Stepping inside this cozy venue might conjure up sweet memories of sunny days spent in your grandma's kitchen. Beyond beer and wine, the cafe offers up a simple but sweet home-style menu of soups, sandwiches, and baked goods like lemon pound cake. Live bands, from jazz to bluegrass acts, hit the stage weekly. The Station also caters private events in its lounge area or in the entire cafe.
Vintage decor gives this bar and grill a classic feel, but the menu — ambitious, inventive cocktails and well-made snacks like sliders and sausages — is contemporary Emeryville all the way.
The Hotsy Totsy used to be one of Albany's notorious dives, but the bar, which is now more than seventy years old, underwent a thorough renovation in 2009. Make no mistake, the Hotsy Totsy will always have some of that old-school dive-bar spirit in its soul, but its new incarnation offers sleek furniture, inventive drinks, and a slightly more upscale vibe alongside its signature shuffleboard tables and neon sign. As an added bonus, a delicious and dirt-cheap taco truck parks outside Thursday through Sunday nights from 9:30 p.m. until closing time.
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.
Based on the Island’s facade — a nondescript stucco wall with red and green stripes — it’s difficult to fathom just how cool this Alameda joint is on the inside. Located a few blocks from the Webster Tube, it specializes in dancehall, reggae, R&B, merengue, and soca, erring more on the pop side. Thatched roofs, orange lanterns, and a small dance floor give the Island a real Caribbean isle feel. This is a weekend-only joint with a classy dress code. There’s no cover for Ladies Nite on Fridays, and there is a cover for Reggae International Saturdays with DJ Electro.
Albany’s legendary neighborhood bar was renovated in 2012 with reclaimed materials and Prohibition-era, vintage fixtures. Mattress springs hang from the ceiling! Live music happens regularly, and might include rockabilly or reggae. The cocktail menu includes handcrafted cocktails using fresh, local and house-made ingredients. There's a pool table and big screen, plus happy hour until 7 p.m. every day.
What doesn't this place do? Located beneath the venerable Jazzschool in downtown Berkeley's theater district, the Jazzcaffè, run by German-born proprietor Kristine Seinsch, is part cafe and part bar, and also offers catering and event production services. Each succeeds on its own merits. Originally intended to serve a quick bite to Jazzschool students and teachers, the cafe has grown into a gathering place for the local jazz scene, offering a simple yet sophisticated (and evolving) menu of breakfast, brunch, and lunch fare. The bar offers a range of wines, beers, and apertifs.
Wedged next to a car dealership on the crummier end of Alameda’s Park Street, this honky-tonk-ish dive bar features live music, karaoke, and pool tournaments Wednesdays through Saturdays. Decked out with a pool table, jukebox, Big Toy machine complete with lesbian porn, several tables, and a small stage, John Patrick’s is no supper club, but it’s a fun, cash only neighborhood watering hole.
Mum and da drink and play darts while the bairns mess about with toys provided by the management — just as they do at pubs in England. Most of the menu is British, for better or worse, with faithful renderings of shepherd's pie, sausage dishes, and fish ’n chips; patrons whose Anglophilia ends at the placemat make merry with burgers, pastas, and salads. The staff's willingness to prepare child-size portions has given this place a reputation as the Chuck E. Cheese of the bar world. Ten taps spout American microbrews and English favorites.
After a change in ownership, the dive-y Piedmont Avenue underwent some renovations. The upstairs smoking room may be no more, but the bar retained its pool table, jukebox, and TVs. And patrons can still order from Raj India Cuisine next door and snack on chicken tikki masala while drinking at the bar.
A classic, lovable dive dating back to 1922, complete with cheap drinks, a convivial atmosphere, and head-bumpingly low ceilings — plus shuffleboard, free popcorn, and one of the best jukeboxes in the East Bay.
Kip's used to be campus' most unabashedly skeezy bar, complete with neon-colored liquor, auspiciously sticky floors, and unfathomably cheap pitchers. Now, it's cleaned itself up a little and sells such delicacies as salads and imported beer along with those aforementioned $7.50 pitchers of PBR. We'll leave it up to you to decide whether this is an improvement. Either way: KARAOKE!
This tiki-style bar on Piedmont Avenue is staffed and patronized by friendly, sophisticated folks who call the Kona their second living room. It's one of the three bars owned by Doug Miller (along with Thalassa in Berkeley and The Mallard in Albany) and offers a large menu of tiki drinks, along with a decently priced selection of single malt scotches.
The flat-screen TVs at this laid-back Laurel District bar are sure to be on during game day, but patrons can play their own games of pool and darts, or throw some coins in the jukebox for a wide selection of tunes.
Situated inside an old Alameda hotel building, the bar's Spanish-style art deco interior lends to its kitschy atmosphere. By day, it's a neighborhood bar frequented by locals; and by night the scene gives way to a younger crowd. A bonus: three flat-screen TVs and a pool table.