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.
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.
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.
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.
Oakland's emerging beer renaissance finds a firm foothold at Beer Revolution, located near Jack London Square. Inside, a bevy of beers on tap includes local selections, Belgian and German styles, and microbrews from across the country. Perhaps even more impressive are the large coolers lined up against the wall opposite the bar, stocked with four hundred of the world's finest and rarest brews. Take one to go or enjoy it on the sunny front patio for a $1 corkage fee.
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).
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.
Established in 1873, the Clayton Club Saloon truly echoes its Old West heritage with beat-up cowboy boots dangling from the ceiling, wood-plank floors, and patrons who look as if theyve been bellying up to the bar just as long. The Harley-Davidson-clad customers at this establishment dont wait for nightfall to start partying; theyre smoking cigarettes on the dirt patio out back, playing pool, or listening to some of the rock ’n’ roll bands playing in the back of the bar. For this small community of about 11,000, the saloon is one of the few, if only, nighttime entertainment options in the quaint, rustic downtown. And thats just as well, since this secluded town at the end of Ygnacio Valley Road doesnt have its own gas station.
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 sleek Old Oakland wine-and-whiskey bar boasts gorgeous design, a mind-bogglingly huge menu, and some of the best bar food around.