This historic bar is full of stories, character, and charm. Once a place Jack London himself would frequent to drink and write, the story is that the famous author borrowed his college entrance fee from the bar's proprietor. The small bar still features a slanted wooden floor and charred walls leftover from the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, which took its toll elsewhere in the Bay Area, too. Its name derives from the old days when it was the only bar at the Port of Oakland. Each day as laborers would take the ferry to San Francisco and back again, this was the first and last chance for the working man to grab a drink. The bar serves only beverages and distributes literature on its history.
Cafe Van Kleef is located right in the heart of Oakland's Uptown neighborhood. The theme of Van Kleef is unconventional and all about the quirky artwork everywhere. The specialty at Van Kleef's is their Greyhound - a drink of vodka with grapefruit juice, which you can watch them squeezing fresh at almost any given point during the night. On most nights in the week, the bar plays live jazz music. Certain nights come with a cover charge so be sure to check details before you head here.
If music is your passion, make sure that you check out The New Parish. This concert hall and events space has achieved fame with the performances of the great music groups like Sarah Guthrie and Johnny Irion and The Stone Foxes. The place boasts of fantastic sound and stage technology that has made this venue a favorite of the event organizers and performers alike.
Yoshi's is not just a place where you can catch mind-blowing jazz, but also a sushi bar with an excellent food. Eager music lovers pack the restaurant and the Jazz House on performance nights. It showcases the best talent and boasts of high tech acoustics in the Bay area. A full cocktail menu is available with items like sushi, appetizers, salads and desserts. The attire is causal and the atmosphere jazzed up. It has a top-notch restaurant that serves Japanese food, and is open for lunch and dinner.
A world renowned name in the culinary industry, Chez Panisse is known for their innovations in tastes and flavors.Started by Alice Walkers in 1971, it was named after the movie character Honore Panisse. Prepared with fresh, local produce, the restaurant is a spectacular specimen of fine dining. The menu changes daily and is curated keeping the seasonality of ingredients. Through the week, delicacies like Striped bass carpaccio with cardoons and Titone olio nuovo and Huckleberry and Meyer lemon ice creams meringata are served, to name a few. The wine list is extensive, featuring dozens of wines from across the world. With contributions like California style pizza to the ever changing culinary world, the Chez Panisse is no less than a legend.
In an area known for wineries and wine bars, Solano Cellars is a mecca for Bay Area oenophiles who sit at the imposing wood bar and sample a dazzling array of wines from around the world. A staff of refreshingly unpretentious wine experts can guide you through the selection and help you find just the vintage you were looking for. The shop attached is tiny, but what they do not have on display can be fetched from the seemingly bottomless wine cellar. To enhance the wine, an ever-changing appetizer and dessert menu, designed with wine in mind, is offered. There is a strict prohibition on cell phones.
With an ambiance that hovers between the classiness of an upscale bar and the comfort of a cozy dive, the Golden Bull, in its new avatar, is a fine place to enjoy a drink and some great music. The elongated space is dominated by a bar bedecked in dark wood, and backed by a wall of glistening bottles. A pool table and jukebox offer entertainment, while the bar tenders will delight you with their charm and wit. Live band performances, drink specials and friendly faces are some of the other treats to be had here. While you are likely to want to stay on your feet and groove along to the jukebox's tunes, limited seating is available along the wall and at the bar.
Awaken Cafe dons multiple hats as a performing arts venue, coffeehouse, beer and wine bar, gourmet snack joint and art gallery. There is always something going on here, whether it is a music and dance show or a fun karaoke session. Grab a fruit juice and listen to symphony orchestra, enjoy gourmet coffee with banana bread, marvel at contemporary art, watch live sports on television, listen to indie and pop beats at the concerts or participate in poetry slam. Mood lighting, WiFi access and happy hours only serve to accentuate the overall experience. Gastronomes will delight in the award-winning ice creams and espressos, organic food selection and Californian craft beer.
Radio is another one of Downtown Oakland's small, dark bars. Despite its size, Radio always manages to pack in the people several nights a week, drawn here by the giant cage for dancing and stiff, reasonably priced drinks and fun bartender. While it may be difficult to sit down, most people come to boogie down instead to the live DJ's and different music theme nights.