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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Best High Dives to Watch the Game

Uploaded: Oct 23, 2014

Technically, literally, figuratively?.what is a dive bar? I could google it, or just let ignorance be my waterloo.?.

But who cares the negative definition? I won't have it any longer. The friendliest, coziest places I know to hang in the Bay Area are dive bars. So I think we should change the name, or adjust it a touch.

How about High Dives?

And just in case you are looking for a spot to watch the World Series (Go Giants!), High Dives are the perfect spot. You can find a seat and sit there for hours, drinks are cheap (please tip nicely), and fellow patrons are family even if you just met them.

Problem for us working stiffs is all the games start at 5:07PM - middle of the work day for Silicon Valley. Not to worry. Just tell your boss you are at "The Office," and head to San Carlos. That's where we watched the Giants snag the NLCS last week. Tons of TV's, patio fireplaces, fun people, 44 beers on tap (the Grapefruit Beer was yummy). The place presents better than a dive, but the food fits the description, so there you go. Lots of processed fluffy and deep fried whatever. We did enjoy the Chicken Tortilla Soup and Southwest Salad though.

But what about the rest of next week? Where do you recommend?

Mine might look like this:

Friday: Dogpatch Saloon, San Francisco

Saturday: Costume party at Neil's house, rock star chef at First Crush (dive free night)

Sunday: Saddleroom, "The last neighborhood bar in Redwood City."

Tuesday: Antonio's Nut House, Palo Alto: (love those free peanuts)

Wednesday: Fred's Place, Mountain View (new to me, but local guitarist extraordinaire AJ Crawdaddy highly recommends - and if anyone knows the cool spots - it's a guy that has played all of them. "Many TV's friendly joynt, stiff drinks."

Is the sign of a real dive bar the places without a website? Or is it the place where everybody knows your name?

Time to find out.


Celebrating Giants win at The Office.

The Office
1748 El Camino Real, San Carlos

Dogpatch Saloon
2496 3rd St, San Francisco

The Saddleroom
1607 Woodside Rd, Redwood City

Antonio's Nut House
321 S California Ave, Palo Alto

Fred's Place
2534 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View

Speaking of dive bars, congrats go out to our own, I Still Call It Rossotti's, which made the #1 spot in the "2014 Best Dive Bars in America." Any of my hometown readers ever been to Old Miami in Detroit?


Don't be scaaaaarrrred - all comments entered to win a trip to the Fancy Food Show. Eat your way thru this culinary extravaganza and get interviewed on your favorite new trends. Winner announced Nov 27th.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by A Single Guy, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 23, 2014 at 7:18 pm

A dive bar is really just an informal neighborhood bar.

The more precise definition depends on location. In SF, a typical dive bar doesn't have a "cocktail menu," doesn't do blended drinks, and is cash only.

But here on the Peninsula, a dive bar might give some leeway. Our beloved "I still call it Rossotti's" is a dive bar, and I don't even know if they match any of the SF criteria. It doesn't matter, it's still an informal neighborhood bar, that's what really counts.

For me, ultimately the "neighborhood" part is the defining component. One of my favorite dive bars from the Nineties attracted all types: high-tech engineers to construction workers, off-duty cops, Mafia bookies, movie stars, politicians, journalists, line cooks, out-of-town pool hustlers, local pool sharks. Attorneys: trademark/intellectual property types to the ham-and-eggers who hang out near the jail.

I can tell you that a dive bar isn't the playground for privileged high-tech brats from Facebook, Google, Twitter, whoever.

Tune into KNBR on your old-school transistor radio for Giants coverage. Our local broadcasters blow doors on the lame national TV commentators anyhow (*cough* Joe Buck *cough*).

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 23, 2014 at 9:54 pm

'In SF, a typical dive bar doesn't have a "cocktail menu," doesn't do blended drinks, and is cash only.'

So too, exactly (also no draft beer), at Mountain View's main "dive bar" -- since 1963 -- in the center of downtown -- and so low-key, even some longtime locals still don't know it's there. It's now the oldest continuously operating bar of any kind in MV. Little changed since 1963 (but for the intrusion of a staircase, which claimed some of its space a while back), and even though smoking has been banned now for decades, hints of it still pervade the very wood. No one would have things otherwise.

Mervyn's Lounge opened daily at 6AM for decades -- it closed only from 2AM to 6 AM until this past summer. I'm told that even as recently as the 1990s, there was real demand for a bar downtown at 6AM, but that trade has slackened lately. In the course of a slight remodel and an ownership shift this past summer, the opening hours were "modernized" to 11AM. Web Link

Posted by Not Fun Places, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 24, 2014 at 10:48 am

Unless there are at least a few people, head down at the bar in the morning, it is not a dive bar. Dive bars are for the collection of alcoholics who have no use for a bar except to get their fix so the shaking hands can stop. It's clientele is comprised of many people who have sadly ruined their lives and likely the lives of others. It is not a place to celebrate nor is is a place for people to go and have a unique kitschy drive bar experience. Go there to mourn the waste of humanity, not to have joke about and have fun in the middle of misery. If you're able to have a good time in what you think is a dive bar, you're likely not in a dive bar...just a place less tidy than what you may be used to. Oh, prostitution and drug dealing are rampant in the real dive bars. There are more than a few in SF that will make you reset how you use the term.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Oct 24, 2014 at 1:34 pm

The Office is a dive bar?

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Oct 25, 2014 at 9:26 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

The Office is a great place to watch the game with friends. But is it a dive bar? I've always thought "dive" to be a negative descriptor, but a quick search has many references in a positive light, that "neighborhood bar where everyone knows your name." Thus the question. You tell me.

Posted by The Office, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 27, 2014 at 11:04 am

The Office is not a dive, it's a (need newer term for) 'yuppie' bar mostly frequented by the parents up in White Oaks that do not go 'downtown' to the Laurel Street bars and restaurants because they are tired of getting harassed by the cops/sheriffs. Later in the evening it's taken over by a younger group of kids - the same kids that a few years ago, as fresh 21 year olds traveled as a pack to the dive bar de jour (was saddleroom for a bit, then Carlos Club, then old pro, etc..)

the office - Great beer. Good crowd. Fun fire pits. Horrid food. Best fall-back is the skirt steak, get fries not that wilted thing they call 'salad'. Maybe they'll bring in the fried chicken from their new place around the corner - 3 pigs.

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Laura Stec how about a special world serious meal?

can you endorse me, my old BAA friend?
mark weiss
giants fan since the days of tito tapping his bat on the plate but can name four or five of the men on deck when Bobby not Hank Thompson hit the shot

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 27, 2014 at 12:17 pm

see also my blog
Web Link

you know, D. our former BAA leader and one of the reasons I drifted into the muck here leaves me cold in that he will only vote for or endorse on the single silly issue of his anaerobic or I call it "green goop yes" digester doo hickey. Tom says he will go down in history as being silly, if I can quote Mr. J who come to think of it says he is not voting for me this time despite being my advisor in 2012 because I was too flip with the League of Conservation Voters, who picked what I call the "Barry Goldwater Enviro Slate" as in 9 out of not 10 but 100. got all that! go giants! Or as danny kaye would say: heller throws to haller blah blah blah

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 27, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Web Link

i am not making this up: hiller haller hallejuhah twist

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Oct 27, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Alright Mark -there's a plug for you. But pray tell, what does this have to do with food, parties, or dive bars?

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 27, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Whoever would know America would know baseball...

You want a 2,000 word guest treatise on the role of dive beers in a properly lubricated Democracy?

Sam Adams, not just a beer but a revolution, Boston Tea party guy, the original.

All things are connected, Chief Seattle.

Giants in World Series AND City Council turning point election -- how is that not all stitched together like a baseball?

Decadent dinner, movable feast.

(Basically the main issue in Palo Alto dovetails with this in that the push by developers for office space, for high tech workers also includes displacement of the working class or public house; I can think of five places that I used to program --produce concerts at, if you excuse the digression from baseball or dive bars per se--so I think this is related, so close to election...)

Or edit and delete as you see fit.

Posted by Old MP, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 28, 2014 at 9:20 am

As I sit wilting at my stool, I wonder what lies ahead - a quart of Coors or a hipster ale from the tap - my aged oak counter seat hasn't changed since forever and I like it that way. A quart of Coors or a glass of wine for the lady, but if you want to fade into distant memories of nonsense I recommend absinthe from the PA scene like the previous poster has overindulged in.

Posted by laura, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Oct 28, 2014 at 9:55 am

Oh Old MP - you are poet. Please come back for another Food Party! soon. We are nothing without you.

Posted by Eva Dobrov, a resident of Ventura,
on Oct 28, 2014 at 10:41 am

Our favorite "Dive" Bar doesn't even have a name: 4141, it's address at 4141 El Camino Real in Palo Alto. Maybe you know it by it's previous names, Dan Browns or even better The Island Food & Grog :-)
It's been remodeled on the inside and is comfy "dive." No food sold, but the owners allow you to bring in any food you want. Pool tables, shuffle board, darts, and great drinks. What more do you need?

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