This place is primarily a restaurant, but its full bar, dirt-cheap cocktails, and position as a repository for all sorts of strangeness also make it a superlative place to drink.
Kim's is your classic dive bar — complete with several TVS, kitschy Raiders decor, and an outdoor smoker's patio — except for its namesake Korean-American owner, who's become something of a folk hero among regulars.
Opened by former Foreign Legion emcee Prozack Turner and his wife, RaeAnne, The Legionnaire Saloon provides another live music and DJ venue in Oakland’s Uptown district. Its decor, too, is in line with Oakland’s new era of bars: dark-wood paneling, wooden booths, bar stools with plush vinyl seats in hunter green and red, and retro touches: antique mirrors, vintage maps, black-and-white photographs, a jukebox loaded with 45s, and three pinball machines.
This beer garden features a large patio, fifteen beers on tap, and a rotating menu of small bites and larger dishes.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
This well-ventilated and red-lit bar features lots of glamour mirrors, Japanese lanterns, and vintage mannequins. Eclectic nightly DJs spin golden oldies, hip-hop, new wave, swing, electronica, punk, metal, and just about anything else.
Once a favorite hangout for Oaktown pimps of the Fillmore Slim variety — according to urban legend, that is — the Ruby Room is a faux dive across the street from Lake Merritt where DJs spin a wall-to-wall soundtrack of punk, glam rock, and kitschy hip-hop classics. Characterized by its low ceilings, thick nicotine vapors, and scarlet glow, its one of the best places in Oakland to chat up sassy indie kids while drinking stiff, cheap drinks like whiskey sours.
This narrow Uptown bar has exposed brick walls, high ceilings, and lots of art on the walls. DJs spin house, hip-hop, soul, Brazilian music, and more.
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.