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[whitespace] San Jose 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

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A cat--alley cat or pussycat, all sleek and purring.

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

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A Chihuahua, stout and proud

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, dart board, pool table, video games

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A caiman, a serious reptile

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, dart board, pinball machines, video games

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A horse, right at home. OK, a stallion.

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

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: An American eagle

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

Hours: Daily, 7am-2am
Crowd Age: Youngish middle-aged
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

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A remora that gets along with sharks

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: Anything with tequila
Dancing: No
Games/ Amenities: Restaurant, TV

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 Tanquerey. 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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A coyote, wily and wistful

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

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.

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

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

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: Bearded dragpm, the coolest looking lounge lizard

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

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 Steak and 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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: Scottish terrier.

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

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: African elephant, for the beer that you never forget

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: Martinis
Dancing: Yes
Games/ Amenities: Karaoke

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."

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: Cardinal, of course

Club Max
Doubletree Hotel, 2050 Gateway Pl, SJ 408.453.4000

Hours: Mon-Sat, 4pm-2am
Crowd Age: Mid-30s on up
Music: Live music Thu-Sat, DJ Tue-Wed
Decor: Intimate
Signature Drink: Sex on the Beach
Dancing: Tue-Sat
Games/ Amenities: No

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.

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

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: No

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.

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

Club Rodeo
610 Coleman, San Jose 408.920.0145

Hours: Vary according to events
Crowd Age: 20s-50s
Decor: Gothic country meets Tijuana
Signature Drink: Whiskey Sour
Dancing: Heck, yes
Games/Amenities: Pin the tooth on the bartender

Just when you thought there was no place left for a lonely cowboy, along comes the updated Club Rodeo. With six bars, four dance floors and a huge outdoor patio all designed around banda and country music entertainment, there's no bigger or better place to hoe down in the South Bay. Free dance lessons corral 'em in every Wed and Fri, and live bands play frequently. Sat nights, if you don't speak Spanish, you may be left out in the frio. Your best bet is to call for a schedule. Friendly warning: Eat elsewhere beforehand.

If your bar could be any animal, what would it be? Buckin' bronco

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

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.

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

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

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A leopard, beautiful and unpredictable

Fifth Quarter
373 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 Hooters Fri-Sat
Games/ Amenities: Video games, pool, darts, big-screen TV

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.

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

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

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.

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

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 piano Thurs-Sat
Decor: Vegas elegant
Signature Drink: Martini
Dancing: No
Games/ Amenities: Card room

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.

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

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

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A tropical fish, like the many in tanks here

Goosetown 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., incidentally
Games/ Amenities: Televisions for sports/video games

One could not ask for a friendlier place to while away the evening in the company of friends. 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 Gary Rovai remains the perennial charmer, and the food next door at Cafe Adriatic is fantastic.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: The goose that laid the golden egg

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

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: Australian Cattle Dog, the working breed

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

Harry's is the definitive populist mead hall 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.

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

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

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.

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

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

A popular restaurant with a sushi bar for at-your-whim California rolls, Kubota also has another bar, fully 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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: Silvery sea bass

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

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 Pele to Steve Young, the Sharks to the 49ers, and a huge collection of longboards and Sharks signatures on the walls.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A shark, hands down

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

A neighborhood bar that has enjoyed the customers 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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A hockey player. That's an animal, right?

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

Hours: Daily
Crowd Age: 21 & 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

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.

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

Pink Poodle
328 S. Bascom Ave, SJ 408.292.3685

Hours: Sun-Thu 11:30-midnight, Fri-Sat 11:30-2am
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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A Great Dane, hoo-boy

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

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.

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

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

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 Spanish music.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A bucking bronco, for the cowboys here

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

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A big stag, like Bambi's dad

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

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A beaver, something to go with all the logs

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!

Sangria's decorator had a healthy sense of whimsy--and perhaps a slightly malicious sense of humor: the lights hanging 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.

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

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!

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?

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

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

Hours: Daily, 10am-midnight
Crowd Age: 30s to middle age
Music: Jukebox
Decor: Lots and lots of sports memorabilia
Signature Drink: None
Dancing: No
Games/ Amenities: Electronic darts, TVs

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 décor imply, the cause that Sharky's champions transcends gender, age and everything else: rooting for the Sharks.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A great white shark

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: Dart boards, pool table, touch-screen games

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 décor includes spacious booth seating, four dart boards 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.

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

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

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: An ocelot, exotic and rare

Three Flames
1547 Meridian Avenue, 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: None
Dancing: Yes
Games/ Amenities: No

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 do come with a price tag, though. The younger set looking to partake in some of the passion and romance of decades gone by may find their pocketbook can only afford a couple of dances.

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

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

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.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A gazelle, light and airborne

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

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 arts of ordering a real drink.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A white Persian cat

Willow Glen Coffee Roasting
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
Signature Drink: Vanilla Frappé (a yummy ice cream drink)
Dancing: No
Games/ Amenities: Board games

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 fresh flowers, something you won't find at the corporate chain across the street. Ditto for the live music and historical photos. Munch on pastries but don't look for more than that if you're hungry. For a change, they serve up those bubble-tea drinks, too.

If Your Bar Could Be Any Animal, What Would It Be?: A friendly neighborhood dog

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

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