Oakland, CA: Toasting Five Favorite Bars

My time in Northern California is wrapping up—what a glorious few weeks! I’ve got to say, I’ve really enjoyed being back in Oakland (my hometown) as an adult. It’s amazing what a few years and a fresh perspective will bring to all of your old memories. By far, my favorite thing to do in the East Bay has been checking out all of the cool local haunts I was never old enough to enjoy before. San Francisco is an amazing city with amazing food and drinks, but Oakland and the East Bay are a force to be reckoned with on their own—especially if you love beer! So here I toast my five new favorite bars—cheers!

The Forge:

A swank waterfront bar right in Jack London Square. Sit on the water’s edge—with a roaring fire pit to ward off the clammy bay air—and enjoy one of their signature cocktails. They’ve also got hand-crafted pizzas…yum!


A no-frills but super fun beer garden. They’ve got 12 rotating taps, an assortment of excellent bottled beers and ciders, and house wines (as well as a BOMB mac & cheese-burger). As an Oaklander, I love Telegraph because of their community involvement—it’s definitely got local pride as well as local flavor.

The Trappist:

Located in a beautiful Victorian in the Uptown district, this place has got lots of space (indoors and out), and a huge selection of Belgian-style and American artisan beers to choose from. Having had beer in Belgium, I’ve got to say, these guy serve it up authentically, at the correct temperature and in the correct glass. Call me impressed.

Room 389:

A sweet little cocktail lounge located by Lake Merritt, Room 389 offers a wide variety of nightly amusements, from trivia to live bands to specialty DJs. The drinks are strong and cheap, and on game nights, the A’s fever is palpable. Possibly the classiest spot I’ve yet caught a major-league baseball game.

Heinold’s First and Last Chance:

(Pictured) Come on—a waterfront saloon that used to serve Jack London himself? As a writer and a Californian, I’d be remiss if I left off Heinold’s. It’s in spitting distance of The Forge, so if you fancy a nightcap (or a pregame), pop by to toast the litany of famous folk who have “stepped down.” Be sure to read their history (posted on the website)—it’s got a fascinating story.

Of course this is just a sampling. Got other places you recommend? Leave a note in the comments!

Pin now, read later!
Oakland Bars