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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.

There's nothing broken at the Broken Rack, which offers twenty tables, a host of high-octane cocktails, and a comfy lounge complete with that vanishing species, the smoking section. There’s also foosball, pinball, and free wi-fi. It may seem a little odd to find a pool hall right next to a food court and the high-rise condos of Emeryville, but the atmosphere is relaxed and adult. Just the game, no scene, no cruising. Tie one on and sink a few.

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.

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