This Jack London Square anchor tenant lives up to its claim of world-class jazz; everyone from McCoy Tyner to John Scofield comes by at least once a year, and you can also occasionally catch rising stars and school bands in addition to big-name national acts. The acoustics are marvelous, the sushi is fresh and good, and the grilled calamari is also recommended. Tickets range from $5 for a Sunday afternoon children's matinee (with paid adult admission) to upwards of $100 for a special event. Two shows nightly.
This downtown club has a DIY-aesthetic and a diverse entertainment lineup — which represents the panoply of Caribbean music from salsa to dancehall roots to Afropop, and open mics, and proffers a savory selection of Jamaican cuisine served for lunch and the late evening.
The cafe, which replaced the beloved Mama Buzz in February 2012, serves up homemade sausages, pastries, beer, and coffee, all for under $10. Like its predecessor, the space hosts a gallery that features works by local artists.
This bar draws a lively and standing-room-only crowd of grad students, hipsters, and blue-collar locals with its cheap drinks, jukebox, Sriracha-spiked free popcorn, student discounts, no-frills vibe, unusually friendly bartenders, and unpretentious attitude. On the weekends, it can be especially crowded. This cash-only dive bar also has a little known lower level that’s affectionately called “the undergraduate.”
Catch live music from Bay Area bands every Sunday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Wednesdays 6 to 9 p.m. Expect to hear jazz, world grooves, blues, and roots music from local ensembles and never pay a cover. Cato’s is open for lunch and dinner and has free wireless. Test your wits at trivia every Monday, or come for karaoke every first and third Saturday. The beer selection is impressive. There are also wine options, but no liquor is served. The menu includes pizza and pub fare, and the kitchen is open until 10 or 11 depending on the day.
Serves breakfast and lunch made from organic, locally grown ingredients, with menu items including house-cured cold cuts, daily roasted meats, and poached eggs.
Thrashing, crashing, vocal-cord straining, pounding your ears and obliterating your will power: rock. You know you love it. And the Stork Club is where live rock makes its home. Tuesday through Sunday starting around 9:30 p.m., cover is usually just $5. Happy hour DJs spin rock and punk tunes, and special event/BBQ nights feature East Bay Rats motorcycle club, plus showcases of local egghead comedians. The honky-tonk-style bar is decked out with red and yellow tinsel, Christmas lights, rubber-seated booths, a pool table, a jukebox, an extensive Barbie collection, and a tawdry, winter-wonderland atmosphere.
This club, modeled after an Eastern European wooden synagogue, is a Berkeley institution dedicated to dance and music. The non-profit venue hosts live music nearly every night, and shows are all-ages. Ashkenaz hosts reggae, bluegrass, Balkan, Brazillian, Cajun, and Caribbean bands, just to name a few. Come early for a dance class or on Sunday afternoon for a kid’s concert.
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.
Emanating from the softly upholstered furniture, the richly colored linens, the modern-exotic lighting, and the casual seating, the vibe coaxes patrons to relax, to share, to open up — even with strangers. The drinks are neither low-brow nor high-brow; they exist to lubricate social interaction, not dominate it. Regular events include DJ nights, live music nights (featuring members of Rogue Wave, Crown City Rockers, and more), and Layover Comedy Night, where comedians of various stripes test their mettle before accommodating, though nonetheless real crowds. You'd never know — or maybe you would — from the blank street sign out front, featuring only a glowing neon cocktail glass: This place is the real deal.
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.
This enduring Alameda bar has a wide selection of local craft beers, cocktails made from fresh-squeezed juices, and even attests to having one of the longest wooden bars on the Island. Come to shoot pool, or stop by on Tuesdays for tacos and trivia. If you reserve your barhopping ventures for the weekends, every Saturday is 80's night, with DJ's, drinks specials, and general dance floor debauchery.
Furnished with a full bar, restaurant, dining area, pool table, and a lounge with a spacious dance floor and an elevated DJ booth, Luka’s is chic, but not intimidatingly so. The lounge features rotating art exhibits and an all-star DJ lineup every week. Admission is often free, but expect to pay a $5 or $10 on weekends. Enjoy specials like half-priced bottles of wine (Mondays) or dollar oysters (Tuesdays) and listen to a variety of music, from funk to punk and bhangra to be-bop. Luka’s draws a diverse crowd that’s ready to dance, so arrive early on Voodoo Wedesdays for free salsa and timba lessons.
Across the street from the Rockridge BART station and situated inside Market Hall, Highwire Coffee Roasters (formerly Peaberry's) serves as a regular morning destination for commuters as well as a hangout spot for those with the time to contemplatively sit and sip their caffeine. Don't fret the long lines, the baristas are friendly and quick. In addition to coffee, the shop serves up pastries, fancy chocolates, gelato, and affogato, an Italian dessert of espresso and vanilla gelato.
Housed in a mellow, spic-and-span space, Cafe Yesterday is Berkeley's most comprehensive cereal bar, though its well-rounded menu also includes salads, sandwiches, house-baked pastries, and fair-trade coffee.