If you’re looking to be whisked down memory lane or taken back to a bygone era, search no further. These unassuming bars and restaurants hold a treasure trove of stories and fables that offer a glimpse into the past. Go to one of these locations and you’ll find a place that is successful because it is steeped in tradition and time-honored standards of quality and respect for every customer. Some are family-owned delicacies and some offer specialty drinks or an atmosphere that will keep history-loving fans satiated and elated.
14421 Big Basin Way
Saratoga, CA 95070
As the name implies, this building truly did dabble in loans, savings accounts and varied interest rates way back when. The Bank is now a pub-saloon, with quirky décor and a jukebox throwing out rock classics and modern hits. The interior will whisk you back to the yesteryears, with mismatched furniture and kitschy decor (deer heads, antique lamps, original tellers, velvet couches and random figurines). The Bank is a cash-only dive bar in an upscale neighborhood. What could be better than that?
102 S. Montgomery St.
San Jose, CA 95110
Don’t let the exterior of this pub fool you, the place oozes with character and history. This local bar that has stood the test of time since the 30s, which should be proof enough that Patty’s Inn knows how to oblige its sports fans, CalTrain commuters and eclectic crowd of fun-loving pub enthusiasts. Adding to the deep feel of history, look not only within, but also across the street, where the infamous Stephen’s Sausage Dancing Pig Neon Light Up Sign is located.
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301 S. 1st St.
San Jose, CA 95113
Take your friends to this one and only hidden gem. Fret not if you cannot get out until the evening rush is over, since this place is open until 1 a.m. Night birds who want some decent drinks and a spectacular-sized plate of late-night Italian food, OJ’s is your spot. The service is solid and the locale is thick with history, since this place has been around since 1956. Original Joe’s is best known for being the first of its kind in San Francisco to put on exhibition cooking, where food is made right before the patrons’ eyes. Still today, OJ’s is owned by the Rocca family. For a complete list of this restaurant’s beer and wine selections, click here.
21619 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Cupertino, CA 95014
This landmark gem of the Silicon Valley has been going strong since the 1950s. Paul & Eddie’s Monta Vista Inn is housed within one of Cupertino’s oldest buildings. The atmosphere is filled with different characters that can be seen frequenting this bar on any given night. Pool, darts and your favorite television watching are always plentiful, along with the finest imports, microbrews, bottled beers on draft and various spirits. If none of these choices suit your taste in drinks, Paul & Eddie’s has Jagermeister on tap. Also try one of P&E’s specialty shots in a signature frozen shot glass.
141 N. Santa Cruz Ave.
Los Gatos, CA 95030
This quintessential dive bar, established in 1959, is famous for its Kamikazes, poured and served ice cold. Don’t let the darkness of the scenery, depicting a certain “Highlander” charm, deter you from taking part in a completely retro experience at Los Gatos’ notorious watering hole. The bar is aptly named after a famous Scottish regiment and is frequented by bikers, pinball players, business people to all other types just looking to relax, drink spectacular Kamikazes and have a low-key, unpretentious good time.