Erected in the building that used to house the Oakland Box, this swank rock club is decked out with a classy mahogany bar inherited from the Old Spaghetti Factory, plus top-notch acoustics designed by the sound consultant at Yoshis. A lot of things have changed since the old Box days, most notably in terms of decor: Bushmamas old boutique is now The Green Room, where performers kick back before going onstage; and the clubs sign is now shaped like an electric guitar. The Uptown features local and touring acts in a variety of genres, including hip-hop, soul, rock, and ska.
This Jack London Square anchor tenant lives up to its claim of world-class jazz; everyone from McCoy Tyner to John Scofield comes by at least once a year, and you can also occasionally catch rising stars and school bands in addition to big-name national acts. The acoustics are marvelous, the sushi is fresh and good, and the grilled calamari is also recommended. Tickets range from $5 for a Sunday afternoon children's matinee (with paid adult admission) to upwards of $100 for a special event. Two shows nightly on the weekend.
Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a weekend brunch.
The cafe, which replaced the beloved Mama Buzz in February 2012, serves up homemade sausages, pastries, beer, and coffee, all for under $10. Like its predecessor, the space hosts a gallery that features works by local artists.
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.
With its savory Vietnamese pork sandwiches and occasional pig roasts, the Chop Bar is a favorite neighborhood eatery in the warehouse district. The owners are adamant about locally sourcing their food, and they also offer drafts from several Bay Area breweries, including the beloved Linden Street.
This downtown club has a DIY-aesthetic and a diverse entertainment lineup — which represents the panoply of Caribbean music from salsa to dancehall roots to Afropop, and open mics, and proffers a savory selection of Jamaican cuisine served for lunch and the late evening.
With its old-fashioned furniture, a menu that's long on whiskeys and short on wheel-inventing, and comfortable, cozy, vibe, The Night Light is the kind of place your grandfather would love — that is, until the DJs get there. Upstairs, live bands play several nights a week for a low cover charge.
A shoe store, art gallery, and venue space.
Thrashing, crashing, vocal-cord-straining, pounding-your-ears-and-obliterating-your-will-power rock. You know you love it. And the Stork Club is where rock makes its home. Tuesday through Sunday starting around 9:30 p.m., cover is usually just $5. Happy-hour DJs spin rock and punk tunes, a bluegrass jam happens on Mondays and Storking Comedy takes place on Tuesdays. The honky-tonk-style bar is decked out with red and yellow tinsel, Christmas lights, rubber-seated booths, a pool table, a jukebox, an extensive Barbie collection, and a tawdry, winter-wonderland atmosphere.
Located below street level in the Old Oakland district, the AIR Lounge exudes that upscale, VIP vibe for the urban hip. Three rooms offer plenty of space to spread out, and the cozy seating within the blue walls invites snuggling. DJs spin downtempo, soul, and world beat every Wednesday through Saturday nights. Open-mic poetry precedes music on Wednesdays.
Another example of the emergent lounge-bar-hybrid breed. It's got the energy of a dive, but with an auspiciously non-sticky floor and a lovingly curated playlist. Its house-made tonic makes for a delicious gin and tonic.
During the day, the softly upholstered furniture, richly colored linens, modern-exotic lighting, and casual seating coax patrons to relax, share, and open up — even with strangers. But on weekend nights, this bar turns into a crowded, sweaty dance club, with plenty of bumping and grinding. The drinks are neither low-brow nor high-brow; they exist to lubricate social interaction, not dominate it. On Tuesdays, comedians of various stripes test their mettle before accommodating, though nonetheless real crowds. You'd never know — or maybe you would — from the blank street sign out front, featuring only a glowing neon cocktail glass: This place is the real deal.
Undoubtedly one of the oldest bars in downtown Oakland, this little shack is beside a line of produce warehouses right at the edge of Jack London Square. Merchant’s is a dive bar that combines punk bar decor with a nautical theme, and features an upright piano, a jukebox, and a lofted DJ booth crafted from dilapidated plywood. Play pool or Pac-Man, or use the free wi-fi. Admire the ingenuity of the antique (and no longer used) urinal that wraps all the way around the bar: Serious drinkers didn’t even get up to piss!