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Where to Drink and Be Seen

An explosion of drinking establishments has turned the East Bay into a bona fide destination for libations.


Bars for Drinking

2022 Bar and Restaurant (2022 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-836-0842) is a chill little bar with a lot to offer:a full bar with artisan cocktails, and a food menu that features a chicken and waffle sandwich.

Acme Bar (2115 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-644-2226) is a fun, friendly dive with a jukebox that plays everything from New Wave to Fifties rock 'n' roll, and a wide selection of whiskey.

Albatross Pub (1822 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-2473, AlbatrossPub.com) is popular among young people for its pleasantly woody British-style atmosphere, twice-weekly bluegrass and jazz shows, and wide selection of board games like Pictionary, as well as darts, pool, and the infamous Sunday-night trivia quiz.

The Alley (3325 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-444-8505) is known for its vintage clotheslines, clean pink and blue restroom stalls, relatively private diner-style booths, the thousands of business cards stapled to its walls, and Rod Dibble, the music whiz who's been behind the Alley's piano for nearly fifty years.

Arnie's Time Out (29308 Mission Blvd., Hayward, 510-582-4508) features four big-screen TVs, games, darts, a pool table, and a jukebox.

The Avenue (4822 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-654-1423) is a neighborhood bar that straddles the line between dive bar and community melting pot. The owners are more than happy to welcome you to the 'hood with a $8.75 pitcher of PBR or a delightfully stiff cocktail.

The Bear's Lair Pub (2475 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, 510-843-5247, BearsLairPub.com) is an on-campus bar that attracts college kids and, on game days, Bear fans and alumni. Drink specials abound, and there's pub food to help if you've had too much.

Beer Revolution (464 3rd St., Oakland, 510-452-2337, Beer-Revolution.com) is part of Oakland's emerging beer renaissance, where a bevy of beers on tap (as many as fourteen at a time) includes local selections, Belgian and German styles, and microbrews from across the country.

Ben & Nick's Bar & Grill (5612 College Ave., Oakland, 510-923-0327) 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).

The Bistro (1001 B St., Hayward, 510-886-8525, The-Bistro.com) features live music every night; it also has beer and wine with twelve drafts; local and imported beers; and an extensive Belgium bottled beer selection.

Cafe Van Kleef (1621 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-763-7711, CafeVanKleef.com) is a step back to a simpler era, where drinks at five were the norm and everyone gathered to welcome the evening.

Casa Vino (3136 Sacramento St., Berkeley, 510-654-5410, CafeCasa.net) is a great place to try out a selection of wines without overindulging.

Cato's Ale House (3891 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-655-3349, MrCato.com) is a homey neighborhood bar with a vast selection of beer, warm company, and live acoustic music.

Churchward Pub (1515 Park St., Alameda, 510-521-4800) is a regulars' bar during the daytime, 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.

Club Mallard (752 San Pablo Ave., Albany, 510-524-8450, ClubMallard.com) has two floors, two full bars, two jukeboxes, two smoking patios, five pool tables, and lots of comfortable seating.

Conga Lounge (5422 College Ave., Oakland, 510-463-2681, CongaLounge.com) is a laid-back, tiki-themed bar and lounge.

Disco Volante (347 14th St., Oakland, DiscoVolanteoakland.com) is the latest addition to Oakland's blossoming nightlife scene; it's a bar, music venue, and restaurant run by a trio of Oakland arts and entertainment vets.

Dorsey's Locker (5817 Shattuck Ave., Oakland, 510-428-1935, DorseysLocker.com) serves soul food at its bar and restaurant seven days a week.

Duke's R&B (201 Broadway, Oakland, 510-452-1620, DukesRandB.com) features blues, jazz, funk, zydeco, and old-school R&B music on a nearly nightly basis.

Eli's Mile High Club (3629 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland, 510-654-4549, ElisMileHigh.com) is a punk rock dive is known for cheap eats and good times.

Englander Sports Pub & Restaurant (101 Parrott St., San Leandro, 510-357-3571, EnglanderPub.com) boasts about sixty beers on tap, a line stretching a good twelve feet — almost as long as the five big-screen overhead televisions combined.

Forbidden Island (1304 Lincoln Ave., Alameda, 510-749-0332, ForbiddenIslandAlameda.com) is a tiki bar at its best, offering everything it takes to capture that elusive blend of island kitsch, pure spectacle, and festive mood: a nautical wood interior, gaudy cocktails, a jukebox crammed with vintage Martin Denny and Frankie Laine tunes, and a tropical lanai for outdoor guzzling.

Foxes (171 W. Tennyson Rd., Hayward, 510-783-1700, FoxesClub.com) is equipped with pinball, pool, dartboards, video games, and ample parking.

Heart & Dagger Saloon (504 Lake Park Ave., Oakland, 510-444-7300, HeartandDaggerSaloon.com) has a rock 'n' roll vibe without the rock-star ego; it has friendly bartenders, cheap drinks, and a good jukebox.

George Kaye's (4044 Broadway, Oakland) has an eclectic mix of regulars and down-to-earth hipsters who all end up chatting toward the end of the night, when the booze has set in and the place seems even more intimate.