Whether you're looking to socialize, study, or people-watch, Caffe Strada provides the venue (including a large outdoor patio) and the location (directly across the street from campus) to do it. Its cafe mochas aren't bad, either.
The outdoor entrance to this small cafe is like the entrance to a knock-knock club, hard to find and not inviting. Keep faith as you enter and proceed into the dimness, rounding a corner to emerge in a small, lamp-lit space with the cafe counter to your left. Now take two steps forward and look to the right. The view astonishes. Mammoth columns reach to the sky inside the Oakland Rotunda building. As if in counterpoint to the sublimity, the cafe serves simple, reasonably priced fare — toasted bagel with an egg option, pastries, and a standard selection of espresso drinks, four types of pre-made salads, daily soup, and sandwiches such as turkey and roast beef. Free wi-fi and a comfortable couch, with several issues of Oprah and House Beautiful neatly arrayed on the coffee table.
Despite their sheer numbers, cafes are never unpopular for Berkeleyites wanting to chat with friends over soy cappuccinos or pretending to write a research paper while engaging in some serious people-watching. Apparently, Caffe Triestes location in Berkeleys "West Bank" is the perfect spot for such social anthropological study, as its situated at the corner of busy San Pablo Avenue and Dwight Way, and has the type of baristas who wonder why you havent shown up in the last few weeks. With tiny white lights strung from the ceiling and bottles of Pinot Grigio and Chianti on the counter, this cafes Euro vibe is accentuated with traditional Italian music rotating with Argentine tango every Monday night. If you love Italy but arent in love with Italy, Caffe Trieste also books varying live jazz acts every Tuesday, and a range of other live music on Friday nights.
Just five minutes from the Oakland Airport, the lounge keeps classic R&B, jazz, and doo-wop alive with live bands each weekend. Its website proclaims it a destination for "mature adults."
DJs spin tunes nightly at this cash-only lounge, which has a daily happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
A beloved neighborhood cafe and roastery that hosts a coffee club, with a pound of coffee from around the world sent out each month.
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.
There's a rich history behind this rustic Irish pub, which was founded by two sets of Irish immigrant brothers. The location once served as a regular gathering space for San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner employees, and today stands as a historical landmark. Patrons can have some craic watching both Irish and U.S. sports games, drinking beers, and eating decidedly UK-inspired fare.
Any bar that opens at 10 a.m. every day pegs itself as a certain sort of bar. The Churchward Pub is that sort of bar, making its name all the more ironic. During the daytime it's a regulars' bar, a place to grab a cheap happy hour drink, and a spot for Alamedans to just chill out, shoot some pool, or watch the game. But at night, when the DJ sets up and a younger crowd rolls in, the place converts to a rollicking quasi-dance club, with the occasional cover charge to boot. The next morning at ten, the cycle regenerates: just another day at the Churchward Pub.
Located in downtown Oakland, this is a serviceable cafe for a bite on the run or a pleasant lunch break in the courtyard outside. If you have a sweet tooth, try a slice of rich, frosting-laden cake, a pastry, or a sugar-bomb cereal such as Fruit Loops and Coco Puffs. There’s also a decent salad bar to offset the guilt of indulgence, as well as pre-packaged wraps and salads. The fair trade and organic-certified coffee is roasted locally by the McLaughlin Coffee Company in Emeryville.