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 your average East Bay haunt), and the thousands of marquees and business cards stapled to its walls. In contrast to the swankier Kingmans Lucky Lounge across the street, the Alley stays true to its namesake, and the cluttered decor makes it seem homey.
"Community in a cup" is the mantra at Farley's, a cozy coffee hub with a local art gallery and a plethora of magazines awaiting your bleary-eyed perusal. The food menu includes plenty of classy salads — pine nuts, arugula and goat cheese are just a few of the ingredients — and paninis both hot and cold. There's even a store with beans and Farley's T-shirts. Free wi-fi.
A cute little cafe that's just spacious enough to afford some seating indoors and out front. The cafe's name denotes an effort to combat the daily barrage of bad news with some caffeine-infused positivity. Aside from coffee drinks, customers can order up smoothies, energy drinks, bagels, sandwiches, and more.
The bar and restaurant's weekday happy hour runs from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., with $5 cocktails and $3 beers. And the food, ah the food: pan-Mediterranean cuisine including succulent offerings like house-made gnocchi and wood oven-roasted chicken.
If you like your coffee plentiful, consistent, and in a sweet, slushy ice form, you know where to go, and you probably don't have to go far. Thanks to Starbucks, any downtown, suburban strip mall, or exit off of I-80 is just an order away from an Italian cappuccino, or at least its mass-produced American iteration, as well as the bohemian experience that is supposed to accompany those types of things. Along with comfy chairs, stores now offer free, unrestricted wi-fi, and organic and fair-trade beans to choose from.
This American bistro joint is said to have a 1930's feel to the interior with dim lighting and a retro design. A spot for all meals of the day, this restaurant also includes a heavy wine selection with a bar to cope. On weekends, there may be a DJ, but check the web site for event listings and be sure to stop by for happy hour.
The Lake Merritt wine bar, a neighboring component to Sorella di Zza’s Italian restuarant, features more than 40 wines available by the taste, glass, or flight. It also accomodates private parties of up to 25 people.