Late-Night Festivities

Bars and clubs to catch tunes and down a drink or two.

Clubs & Musical Venues — East

21 Grand (416 25th St., Oakland, 510-444-7263,, a gallery and performance space
that is neither self-consciously hip nor beholden to any particular
genre, showcases some of the best avant-garde and experimental art,
film, and musicians from local and national underground scenes.

924 Gilman (924 Gilman St., Berkeley, 510-525-9926, — Berkeley’s famous
all-ages punk warehouse — still caters primarily to kids with
backpacks, bad attitudes, and too much eyeliner, but this
volunteer-run, alcohol-and-drug-free venue is the best place in town to
catch famous punk bands (both local and national) for five bucks.

Anna’s Jazz Island (2120 Allston Way, Berkeley, 510-841-5299, hosts
intimate and on-the-cheap jazz shows, jam sessions, and vocalist open
mikes in a city that boasts one of the most concentrated populations of
jazzheads on the West Coast.

Armando’s (707 Marina Vista Ave., Martinez, 925-228-6985, is the
place to go for a truly authentic music experience in Martinez: the
intimate club books musicians playing everything from jazz to blues,
bluegrass, folk, rockabilly jazz, classical music, and almost anything
else except commercial rock.

Ashkenaz (1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-525-5054, is the place to dance
to everything from Algerian rai to Louisiana Zydeco to roots

The Bistro (1001 B St., Hayward, 510-886-8525, offers live music every
night — mostly local musicians, from blues to surf, acoustic,
bluegrass, and eighteen-piece bands.

Blake’s on Telegraph (2367 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley,
510-848-0886, doesn’t host
too many blues acts anymore, but it does have regular helpings of indie
rock, hip-hop, funk, ska, and DJs, that keep the Telegraph scene from
completely fading away.

Caffe Trieste (2500 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-5198, could
make anyone sentimental for the old country, even if they’re native
Californians — especially on Sunday afternoons, when Pappa Gianni
is playing with his North Beach Band and crowds of Italian expatriates
pack themselves into this inviting cafe.

Eagles Hall (2305 Alameda Ave., Alameda, 510-285-6285, on Friday nights is
the friendly, lively nexus of Zydeco-crazed Bay Area fans.

Everett & Jones Barbeque’s (126 Broadway, Oakland,
510-663-2350, in-house
music venue, Q’s Lounge and Dotha’s Juke Joint, showcases a variety of
neo-soul, hip-hop, and blues acts, along with Monday Night Football and
live KSFO broadcasts recapping Raiders home games.

Freight & Salvage (1111 Addison St., Berkeley,
510-548-1761, is a
nonsmoking, alcohol-free venue where patrons can enjoy listening to
world-renowned artists of folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass, and world

Kimball’s Carnival (522 2nd St. Oakland, 510-444-6979,
— the giant Jack London Square club whose Friday night karaoke
event has garnered a regular following via word of mouth alone —
is the closest thing you’ll find to American Idol-style
pageantry here in the East Bay.

La Peña Cultural Center (3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley,
510-849-2568, hosts a
variety of hip-hop, world, and jazz music; spoken word; dance classes;
art exhibits; films; and lectures focusing on social justice and human
rights about four nights a week.

Maxwell’s Lounge (341 13th St., Oakland, 510-839-6169, is a
glitzy downtown Oakland club that hosts R&B, funk, and classic soul
acts and features a spacious dance floor, large stage, lounge areas
with couches, and a Cajun-style soul food restaurant.

Nomad Cafe (6500 Shattuck Ave., Oakland, 510-595-5344, tempers the typical
soy-latte-and-laptop cafe experience with a soothing singer-songwriter

Oakland Metro Operahouse (630 3rd St., Oakland, 510-763-1146, is generally
used as a performance space (it’s the home of the Oakland Opera
Theater), but you’ll also find the occasional live metal, indie rock,
punk, underground hip-hop, or alt.folk show here, as well as the famed
variety show Tourettes Without Regrets, which features slapstick
comedy, meat-hurling contests, formidable freestyle battles,
spoken-word poetry, and dirty haiku — usually to sold-out

Red House Live (1667 Botelho Dr., Walnut Creek, 925-938-6900, is a
state-of-the-art recording studio, rehearsal space, music school, and
instrument shop — as well as a mini all-ages performance hall
providing young rock, indie, and metal bands the opportunity to perform
on a real stage with professional lights, gear, and sound.

The Shattuck Down Low (2284 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley,
510-548-1159, was one of the
first venues this side of the bay to book conscious hip-hop groups, and
remains the place to go for heart-pumping beats, as well as live reggae
and salsa.

The Starry Plough (3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley,
510-841-2082, is an Irish pub
(and it still features traditional Irish music some nights) but its
bookings are far more eclectic than that — rockers,
singer-songwriters, jam-banders, and folkies take the stage here, and
audience members are likely to holler, scream, and kick up their

Uptown Nightclub (1928 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-451-8100, is one
of many punk-oriented venues in the East Bay, but it stands out by
striking a nice balance between out-of-towners and local mainstays and
featuring acts that cover a wide spectrum from emo-prog to lesbian
thrash, psychobilly to Afro-boho jazz-funk, and classic punk to indie

Yoshi’s (510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, 510-238-9200, jazz room is a jazz
lover’s — and jazz musician’s — dream, specially built to
enhance the listening and performing experience.

Clubs & Musical Venues — San

Amoeba Music (1855 Haight St., San Francisco, 415-831-1200, hosts live bands several
times a week, usually prior to their performance at some big club in
the city, which makes it a great opportunity to see your favorite band
for free if you can’t afford a regular ticket, and in a much more
intimate environment.

Annie’s Social Club (917 Folsom St., San Francisco,
415-974-1585, is cozy,
conveniently located right off the freeway, and one of the few venues
in the city that books underground punk, metal, and hard-rock acts.

The Boom Boom Room (1601 Fillmore St., San Francisco,
415-673-8000, was once a sultry,
steamy place for locals to get down to some of the country’s best blues
acts; today, the club still hosts a range of blues, boogie, and soul
bands, but it’s got a little less roots and little more funk and

Bottom of the Hill (1233 17th St., San Francisco,
415-621-4455, is where fans of
noise-rock, post-rock, punk-pop, and everything in between cram the
beer-sticky checkerboard floor all the way to the pool table and spill
out onto the back patio for standing-room-only smoking and some serious
tattoo watching.

Cafe du Nord (2170 Market St., San Francisco, 415-861-5016,, with its deep-red
interior, Victorian-era styling, and large, carved wood bar, is one of
the more classy and sophisticated places in San Francisco to see some
of the best local and national alt-country, folk, indie rock, and
singer-songwriter acts.

Club Six (60 Sixth St., San Francisco, 415-863-1221, is a two-tiered industrial
warehouse that’s home to famously bombastic DJ parties such as “Enter
the Dancehall,” the hot dancehall and reggaetón night
presented by Deecee’s Soul Shakedown every third Friday of the month,
and “Give Thankz,” a regular Thursday-night reggae and hip-hop

DNA Lounge (375 11th St., San Francisco, 415-626-1409, is a two-tiered club
that has a futuristic feel, a full bar, large stage and lounge areas,
and often stays open after hours for DJ events — including
hip-hop, house, dancehall, industrial, and breakbeats — on
Fridays and Saturdays.

The Great American Music Hall (859 O’Farrell St., San
Francisco, 415-885-0750, is
one of the best midsize venues in the City, boasting a huge oak dance
floor with ample space for two hundred and drawing mostly national
touring acts in genres as diverse as they come.

Hemlock Tavern (1131 Polk St., San Francisco, 415-923-0923, is the best
place to hear the latest flying-under-the-radar indie acts.

Hotel Utah (500 4th St., San Francisco, 415-546-6300, is
the place to grab a bar stool, order a pint and a monster burger and
fries, and hear a variety of folk and rock bands while absorbing some
of San Francisco’s lively history.

The Independent (628 Divisadero St., San Francisco,
415-771-1421, stands out for its
welcoming vibe and the variety of music booked — usually big-name
acts in the worlds of reggae, funk, blues, DJs, hip-hop, and the
indie-rock circuit.

Mezzanine (444 Jessie St., San Francisco, 415-625-8880, features hip-hop
and DJ showcases (including local and international acts), video
screenings, laser shows, and multimedia installations by artists
associated with Blasthaus Gallery.

Slim’s (333 11th St., San Francisco, 415-255-0333, features rock, alternative,
jazz, blues, R&B, and reggae most nights of the week, and is one of
the few all-ages venues in the city.

Yoshi’s San Francisco (1330 Fillmore St., San Francisco,
415-655-5600, offers the
same high caliber of talent in the genre of jazz as the Oakland
original, but the state-of-the-art venue also books R&B, soul, and
world-music acts.

Bars for Seeing and Being Seen

The Air Bar & Lounge (492 9th St., Oakland, 510-444-2377, is located below
street level in Old Oakland, has a spacious-yet-cozy interior, and
exudes an upscale, VIP vibe for the urban hip.

Aura Nightclub (4825 Hopyard Rd. # 10, Pleasanton,
925-416-0777, is perfect for when
you’re in the mood for that classic dance club experience but don’t
want to trek to San Francisco (or share air with trustafarians and
wannabe hip techies): the club offers two distinct lounges-cum-dance
floors, fireplaces, lots of mod furniture à la Design Within
Reach, go-go dancers, and fabulous people-watching.

Bench & Bar (2111 Franklin St., Oakland, 510-444-2266, aims to
please with theme nights like “Kinky Karaoke” on Tuesdays, “Tasty”
ladies night on Thursdays, and “La Bota Loca” (aka Latino Cowboys night
with go-go boys galore) on Saturdays — and succeeds with flying,
uh, colors.

Club Anton (428 3rd St., Oakland, 510-463-0165, remains perhaps the only
Latin jazz club in the entire world that would feature Bay Area turf
rapper G-Stack and DJ True Justice on a Thursday and follow up with
Tony Mayfield or Pepe y Su Orquesta on a Saturday — a lineup
patrons definitely seem to dig.

Club 1220 (1220 Pine St.,Walnut Creek, 925-939-4550,, which hosts line-dancing for
queer folk every Tuesday night, proves that country line is still alive
and well, even in the Bay Area.

Club Montero’s (1106 Solano Ave., Albany,
located inside Montero’s Cafe, dedicates its weekends to salsa, with
intermediate lessons on Thursdays and classes for newbies on Fridays
and Saturdays, followed each night by dancing till the early


Club Oasis (135 12th St., Oakland, 510-763-0404, is an
African restaurant by day, but at night it morphs into Oakland’s
hottest internationally flavored dance spot, blasting street bangers
and slumper beats as well as Afropop, rumba, and calypso styles
imported from Congo, Cape Verde, and the Caribbean.

Easy Lounge (3255 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, 510-338-4911, attracts an eclectic
crowd — doe-eyed hipster chicks, suave urbanites, eccentric
locals, and even suits fresh off of work — and the tunes are just
as varied, thanks to different DJ themes each night — from
rockabilly to salsa, 1980s to funk.

Karibbean City (1408 Webster St., Oakland, 510-251-0769, has as a
diverse entertainment lineup — which represents the panoply of
Caribbean music from salsa to dancehall roots to Afropop — and
proffers a savory selection of Jamaican cuisine.

Kingman’s Lucky Lounge (3332 Grand Ave., Oakland,
510-465-5464, caters to a
dressy yet diverse crowd and features a full bar, ample mood lighting,
and DJs spinning downtempo, house, funk, and drum ‘n’ bass.

Kitty’s (6702 Hollis St., Emeryville, 510-601-9300, proves that Emeryville
really does have a pulse, with its rotating lineup of DJs, a patio
that’s swarmed in warm weather, and a regular crowd of upscale
loft-dwellers and thirsty Pixar workers who’ve just punched out.

Luka’s Taproom & Lounge (2221 Broadway, Oakland,
boasts a long list of sexy amenities (a rotating art exhibit, a
spacious dance floor, a vast selection of beer and a menu that includes
killer burgers, fries, and oysters), and it’s spitting distance
from the 19th Street BART station, so you can get your swerve on
without getting a DUI.

Ruby Room (132 14th St., Oakland, 510-444-7224,,
where the DJs spin a wall-to-wall soundtrack of punk, glam rock, and
kitschy hip-hop classics, is one of the best places in Oakland to chat
up sassy indie kids while drinking stiff, cheap drinks.

Thalassa (2367 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-848-1766, has a sea of
pool tables that seems to stretch for miles, a clientele that consists
mostly of Berkeley students of the fraternal or sororal persuasion, and
the best jukebox in the East Bay, stocked with the Buzzcocks, the
Notwist, Le Tigre, Television, Outkast, Johnny Cash, and the

Velvet (3411 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, 510-531-3321, may be a tad too
hole-in-the-wall to qualify as a destination dance club, but dykes of
all stripes will find it a welcome new addition to the local bar scene,
with its strong drinks, small but highly contagious dance floor, and
friendly vibe.

The Vibe Lounge (2272 Telegraph Ave., Oakland,
510-451-8423, may be the new kid
on the LGBT block, but with a mod first-floor cocktail lounge and a
spacious dance floor upstairs, it has the potential to become a
venerated neighborhood institution.

White Horse Inn (6551 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-652-3820,,
affectionately known as “the White Ho” by locals, draws a good
cross-section of the local GLBT scene: sweater queens, queer students,
local homies, granola dykes (yes, they still exist), gorgeously regal
African-American queens, both male and female, and just about every
other color and creed you can imagine.

Bars for Drinking

Albatross Pub (1822 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-2473, 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.

Beckett’s (2271 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-647-1790,
features live pub bands several nights a week, lip-licking fish and
chips, Tuesday trivia night, and the best black ‘n’ tan in

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).

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

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

Englander Sports Pub & Restaurant (101 Parrott St., San
Leandro, 510-357-3571, 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, 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

George Kaye’s (4044 Broadway, Oakland, 510-547-9374) 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.

The Graduate (6202 Claremont Ave., Oakland, 510-655-8847)
draws a lively and standing-room-only crowd of grad students, hipsters,
and blue-collar locals with its cheap drinks, Sriracha-spiked free
popcorn, student discounts, no-frills vibe, unusually friendly
bartenders, and unpretentious attitude.

Heinold’s First and Last Chance (48 Webster St., Oakland,
which was founded in 1883, stands as the only place where you can drink
at the same table used by Jack London, president and Supreme Court
justice William Howard Taft, and Robert Lewis Stevenson — in
other words, it’s seriously old-school cool.

Hotel Mac (50 Washington Ave., Point Richmond, 510-233-0576,, in relaxed downtown
Point Richmond, has a wood-paneled, clubby conviviality that makes it
the perfect atmosphere to sip the East Bay’s best mojito.

Hotsy Totsy Club (601 San Pablo Ave., Albany, 510-526-5986, is a
classic dive bar inside and out: The red-and-blue neon sign loudly
announces the fact that you’re about to get hammered, the drinks are
eye-poppingly powerful and cheap, the decor is classic grunge, and the
pool table is operable.

Jupiter (2181 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-8277,, Berkeley’s go-to beer
garden, is the place to enjoy tasty wood-fired pizzas and house-made
brews beneath the stars while listening to live entertainment from jazz
to bluegrass to samba.

The Lost Weekend Lounge (2320 1/2 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda,
510-523-4700, may evoke
images of a rough and tumble hangout for wayward souls, but in reality
it’s good, clean fun, with a wide variety of music and events —
from trivia contests to a DJ spinning tunes from the 1980s — a
pool table, and an enclosed patio out back for smokers.

Missouri Lounge (2600 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-2080,,
which touts itself as “West Berkeley’s Most Elegant Dive Bar,” is an
unpretentious, inviting lounge that has become the new destination for
urban hipsters.

The New Zealander (1400 Webster St., Alameda,
510-769-8555, offers
gorgeous high ceilings, plenty of beer and wine direct from New Zealand
and Oz, and authentic down-under food that can’t be beat.

The Pub (1492 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-525-1900) is a low-key
smoker’s paradise and homey-feeling lounge, proffering more than
fourteen blends of tobacco and a good selection of pipes, lighters, and
cigarette holders, as well as beer on tap including Bass, Fullers,
Guinness, and Harp.

Spat’s Restaurant and Saloon (1974 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley,
510-841-7225) is a bar with style, both in its
vintage-saloon-meets-hunting-lodge-inspired decor and drinks like the
Oliver “Boston” Strangler and Aunt Matilda’s Zombie.

The Trappist (460 8th St., Oakland, 510-238-8900, is the place to go if
you want to step back in time and taste some of the finest hops around,
made in the most venerable of traditions.

Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse’s (1920 Shattuck Ave.,
Berkeley, 510-843-2739, has a local vibe, a dozen
house beers on tap, comfort food, and the best rooftop beer garden in
the East Bay.

Warehouse Cafe (5 Canyon Lake Dr., Port Costa, 510-787-1827)
is your place to try out exotic and international beers, whether you’re
looking for that brew you haven’t seen since El Salvador or are just
bored with the selection at your local store. 

scattered clouds
61.4 ° F
65.4 °
58.2 °
43 %
40 %
61 °
61 °
59 °
60 °
60 °