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Ask HN: Moving to Mountain View CA – Places to go to hang with fellow geeks?
47 points by mrburton 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 54 comments
I'm looking to see where geeks hang out in mountain view? Coffee shops, co-working spaces, etc.


Not to be flip, but literally anywhere. Mountain View is a pretty small place with just one main street - Castro St. You'll see people coding on laptops at every cafe and restaurant around there.

It's the same way in Palo Alto around University Ave and to a lesser extent, Menlo Park around Santa Cruz Ave. Your biggest problem with be the inability to escape the "tech world" since nearly everyone you meet will work in tech.

But if you want to meet up with someone to code or chat, the suggestions for both RedRock Coffee (Mountain View) and Philz Coffee (Palo Alto) are great.

How exactly do you escape the tech world when you want? Just visiting SV for a couple days was borderline oppressive to me! Everyone has an idea for an app, nearly every bar or restaurant patron was discussing something technical. How do you overcome the lack of professional diversity, or am I just hypersensitive to it? Chicago is admittedly not all that diverse (we have lawyers, accountants, consultants, or tech) but the jump from ~1 profession to >1 profession results in a wildly different experience for me.

I find professional diversity in interest groups. I swim (not very well), and my masters swim team is comprised of doctors, nurses, stay at home dads, accountants, Olympians, bankers, etc. There's obviously tech people, but we don't even talk shop.

I belong to a service organization and most of us are lawyers, real estate agents, city officials, professors, university administrators, and s small smattering of tech people. Again we rarely talk shop.

> How exactly do you escape the tech world when you want?

Go hiking I guess. The hills have lots of awesome trails.

Not to be flip, but you don't. You just finally get sick of it, and you move away. Even niche interest groups in the bay area are dominated by people who work in tech.

The problem of diversity in the tech industry will not be solved until the industry is forced by its employees to relocate.

> Even niche interest groups in the bay area are dominated by people who work in tech.

I don't think this is true. In San Francisco 12% of the population is tech workers, while the valley is closer to just 30%. I live in Oakland and outside of work encounter almost no one that works in tech.

I also agree, living in the east bay. In cities like Hayward, Union City, San Leandro, Castro Valley, you will most likely find that most people you meet locally don't work in tech. I can see the same for San Francisco, but chances are people on HN tend to hang out in neighborhoods like SOMA where it's a lot more tech, than neighborhoods like Sunset where it's not.

While I agree that there are better and worse places in the bay area, they mostly self-partition based on the pain of transportation to tech centers. Sure, you can always choose a more painful commute to escape tech, but that's implicit. You can commute from Fresno or Marin, too.

East bay neighborhoods that have "easy" access to SF/Facebook/Google are just as clogged with tech people as anywhere else, modulo the pain of a daily BART commute.

(Also, arguing about exact percentages isn't relevant. It doesn't matter if it's 12% or 30%, if the group overlaps substantially in lifestyle and interests. If I have to change my entire lifestyle to avoid being surrounded by tech bros, I'd rather just move somewhere where I can go out and not be surrounded.)

I moved out of the state to escape it.

When I lived in the bay area, my favorite way was to take a hike – https://bahiker.com/

I live in SV but grew up in Chicago. It's one of the best things going for that city.

Currently live in Mountain View. Red Rock is the epicenter. Lesser known (but pointing it out here so it gets more business and stays in business) is Olympus Caffe & Bakery. It’s not really suited towards long coding sessions. But it’s easier to talk without being overheard by 18 other startups.

Agree with other posters. The challenge is escaping tech. I have two kids and every parent at their school works for Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Apple, HP, some startup unicorn, or some new startup. Me? Oh, uh yeah. I’m a founder of a 50-person startup.

I've written thousands and thousands of lines of code at Red Rock. The wifi can be a little flaky and the seating isn't ideal but the coffee is good and the business is a non-profit. Bring a pair of headphones if you want to escape the noise.

But if there's a performance upstairs (and, yes, Open Mic counts), please have manners and don't take your loud conversations upstairs with you.

I recommend the Assam tea. Real, loose leaf in a real pot.

A new coffee place called "Coffeebar" just opened up in Menlo Park and it's really nice - one of the few large enough to actually have a lot of seating (it still gets crowded though).

Menlo Park is separated from Mtn. View by the 20 minutes of traffic known as Palo Alto.

It's almost faster by bike when you use the bike bridges and car-limited Bryant St.

As a Menlo Park resident and a fan of Coffeebar, please do not go to Coffeebar.

Used to live in MV, comment is legit. I still drive down to RedRock from SF at times on the weekend, years after moving (40ish mi).

People will say "literally anywhere", and its true that those are the places that geeks hang out (they outnumber non-geeks by 5:1). But finding geeks that are actually open to conversations is harder - there isn't really a place that people hang out where they're open to new people except bars or interest meetups.

I've not yet been there despite donating to them but I assumed somewhere like https://hackerdojo.com/ could fit the bill.

That’s what I was thinking, what does it even mean to ‘hang out with fellow geeks’. You can’t just randomly strike up a conversation with anyone who’s in the middle of coding in a coffee shop anywhere in the world, I would find that annoying. There would need to be a meet up or event where everyone is expecting this.

You'll see a lot of people say "Red Rock", and there is a reason why. It's very friendly to tech meetings. They have an upstairs with a bunch of power and wifi, and they don't seem to kick anyone out even if they stay for hours.

I've attended multiple meetings there as both a founder and investor. It's kinda funny actually how much of a default meeting place it is.

Also the office for 500 startups is right down the street, so you'll see a bunch of the 500 startups people roaming around.

Their espresso is ridiculously bitter. You've been warned.

I mean, it's espresso. It's supposed to be bitter.

A better term would be tart. It's extremely acidic.

Is Mozilla HQ still around downtown or did they move?

Mozilla is down on Evelyn between the freeways now.

Isn't this like asking, "I'm going to a Major League Baseball game. Where can I hang out with baseball fans?"

Most people who live in Mountain View, and silicon valley in general, aren’t tech workers. There are a lot of people working in the services industry, management, finance, marketing, etc or just not working in general (kids spouses or retired persons).

Here is a quora post that illustrates this: in 2013 only 12% of people who lived in SF were actually tech workers.


1. Red Rock in downtown Mtn View - great place to work / meetup / chat with fellow geeks. Best thing - great Wifi! 2. Data St Coffee is also great - though Wifi isn't as good 3. Mtn View Library is also good - but my experience with Wifi wasn't as great 4. Hacker Dojo, when it was in Mtn View, is a great place. Now it's moved to Santa Clara

"Data St Coffee" with bad Wi-Fi? They had one job

Data St. Coffee is, I believe, actually referring to Dana St. Roasting Company. So the bad Wi-Fi is marginally more forgivable.

Dana St. is more basic, open, casual, and old-school. Live music here and there (with loud salsa music bleeding over from next door otherwise).

Years ago, they were the first to have WiFi at all in downtown (except perhaps Printers Inc.'s upstairs cafe).

I think you meant Dana St. Coffee.

Hana Haus in Palo Alto is a great co-working space, and is about a 15 minute drive from MV. Otherwise I really enjoy the Mountain View public library, just make sure to get there early before it gets flooded with engineers and Stanford students. The study environment there is even more intense than my old college library.

I live in the east bay, but I have stopped here when visiting my grandparents and it's a nice place.

The Bierhaus and Steins are fine establishments but Mountain View is a strange place and I soon left for the City. As an expat, I absolutely recommend the best way to meet people is to go out on a bike ride with a local group (try Alto Velo) nobody cares who you are or what you do, but everyone is pleased to see you. Do well.

Check out the meetup.com scene in the South Bay Area; lots of fun events hosted at Google, LinkedIn, Nvidia, various small startups etc close enough to Mountain View. Search for a piece in a tech stack of interest and you'd usually find some hits. Check their recent calendar of past events to gauge how active they are.

SVLUG meets at Cavium in San Jose nowadays, although they used to meet at the Symantec cafe space for years.

It's pretty incredible how many people rock climb (at Planet Granite in Sunnyvale). People are interested in talking there as well, as opposed to lots of cafes where people are heads down.

Meetup groups for things like Ultimate Frisbee, Spikeball are good too.

Thanks for the suggestions!

I curated a list based on the feedback.

- RedRock Coffee 9x - Philz Coffee 2x - Olympus Caffe & Bakery - Coffeebar - HackerDojo - Dana St Coffee - Coupa Cafe - Y2E2

I talked to a friend who recently moved to MV, and she told me Red Rock does have poor wifi; too many people using it?

When I move to Mountain View - I'll be sure to post it on Hackernews so I can meet up with some folks.

I love programming and I also enjoy playing bullet chess. :)

Try the Hacker Dojo, was in MV, now in Santa Clara. https://hackerdojo.com/

Another option is Specialty's (the built-in typo always makes me cringe) on Ellis St by 101. It's more of a bakery/cafe. Symantec is down the street. Parking is a problem anytime around lunch. WiFi was a problem for months on end; I haven't tried it lately.

Trivia: when Moffett Field was still a thing, that 101 exit was known as Moffett South Gate.

Welcome! RedRock is a nice place to work out of, although it gets busy and hard to get a seat if you turn up after ~10am, but gets quiet again in the afternoon. I also like working (on https://ipinfo.io) from the library, which has tons of desks and great wifi.

Anywhere is the truth, if you really want to actually meet people who share interests then go to those sorts of places (cycling events, rock climbing gym, etc).

Red Rock is a great coffee shop, I'm partial to Dana St, there's the hacker dojo, but for me I enjoy the friends I've found outside of the "forced" situations.

Afternoon hangout is Red Rock cafe, as many have mentioned. Evening hang out is Steins Beer Garden (usually on the outdoor patio - you'll find a lot of big groups there).

I'll be surprised if human's communicate with each other in Silicon Valley?

Do update this thread in few months if you happen to really connect with fellow geeks :)

Philz Coffee on Middlefield Rd. is an excellent place to work. I wrote large portions of WebTorrent and StandardJS at that coffee shop.

I think that location was also shown in an episode of Silicon Valley.

\o/ welcome!


Hit me up, we can go for lunch and socialize :P disclaimer: i work in tech

Coupa Cafe on Ramona St. in Palo Alto, or the one in Y2E2 at Stanford.

Umm.. This new place called anywhere!?

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