty bartender or chill to country & western and oldies-but-goodies music. Birthday celebrants who are regulars receive a special potluck at bar, as well as gifts for the whole party. Look out for upcoming karaoke.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: Panther

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

Hours: Mon-Fri 6:30am-11pm, Sat 6:30am-12am, Sun 7am-11pm
Crowd Age: Mostly 21-75 with some families
Music: Open-mic nights Wed, live bands Fri
Decor: Brick and wood coffeehouse
Signature Drink: Latte
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Pac-Man

The parrot sits high on the wall under the sign that says Mission City and watches over an array of professionals, slackers and wired SCU law students drinking coffee, all of whom are unaware that they are being observed. Nobody knows how or why the 2-foot-tall parrot got there, but he is just one of those things that never change, just like the classic pastas, sandwiches, soups and salads that keep customers coming back to this friendly cafe.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A parrot

Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge
2909 Lakeside Dr, Santa Clara 408.988.3282

Hours: Sun-Thu 6am-11pm, Fri-Sat 6am-2:30am
Crowd Age: 25 and up
Music: Satellite downloads
Decor: Reno lounge
Signature Drink: Long Island, Bloody Mary
Dancing: No
Games/Amenities: Complimentary hors d'oeuvres Mon-Fri 4-9pm

At the fireside lounge, sit on fuzzy pink couches surrounding a kerosene flame rising out of circular pool of bubbling water, while waitresses wearing tuxedo jackets, halter tops and sequined ties serve margaritas and cocktails. Formerly a '70s-style bar, the Peppermill has updated its décor to late '80s/early '90s. Hazy lighting and half-circle booths (as in Studio 54) keep the retro scene alive. In the newly remodeled restaurant, waitresses wear fuchsia tuxedo outfits and serve a classic American cuisine, with a few Italian and Asian variations.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: Elephant

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

Hours: Mon-Fri 3pm-2am, Sat-Sun 1pm-2am
Crowd Age: 21-35
Music: DJs every night
Decor: Red, glowy gay club
Signature Drink: Long Island Iced Tea
Dancing: Nightly
Games/Amenities: Pool, pinball machine, video games, jukebox

With a minimal $3 cover charge on Fridays and Saturdays, the dance floor gets crowded and steamy. Be sure to catch the drag shows on Sunday and Monday, which bartender Chad says draw a great, diverse crowd to this quaint men's club.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A donkey--the tinker's friend

Woodham Lounge
4475 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara 408.296.9810

Hours: Daily noon-2am
Crowd Age: 25 and up
Music: DJ on Wed, Top 40 Jukebox
Decor: Lemony liberal
Signature Drink: Bud
Dancing: Wednesdays
Games/Amenities: Pool table, new dart board, foosball

Woodham Lounge has opened the windows and brightened up since last year. New paint and polishing, Sunday-night karaoke and ladies night on Wednesdays add a little funk to this neighborhood bar, which generally caters to a middle-aged crowd. The bartender also wants to remind everyone that domestic beers are always $2.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A trout

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From the July 18-24, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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