By Stuart Schuffman a.k.a. Broke-Ass Stuart

Its all happening in Oakland. It seems that brilliant, forward thinking bars and restaurants are opening weekly, helping put The Town on par with some of the best culinary cities in the U.S. That said, its still Oakland, a laid back place lacking much of the pretention of her big sister across The Bay. Thats why were highlighting seven of the best bars in Oakland to have a cheap drink, hang out, and meet some incredibly interesting local characters.

1. The Alley

3325 Grand Ave.

Grand Lake Neighborhood

A dark bar where the walls are covered in visitors business cards and piano man Rod Dibble has been playing nightly since 1960. Come for the affordable food and drinks, the friendly customers, and to wobbly belt out your favorite tune.

2. Heart and Dagger Saloon

504 Lake Park Ave.

Grand Lake Neighborhood

Tattoos, rock 'n' roll and booze are religion at this Lakeshore bar. But dont let that intimidate youthe staff and patrons are just as wide open as the lovely back patio.

3. Heinolds First and Last Chance Saloon

48 Webster Street

Jack London Square

Oaklands original dive bar has been holding it down and getting The Towns citizenry saucy since Johnny Heinold first opened the place in 1883. A favorite waterhole of one of Oaklands favorite native sons, Jack London spent a lot of time here drinking and mixing it up with many of seamen and adventures that inspired his work.

4. Caf Van Kleef

1621 Telegraph Ave.

Uptown Oakland

Covered floor to ceiling in strange and wonderful bric-a-brac, its hard to decipher if this quintessential artists bar is seven or seventy years old. Make sure to try their immaculate fresh squeezed Greyhound.

5. Beer Revolution

464 3rd Street

Jack London Square/Old Oakland

The best comrade you can have in the war against bad beer, Beer Revolution has an incredible selection of specialty craft beers both by the bottle and the pint. Its like punk rock grew up and developed a taste for the finer beers in life.

6. The Avenue

4822 Telegraph Ave.


Foosball, pinball, pool, and of course, booze are what Temescal locals come to The Avenue for. Well, that and a lively bunch of regulars and perfectly snarky bar staff.

7. Kingfish Pub & Cafe

Kingfish Pub Skee Ball, Temescal Photo credit: sfgate.com5227 Telegraph Ave.


On its way to becoming an historical landmark, this former bait shop is a great place to have a cheap drink, play some shuffleboard, and eat some of the delicious Ethiopian food that comes from across the street.

Have a favorite Oakland dive bar that we missed? Share your favorite place to kick back with us below!

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