One of the most fun parts of going back to semi-normalcy in the aftermath of COVID-19 shutdowns has been the return of trivia nights. I love gathering with a handful of friends to pool our knowledge about various topics – learning about the gaps in my knowledge and where our collective strengths and weaknesses lie in the realms of various categories.
To research this story, I enlisted a cohort of coworkers to try out a few local trivia nights for ourselves, in addition to a few I'd tried out in the “before times”: I knew that the Rose & Crown trivia nights were often populated by Stanford grad students, for instance.
In our efforts, my colleagues and I proudly took home second-place prizes from the trivia night at Calave wine bar in Palo Alto, and a first-place win at a onetime trivia event at Patagonia in Palo Alto. We didn't do quite as well at Off the Rails Brewing’s trivia night in Sunnyvale – at which a friend carried the team with her karaoke rendition of Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" – or at the pub trivia at Alhambra Irish House in Redwood City, where we killed it in the round identifying celebrities based on their high school yearbook photos, but fell short when it came to identifying musicians and song titles and answering sports trivia questions.
Fortunately, the Peninsula has no shortage of trivia nights at local pubs, eateries and breweries. Here’s our guide to 20 weekly trivia nights where you can gather some friends and test your collective knowledge over food and drinks.
The Refuge, San Mateo, 6-8 p.m. (and Tuesdays in San Carlos, 6-8 p.m.)
The Refuge recently started working with Sand Castle Trivia to host weekly trivia nights on Mondays in San Mateo and Tuesdays in San Carlos. "We decided to try trivia because we thought it would be a fun way to help promote our business and especially weekday dinners. We found that it enhances the dining experience, really promotes a fun atmosphere as well as helps to bolster community participation," says co-owner Melanie Roth. Prizes are awarded to the top three teams. Widely known for their pastrami, The Refuge has extensive food and drink menus featuring burgers and Philly cheesesteaks along with beer, cider, wine and seltzer.
The Refuge, 66 31st Ave., San Mateo, 650-458-3044; 963 Laurel St., San Carlos, 650-598-9813; Instagram: @refuge_pastrami.
The Office, San Carlos, 7-9 p.m.
A converted real estate office, this neighborhood sports bar offers indoor and outdoor dining, fire pits, and bar and grill fare. Monday trivia nights reward $35, $25 and $15 to the top three placing teams and include rotating $5 beer pints.
The Office, 1748 El Camino Real, San Carlos; 650-598-9740, Instagram: @theofficesancarlos.
Stephens Green, Mountain View, 8 p.m.
Stephens Green, an Irish bar in Mountain View, offers weekly trivia nights that include dance-off rounds. The downtown pub has 36 beers on tap, wine, cocktails and a wide range of Irish whiskeys, scotch and bourbon along with half-pound burgers and classic Irish fare.
Stephens Green, 223 Castro St., Mountain View; 650-964-9151, Instagram: @stephensgreen.
Pedro Point Brewing, Pacifica, 6:30 p.m.
Pacifica's Pedro Point Brewing hosts weekly trivia nights with prizes, plus brewed hard seltzers on tap. The Coastside microbrewery brews its beer on-site, with a rotating selection ranging from lighter beers and sours to malty and darker options. They often host local food pop-ups.
Pedro Point Brewing, 55-A Bill Drake Way, Pacifica, 650-735-5813; Instagram: @pedropointbrewing.
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company Half Moon Bay, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
The Coastside eatery hosts Geeks Who Drink for seven rounds of audio, visual and live hosted trivia. Gift cards are given out to top teams at the end of the night. There is a maximum of six people per team. Besides its beer, the brewery and restaurant offers an array of cocktails, seafood specialties, small plates and entrees.
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, 390 Capistrano Road, Half Moon Bay; 650-728-2739, Instagram: @hmbbrewingco.
Calave, Palo Alto, 7 p.m.
Calave, a Palo Alto wine bar with charcuterie plates for snacking, hosts King Trivia and offers prizes – like the branded tumblers my colleagues and I received for our second-place win at a recent event. Besides wine, they also serve beer, cocktails, flatbreads and small bites.
Calave, 299 California Ave. #115, Palo Alto, 650-521-0443.
Fibbar MaGees, Sunnyvale, 7 p.m.
At Fibbar MaGees, trivia nights are hosted by Brainstormer. They advise calling ahead to make sure trivia hasn't been postponed due to holidays, sports or other circumstances. The longtime downtown Irish pub has a rotating menu of craft beers and a large selection of Irish whiskeys and spirits. Burgers and pizza are served alongside Irish pub fare like Guinness Irish stew and bangers and mash.
Fibbar MaGees, 156 S Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale; 408-749-8373, Instagram: @fibbarmagees.
The Livin Room, San Carlos, 7-9 p.m.
This new bar and lounge in San Carlos offers Tuesday night trivia sessions by King Trivia. Nights are first come, first served, and taco plates are available for $5 until 9 p.m. The downtown San Carlos eatery gives patrons a choice of seven “living rooms” to lounge in and offers handcrafted cocktails, wine and tapas.
The Livin Room, 677 Laurel St. Suite C, San Carlos; 650-232-7965, Instagram: @cccthelivinroom.
The Halford, Santa Clara, 7 p.m.
The Santa Clara restaurant and taphouse hosts weekly trivia nights by King Trivia and offers 71 craft beers, six wines and cider on tap in addition to classic bar fare like wings and fries.
The Halford, 1494 Halford Ave., Santa Clara; 408-243-1290, Instagram: @thehalfordusa.
Barebottle Brewing Company, Santa Clara, 7-10 p.m.
Barebottle Brewing Company’s Trivia Tuesdays are hosted by local comedians. Teams can be up to six people, and prizes are offered to the winners. Started in San Francisco by three friends and former classmates who began homebrewing, the craft brewery is opening a Menlo Park location at the Springline development this summer.
Barebottle Brewing Company, 2520 Augustine Drive, Santa Clara; 408-564-5722, Instagram: @barebottle.
Hercules Draft House & Cantina, Los Gatos, 7-10 p.m.
Hercules Draft House in Los Gatos offers a joint Taco Tuesday and Trivia Night hosted by Sporcle. Prizes include free beer, a $10 gift card and $20 off your food and beverage bill. The eatery, which opened last fall, offers cocktails, beer and wine alongside a menu focused on Mexican seafood and fare.
Hercules Draft House & Cantina, 165 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road, Los Gatos; 408-402-3131, Instagram: @hercules_draft_house_.
The Rose & Crown, Palo Alto, 8 p.m.
This popular trivia night in downtown Palo Alto offers reserved tables, which can be claimed from 7:30-7:50 p.m. on Tuesdays. After that, the tables are up for grabs. The English pub is the oldest bar in Palo Alto and has a rotation of more than 20 craft beers alongside whiskey, cocktails and a small menu of burgers, fish and chips, and bar bites.
The Rose & Crown, 547 Emerson St., Palo Alto; 650-327-7673, Instagram: @theroseandcrownpa.
Freewheel Brewing Company, Redwood City, 7 p.m.
Freewheel Brewing Company hosts Wednesday night trivia sessions with teams up to seven. Winners can earn prizes. Located in Marsh Manor shopping center, Freewheel has a rotating menu of beers on tap and a food menu that includes burgers, salads and small plates.
Freewheel Brewing Company, 3736 Florence St., Redwood City; 650-365-2337, Instagram: @freewheelbrew.
Charley's Los Gatos Bar & Nightclub, Los Gatos, 7 p.m.
Head Games hosts weekly multimedia trivia nights with smash burgers at Charley's in Los Gatos. The maximum team size is six members. The neighborhood bar and live music venue was fully renovated last year and offers a daily happy hour from 6-8 p.m. Charley’s doesn’t have a food menu, but patrons are welcome to bring snacks.
Charley's, 15 N Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos; 408-898-9568, Instagram: @charleysbarlg.
O'Neill's Irish Pub, San Mateo, 8-10 p.m.
O'Neill's Irish Pub has hosted trivia for a number of years. Participants are advised to arrive early to reserve tables. Open since 1998, the downtown San Mateo mainstay offers beer, scotch and whiskey and partners with nearby restaurants like 31st Union and Joy Sushi for food options.
O'Neill's Irish Pub, 34 S B St., San Mateo; 650-347-1544, Instagram: @oneillsirish.
Off the Rails Brewing Company, Sunnyvale, 7 p.m.
Head Games Trivia hosts a lively trivia night at Off the Rails Brewing Company. Participants with good music knowledge will have a leg up: Each round comes with a different soundtrack that teams can earn bonus points for if they correctly identify the artist and year. There's also a karaoke and dancing round. The downtown Sunnyvale brewery offers beer, wine and cocktails, plus wood-fired pizza, sandwiches and salads and bar bites.
Off the Rails Brewing Company, 111 S Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale; 408-773-9500, Instagram: @otrbrewing.
Strike Brewing Company, Campbell, 7 p.m.
Trivia nights at Strike Brewing Company’s Campbell taproom include three rounds of 15 questions and a prize for the winning team. The microbrewery makes its own craft beer ranging from hazy IPAs to seasonal seltzers and has a quarterly hazy IPA release.
Strike Brewing Company, 469 E Campbell Ave., Campbell; 408-796-7810, Instagram: @strikebrewingcampbell.
Alhambra Irish House, Redwood City, 7:30 p.m.
Alhambra Irish House, the sister restaurant of Stephens Green in Mountain View, offers several rounds of multimedia trivia from music to sports to celebrity knowledge and random facts. The winning team earns a $25 gift card. The downtown Irish pub has an extensive drinks menu and an assortment of large plates and bites to share, as well as Irish favorites like shepherd’s pie.
Alhambra Irish House, 831 Main St., Redwood City, 650-366-4366; Instagram: @alhambra_irish_house.
LvL Up, Campbell, 7 p.m.
Trivia nights at LvL Up, a pinball arcade with gastropub fare in Campbell, are hosted Sundays at 7 p.m. by King Trivia. LvL Up has more than two dozen classic arcade games and pinball machines in its collection, plus an assortment of popular ‘80s and ‘90s board games like Candyland and Mouse Trap. The menu includes craft beer, themed cocktails and bites ranging from wings and a fried chicken sandwich to a variety of mac n’ cheese options with names like Link’s Revenge and Pinball Wizard.
LvL Up, 400 E Campbell Ave., Campbell; 408-429-8472, Instagram: @lvlupcampbell.