If you find that you’ve already exhausted the supply of Berkeley bars, and don’t want to risk a $30+ cab fare to escape San Francisco after the last BART train, look no further than Oakland.
Sure, Oakland has its share of a reputation, but it also has its share of nightlife. Take it from a resident of Downtown Oakland – 94612 has something for everyone, and it’s a lot closer (and cheaper) than San Francisco.
Radio. Radio is a dark, cheap and loud dive bar about 50 feet from both 12th Street BART and a taxi stand in Downtown Oakland. Its proximity to transportation is fortunate, because this is an easy place to lose track of time. Outside, they have an entire board of happy hour specials (note that all of Tuesday is happy, too), but the full prices are good enough for almost any student budget.
435 13th Street, Oakland.
Ruby Room. Ruby Room is a darker, cheaper version of Radio. Literally, it’s so dark, you’ll go blind every time the door opens during the day. But on the plus side, this will keep you for going for your phone. The drinks are cheap, the staff are friendly enough, and they have very unique special events on the occasional Sunday. You’ll cherish your gold medal for Beer Pong in the Ruby Room’s Beer Olympics more than your loved ones.
132 14th Street, Oakland.
Somar Bar. Looking for something a little more… well lit? Somar has cheap drinks, but it also has huge windows and carefully curated art. Happy hour includes $2 bottled drinks before 8 pm (until 9 on Saturdays). This is another bar that prides itself on its music, with live DJs most nights. The staff is especially friendly, and the managers really make you feel welcomed.
1727 Telegraph, Oakland.
Dogwood. So far this year, Dogwood’s three most outstanding accomplishments are:
- Opening – it poured its first drinks in February.
- Winning a commendation from the Oakland Heritage Alliance for preserving the historic character of its building.
- Its cocktail menu.
Dogwood is a classy joint, and has the menu and charcuterie to match. They won’t turn you away at the door if you show up in socks and sandals, but consider this a good place to take a date.
Don’t miss the fried pork skins ($4) for melt-in-your mouth flavor. Literally, they melt in your mouth. Do not consume these if you’re going to feel bad about it later.
1644 Telegraph, Oakland.
Make Westing. A nod to Oakland author Jack London, Make Westing is the newest bar in Uptown Oakland. It’s cocktails are imaginative and diverse enough to cover any taste, plus they’re $6 from 4 to 6. But the real draw is the two, full-length bocce ball courts inside. The vibe is Speakeasy, but without the hassle of Prohibition.
1741 Telegraph, Oakland.
The Den at the Fox. If you happen to snag tickets to TV on the Radio later this month, good for you. You’ll get to explore the inside of a beautiful Art Deco theater, built in 1929 and only restored and reopened in 2009. If you aren’t one of the lucky ones, you can always try winning tickets in trivia at the Den at the Fox. The Den plays trivia on Tuesdays, but it’s not winner take all – teams win raffle tickets for correctly answered questions, but also for ordering drinks. Take it from me – you can come in at the bottom of trivia, but order enough shots to walk out with four floor seats to Chromeo. Follow the Den on Twitter to find out the theme of the bonus round in advance. The Den doesn’t have a large menu, but the fabulous Five Ten Burger truck operates close by.
1807 Telegraph, Oakland.
Cosecha. This Mexican café opened over the summer, and offers delicious tacos and other fare in a breezy market space. They also have a bar, pouring Firehouse IPA and local Trumer Pils. At happy hour, which runs from 2 – 6, bottled beer is $2.50 (draught is $3.50). The regular prices are respectable, too. Stop by on Friday during the Old Oakland Farmer’s Market (10-2). Cosecha is nestled in Swan’s Market, an anchor of the historic Old Oakland neighborhood that’s definitely worth exploring.
907 Washington Street, Oakland.
Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café. If you were on campus earlier this year and heard a collective spasm of energy from the south, it wasn’t an earthquake, it was Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café opening its doors and a ton of people freaking out. Rightfully so, of course. Like its parent in Emeryville, Rudy’s is as close to a diner as you’ll get in the East Bay, but with alcohol, a punk aesthetic, and a high caliber of food.
1805 Telegraph, Oakland.