San Jose Bars
June 2, 2007 2:50 PM   Subscribe

I need bar recommendations for San Jose.

I’ll be in San Jose this August for a big conference. My boss (i.e. department chair) has given me the task of finding a bar in downtown San Jose where we can have a mixer.
a) Bar has to be within walking distance of the convention center. Most people won’t have rental cars (and I’d rather not have them drive back after anyway).
b) On a scale of divey------------------chi chi, the bar has to be closer to the divey end. We’re a bunch of grad students, post-docs and professors (liberal tree-hugging types). So a place with reasonably priced beer is what I’m thinking.
c) A place where we can dance (#1 requirement for the boss). So music (live or not) would be great.
d) We don’t necessarily want to party with locals (there will be 100+ of us) but some place where locals go would be nice too.

This will be on a weekday.

I found this site but it looks like it was written by the business bureau (hence the glowing recs)

Any of you locals got ideas?
posted by special-k to Travel & Transportation around San Jose, CA (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Start with Yelp?
posted by kcm at 3:09 PM on June 2, 2007

Thanks kcm. I forgot to mention yelp. I'm more interested in hearing from sj mefites (especially if I'm going to take so many people to a bar sight unseen)
posted by special-k at 3:20 PM on June 2, 2007

Is Café Babylon still around? I was last there about five years ago, and it was stuggling but matched all those criteria.
posted by klangklangston at 3:48 PM on June 2, 2007

For dancing you'd be better off on 1st street, down san carlos a couple blocks..
posted by rhizome at 4:20 PM on June 2, 2007

I live nearby and have been to the convention center a bunch of times. I don't recally any dive bars really close by. There are hotel bars right next to the convention center. Also, there is Joe's (the closest drinking establishment) which is an italian restaurant + bar nearby but doesn't have dancing. However, the convention center is just a few blocks from SJSU so maybe there are some bars near there. But the San Jose Downtown is not really that exciting at night. There aren't many people walking around. You could always book the San Jose Tech Museum which I've seen companies do, and they can serve appetizers and drinks while your guests wander around the museum which is a fun thing to do. Parking is free on weekends and after 6. Otherwise, it's fairly expensive.
posted by lpctstr; at 1:30 AM on June 3, 2007

Here is a list of San Jose bars from the local weekly paper.

Here are the downtown ones that I have some knowledge of:

Agenda Lounge features live jazz, but may be too upscale for your group.

The Blank Club is more well-known as a concert venue than a dance club, in my opinion. It may be too small to accommodate your group (call to check).

The Dive Bar seems to fit all of your criteria, but I haven't been there.

These two seem to be popular as observed from the outside, but I've never been inside them:

Smoke Tiki Lounge and Toons.

Note that the San Jose Jazz Festival is August 10th-12th; that may affect your options.

Hope this helps.
posted by JDC8 at 11:38 PM on June 3, 2007

Having spent my entire college life in San Jose I can tell you a few things.

Most San Jose bars are on the divey side, at least the ones right next to SJSU. The farther you get from the college (i.e. closer to the convention center) the more hip and trendy or nonexistant the bars become.

As per JDC8's list, The Dive bar is the ultimate dive bar, but nobody really dances there; Blank Club is pretty small, good music, but not a lot of dancing room; Tiki and Toons don't sound like the kind of place you'd want to hang out at. My personal recommendation is to check out Mission Ale House, very much THE college bar (2 blocks from campus). Not a big place, but if you get there early or call the owner, i'm sure they'll let you take over the whole patio area. There's a few other big clubs in the area, but they're pretty pricy and have a strong dress code.

If you need any other info, just hit up my email in my profile.
posted by Derek at 1:34 AM on June 5, 2007

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