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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.

Beta Lounge

This sleek, loungey little wine/sake bar boasts an interesting menu of nigori cocktails, a dozen or so largely satisfying noshes, and an ambient conviviality that belies its proto-IKEA design scheme.

Chop Bar

With its savory Vietnamese pork sandwiches and occasional pig roasts, the Chop Bar is a favorite neighborhood eatery in the warehouse district. The owners are adamant about locally sourcing their food, and they also offer drafts from several Bay Area breweries, including the beloved Linden Street.

Cosecha Mexican Cafe

Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a weekend brunch.

Encuentro

Encuentro is as inclined as any other eatery to fetishize all things organic and sustainable but also puts a premium on haute cuisine. The menu includes stuffed prunes, bruschettas, red quinoa, and other delicacies, all nicely garnished and reasonably priced. Not to mention that the decor features eco-friendly and scavenged materials.

Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island is a tiki bar at its best, offering everything it takes to capture that elusive blend of island kitsch, pure spectacle, and festive mood: a nautical wood interior, gaudy cocktails, a jukebox crammed with vintage Martin Denny and Frankie Laine tunes, and a tropical lanai for outdoor guzzling. It’s apparently the only tiki bar in America that makes fresh fruit juice in-house every day, and there are appetizers of the deep-fried variety. Entertainment includes live surf-rock bands and dance parties with DJs.

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