This Uptown bar is inviting but not desperate; trendy without trying too hard; relaxed but not lazy — a rec room with the metaphorical volume turned up to eleven (the actual volume, by the way, is nicely not too loud — except on weekends). The cocktail list, which was masterminded by Caroline Pagel of Sea Salt, manages to be both decently priced ($6 during happy hour, which runs 4-6 p.m. weekdays, or $8 regularly), and, by and large, unfussy and delicious (try the garden gimlet.) Big bonus: bocce ball!
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).
This is a great place to watch the game, whether that means standard bar fare like football and baseball or European favorites like soccer (aka football) or rugby. McNally’s attracts young and old, and the appeal goes beyond whatever is on the four TVs. Friendly bartenders serve reasonably priced drinks, there’s a digital jukebox that isn’t too loud to drown out conversation, plus bumper pool, a stone fireplace, and a nice smoking area.
Recent renovations at this Albany cocktail bar have rendered the atmosphere reminiscent of a 1960s-era Las Vegas lounge, but five flat-screen TVs and weekly Wii tournaments give it a modern-day boost. Stop by on Thursday through Saturday for karaoke, and come on Wednesdays for free hot dogs.
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!
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.
Touting itself as West Berkeley’s longest-running dive bar, The Missouri Lounge never disappoints. Order “The Special,” a whiskey shot and a PBR for $5, or spend the same amount on “El Special,” a tequila and a Tecate. DJs spin everything from honky-tonk to hip-hop, soul, and indie rock. Get there early on Wednesday for open mic. There’s plenty of picnic tables on the back patio, and a small selection of delicious drunk food. Never a cover charge.
Located in Berkeley’s mostly residential Lorin district, Moxy Beer Garden may not be a destination, but it’s a casual place where big groups of twentysomethings and large families can happily congregate over craft beers and burgers on its spacious patio.
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.
This intimate venue books national and local bands and comedians: Acts like Mos Def, Dave Chappelle, Ra Ra Riot, Kid Sister, and Elephant Man have performed on The New Parish’s small stage since it opened in January 2010. The club has a balcony, exposed brick walls, a back patio, and barbecue served for late-night munchies.
This comfortable, neighborhoody bar offers an Internet jukebox, karaoke every night but Wednesday and Sunday, live music, and more.
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.
Oakland Metro Operahouse is a large warehouse venue that books mostly punk, metal, and hardcore acts. It's also home to Hoodslam, the monthly wrestling event, and the famed variety show Tourettes Without Regrets, which features slapstick comedy, meat-hurling contests, formidable freestyle battles, spoken-word poetry, and dirty haiku — usually to sold-out crowds.
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.