The tuning of electric guitars and the heart-stopping bass of DJ sets are once again filling up concert halls. In addition to the area's biggest music venues, there are plenty of smaller spots where you can enjoy dinner and a drink while being serenaded by local musicians. From pubs and coffee shops to Coastside distilleries and cocktail bars, here are 12 nearby destinations for dining and entertainment.
Know about other restaurants offering live music? Email [email protected] Schedules and events change frequently, so please check websites and social media for up-to-date information.
Moods. Wine Bar
Enjoy music in an intimate outdoor environment on California Avenue. There's a selection of international wines, and diverse food offerings include pizzas and small bites.
Moods. Wine Bar, 320 South California Ave. (Outside Printers Cafe), Palo Alto; 650-323-3347. Instagram: @moods_wine_bar.
Priding itself on being a community coffee shop that partners with a number of local businesses, the live music schedule at Cafe Zoë includes open mic nights every third Friday of the month. It also hosts local musicians for Friday shows that span genres ranging from acoustic tunes to rock and organize other events including pop-up pizza, jewelry shopping and more.
Cafe Zoë, 1929 Menalto Ave., Menlo Park; 650-322-1926. Instagram: @cafezoemenlopark.
Red Rock Coffee
Spanning two stories in downtown Mountain View, Red Rock Coffee hosts a weekly open mic night on Mondays and is looking to restart the rest of its programming soon. In the past, the shop has hosted coffee tastings, knitting nights and board games.
In 2020, a GoFundMe inspired a new buyer who saved the popular coffee house from financial troubles. Pastries and snacks come from The Midwife and the Baker.
Red Rock Coffee, 201 Castro St., Mountain View; 650-967-4473. Instagram: @redrockcoffee.
Freewheel Brewing Company
Pub-style dishes such as burgers, chicken sandwiches and fish and chips accompany the Redwood City brewery's beverage offerings, which include some of the Bay Area's only cask-conditioned ales. Carbonated through natural fermentation as opposed to injected CO2, these beers are smoother than kegged ones. Check its social media for a rotating schedule of performances.
Freewheel Brewing Company, 3736 Florence St., Redwood City; 650-365-2337. Instagram: @freewheelbrew.
Another local establishment that nearly closed during the pandemic before community members rushed in to save it, Cafe Borrone will restart its band nights soon. Local jazz musician Clint Baker and his band have performed with a rotating cast of artists at the cafe for decades. The Italian-inspired menu features a number of specials and offers seasonal salads, sandwiches and pastas.
Cafe Borrone, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park; 650-327-0830. Instagram: @cafeborrone.
LV Mar Tapas & Cocktails
The Latin American tapas and cocktail bar offers late night live music (10 p.m. to 1 a.m.) during its lounge nights on Fridays and Saturdays. There's usually a DJ and visiting artists who span a variety of musical traditions from Latin America. The seafood-focused menu includes a ceviche of octopus, scallops and halibut and a full assortment of tacos ranging from the classic Pescado Frito made with beer-battered fried fish to the Pancita de Puerco, which pairs pork belly with caviar.
LV Mar Tapas & Cocktails, 2042 Broadway, Redwood City; 650-241-3111. Instagram: @lvmarrwc.
The Swell Lounge
Housed at Jettywave Distillery, The Swell Lounge offers live music outdoors for visitors to enjoy after a day on the beach or paddleboarding. A Mediterranean-inspired menu accompanies cocktails and pours of the distillery's first product, Half Moon Shine, produced with corn and barley open-fermented in the fog.
The Swell Lounge, 155 Broadway, Half Moon Bay; 650-291-8835. Instagram: @the_swell_lounge.
On Fridays and Saturdays, Nick's offers dancing and a house band in an old-fashioned cocktail lounge with plenty of wood paneling. This historic establishment first opened in 1927 and is known for seafood classics such as its Dungeness crab sandwich.
Nick's, 100 Rockaway Beach Ave., Pacifica; 650-359-3900.
The Swingin' Door
Dueling pianos on Fridays and Saturdays headline the entertainment at this long-standing pub, which also hosts live bands and four nights of karaoke each week. The menu of bar classics, fish and chips, burgers and chicken sandwiches includes a milder version of the Habanero Burger XXX that once inspired a lawsuit.
The Swingin' Door, 106 E. 25th Ave., San Mateo; 650-522-9800. Instagram: @theswingingdoor.
Devil's Canyon Brewing Company
The San Carlos brewery hosts musical acts on Beer Fridays to share its values of community, sustainability and good beer. There's a rotating schedule of food trucks, and outdoor seating is available in the beer garden.
Devil's Canyon Brewing Company, 935 Washington St., San Carlos; 650-592-2739. Instagram: @devilscanyon.
St. James Gate
This pub hosts events almost each night of the week, including cover bands that will please fans of any decade's top hits. Enjoy classic bar food and drinks in this relaxed neighborhood watering hole.
St. James Gate, 1410 Old County Road, Belmont; 650-592-5923. Instagram: @thegatebelmont.
Local artists perform every Wednesday and Thursday alongside bowling and bocce at Hillsdale Mall. The Italian American menu at this national chain is centered on pizzas, pastas and shareable bar bites like chicken wings in balsamic barbecue sauce and pigs in a blanket served with spicy brown mustard.
Pinstripes, 36 Hillsdale Mall, San Mateo; 650-781-4720. Instagram: @pinstripesbbb.
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Anthony Shu writes for TheSixFifty.com, a sister publication of Palo Alto Online, covering what to eat, see and do in Silicon Valley.