The Bay Area can feel a bit glossy at times, a tech-fueled recent phenomenon marked by new buildings, trendy restaurants and countless transplants. But in the South Bay, San Jose provides a bit of a counterpoint to some of that perception, home to a handful of local gems that predate some of the development that has overwhelmed other parts of the region.
The oldest building in Cupertino is a good place to start, home to Paul & Eddie’s Monta Vista Inn
, a two-story red building that looks like a vintage outpost along a classic American highway of some sort. Dollar bills aren’t restricted to certain areas but can rather be seen stapled to surfaces throughout the bar. Open since 1943, the signature drink here is the “House Wine,” a name applied to a shot of Jagermeister in a frozen shot glass.
Some of the best dive bar lore in the area belongs to Caravan Lounge
, a pale brown building with a camel for a logo in downtown San Jose. Caravan Lounge began life as part of a chain of bars located within Greyhound bus terminals in California such as Sacramento and Salinas. The San Jose dive bar relocated in 1964 to the site of a used car lot, establishing a live music pedigree that continues today.
And then there are countless corner neighborhood dives distributed throughout the city, spaces like Beefy’s Cabin
and its black & white outpost at the end of a nondescript strip mall in Sunnyvale. Under the watchful eye of a taxidermized marlin, the bar features an impressive set of dart boards that draws regulars and dart leagues.
All of these locations and others like them help shed a little light on the very un-glossy, historical foundation on which some of the Bay Area’s progress sits. In San Jose, that means a set of dusty dive bars mingling with growth-fueled new builds, making the case for hunting a little harder for the real destination drinking spots in San Jose.