Located in the historic Croll building, the Alameda bar and eatery has offerings for the thirsty and hungry alike. Patrons can stop by on weekends for an American-style breakfast on the bar's patio and start the drinking early with $10 bottomless mimosas and other morning-time libations. As the day wears on, the menu turns to bar fare like pulled-pork sliders and BBQ chicken wings.
This fun, friendly neighborhood tavern attracts regulars, young and old. The barstaff is attentive and informed, and pours from an extensive list of spirits that seems to grow daily. There's also a daily happy hour, great jukebox selections, and DJs spinning on the weekends, making Acme Bar a solid bet all around.
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.
Located inside the Mediterranean restaurant Angela’s Bistro and Bar, Alameda Vintner’s Club features an extensive wine list, including various local wines. Located next to the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex, it’s a convenient place for a pre- or post-movie drink and snack.
Albany Taproom, Albany’s first beer bar, offers 32 draft beers in addition to a selection of ciders and wine. The bar menu is crafted to complement every type of brew. On Tuesdays, various local artists and musicians perform.
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.
Rod Dibble plays piano nightly at this Lake Merritt bar, often with vocal accompaniment from local amateur cabaret crooners. Designed like an old saloon with relatively private diner-style booths (where you can order a burger, steak, or fries to go with your drinks), the Alley is characterized by its vintage clotheslines, pink and baby-blue restroom stalls (much cleaner than those at your average East Bay haunt), and the thousands of marquees and business cards stapled to its walls. In contrast to the swankier Kingmans Lucky Lounge across the street, the Alley stays true to its namesake, and the cluttered decor makes it seem homey.
This Chinatown breakfast and lunch counter serves “organic bicycle-pedaled roasted coffee” and Sri Lankan homemade Chai tea. There’s also an array of tropical smoothies, and a lunch menu full of Caribbean and Sri Lankan flavors that rotates daily and often sells out. (You can order a day in advance.) The muffins and breads all come from Semifreddi’s bakery. Prices are very reasonable, seating is limited, and catering options are available.
At Asha Tea House, the bubble teas are brewed with loose leaves, the boba is cooked fresh at least twice a day, and each drink is mixed and shaken by hand, not by a machine. Factor in the sleek, modern decor and the well-curated selection of snacks, and you've got yourself a boba shop that's a cut above the rest.
This club, modeled after an Eastern European wooden synagogue, is a Berkeley institution dedicated to dance and music. The nonprofit venue hosts live music nearly every night, and shows are all-ages. Ashkenaz hosts reggae, bluegrass, Balkan, Brazilian, Cajun, and Caribbean bands, just to name a few. Come early for a dance class or on Sunday afternoon for a kids' concert.
Ahh... Au Coquelet, the welcoming Berkeley cafe where you can get a cup of coffee at the crack of dawn and come back after midnight for another cup with an Irish kick, indulge in a fresh fruit torte or any of the homemade desserts. No matter what time of day you opt to sit for a spell in the brick-walled Berkeley institution, the tables are sure to be dotted with people typing at laptops, thumbing through books, or just shooting the breeze.
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.
Dive bars can run the gamut from grimy to homey, from imposing to welcoming. Baggy's by the Lake certainly lands on the friendly side of the continuum, but its charms never threaten its dive-bar cred. Twentysomethings and old-timers rub elbows enthusiastically at this Eastlake joint, where the drinks are cheap, the decor is as classy as it is gaudy, and the bartenders (and fellow customers) are just friends you haven't met yet.
You can dance, drink, and most definitely eat at this German-American restaurant and tavern, where the Wiener Schnitzel comes veggie-optional and live music fills the room every weekend. If the weather's nice, sit out on the cedar patio and sip on Belgium ale and other tasty beer offerings in bottle or on tap.