It was a stormy night, and Evil was a foot. It came in a Jimmy Choo sandal a size and a half too small. Evil’s toes hung off the front like refugees jockeying for position on a deflating raft. It seems a designer shoe, no matter the size, is tough to pass up if the price is right. Fake it till you make it, I guess. Such are the times.

We overheard Evil’s witless shopping narrative at one of the downtown’s polished new spots. Mr. Harada had no patience for such blatant consumerism, and he suggested we make our way to a place with fewer toe hangers hanging about. I took a quick inventory of the scene and agreed.

We decided on The Cats Restaurant and Tavern in Los Gatos. All was going splendidly until we realized the light rail only goes as far as Winchester and San Tomas. We caught an Uber for the last leg of the trip and pulled off of Hwy. 17 to find a full parking lot. This place has a Los Gatos address, but it exists outside the Town proper.

The Cats is a highway bar, and should be respected as such. It’s crammed with redwood and oak appointments. Decapitated large game hangs on the walls. Two western-saddle bar stools sit at the far corner of a busy bar and there’s usually a band on the small stage. The place rumbles into the night, as dancing is encouraged in the small pockets of space between the bar and tables.

Legend has it that The Cats was a speakeasy and brothel. Historical accuracy tends to be fuzzy in places that serve good beer and cocktails, but it does make for an enjoyable imagination exercises. It’s certainly easy to picture, as a lot of the regulars look like western outlaws and/or lumberjacks. (I call them outjacks.)

Mr. Harada and I enjoyed several drafts for what you’d expect to pay at a proper dive, all while listening to a live band perform respectable renditions of familiar tunes. The place also serves proper St. Louis-style BBQ, and the smell of hickory and applewood hangs like a friend’s arm around your shoulder.

The Cats feels like gold country. In that way, it’s a vacation that doesn’t require much of a journey. The only drawback is it closes around midnight on the weekends.

The Cats
17533 Santa Cruz Hwy, Los Gatos.