At Actual Cafe, it's all about sitting down and enjoying the coffeehouse experience. Get a cup of joe (or tea) served in a real china cup, plop down, and just hang for a while. Actual Cafe boasts comfy furniture and communal seating to encourage actual interaction with actual human life-forms. It's "not just another wi-fi shack." Indoor bike parking and a full menu are also available. Weekends are laptop-free.
This cafe is a diverse gathering place. There’s lots of conversation, and, because the wireless is unreliable, it isn’t a haven for laptop users. Besides consistently good coffee, Alem’s' menu includes healthy breakfast and lunch offerings like Shiyan Phool, a dish made with fava beans, onion, and feta cheese that’s served with a slice of bread. It’s in a colorful little building across the street from the DMV. Cash only.
Formerly known as Connolly's, this neighborhood bar straddles the line between dive bar and community melting pot. The clientele here reflects the surrounding neighborhood's diversity, from the tony streets of Temescal to the working-class neighborhood of Longfellow on the other side of Telegraph Ave. Owners and Oakland natives Curtis Howard and Davey Herrick, who bought the place from the previous owners, also tend bar here; they're more than happy to welcome you to the ’hood with a $8.75 pitcher of PBR or a delightfully stiff cocktail.
Located in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, Barclay's is popular for its extensive food menu and thirty beers on tap. Its outdoor patio is pet-friendly and often crowded on warm evenings. Inside, darts and TVs keep drinkers occupied.
This bakery and cafe serves up pastries and coffee drinks, as well as sandwiches (served on its house-made bread) and salads.
Ben & Nick's is the perfect place to catch up with friends, with loads of tables of varying sizes, a long bar ripe for hunkering down for a few hours (and pints), and a variety of beer on tap that changes daily (as well as a full bar).
This coffee shop on College Avenue caters to coffee geeks. It serves local roasts by Ritual, Barefoot, Flying Goat, Verve, and De La Paz, and offers pastries as well as other snacks. It’s spitting distance from the Rockridge BART station, and has a screen that tracks the next trains. There’s free wi-fi, and some seating inside and out.
This chocolate lovers' paradise proffers drinks, pastries, and bars such as chocolate dulce de leche pudding and chocolate Thai iced tea.
For great coffee a short walk from the MacArthur BART station, Cafe Dejena fits the bill. Prices are reasonable, there’s free wireless, and the decor is bright and welcoming. The menu is a mix of Eritrean, Italian, and standard American food.
Patrons line up outside the door of Cole Coffee for two reasons: 1) The coffee 2) The social scene. First, the coffee: Pure Arabica, fair trade and organic, roasted fresh every 24 hours, dripped individually into each cup. In the adjoining coffee store, choose from the largest selection of fresh beans in the East Bay. A range of specialty teas will satisfy tea lovers, as well. 2) Sometimes there’s a lack of elbow space inside the cafe and this actually serves to inspire conversation with more extroverted cafe-goers. There’s also a feeling of fellowship among those who have been lucky enough to secure a sidewalk table. Enjoy the scene and savor your coffee with locally made baked goods, fresh sandwiches, or poached eggs. Coffee mecca and social hub, Cole Coffee well earns these appellations. No wi-fi.
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.
Soul food is a tradition for the Dorsey family, and their bar and restaurant serves it up seven days a week. The lounge has table service and plenty of seating at the bar. Dorsey’s hosts a spoken-word and comedy open mic on Tuesdays, karaoke on Thursdays and Saturdays, DJs on Fridays, and live music on Sunday evenings.
A family-oriented coffee shop that serves up plenty of food in addition to beverages, and even has a little children's nook set aside to entertain youngsters.
You can get a tattoo, look at art, listen to metal bands, and enjoy New Orleans-style Cajun and Creole food at this punk-rock dive. The spacious back patio has plenty of picnic tables, and there's also indoor bike parking, two pinball machines, and a pool table. Eli’s is located in a squat, garish red building beneath a freeway overpass on MLK in North Oakland -- close to the MacArthur BART station. Come for good drinks, stay for good times.