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Intro and Russian River Brewing Company
These are the Top 10 bars and clubs in downtown Santa Rosa as chosen by About.com readers. They're arraigned in a handy pre-planned route. So, now, you don’t have to actually think about where to go to next while you’re busy bar hopping (or bar crawling) from one spot to another.(Note: In March of ’07 I asked readers to email me their recommendations for the best (and worst) downtown bars/clubs. The direct quotes within this article are from readers’ comments.)
Start your bar crawl on 4th St. just west of E Street at…
Russian River Brewing CompanySeveral readers consider RRBC’s selections as the “best beers in the county.” Along with their “very tasty and equally strong” beers, this spot is also known for good pizza and Buffalo wings. And they usually have live music on weekend nights. The atmosphere is “fun and loud” although some readers didn’t care for the “quasi-industrial atmosphere” and found it “cold and gloomy.” RRBC also has a small, and usually very crowded, outdoor dining... patio out front on 4th Street that is “the very best place in town for people watching.” Of course, that goes both ways, and watching the folks out on the patio—often tipsy and usually loud—provides good entertainment for passers-by as well.
725 4th Street
Now, continue west on 4th Street to… next >>Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Sweet Spot Pub & Lounge
As the name suggests, this is a “very cozy, sweet spot.” The place is rather small and narrow, which might help account for its “warm and friendly atmosphere.” There’s a decent menu and live music on weekends. The pub is best known for featuring beers from the Lagunitas Brewing Company—the little Sonoma County brewery that made it big.619 Fourth Street
Now, cross 4th St. and cut through Courthouse Square. Cross 3rd Street and come to… next >>Continue to 3 of 10 below.
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Third Street AleWorks Brewpub
“If you come here for happy hour on Two-Fifty Tuesdays” (when pints are $2.50), “you’ll think that Santa Rosa is the most hoppin’ town you’ve ever seen.” Actually, on just about any day of the week, this place gets mighty busy. It’s known for great beer and above average food. The atmosphere is “nicer and airier than your typical cave-like pub” and there are plenty of windows, especially up on the second floor. Plus, there’s a nice outdoor patio. And, “there’s a billiard table on the second floor that I’m sure would be fun if I could ever get a turn on it.”610 3rd St
Backtrack across 3rd St.and back into Courthouse Square. Stay to your right and, just before you get to Flavor restaurant and Café Japan, you’ll see the door to… next >>Continue to 4 of 10 below.
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This is “Santa Rosa’s most refined lounge.” It’s elegant yet relaxed inside with a nice, upper-story view of Courthouse Square. There are comfortable couches and chairs by a gas fireplace plus several nooks where you can find some privacy. Upper Fourth has a full bar and serves appetizers. “Everything is pricey, but it’s worth it to have a nice place to sit and relax instead of the usual frat party atmosphere.” Another reader felt like she was “back in San Francisco again. We were really impressed with the decor and the scene, plus the crowd is a little older so it felt more sophisticated.”96 Old Courthouse Square
Head west through Courthouse Square and cross Mendocino Ave. to get to the other side of the square.Stop by at… next >>Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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When it’s warm out, this is a great place to have a margarita on the outdoor patio. But, the Mexican food is “just standard, nothing to write home about. And it’s not cheap.” Folks used to come here on weekend nights for dancing on the second floor. But, the new owners closed down that aspect of the restaurant in early 2007. There is word that the Cantina will soon close and re-open as Maria, Maria, named after the song by legendary guitarist Carlos Santana, who is in partnership with the new owners.500 4th St.
Head out the front doors and walk across 4th Street to… next >>Continue to 6 of 10 below.
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Tex Wasabi’s Rock-n-Roll Sushi BBQ
Owned by Santa Rosa local Guy Fieri of Food Network fame (“Guy’s Big Bite”), Tex Wasabi’s mirrors Fieri spontaneous, affable and irreverent style. The drinks are fine. The sushi, although by no means traditional, is also fine. So is the BBQ. But, what stands out are the bartenders and servers, who are “entertaining, friendly and charismatic.” Another thing that stands out is how loud this place can get. Beware the gong. Every now and then, a bartender will bang the ear-piercing device for no apparent reason. One time, I heard him yell out, “I’m not wearing any underwear!” followed by the bang of the gong which was then followed by the thunderous hoots and hollers of the patrons.515 4th St.
(707) 544-TEXX (8399)
Leave by the back door of Tex Wasabi’s. Cross the parking lot and then cross 5th St. Turn right and keep going until you get to… next >>Continue to 7 of 10 below.
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Ausiello's 5th St. Grill
“If you like sports bars, you’ll think you died and went to heaven.” Ausiello’s serves a “great selection of beer and some of the best burgers around.” But what really sets this place apart is it’s commitment to providing the sport’s fan with just about every conceivable game on one of its 17 television sets. Of those 17 sets, 6 of them are small, flat screen TVs installed at individual tables, for your personal viewing pleasure. And, if you ever tire of sitting inside watching the tube, there’s an outside patio where you can catch a few rays.609 5th St.
Go out to 5th St. and backtrack west to Mendocino Ave. Turn right on Mendocino. and, on your right, you’ll see… next >>Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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Along with Upper Fourth, this is downtown’s most up-scale bar. But, whereas Upper Fourth leans toward the elegant and reserved, Barcode is more hip and stylish. “The dark and chic” atmosphere makes one reader feel like she just stepped into “some secret speakeasy” where all the “cool cats hang out and play.” The bar is owned by the same husband-and-wife-team who own Willi’s Wine Bar, Willi’s Raw Bar, and Monti’s Rotisserie and Grill.404-D Mendocino Ave.
Walk out onto Mendocino and go right until you get to 7th St. Make a left and you’ll get to… next >>Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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This is Santa Rosa’s only “big-city style dance club” with “a great lighting system, fog machines” and all that “razzle-dazzle.” Of all the bars and clubs readers emailed me about, the Seven UltraLounge generated the most passionate comments. As one reader put it: “Finally, finally, finally, there’s a sexy spot in Santa Rosa where I can go out dancing anytime of the week. I love this place!!!” Not everyone was as smitten. “The club looks like it belongs in San Francisco. But, the people inside look and act and dress like they belong either in a gang or on a chicken farm.” Another reader summed it up best when he wrote, “this is the kind of place you either love or hate.”
528 Seventh Street
Now, go back onto Mendocino Ave., and turn…oh shoot, never mind, you’re stuck! Did I ever mention there’s a big ‘ole mall and freeway in the middle of our downtown and there’s no safe and easy way to walk from this part of town to the Railroad Square area? So, go get your... car or call a cab. Either way, you need to get to Railroad Square because no night of barhopping is complete without a stop at… next >>Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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The Last Day Saloon
This is the best live music club in Santa Rosa. “If you want to hear REAL music and have enough space to actually move around, this is the place to go.” They book well-known touring acts and local favorites, as well as comedy acts and DJs. In addition to the stage and large dance floor, there’s also a restaurant area. The spot is “mellow and unpretentious” and “doesn’t have that get wasted and get laid vibe.” As one reader put it, “Sure, you’ll see some posers. But, all in all, this is the kind of place you go to to relax, hear some good music, and have some good fun.”The Last Day Saloon
120 Fifth St. (at Davis St.)
Hotline: (707) 545-2343
Office: (707) 545-5876
By the way, while you’re in Railroad Square, look out for Toad in the Hole (116 Fifth St., Santa Rosa) which should be opening up in May of 2007. The classic English pub is owned by two nephews of Chris Stokeld, who owned the Old Vic. So, good things are expected.
Your tour of downtown Santa Rosa’s best bars... and nightclubs has now come to an end. Good night. And, as a parting gift, here are phone numbers for some local taxi services:
- Santa Rosa Taxi
- A-C Taxi
- George's Taxi Yellow Cab Company
- Yellow Cab
- Checker Cab
- Santa Rosa Taxi