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 specially chosen 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.
It's impossible to be all things to all people, but this cafe at the end of Park Street in Alameda almost succeeds. Besides the live music every Tuesday night — usually folk, jazz, country, or other suitable cafe music — this space is a hodgepodge of creativity. A variety of hippie arts and crafts for sale, such as rain sticks and beaded baskets, fill up the space, plus there are regular crafts nights, poetry readings, and lectures. Order a pot of black lavender tea and start knitting at one of the large wooden tables. No one will kick you out.
For those who thrive in happy paradoxes, Jump’n Java is the ideal cafe. The space is cozy yet feels spacious, with large, light-welcoming windows. Small tables allow for anonymity, though at the same time, visitors must share a convivial seat on benches running the full-length of the walls. A tropical-island mural makes for a kind of vacation experience, even while most patrons settle in with free wi-fi and very good coffee for serious work. Nourishment in this oasis of contradiction includes empanadas, piroshkies, spinach feta pie, and Zoe’s sweet treats.
The Junket is a European-style cafe in the El Cerrito Plaza shopping center. The cafe mainly specializes in German and British products. They offer many imported cheeses, meats, and gourmet sandwiches. Aside from tea or espressos, customers can try their fill at German beer on-tap along with imported wines.
Enjoy tasty Mediterranean-style pizzas and a wide variety of house brews on tap in this Berkeley outpost’s beer garden, where live bands perform on a brick patio throughout the week. For no cover charge you get atmosphere -- heat lamps, foliage, lanterns, a huge brick fire pit -- and entertainment ranging from experimental laptop music to bluegrass and Americana. Inside, the restaurant is two stories, and there are tables large enough to accommodate groups.