Hours: Mon.-Fri. 5 p.m.-11 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Veggie-centric small plates, microbrews, and gorgeous lake views rule at this new beer garden and restaurant, located along the southeast side of Lake Merritt.
The best thing about Portal, a veggie-centric restaurant and beer garden a stone’s throw from Oakland’s Lake Merritt, is its casual air — how the lovely back patio evokes lazy summer evenings spent hanging out on a friend’s backyard deck, nursing cold beers and snacking on plates of munchies. On busy nights the service can be spotty, and the portion sizes don’t always offer the best bang for your buck. But, aside from the setting, Portal’s chief virtue is the wholesomeness of its locally sourced and (mostly) organic, vegetable-heavy pub grub — a welcome change for vegetarians tired of going to bars where the only thing they can eat is (maybe) the fries. Standouts include the homemade fresh pasta and the “garbage bread” (a cheesy-doughy riff on stromboli), both of which vary depending on what’s in season.
Payment Type: Cash, all major credit cards
No reservations, but a group of ten can buy out a table on the patio for the night ($500 minimum). The whole patio can also be bought out for private events.