"Food is Good." - Frans Heldner

Eric Carlson, 1998

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Vahl's Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge
1513 El Dorado
(408) 262-0731

On Dec 27, 2004, Amelia Vahl passed away.
Alviso and San Jose are diminished by her passing.

Amelia has maintained Vahl's since 1941, through thick and thin and flood - almost 60 years. A Mercury News article by Mike Cassidy written in 1992 indicates she was 84 that year - which would make her 92 embarking on the new millenium. The truth may never be known.

Vahl's has changed little since 1941 - a good thing. Changing anything here would be like spray-painting the Sistine Chapel with gang grafitti - not a good idea. Amelia met her husband - Eric - in this building in 1941. It was called the Newport Inn at that time - an 8-stool tavern. Eric Vahl died in 1986.

The menu is stuck in a beautiful time warp. Sip a Manhattan before dinner, order jello for desert. Excellent service provided by the original waitresses. The decor is eclectic 50's and 60's with a smattering of oddities including Jack Daniels collectible bottles and many objects d'art featuring the parrot motif. The cash register appears to weigh 500 pounds.

The bar and 'dance hall' -- The Peacock Room -- is fraught with noir elegance. If David Lynch walked in on a Saturday night when Margie and Aldo were performing their Sing Along gig (accompanied by the mysterious red-headed woman - The Torch of Alviso) he would make a movie of it. The room has more atmosphere than all the Fairmont Hotels in the world rolled into one. At night, in the rain, the neon lights are a thing of beauty.

Jane K. Collins describes Vahl's after a memorable evening:
"Vahl's is a Frank Sinatra song without the swagger. It is an homage to the 50's, a salute to a time that lives only in American mythology. Vahl's is an unpretentious appetizer plate consisting of Ritz crackers, olives and a radish. If your grandmother didn't make it...Vahl's doesn't serve it. Not a speck of arrugula or sun dried tomatoes in sight. At Vahls, the waitresses are maternal and stern. If you don't finish your meal, you're not getting dessert."

"For an edgier version of the 50's, visit the Cocktail Lounge/Peacock Room. Creamy red Naugahyde booths and neon lights cast a menacing glow on the faces of patrons, who move in slow motion to songs like "Where or When." It's perfectly suited to the remote desolation and ruined beauty of Alviso by the bay."
Jane K. Collins

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