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.
The downtown Oakland bar boasts an array of fresh and unique cocktails. Its namesake beverage, the Penelope, is made from a mix of tequila, fresh beets, apples, pear, and lime.
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.
One of a few places for rock bands to play east of the hills, Livermores Pine Street Bar & Grill features plenty of entertainment to keep regulars coming back. Situated in a small strip mall, the bar features two rooms with pool tables, darts, satellite DirecTV for watching your favorite game, plus a jukebox. For live entertainment, check out the lingerie show on Monday nights, bands on every second and fourth Wednesdays, karaoke on Thursdays and Sundays, and live bands every Friday and Saturday nights.
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.
Veggie-centric small plates, microbrews, and gorgeous lake views rule at this new beer garden and restaurant, located along the southeast side of Lake Merritt.
If we're playing upscale-bar bingo — which, of course, we are, always — this Emeryville watering hole takes the prize: industrial accents and a basement-chic design aesthetic, an obscure/ironic/old-timey theme, an attractive and upwardly-mobile clientele, drinks scraping the $10 range: ding, ding, ding, ding.
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.