This North Berkeley pub is popular, particularly among students, for its wide selection of board games like Scrabble and Connect Four, not to mention darts, pool, and the Sunday-night trivia quiz. Order a brew from the thirteen on tap or sample its serious selection of Scotch. Even man’s best friend is welcome. On alternating Wednesdays and Saturdays, this laid-back British-style bar hosts bluegrass, world music, or jazz bands.
Rod Dibble plays piano nightly at this Lake Merritt bar, often with vocal accompaniment from local amateur cabaret crooners. Designed like an old saloon with relatively private diner-style booths (where you can order a burger, steak, or fries to go with your drinks), the Alley is characterized by its vintage clotheslines, pink and baby-blue restroom stalls (much cleaner than those at your average East Bay haunt), and the thousands of marquees and business cards stapled to its walls. In contrast to the swankier Kingmans Lucky Lounge across the street, the Alley stays true to its namesake, and the cluttered decor makes it seem homey.
Elegant chandeliers and black-cushioned booths give this S.F. bar and restaurant an upscale ambiance, reinforced by bottle service and specialty cocktails like the honey basil gimlet. It's also available for private parties.
Features a full bar with specialty cocktails and an extensive wine list. Azul's multi-level lounge can accommodate private and semi-private parties of up to 150 people.
This upscale, three-tiered Soma restaurant and supperclub features live jazz Monday through Thursday, for no cover. Enjoy all the trappings of haute cuisine with Bacar's selection of late-night appetizers and its extensive wine list.
The swanky Old Oakland restaurant and bar boasts seven high-definition TVs, pool tables, and even an illuminated "wet bar," in addition to a high-end VIP room with a full bar, Italian leather couches, and a "Vegas-style" restroom. Class. Full catering and bottle service available for private parties.
The south of Mission dive bar attracts a rock 'n' roll-type crowd with semi-regular live punk shows and other debauchery-inspiring events.
Live music every night starting around 8 p.m. (Sunday starting at 4 p.m.). Mostly local musicians, from blues to surf to acoustic to bluegrass to eighteen-piece bands. Open-mic night every Monday. No cover. Beer and wine with twelve drafts; local beers and imported; extensive Belgium bottled beer selection. An upscale kitchen serves California lunch and appetizers.
With its red upholstered couches, mod-ish abstract art, and corner fireplace, Bliss Bar is the definition of swank. Every day of the week features live music, a DJ, or an open mic, which tend toward funk, hip-hop, and jazz. Cocktails are the bar's specialty, with six different martini options and multiple mojitos.
Blondie's recently added a second bar to its backroom smoking lounge, which is open on the weekends. But the martinis are the main attraction, with specialties like the Dagwood boasting a "smorgasbord olive feast" along with smoked salmon, spicy sausage, and bleu cheese (what's the food-to-liquor ratio on that savory concoction?).
Bruno's offers live music Tuesday and Thursday, featuring Jazz Mafia Tuesdays, Batanga Live! Thursdays, and DJs on other nights. Full-service Italian restaurant open until 10 p.m.
Cafe du Nord is one of the more classier and sophisticated places to see live indie music in San Francisco, despite attracting the occasional young and heroin chic. Located on upper Market Street near the Castro and famous for difficult parking, this underground lounge downstairs from the Swedish American Hall features a nightly array of music from alt-country to folk, indie rock to the occasional hard rock. Its deep-red interior, Victorian-era styling, and large carved wood bar make it a perfect environment to sip cocktails and chat with your friends, much to the annoyance of whatever singer-songwriter is trying to belt it out onstage in the next room.
If you’re into quirky, this is the place for you. It’s a slim, high-ceilinged bar with a wide assortment of kitschy knickknacks and furniture. It’ll take you a while to take in all the objects d’art scattered around this hipster hangout, and that’s what you’ll do while sipping your drink and watching indie, jazz, blues, or funk bands. Cafe Van Kleef is known for its strong drinks made with fresh-squeezed juice, especially its greyhound. There’s live music most nights and always room to dance.