Ben & Nick's is the perfect place to catch up with friends, with loads of tables of varying sizes, a long bar ripe for hunkering down for a few hours (and pints), and a variety of beer on tap that changes daily (as well as a full bar).
This sleek, loungey little wine/sake bar boasts an interesting menu of nigori cocktails, a dozen or so largely satisfying noshes, and an ambient conviviality that belies its proto-IKEA design scheme.
Located on the Oakland estuary, Brotzeit Lokal is a view restaurant without the usual trappings of a view restaurant. Modeled after Germany's biergartens, it features casual food (most notably sausages) and about eighteen different beers on tap, split between German beers and local American brews, with a couple of Belgians mixed in for good measure.
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.
Catch live music from Bay Area bands every Sunday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Wednesdays 6 to 9 p.m. Expect to hear jazz, world grooves, blues, and roots music from local ensembles and never pay a cover. Cato’s is open for lunch and dinner and has free wireless. Test your wits at trivia every Monday, or come for karaoke every first and third Saturday. The beer selection is impressive. There are also wine options, but no liquor is served. The menu includes pizza and pub fare, and the kitchen is open until 10 or 11 depending on the day.
Any bar that opens at 10 a.m. every day pegs itself as a certain sort of bar. The Churchward Pub is that sort of bar, making its name all the more ironic. During the daytime it's a regulars' bar, a place to grab a cheap happy hour drink, and a spot for Alamedans to just chill out, shoot some pool, or watch the game. But at night, when the DJ sets up and a younger crowd rolls in, the place converts to a rollicking quasi-dance club, with the occasional cover charge to boot. The next morning at ten, the cycle regenerates: just another day at the Churchward Pub.
A combination of friendly bartenders and hefty pours make this Alameda bar a great place to get sloshed.
This spacious, dimly lit Albany tavern has a hunting-lodge-meets-tiki-lounge feel. Just look for the funky red and green neon sign on San Pablo Ave. It has two floors, two full bars, two jukeboxes, two smoking patios, five pool tables, and lots of comfortable seating. Prices are reasonable, and the drinks are strong. Club Mallard has a laid-back vibe and is great for groups. Strike a pose in the photo booth and see why women love the second-floor bathroom.
Ahna Adair co-owns the CommonWealth with her brother Pete Jeffryes and her husband Ross Adair, a Scot who learned to appreciate traditional cooking in his grandmother's kitchen. He prepares it here in the form of English-style breakfasts and pub grub with a California twist: Steel-cut oats, beans and toast, egg-and-chutney sandwiches, and the like augment an impressive selection of beers from the UK, the East Bay, and a few locales in between.
Located above Pizza Rustica Cafe in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, the Conga Lounge is a laid-back, tiki-themed bar and lounge. Choose from forty cocktails and order food from Pizza Rustica. On Fridays and Saturdays the Conga Lounge turns into a popular late-night spot for enjoying mai tais, piña coladas, and mojitos while DJs spin a variety of music including soca, salsa, reggae, and R&B. Admission is free, and the bar is close to BART and accessible by the 51 bus line.
This bar is located adjacent to the historic Fox Theater, and the decor shares the same bold patterns and color. The Den isn’t just a watering hole for Fox patrons; it wants to be a destination in its own right. Graze on food from the limited-but-gourmet menu, and peruse the Den’s list of specialty cocktails. The lights are low, and the feel is sophisticated though there’s no dress code. Trivia on Tuesday nights is getting good reviews, and there’s a rotation of DJs spinning on Fridays and Saturday nights.
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.
Once just a production facility, Drake's also has a 24-tap beer bar and retail store with an outdoor patio and a relaxed ambience.
This ritzy Spanish restaurant from former Oliveto chef Paul Canales is nothing if not ambitious: a 4,000-square-foot multi-use space that includes a high-end coffee shop, a wine and olive-oil retailer, an art gallery, and a performance venue for experimental jazz.
Named for W.C. Fields' character in the 1940 comedy The Bank Dick, the brick-walled bar on the corner of Piedmont Avenue serves up strong drinks such as margaritas and Long Islands. Twenty- and thirtysomethings tend to congregate inside, where a jukebox churns out old blue and jazz numbers, and patrons can order from a menu of Chinese and American food.