With a tagline like “Good Spirits for Bad People,” you wonder why readers voted Heart & Dagger Saloon “Best Former Dive Bar.” Basically, it has a rock ’n’ roll vibe without the rock-star ego: friendly bartenders, cheap drinks, and a good jukebox. The shaded patio has plenty of seating, which makes it great for groups. There’s free wi-fi, a pool table, pinball machines, and more. Your dog is welcome, but your plastic is not: cash only.
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.
After an extensive, sixth-month transformation, this Lakeshore favorite is completely unrecognizable from what it once was, in a good way: It's now clean and bright, with a slate of highly creative cocktails and a relaxed, picnic-y vibe.
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.
Occupying the space that formerly housed the Golden Bear and the Dapper Lounge between Oakland's Grand Lake and Adams Point neighborhoods, Room 389 is a completely revamped bar and lounge -- restrooms included. Decorated in dark hues with plenty of wood tones and bold colors, the dog-friendly space features a spiffy bar, space for a DJ (spinning exclusively vinyl), two flat-screen TVs, and a crafty wall covered in pages torn from books. There's also a grill out front and a back area featuring more seating and tables.
With four TV sets, Smitty's is an ideal sports-watching locale. You'll also find pool, cheap beer, and shuffle board in this dive.
This California bistro joint, housed in a grand-looking 1920s-era building, features more than one hundred vodkas, plus specialty cocktails.
The Lake Merritt wine bar, a neighboring component to Sorella di Zza’s Italian restuarant, features more than 40 wines available by the taste, glass, or flight. It also accomodates private parties of up to 25 people.