Alpine Inn Beer Garden in Portola Valley opened as a saloon and gambling house in 1852, before Stanford University was even founded. It is still one of the best loved places in town for drinks and a homely atmosphere. Enter the door of the old-timey farmhouse exterior, sit at a heavy wooden communal table, and drink in the history of Portola Valley at the open-air beer garden behind the restaurant. The garden can be a romantic spot for an unconventional dinner date, or the whole outdoor area can be rented out for larger parties. It’s a crowd pleaser for all types of people on any kind of night.
Alpine Inn Beer Garden, 3915 Alpine Rd, Portola Valley, CA, USA +1 650 854 4004
With a drink menu that includes a Hurricane served in a giant Moron Bowl, you can’t go wrong at NOLA. The extravagant New Orleans architecture and atmosphere draws a lively crowd that matches its colorful southern menu – diners often fill its three floors of seating. Its delicious food and drink menus are quite pricey for a student budget, but NOLA is well worth the trip every once in a while for a celebration with friends. Back to the Moron Bowl – it’s a fishbowl filled with blended rum, pineapple, vanilla bean, and brown sugar. Sippers of this one-and-done beverage look like morons, but they may have just made the smartest choice.
NOLA, 535 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA, USA +1 650 328 2722
The Dutch Goose, currently decked out in beautiful holiday decorations, is great for comfort food and beer on a relaxed evening. Its recent renovation created a new indoor/outdoor patio that greatly improved its already homey atmosphere. This spot is famous for burgers, but vegetarians should feel equally welcome – the veggie-packed garden burger is sure to satisfy.
The Dutch Goose, 3567 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA, USA +1 650 854 3245
Everyone needs a road trip to spice things up. Palo Alto residents and Stanford students alike often hit the road for a two-hour drive to Petaluma. Weekdays at the Petaluma tap room offer a free brewery tour that includes free beer twice a day. On weekends, the brewery offers dry tours on Saturdays and every hour in the afternoon on Sundays, no reservation required. The best attractions, of course, are the beer tastings, and all those special non-distributed beers go perfectly with a soft pretzel with mustard and cheese or with the selection from Yanni’s Sausage Grill. Make it an all-day event, but make sure to sober up before you drive home.