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1:00 a.m. Any Morning: Best Dive Bar 

Smitty's Cocktails

Smitty's is vintage dive: long, narrow, and intimate, with the reassuring clink of pool balls. The kind of place where everybody knows your, uh, alias. Drinks are cheap, and old-time barflies are friendly, even to newcomers. With any luck you can sidle up to a stool beside Tim, a ruddy Irishman with the gift of gab. There is usually a very diverse crowd here representing a cross-section of Oakland. An official-looking shuffle alley runs the length of the bar and is dedicated to someone named "Bones." The decor is classic -- a carved wooden clown portrait leers from above the bar, alongside some aged sports posters, a monitor advertising a gambling game, and a TV tuned to sports. This is the place to nurse a beer and watch a Raiders game. The juke is well stocked with classic rock, funk, soul, an unusually high percentage of Irish music (Tim's influence?), and something called The Copulation Compilation. Lively but not loud, Smitty's is a great place to end up after a night of carousing.

Readers' Pick: The Alley

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(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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