The Best Bars In Oakland, California

Photo of Elaine Choi
9 February 2017

With options aplenty in the Bay Area, locals have their pick of watering holes for any kind of occasion. Whether you’re looking for a classy night out on the town or just want to relax after a long day at work, here are eight spots in Oakland to appeal to whatever mood you’re in, all serving up excellent drinks regardless of the vibe.

Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon | © Heinold’s First and Last Chance/Wikimedia Commons

Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub
This Oakland staple may look out of place, stationed on a small square made of old wooden planks in a sea of concrete in Jack London Square. Between the unique knick-knacks you’ll find inside and the sunny terrace, this is one bar that you will definitely not want to miss out on. Just remember to hold onto your drink if you choose to sit at the historic slanted bar.

Make Westing

Bar, Cafe, Cocktail Bar, Contemporary, $$$
Eclectic Decor at Café Van Kleef
Eclectic Decor at Café Van Kleef | © queenkv/Flickr
With an youthful crowd, Bocce Ball, and delicious cocktails, Make Westing is always the safe answer to your Friday night indecision about where to go. Keep it casual, make some friends, drink, and don’t forget to eat an absurd amount of free habanero popcorn.

Café Van Kleef’s

Bar, Cafe, Cocktail Bar, American
While it can be difficult to hear once the crowd rolls in both before and after concerts at the Fox Theater, it’s easy to keep yourself entertained while looking at all the eclectic decor in Café Van Kleef’s. If you’re going to see a show at the Fox, show your ticket to get reduced prices on drinks and treat yourself to their famous greyhounds, made with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Careful not to drink too many though; these go down easy!

Heart and Dagger

Bar, Pub Grub
Plum Bar Cocktail
Plum Bar Cocktail | © Thomas Hawk/Flickr
Don’t be intimidated by the tattoos, rock and roll, and leather. While comparing Heart and Dagger to Zeitgeist doesn’t quite do it justice, this biker bar is a close relative to the San Francisco institution. That being said, it’s definitely kinder and gentler. With a dog-friendly patio, pinball, pool and video games, what could go wrong?

Plum Bar

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, American, Pub Grub, $$$
For those lazy nights after a long day, head over to the warmly lit Plum Bar for a stiff cocktail and gourmet comfort food. Each sip of any of their oak barrel-aged cocktails can wash away any of your worries, and while their happy meal may not come with a novelty toy, enjoy choosing between seven tap beers or a shot of four rose bourbons with a hamburger and fries.


Bar, Charcuterie, Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
If you’re looking to cozy up next to some strangers, Dogwood is the place for you. Seating is first come first serve, so on a busy night you may feel a bit like you’re in a maze of people. But if you’re looking to catch up with friends, grab a few drinks and share a charcuterie and cheese plate while partaking in people-watching at Dogwood.

Beer Revolution

Pub, North American, $$$
Indulge in your beer snobbery at Beer Revolution, where you can enjoy a round (or more) of a wide selection of beers that rotates constantly. Just bear in mind that it can get crowded on weekends, especially if you’re looking to snag a seat on their front patio on a sunny day. While there is no food on offer, you have the option of bringing in outside food or ordering from Souley Vegan next door.

Lounge 3411

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, American, Pub Grub, Fusion
A dive bar on the weekdays, the drinks on offer at Lounge 3411 are strong and cheap. But this bar definitely takes on a different crowd on weekends, with people looking to grab some stiff drinks and let loose on the dance floor. While not quite a club, with lively DJs and themed nights it’s easy to see how people can get carried away until the early hours. The late happy hour that starts at 9pm is an added bonus.

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