The Best bars in Oakland and Berkeley

Across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco lie the cultural hubs of Oakland and Berkeley. Both of these neighboring cities are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike as hot spots for delicious food and exceptional bars. With so many fine bars and pubs to choose from, some folks may find it difficult to decide exactly where to grab a drink. Well, to make things simple, here is a list of the best bars in Oakland and Berkeley. Each bar in this article brings something unique to the table, whether it be an excellent atmosphere, flavorful drinks, cozy beer gardens, a fascinating history, and, in many cases, a wonderful blend of all these characteristics.

The Best Bars in the East Bay:

1. JUPITER (2181 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley)

2. DRAKE’S DEALERSHIP (2325 Broadway, Oakland)

3. THE KINGFISH PUB AND CAFE (5227 Telegraph Ave, Oakland)

4. EAST BAY SPICE COMPANY (2134 Oxford St, Berkeley)

5. TRIPLE ROCK BREWERY (1920 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley)

6. LOST AND FOUND (2040 Telegraph Ave, Oakland)

7. LIMEWOOD BAR AND RESTAURANT (41 Tunnel Rd, Berkeley)

8. TEMESCAL BREWING (4115 Telegraph Ave, Oakland)

9. THE ALBATROSS (1822 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley)

10. ARTHUR MAC (4006 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland)

Jupiter (2181 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley)

The charming courtyard in Jupiter, our favorite Berkeley bar.

The charming courtyard in Jupiter, our favorite Berkeley bar.

Jupiter is our favorite bar in the East Bay. It’s just the epitome of lovely. The backyard beer garden, with Italian themed courtyard, fire pit and romantic lighting, provides the best atmosphere you’ll find in all of Berkeley. Their Greek god themed pizza is absolutely delicious and the house beers are excellent as well. The vibe is frequently enhanced with some smooth live tunes from the corner of the venue, which really ties the courtyard together.

Our Favorite Drink: Their house IPA (very grapefruity and delcious).

Our Favorite Pizza: Eutropia (essentially a gourmet meat lovers pizza).

Highlight of the Bar: Beautiful and romantic courtyard.

Advice: Show up early because all outside seating is first come first serve and this place is very popular.

Drink and Food Menu: Check out their webpage.

Drake’s Dealership (2325 Broadway, Oakland)

A beer garden view at Drake’s Dealership in Oakland.

A beer garden view at Drake’s Dealership in Oakland.

Drake’s Dealership is pretty sweet. It was once, perhaps obviously, a car dealership (a Dodge dealership to be specific) so the building already has a lot of character. Brick walls, overgrown with vines that have beautiful purple flowers and a variety of mixed seating options make this open air courtyard feel quite eclectic. Heaters and shades criss-cross over head and fire pits throughout mean that you can enjoy yourself no matter what what the East Bay weather throws at you! They also have great beer and food (pizza and burgers type of food). Do yourself a favor and check it out. More about their interesting automotive beginnings can be found on their webpage.

Highlight of the bar: Drake’s offers TONS of delicious beer options on tap.

Drink and Food Menu: Check out their webpage.

The Kingfish (5227 Telegraph Ave, Oakland)

The Kingfish Pub and Cafe in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood.

The Kingfish Pub and Cafe in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood.

If I only had one word to describe the Kingfish, it would be character. Interestingly, the bar almost feels like it was once someone’s home, but has since been converted into the bar it is today. The front of the bar seems relatively standard, but then you enter the middle, open-air section of the bar and quickly realize why this spot is a favorite for many Temescal (Oakland neighborhood) locals. The back bar (outside section), though not a tiki bar, has a certain tiki meets sports bar feel to it. It’s just cozy, let's say that. Also, having what truly appears to be someone’s home converted to bar in the very back adds to this cozy, backyard vibe. And, if you’re down to drink cheap beer, they have killer “Everyday Specials,” including $2 cans of Olympia. Lastly, in the colder months, The Kingfish has heat lamps and a clear wind shield to heat up the courtyard, making this a comfortable destination during all times of the year.

Highlight of the bar: Central courtyard and super cheap happy hour.

Note: The Kingfish has free popcorn, but if you want something more substantial to eat, you can bring in outside food.

Drink Menu: Check out their webpage.

East Bay Spice Company (2134 Oxford St, Berkeley)

The view from the upper section of the East Bay Spice Company. Best bars in Berkeley.

The view from the upper section of the East Bay Spice Company. Best bars in Berkeley.

The East Bay Spice Company is one of the most romantic bars on this list. Terrific mood lighting, a beautifully crafted bar, an intimate space, and deliciously concocted drinks make this spot one of the best bars in the East Bay. Honestly, this bar would make for a great first date. Just let that perfectly made Moscow Mule or East Bay Indica and romantic atmosphere work its magic and get that conversation flowing. Lastly, they serve gourmet Indian dishes at reasonable prices. In other words, this could be your one stop shop for a perfectly romantic date.

Highlight of the Bar: Very romantic atmosphere.

Recommended Drink: East Bay Indica.

Drink and Food Menu: Check out their webpage.

Triple Rock Brewery (1920 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley)

The store front of Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley. One of the best bars in Berkeley and Oakland.

The store front of Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley. One of the best bars in Berkeley and Oakland.

Triple Rock is a fun spot with great beer. The large open floor plan and bright lighting keep the vibe upbeat. It kind of has a bit of that classic brewery, warehouse feel, but with a more urban establishment twist. Their burgers are pretty good too and we also love the nacho appetizer.

Recommended Beer: They rotate beers pretty frequently, but conveniently, they rate many of them on their online menu.

Here’s a tip: Go to Triple Rock on Wednesday for trivia. It’s pretty dang fun.

Drink and Food Menu: Check out their webpage.

Lost & Found (2040 Telegraph Ave, Oakland)

The back patio at Lost and Found, another stellar drinking establishment in Oakland, California.

The back patio at Lost and Found, another stellar drinking establishment in Oakland, California.

Lost & Found is your classic beer garden, with big picnic benches, a kitchen with tasty food, and, of course, great beer. This is also a great place to check out if you’re into playing ping pong or cornhole with a beer in hand (really…the only way to play).

Highlight on the Bar: BIG picnic tables in an open air setting. Also, GAMES!

Drink and Food Menu: Check out their webpage.

Limewood Bar & Restaurant (41 Tunnel Rd, Berkeley)

The best view of any bar in Berkeley (Claremont Hotel Bar and Restaurant, Berkeley).

The best view of any bar in Berkeley (Claremont Hotel Bar and Restaurant, Berkeley).

The Limewood Bar and Restaurant in Berkeley’s Claremont Hotel ABSOLUTELY needs to be added to your bucket list for things to do in bay area when the weather is beautiful. The views from this patio are sweeping of the Bay Area, including Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, and The Golden Gate Bridge (just to name a few). If you’re in the mood for brunch, this is a great place too. The food is delicious (though a bit pricey), the mimosas are yummy, and the morning light on the East Bay lights up San Francisco for a stunning view.

Recommended Drink: Mimosa in the morning or the “Vista” for happy hour.

Highlight of the Bar: Panoramic view of the bay, including San Francisco, Marin, Oakland and Berkeley.

Drink and Food Menu: Check out their webpage.

Temescal Brewing (4115 Telegraph Ave, Oakland)

Temescal Brewery is best known for their deliciously fruit enriched beers, making them one of the best bars in the East Bay.

Temescal Brewery is best known for their deliciously fruit enriched beers, making them one of the best bars in the East Bay.

Temescal Brewing is best known for their delightfully fresh and fruity beers. The vibe is bright and upbeat with colorful pastel accents inside, making it almost feel like a juice bar. However, there is a cool beer garden in the back yard, which dissipates any juicy thoughts (other than the taste of your drink).

Highlight of the bar: Ridiculously tasty variety of fun and fruity beers.

Note: Wanna take Temescal Brew home with you? You can buy their beer in 6 packs to-go before you head out!

Mmmmm….Food: On many nights of the week, there is a guy selling street tacos in their Beer Garden. Usually between $2-3 (cash) for a taco. You can see what beers are on tap and the food vendor schedule here.

The Albatross (1822 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley)

The Albatross, famous for being Berkeley’s Oldest Bar, is located in West Berkeley, on San Pablo Street. The real thrill at this bar comes from playing games…they have a bunch of games to choose from (if you didn’t quite catch that), but you can also bring your own. Big tables in the bar enable games ranging from 2 up to 8 or more people. Lastly, our personal favorite, they have 6 dart boards, which means a friendly (or ferociously competitive) game of darts is never out of reach.

Highlight of the bar: GAMES! There are enough dart boards for you and all your friends.

Note: Like the King Fish, they serve popcorn for free, but outside food is more than welcome.

Arthur Mac’s tap & snack (4006 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland)

The family friendly beer garden at Arthur Mac. Best Bars in Oakland.

The family friendly beer garden at Arthur Mac. Best Bars in Oakland.

Arthur Mac’s is another quintessential Oakland brewery/biergarten. With an incredibly cool fenced in patio area that is lined with turf and cozy nooks to hang out in, it is perfect for any crew (even if that includes furry or human babies). The have great beer and delicious pizza (both veggie and meat) to satisfy all your cravings.

Highlight of the bar: Cozy and chic outdoor area that welcomes all human and furry friends alike.

Menus: Find the food menu here and tap list here.

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