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6:15 p.m. Friday: Best Place for Evening Cocktails, South-of-the-Border Style 

Doña Tomás

Although it's best known for its classy Mexican cooking, Doña Tomás also mixes up fabulous cocteles especiales that are worth a trip to this popular Oakland restaurant. Purists and cocktailistas alike will find something to like on its extensive drinks menu. It offers classics such as hand-shaken margaritas and Cuba Libres made with real Mexican Coke, as well as trendy hits such as minty mojitos or the Michelada -- a zesty combo of beer, chile salsa, lime, salt, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. And if you want something with an authentic kick, at last count there were 22 different varieties of tequila and seven types of mescal available. On warm spring or summer evenings, hanging out on Doña Tomás' backyard patio with a stiff drink makes for a civilized way to end a week or start a weekend. And the food is worth sticking around for. While the prices are a bit steeper than they are down Mexico way, your taste buds will be glad you made the investment. Reservations are recommended on weekends, but waiting to be seated doesn't seem quite so bad if you start sipping early.

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