Starting at the top of University Avenue, Rudy’s is the first stop. Rudy’s has been around for years, or at least as long as I can remember and remains one of the homier (and divier) bars in Palo Alto.
Next comes NOLA on Ramona, a New Orleans themed restaurant and bar that is housed in a courtyard and surrounding rooms. I like NOLA, but I do miss Pearls Oyster Bar that previously occupied the space.
Next door to NOLA is the Old Pro, which has been recently remodeled, no longer resembling the Ramona’s Pizza of my childhood. This Old Pro is a out shoot of the original that sits in an old Quonset hut on El Camino Real. The Ramona Street location has been many things since the Pizza Parlor. Over the years it has been a steak house, a Mexican restaurant, and a seafood house, before the owners figured out that best thing was to copy what they were already doing on El Camino and turn the place into a Sports Bar. Unfortunately, they also brought their terrible food. Oh well, at least on Ramona you can get some hard liquor, the EL Camino location is beer & wine only.
Further down Ramona is The Blue Chalk Cafe, opened back in 1990, by the folks behind Left At Albuquerque, and still serving some mean Souther fare. With pool tables, darts and shuffle board, two floors, two bars and lots of space this is one of my favorites. Unfortunately, these days they turn the place in to Club on Friday and Saturday night.
Stuck in the middle of the block on Ramona is the Royal Crown, the other dive bar in the area. It is also a full fledged English Pub complete with Rugby and Soccer (sorry Football) 24/7 in the telly. I find this place a bit rougher than Rudy’s, but goof for a Pint.
Next on the list is Bistro 412, which until recently was known as Fanny & Alexanders. I haven’t been yet, but I hope the new owners fully utilize what is the best beer garden in town.
Back on University, Valley Wag stops at Pasta ? an Italian Restaurant with a great front bar and sidewalk seating for some great Silicon Valley geek watching.
For some reason, Megan stops here leaving out Madison & Fifth. This newer Italian place has one of the best bars in town. It is very classy, great for people watching and has a wonderful staff. It can be easy to miss,as the monstrous Cheesecake Factory looms next door, what ever you do, do not get sucked in to it’s enormousness. The drink are terrible. Resist and get a Martini a Madison and Fifth, the food is real good too. Also missed was the venerable old Empire Tap Room. On Romona, another block past the Blue Chalk, the Empire has a great long bar, good food, and low key atmosphere, it features traditional American fare and an excellent courtyard for sitting in the sun. This Empire Tap Room has long been on my list of places to grab a great cocktail on Palo Alto. Gordon Biersch was left of the list as well. This was the very first Gordon Beirsch Brewery, started way back in 1988 in the old Bijou Theater. I saw “Kiss of the Spider Woman” there and have had many a great beer, wow who can say that.
For the more adventurous Facebooker’s, a journey down to California Avenue is in order. Yes, it is over a Mile away from HQ, but worth the the trip as there are a two outstanding bars and many restaurants on what was the old town of Mayfield’s main street. We recommend getting a Mojito at La Bodega del Medio and staying for the Ropa Veijo, yummm. The upscale bar has a great offering of Cuban cocktails, coffee’s, and cigars (not Cuban, sorry). The place also has once of the best smoking room’s I have been in, comfortable, loungy seats, TV’s and lots of wood paneling. They even managed to fence in a portion of the parking lot in back and created nice outdoor venue to suck on a cocktail and cigar.
In the next block of Cal Ave, is Antonio’s Nut House. This is THE best bar in Palo Alto, hands down. It may not look like much, some may even say it is a dive, but how can you go wrong with cheap drinks, pool ( 4 tables! ) foos ball, darts and the some of the best Mexican Food around (Taqueria Azteca shares the space — order the Carnitas). What makes the Nuthouse special is it’s unique crowd of local’s, Stanford students and high tech workers. This makes for an interesting trip every time. Why is it the Nut House? Peanuts, of course, Antonio’s is famous for peanuts, guarded by a Gorilla the nuts are free and plentiful. Yes, you can drop the shells on the floor.