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The Alley

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 Kingman’s Lucky Lounge across the street, the Alley stays true to its namesake, and the cluttered decor makes it seem homey.

First opened in 1988 by brothers Roger and Ken Ham, the Grand Lake-area sports bar is equipped with an array of flat-screen TVs for patrons to catch games while downing drinks and snacking on a wide selection of appetizers (even escargot), pizzas, and more. Includes a banquet room for large parties.

This California bistro joint, housed in a grand-looking 1920s-era building, features more than one hundred vodkas, plus specialty cocktails.

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