This bar draws a lively and standing-room-only crowd of grad students, hipsters, and blue-collar locals with its cheap drinks, jukebox, Sriracha-spiked free popcorn, student discounts, no-frills vibe, unusually friendly bartenders, and unpretentious attitude. On the weekends, it can be especially crowded. This cash-only dive bar also has a little known lower level that’s affectionately called “the undergraduate.”
Formerly known as Connolly's, this neighborhood bar straddles the line between dive bar and community melting pot. The clientele here reflects the surrounding neighborhood's diversity, from the tony streets of Temescal to the working-class neighborhood of Longfellow on the other side of Telegraph Ave. Owners and Oakland natives Curtis Howard and Davey Herrick, who bought the place from the previous owners, also tend bar here; they're more than happy to welcome you to the ’hood with a $8.75 pitcher of PBR or a delightfully stiff cocktail.
Soul food is a tradition for the Dorsey family, and their bar and restaurant serves it up seven days a week. The lounge has table service and plenty of seating at the bar. Dorsey’s hosts a spoken-word and comedy open mic on Tuesdays, karaoke on Thursdays and Saturdays, DJs on Fridays, and live music on Sunday evenings.
Across the street from the Rockridge BART station and situated inside Market Hall, Highwire Coffee Roasters (formerly Peaberry's) serves as a regular morning destination for commuters as well as a hangout spot for those with the time to contemplatively sit and sip their caffeine. Don't fret the long lines, the baristas are friendly and quick. In addition to coffee, the shop serves up pastries, fancy chocolates, gelato, and affogato, an Italian dessert of espresso and vanilla gelato.
Patrons line up outside the door of Cole Coffee for two reasons: 1) The coffee 2) The social scene. First, the coffee: Pure Arabica, fair trade and organic, roasted fresh every 24 hours, dripped individually into each cup. In the adjoining coffee store, choose from the largest selection of fresh beans in the East Bay. A range of specialty teas will satisfy tea lovers, as well. 2) Sometimes there’s a lack of elbow space inside the cafe and this actually serves to inspire conversation with more extroverted cafe-goers. There’s also a feeling of fellowship among those who have been lucky enough to secure a sidewalk table. Enjoy the scene and savor your coffee with locally made baked goods, fresh sandwiches, or poached eggs. Coffee mecca and social hub, Cole Coffee well earns these appellations. No wi-fi.
At Actual Cafe, it's all about sitting down and enjoying the coffeehouse experience. Get a cup of Joe (or tea) served in a real china cup, plop down, and just hang for a while. Actual Cafe boasts comfy furniture and communal seating to encourage actual interaction with actual human life-forms. It's "not just another wi-fi shack." Indoor bike parking and a full menu are also available. Weekends are laptop-free.
The independent bookstore sells a mix of classic and unconventional titles and hosts regular author readings.