It was 100 degrees when I pulled up to a plaza of small Vietnamese restaurants and markets at Story Road and McLaughlin Avenue. Barren and aged, this looked to be the last place on earth to host the freshest, most Insta-worthy cafe in the South Bay.

But there it was: Square Bar Cafe, home of the famous bubble tea in light-bulb bottles. The entrance read “11am-11pm errrday” in the vernacular characteristic of the internet’s favorite boba spot.

Last month, San Diego’s popular Square Bar opened up shop in San Jose, unleashing a swarm of social media posts documenting the sweet tea served in curious forms and rainbow concoctions. Ice cream sandwiches were expertly posed between the freshly manicured fingertips of teenagers hoping to rack up some likes.

I’m not hating. I don’t blame anyone for seizing a Kodak moment when they see Square Bar’s photogenic menu. Telling a millennial not to pull out their phone upon seeing a mouthwatering fruit slushy served in a light-bulb-shaped bottle is like expecting a 5-year-old to willingly walk out of a candy store.

The bulbs are so popular that when I arrived around 2pm on the hottest Sunday of the summer, they were sold out. I was told it would be at least two days until the next shipment arrived. When I asked the cashier how often they run out of the light bulbs, she told me that the store orders a case every week, and yet supply still never meets the demand.

Luckily, when it comes to Square Bar, there are other fish in the sea. The cafe boasts a broad menu of coffees, teas, smoothies, lattes, seasonal drinks and ice cream starting at $4. The fun part is deciding what vessel will hold the refreshment. Options include a regular plastic cup, a split-cup for the indecisive, a glass bottle (extra $1.75), the beloved light bulb (extra $2) and a camera lens-shaped tumbler (extra $4).

I ordered the Fifty/Fifty in a glass bottle ($6.25). The drink was half ice milk and half toppings-egg pudding and honey boba-with a caramel drizzle finish. It wasn’t the quintessential boba experience, more like a milk smoothie with overly sweet garnishes, but the glass bottle aesthetic made the visit feel more interesting than the average cafe stop. Plus, it’s 100 percent reusable.

Square Bar Cafe
1154 Story Rd, San Jose.