San Jose Dive Bar Guide

South Bay Dusty San Jose Originals

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.

San Jose Dive Bars Not Yet Reviewed

Must Visit Recommendations

Unfortunately, we have not yet been to every single dive bar in the city, but there probably a few more punch cards on our livers, so we’ll make it there soon. In the meantime, the curated list of dives below comes highly recommended by a variety of friends, online sources and drunks.

Cupertino

Paul & Eddie's Monta Vista Inn

21619 Stevens Creek Blvd
Cupertino, CA 95014
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Downtown

Caravan Lounge

98 Almaden Ave
San Jose, CA 95113
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Los Gatos

Black Watch

141 N Santa Cruz Ave
Los Gatos, CA 95030
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Redwood City

The Saddle Room Bar

1607 Woodside Rd
Redwood City, CA 94061
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Sunnyvale

Beefy's Cabin

693 Grape Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
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Other Dive Bar Options

Alex's 49er Inn

2214 Business Cir
San Jose, CA 95128
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Court's Lounge

2425 S Bascom Ave
Campbell, CA 95008
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Hyde Park Lounge

1070 N 4th St
San Jose, CA 95112
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Jack's Bar

167 E Taylor St
San Jose, CA 95112
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Keyes Club

396 Keyes St
San Jose, CA 95112
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Mac's Club

39 Post St
San Jose, CA 95113
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Normandy House Lounge

30 Washington St
Santa Clara, CA 95050
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Park Lane Lounge

5152 Moorpark Ave #20
San Jose, CA 95129
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Red Stag Lounge

1711 W San Carlos St
San Jose, CA 95128
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The Bears Cocktail Lounge

1872 W San Carlos St
San Jose, CA 95128
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The Elegant Pub

3273 S White Rd
San Jose, CA 95148
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Willow Den Public House

803 Lincoln Ave
San Jose, CA 95126
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Woodhams Sports Lounge

4475 Stevens Creek Blvd
Santa Clara, CA 95051
Google Map

What Did We Miss?

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