Uptown's latest and greatest bar: inviting but not desperate; quietly trendy without trying too hard; relaxed but not lazy — a rec room with the metaphorical volume turned up to eleven (the actual volume, by the way, is nicely not too loud). The cocktail list, which was masterminded by Caroline Pagel of Sea Salt, manages to be both decently priced ($6 during happy hour, which runs 4-6 p.m. weekdays, or $8 regularly), and, by and large, unfussy and delicious (try the garden gimlet.) Big bonus: bocce ball!
Husband-and-wife team Hisuk and Sanju Dong preside over what, on a busy night, feels like the fiercest party in Uptown. The 6,500-square-foot loft sprawls in an L-shape through most of the old Rim and Wheel building, a cavernous former garage. It's part bar, part hang-out zone, and part art studio -- plus a restaurant menu highlighted by fare like skinny fries and fried chicken.
Founded in the 1890s, this East Bay institution (located on San Pablo, a few blocks from MacArthur BART) hosts casino games 24/7, including seven-card stud, double-hand poker, California Black Jack, Texas Hold 'Em (with tournaments twice a week), lowball, and pan. In addition to its forty gaming tables, the venue provides a full bar and bistro menu with Chinese food, Hof-Brau sandwiches, burgers, and prime rib.