Are you looking to discover the best bars in Oakland?
Then we have you covered!
On this page, you’ll find the official shortlist of all the bars in Oakland. (More in-depth further below). And, each with why it’s best to go.
Feel free to check out each bar’s official profile to find out more and to find out which is best for you.
We’ve also created separate shortlists for each genre you might like to visit on your time out.
So check out these articles as well:
Furthermore, you can get on the guest list or book a table with bottle service on some of the more exclusive bars. We are happy to help you out with either.
10. Drake’s Dealership Bar Oakland
A 10,000 square foot space with seating for about 350 people at a time, Drake’s Dealership has brick oven pizza along with 30 beers on tap. There’s the main dining room, a beer garden, and event space. This would be a great place to host a birthday party or celebration. There’s a fireplace in the main room with communal tables, while the garden has Adirondack booths and firepits. There’s also a stage for live performances. With the two brick oven pizzas constantly churning out some delicious cheesy pizzas, your party will be a hit!
The menu has pizza flavors ranging from the classic margarita to Lori’s, which has prosciutto, figs, and goat cheese toppings. Suppose you want to ‘get it Draked’ then ass on a poached duck egg on the pizza. You can also get sandwiches, salads, and some specialties here if you want to pair your beer with food. Their pretzels are fresh out of the oven, and the dipping sauce they come with is fantastic! Some beer flavors stay all year long, like Oaklander Wiesse, while others like ‘Aroma Coma’ are limited releases. The ‘Aroma Coma’ offers subtle notes of pineapple and blood orange spiced up by rye malt. You can also get ‘Aroma Paloma,’ ‘Aroma Prieta,’ and ‘Aroma Therapy’, which are a part of the limited edition flavors that the owner, John Martin, takes pride in.
The place is open all seven days of the week, and with different timings, every few days, so do check before you visit. The name pays homage to the car dealerships it is between, so that is an exciting choice. After your drinks, the firepits are a cozy spot to sit around and chat with your company.
9. Chop Bar Oakland
Chop Bar welcomes you all seven days of the week, from mornings to night. The chop bar is a famous place for all the local neighbors to gather and have a good meal with a drink of their choice. You can grab a table indoors or on the patio. There are also a few wooden stools at the curved bar on one side. The color theme is mainly neutrals with wooden accents and furniture. Lights hanging low from the ceiling add a soft glow to the whole space.
You should consider this place if you want to celebrate a birthday, reception or any occasion! They are proud of introducing the system of getting barrels of wine rather than bottles to minimize wastage of bottles, corks, and packaging. This helps them keep the costs low for each drink, attracting more people to come here. The place has enjoyed Chop Bar to its most with regular customers and a go-to spot for socialization. The serves are also really friendly and help out while you choose your meal and drink for the day.
Their food menu has many delicious appetizers, salads, mains, and desserts. Each plate is decorated and curated beautifully, which adds to the whole experience when you visit. You must try out their ‘Chicken Marsala,’ ‘Oxtail Poutine,’ or ‘Rigatoni’. These are a big hit amongst the locals. They are big believers in giving back to the community and have a long list of organizations they support constantly. A chop bar, in West African parlance, is a roadside bar where everyone can gather whatever time it may be, and this place offers just that!
8. Cato’s Ale House Bar Oakland
An Oakland original that has been up and running since 1994, Cato’s is the place to be if you want to go out. This place and the servers make you feel at home with their lovely conversation and welcoming atmosphere. The place itself is decorated with fun colors from the outside. It looks like a cozy blue house with a red outline on its windows and yellow accents. The place is family-friendly, so you can drop by with your loved ones for a pint.
There are about two dozen beers on tap, along with many wine options. Choose your pick and grab a glass. You can pair these with their house-made burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, or salads. They get their bread and meat fresh from nearby producers. The ingredients also come directly from the farms to your plates. They have a special menu that keeps changing every once in a while, like fried red snapper tacos, chicken pozole, grilled peach salad, and Caprese pizza. Be sure not to miss out on these and take along some loved ones. It’s a nice casual hangout spot.
You can go by on a Wednesday or Sunday evening if you’re in the mood for some live music with your drinks. On Mondays at 7 pm, there’s pub trivia. On the first of each month, you and your friends can have a fun karaoke night. Their website lists the solo artists and bands to perform in the coming month and other scheduled events.
7. Belotti Ristorante e Bottega Bar Oakland
You will find all pasta aficionados and wine lovers here at Belotti Ristorante e Bottega. The place offers authentic Piemonte cuisines, and many regulars drop by to chat with the owner in Italian while they eat. This place offers Italian food classics like agnolotti and pappardelle, which are must-haves if you do drop by. The seating is for 40 to 50 people, and the owner aims to make this place a laboratory for pasta where you get to see what is being cooked.
Try out some pasta from their custom pasta tasting menu. You can get uncooked pasta and sauce, which you can then take home and cook according to the chef’s instructions. It sounds like such a fun date idea! Try the heirloom grain spaghettini in a tomato sauce with creamy burrata, a fantastic combination of flavors. Although there are many other Italian places in the area, they claim to stand out, and you can check them out if you want to take their word for it.
Come here to relax after a hectic day. Just grab a glass of wine or a cocktail and sit back cause you’re not cooking tonight. They have a long list of beers to choose from, like Birra Bionda, premium lager, Guinness, and many more. Other drink options include all sorts of wines, from sparkling to rose to reds and whites. There are all sorts of Italian specialties available here as well. So bring your friends and grab a glass of your favorite drink with some pasta.
6. Heinold’s first and last chance saloon Bar Oakland
Built from the leftovers of a whaling vessel, Heinold’s first and last chance saloon opened way back in 1883. It was a fantastic place even before we knew what that meant. It is the most original dive bar you will come across, and it does look like one. The shack still stands tall even though the floor is all messed up on the inside due to an earthquake. No one has ever thought of fixing it because that would mean they would have to close the bar, and this bar doesn’t stop serving.
Many people prefer to grab a drink and miss out on the world inside this bar. A deer head on one side gets decorated with election pins during the season. There are coca cola tin airplanes on a shelf, a gun, Nazi medals, war helmets, and Eisenhower portraits. Look around you and find the story behind a few of these items. Then order your drink. It is named first and last chance, near the docks where the sailors would come and go.
The bar stools sit at an angle, and so will your drinks as they are served to you. There’s a moving picture movie at the back which you can play. You can get draft beers, ciders, wines, bottled beer, or a soda of your choice, which you can enjoy on the patio on a sunny day. You can also order any classic cocktail, and the bartender will whip it up.
5. The Fat Lady Bar Oakland
An old-school-looking classic bar, The Fat Lady, is the place if you’re looking for a dark and intimate vibe. A wooden theme is followed by the place, dark wooden bar with black leather stools, doorways covered with curtains, dim lamps all across the place to give it a warm and cozy style, old school type furniture and beautiful art and stained glass on different parts look a final touch. The place is known amongst the locals as a hidden gem so make sure you visit it.
They start with classic aperitifs if you like them at the start, including the ‘Frisco 75’, ‘French Lane’ and the ‘Discreet Charm’. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can order from one of their house specialties, signature cocktails like ‘The Earl Of Somerset’, ‘The Bee’s Knees’, ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, or the ‘Silk Stocking’. The bartenders are known to make a mean cocktail, so make sure you try one. If you’re more of a wine person, choose from their white, red, and sparkling wines, which have plenty of options to pick from, like ‘Sauvignon Blanc’, ‘Pinot Noir’ and the ‘Franciacorta’. They also have a range of whiskey, gin, vodka, and tequila behind the bar for you to choose from. If you’re in for a full meal, then look no further. Choose from their range of appetizers like fried zucchini, pancetta wrapped prawns, Greco lamb chops, or steamed manilla clams to start your meals. Then pick from the entree section, such as a Risotto, Chicken Mediterranean, or Linguini, or go for one from the Off The Grill section. You can get a ‘Grilled Organic Salmon, ‘Ribeye Steak, or a ‘Grecian Lamb’. If the mood is for a casual, lighter meal, then you can select one from their salads, soups, and sandwiches section, where you will find one for your liking. Pair it up with chilled beer to make it even better. To end it all on a sweet note, order yourself a ‘Tiramisu, ‘Coconut Pecan Torte, or the ‘Warm Cinnamon Bread Pudding’.
You’ll always have a good time whenever you stop by The Fat Lady. The ambiance, food, and drinks will lift your mood and make sure that your day goes on better.
4. Cafe Van Kleef Oakland
Have a seat and enjoy live music at Cafe Van Kleef. This eclectic bar is known as a relaxation spot after a tough day at work. From the funky lighting to the decor and the people you’ll meet here, this is the place for you to enjoy the night. The punk and rock music playing at the back while you enjoy a couple of drinks with your friends will undoubtedly have you in the mood. The place offers a selected variety of drinks and no food, but the drinks are certainly worth coming for.
Cafe Van Kleef is known to make some killer Greyhounds which is why they only serve those but have different styles. The ‘Classic Greyhound’ is one you can never go wrong with; it’s made up of vodka and freshly squeezed grapefruit and is refreshing. The ‘Dirty Dog’ is another specialty that is considered to be the perfect combination of strong and refreshing, consisting of whiskey, angostura bitters, and grapefruit juice. If you’re more of a tequila guy, choose the ‘Paloma’, which also has a splash of soda and some lime juice to give it that citrusy kick. For the gin lovers, they serve the ‘Bulldog,’ which is also dashed with a grapefruit slice and some juice to give it that extra flavor. They have also opened up their outside area where you enjoy your drink with the city lights and some fresh air. On selected days, they have DJ nights, performers, and karaoke bars set up for your entertainment.
Stop by Cafe Van Kleef to enjoy their Greyhounds and vibe along with the music with your friends and family; you’ll definitely leave satisfied.
3. Somar Bar Marzano Oakland
The perfect place to unwind after a busy day is Somar Bar. Imagine a cozy and relaxed atmosphere where you leave all your worries at the door and sit down to enjoy a drink and the music—classic brick wall design with dim lamps to give it that cozy vibe. Beautiful and brightly colored abstract paintings lift the place, and there’s space in the middle for you to dance and enjoy your time.
Grab a seat or dance while having their specialty drinks. Order a ‘Province’, which is made from Dewazakura Oka sake, blueberries, lemon juice, and a splash of pomegranate juice topped off with soda, a perfect and refreshing combination of ingredients. For those who prefer strong drinks, grab yourself an ‘Uptown Sour, ’ which has Bulleit bourbon, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh lemon juice, and peach bitters. To freshen up your mood, grab a Lychee Martini, served with fresh lychee fruit for you to munch on by the side. If you want to relax with a beer, choose from their draft selection, which keeps rotating, so the next time you come, you might find something new to try. If you want to sit down and relax with a glass of wine, choose from their red, white, or sparkling collection and listen to the music while you sip your drink. Choose from a Merlot, Chardonnay, Brut Reserva, and a few more. If you’re unsure what to order, ask the bartenders, and they’ll whip up something depending on your mood.
Hop by the Soma Bar and have a fun, relaxing night out with your friends and family as you grab a drink and dance the night off.
2. Marzano Bar Oakland
A beautiful Italian-themed bar and restaurant, visit the Marzano for quality food and drinks. The place is elegantly designed with brick walls, mirrors, glossy white walls with bulbs hanging, and some beautiful chandeliers. The place was known for its delicious food, but the bartenders have upped their game, and the place is now also known for its drinks. With the outside and sidewalk seating also developed, you can have a good time while enjoying the city lights and the beautiful weather.
You can order from the Antipasti section, which has ‘Woodfire roasted pork and beef meatballs, ‘Pan roasted Spanish octopus’, or the ‘Caprese con burrata’ to start your meal—moving on to the entrees, you can choose from pizza options such as ‘Margherita’, ‘Sopressata’, ‘Calabrian chili sausage’, ‘Brentwood Corn Pizza’ and many more. For other dishes, you can select from ‘Pasta Alla norma’, ‘Woodfire baked rigatoni’, ‘Pan roasted pacific white sea bass, and the ‘Grilled New York strip loin’. Pair the meal with a cocktail like the ‘Negroni’, ‘Black Manhattan’ or an ‘Old Fashioned. If you’re in for just a drink, then you can order a beer from the options available such as Allagash white, North coast imperial stout, or the Erdinger (which is non-alcoholic). If those are not your type, go for one from the huge liquor section. You can get vodka, whiskey, gin, rum, and tequila, which have various options for you to pick from. If you’re in for drinks alone, then make sure to try one of their signature cocktails. You can order a ‘Bianca Spritz’, ‘Hotel Nacional’, ‘Rickey From Ventura’ or the ‘Tropics of Capricorn’ , along with a few others, all of which are made up of different spirits and other freshly picked ingredients to make sure your drinks are the best you can get. Loads of wine and non-alcoholic options are also there if you prefer those. To end it all, you can order one of their desserts such as ‘Chili spiced chocolate pot de creme’, ‘Meyer lemon Panna cotta’, or simple ice cream. They also have dessert cocktails if you want to end it with a sweet but alcoholic note.
Visit the Marzano for a beautiful Italian experience in Oakland and enjoy the most delicate dishes and drinks in an elegant place.
1. Bar Shiru Oakland
Inspired by the bars in Tokyo, Bar Shiru is a ‘jazz kissa’ bar, where people come to listen to the music rather than the drinks that accompany it. The two owners were connected to music in their previous jobs, and Tokyo left an impression on them, which resulted in them starting their venture. Such bars were a norm during WW2 and later converted into today’s bars. With jazz, soul, and afro-beat music playing here only, one can talk to one another over the music easily.
This is where you sit by and appreciate music in all its glory. There is limited seating so that the experience is not ruined for anyone. Each album is played entirely by one of the owners each day. The music sets the mood with the hi-fi sound system installed all around the space. Even though it’s an industrial-looking space, it has character for sure. One wall, 15 feet high, is filled with vinyl collections. A smaller lounge space is adjacent to the main room with fantastic speakers. They’re even in the restrooms so that you don’t miss out! Wooden screens separate different zones and have printed portraits of famous artists on acoustic fabric. It acts as decor and is functional as well.
One side has huge windows that let the light in, and low lights hang from the ceiling. The bar is on one side, with lights behind the shelves illuminating the glass bottles. Here they offer you all sorts of tasty cocktails and Japanese whiskey, sake, beer, wine, and many more options. Keep in mind that there is no food offered here. The place is open all days except Mondays and offers seating for less than six people. Get a reservation if you’re a bigger group.
Oakland has everything from old historic venues to ones that are more contemporary. There are bars in Oakland that you wouldn’t expect to find in this city. So we are sure that wherever you are from, you will find more than one place that catches your eye on this list. At the night’s end, you may be sipping on a drink that packs a punch. Pair it with the right company with a great ambiance and relaxing atmosphere, and it would be a night worth remembering for sure!