Furnished with a full bar, restaurant, dining area, pool table, and a lounge with a spacious dance floor and an elevated DJ booth, Luka’s is chic, but not intimidatingly so. The lounge features rotating art exhibits and an all-star DJ lineup every week. Admission is often free, but expect to pay a $5 or $10 on weekends. Enjoy specials like half-priced bottles of wine (Mondays) or dollar oysters (Tuesdays) and listen to a variety of music, from funk to punk and bhangra to be-bop. Luka’s draws a diverse crowd that’s ready to dance, so arrive early on Voodoo Wedesdays for free salsa and timba lessons.
The laid-back bar and grill, which has been around since 1977, is a go-to place to watch sports, eat Sunday brunch, and have a drink (it's rumored that after a few visits the bartender will have your drink poured before you've even taken a seat at the bar).
The bar and restaurant's weekday happy hour runs from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., with $5 cocktails and $3 beers. And the food, ah the food: pan-Mediterranean cuisine including succulent offerings like house-made gnocchi and wood oven-roasted chicken.
Husband-and-wife team Hisuk and Sanju Dong preside over what, on a busy night, feels like the fiercest party in Uptown. The 6,500-square-foot loft sprawls in an L-shape through most of the old Rim and Wheel building, a cavernous former garage. It's part bar, part hang-out zone, and part art studio -- plus a restaurant menu highlighted by fare like skinny fries and fried chicken.
Pacific Coast Brewing is located in an elegantly restored historic building in Old Oakland that harks back to the Gold Rush era. The microbrewery hosts free blues and jazz acts about once a month, but its known for its large selection of beers -- 25 on tap -- as well as its tasty selection of common bar food, including burgers, pizzas, and other deep-fried snacks. On weekend nights, especially in the summer months, Pacific Coast Brewing can become a crowded, lively place, especially because of its large, heated, outdoor patio.
The dimly lit dive bar has seventeen beers on tap and scores of specialty drinks. It's a cool place to play pool or one of the bar's multiple video-game machines.
Located in a historic Lafayette building, Petars is a funky place decorated with a Knights-of-the-Round-Table-type English theme that seems to attract the white-hairs. The main draw here is Diamond Dave Hosley, who has been performing every Wednesday through Saturday since 1986. Equipped with his Roland keyboard and headset mic, Hosley sings everything from oldies to current hip-hop hits in Petars bar. In addition, Tuesday nights feature Irish songs from Snead Healy, and Sundays feature blues with the Rhythm Doctors.
With big-name chefs and a serious foodie following, Plum the restaurant is a fine dining establishment, and with average drink prices scraping $11 and containing ingredients such as tea foam, Plum Bar, its lower-fi appendage, is most definitely a fine drinking establishment — but it's a fineness that speaks less to pretension than to premium attention to detail, the kind you have to pay a little extra for: marigold flowers in your drink; beef-tendon chicarrones just seconds out of the fryer; a bar staff that'll slide an ice-cold glass of water to you from across the bar when they hear you clearing your throat, without you having to ask — or even noticing.
You can find better beer elsewhere, but this Berkeley outpost of the small national brewpub chain wins points for its family-friendly vibe, super-spacious industrial-chic interior, and massive burgers.
Hold a glass up high as Skip Henderson and Starboard Watch, a pirate band, belts out old sea shanties. It’s just your average Thursday night at Quinn’s. The lighthouse dates back to 1890. The deck seats eighty, and the pub on the second floor has eight beers on tap and more than fifty bottled beers to choose from. The atmosphere is casual — patrons are permitted to toss peanut shells on the floor. The restaurant downstairs is more formal, but guests can order off the full menu wherever they are.
Amy Murray’s bustling downtown Berkeley venue celebrates the Bay Area’s bounty of fresh, organic foodstuffs with flair and a sense of fun. Fig and marrow flatbread, creamy pork rillettes with lemon chutney, handmade pasta with pea tendrils and trumpet mushrooms, and a mixed pig plate of sausage, tenderloin, shoulder, and belly are among the standouts.
Serves light meals to accompany its vino, with a tasting bar in the back.
Same as it ever was, this Berkeley Irish bar has been around since the days when Ronald Reagan was California governor, and it hasn't changed much — although you can now order a cheeseburger as well as traditional Irish fare like corned beef and cabbage. There are lots of beers on tap, but why not just have a Guinness or a Harp? It's certainly appropriate, and the regulars won't look at you like you're from Mars. Entertainment includes Irish Dance and Ceili Mondays at 9 p.m. (dance instructions start at 7 p.m.); open-mic Tuesdays at 8 p.m.; Berzerkley Poetry Slam on Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. with house band Three Blind Mice accompanying; and live music on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. There's a full bar with twenty drafts, and the kitchen serves food until 10 p.m.
This is the place to go if you want to step back in time and taste some of the finest hops around, made in the most venerable of traditions.