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If you’re into quirky, this is the place for you. It’s a slim, high-ceilinged bar with a wide assortment of kitschy knickknacks and furniture. It’ll take you a while to take in all the objects d’art scattered around this hipster hangout, and that’s what you’ll do while sipping your drink and watching indie, jazz, blues, or funk bands. Cafe Van Kleef is known for its strong drinks made with fresh-squeezed juice, especially its greyhound. There’s live music most nights and always room to dance.

Catch live music from Bay Area bands every Sunday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Wednesdays 6 to 9 p.m. Expect to hear jazz, world grooves, blues, and roots music from local ensembles and never pay a cover. Cato’s is open for lunch and dinner and has free wireless. Test your wits at trivia every Monday, or come for karaoke every first and third Saturday. The beer selection is impressive. There are also wine options, but no liquor is served. The menu includes pizza and pub fare, and the kitchen is open until 10 or 11 depending on the day.

Any bar that opens at 10 a.m. every day pegs itself as a certain sort of bar. The Churchward Pub is that sort of bar, making its name all the more ironic. During the daytime it's a regulars' bar, a place to grab a cheap happy hour drink, and a spot for Alamedans to just chill out, shoot some pool, or watch the game. But at night, when the DJ sets up and a younger crowd rolls in, the place converts to a rollicking quasi-dance club, with the occasional cover charge to boot. The next morning at ten, the cycle regenerates: just another day at the Churchward Pub.

Established in 1873, the Clayton Club Saloon truly echoes its Old West heritage with beat-up cowboy boots dangling from the ceiling, wood-plank floors, and patrons who look as if they’ve been bellying up to the bar just as long. The Harley-Davidson-clad customers at this establishment don’t wait for nightfall to start partying; they’re smoking cigarettes on the dirt patio out back, playing pool, or listening to some of the rock ’n’ roll bands playing in the back of the bar. For this small community of about 11,000, the saloon is one of the few, if only, nighttime entertainment options in the quaint, rustic “downtown.” And that’s just as well, since this secluded town at the end of Ygnacio Valley Road doesn’t have its own gas station.

A combination of friendly bartenders and hefty pours make this Alameda bar a great place to get sloshed.

This spacious, dimly lit Albany tavern has a hunting-lodge-meets-tiki-lounge feel. Just look for the funky red and green neon sign on San Pablo Ave. It has two floors, two full bars, two jukeboxes, two smoking patios, five pool tables, and lots of comfortable seating. Prices are reasonable, and the drinks are strong. Club Mallard has a laid-back vibe and is great for groups. Strike a pose in the photo booth and see why women love the second-floor bathroom.

CommonWealth Cafe and Pub

Ahna Adair co-owns the CommonWealth with her brother Pete Jeffryes and her husband Ross Adair, a Scot who learned to appreciate traditional cooking in his grandmother's kitchen. He prepares it here in the form of English-style breakfasts and pub grub with a California twist: Steel-cut oats, beans and toast, egg-and-chutney sandwiches, and the like augment an impressive selection of beers from the UK, the East Bay, and a few locales in between.

Located above Pizza Rustica Cafe in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, the Conga Lounge is a laid-back, tiki-themed bar and lounge. Choose from forty cocktails and order food from Pizza Rustica. On Fridays and Saturdays the Conga Lounge turns into a popular late-night spot for enjoying mai tais, piña coladas, and mojitos while DJs spin a variety of music including soca, salsa, reggae, and R&B. Admission is free, and the bar is close to BART and accessible by the 51 bus line.

This West Oakland establishment is steeped in history. Decades back, Motown greats from B.B. King to Marvin Gaye passed through its doors. These days the venue hosts metal bands on Thursday nights, plus occasional comedy acts and DJs.

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