Monday, March 3, 2008


Cinebar is a classic San José dive bar, and for some reason I want to learn more about this place. I suppose it's because I see its doors open at 6 a.m. when I take an early bus over the hill, and I know that the bar has already packed in some patrons at that ungodly hour. A bartender at another place once told me that Cinebar attracts three "shifts" of clientele: clubbers at night, college students by day, and professional drinkers in the morning.

On the few times I've visited, the vibe has always seemed mellow and relaxed. The decor offers no particular thrills, though the stormtrooper painted bathroom door is unmistakable and the prices are reasonable. Cinebar attracts my attention mostly because of its cool outside mural of a vaguely middle eastern or north African city lit by a crescent moon. With its palm trees and semi Art Nouveau font, the mural resembles a sort of nineteenth-century fantasy of a desert watering hole.

So, I'd like to learn more about Cinebar. Searching the San Jose Mercury News I found only 14 articles even mentioning the bar since 1991. Perhaps the most interesting reference was a June 7, 1996, piece by Brad Kava and Claudia Perry who recalled how, five years earlier, visitors were advised to wear biker jackets if they dared to enter the famed dive. Things have changed a lot since then. But I don't know much more than that.

Do you have memories or recollections about Cinebar? Please post a comment.

(Photographs by Andrew Wood)


detroit dog said...

really great photo (top).

highway163 said...

Thanks, DD!

Justin Lloyd said...

I remember bar hopping here for a friend's birthday. I remember that the drinks were cheap. It was really dark inside too.

I tend to stick to one bar in downtown. It does away with the pretty princess and "I want to fight someone" crowd. Don't know if that happens at Cinebar but I think there might be a relationship between how close a bar is to campus and the number of incidents the police have to respond to. Of course that is my unresearched personal opinion.