The East Bay is the eastern region of the San Francisco Bay Area and comes out to be one of the most populated subregions in the Bay Area. It encompasses cities from Oakland & Alameda out east to Livermore and north to Concord, Pleasant Hill, and Albany. As this is such a huge region it would be apt to say there are very many great places to go out drinking that may be left off this list. Thus, I apologize if I’m unable to include them all but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth going to! Here’s a list of recommended spots to check out for a night out with your friends in the East Bay.
The Emporium is a place that as a kid you’d imagine going to when you’re finally 21 and able to drink. An arcade with a full bar — what more can you ask for?! In terms of arcade games, they have over 15 classics ranging from pinball, Frogger, and Dig Dug to Super Mario and Street Fighter! The bar also features foosball, skeeball, air hockey and live music from DJs. Their alcohol selection is also impressive with over 15 draft beers, craft beers, rotating draft cocktails and more! The Emporium allows you to bring in outside food, host private parties and encourages a great time! Highly recommend this for a fun and nostalgic night out with friends or even a date, while out in the East Bay!
2. Mad Oak
Mad Oak is a popular bar in Oakland located between MADison & Oak. They offer a fun and relaxing atmosphere with a big selection of beers as well as a full bar. Very spacious in terms of seating with fun outdoors and rooftop areas to sit and enjoy some drinks with your friends. Mad Oak also serves food daily while changing food vendors about every six months to change up the variety. This is a great place to check out with friends while going bar hopping around Oakland or other areas of the East Bay!
3. Pappy’s Grill & Sports Bar
Pappy’s is a highly recommended go-to while going out in Berkeley, California in the East Bay! It’s a really fun sports bar with great food, drinks and is overall pretty well priced. The bar is well stocked with a good selection of beers on draft or bottled as well as tasty mixed drinks. The food is reason enough to go to Pappy’s as it offers great burgers, sandwiches, wings, soups & salads and more! The service is pretty fast, based on how busy they are, and their many big-screened TVs make for a great place to watch a game with your friends. The seating inside can get a little limited especially if there’s a big local sports game on but they also offer plenty of outdoor seating if you just want to enjoy a pitcher of beer with your pals!
4. The Tap Haus
Another highly recommended go-to while in Berkeley is the Tap Hous! This German-style beer hall is a really fun spot to hang out with your friends, drink some great beer, and shoot some pool. They have many tables as well as giant Jenga and Connect Four games! A big spacious area with plenty of room to play pool or just sit and talk. It’s located close to the UC Berkeley campus so it will likely have a good number of students inside, but not exclusively. The Tap House also offers some tasty food including giant pretzels, fries, wings, sandwiches, and salads. They are also one of the few places found in the East Bay to offer a “das boot,” as featured in the movie Beerfest, to drink your beer out of!
5. 1515 Restaurant & Lounge
Heading further east across the East Bay you’ll find some great places to drink in Walnut Creek. 1515 is a great restaurant that also becomes a really fun bar once the kitchen closes down. There’s a bar on the ground floor where the restaurant usually runs during the day but they also open up a big room upstairs with a full bar as well. When they get especially crowded it can be a wait to be let up the stairs but usually doesn’t last too long. The bar is fully stocked with a good selection of beer and cocktails however it can run a little pricier than some other places. The great crowd that 1515 brings is a good enough reason to check this place out when you’re in Walnut Creek. It almost becomes a club vibe with all the dancing and great music but also has a moderate amount of seating upstairs for those not big fans of dancing.
6. Tiki Toms
A fun hole-in-the-wall bar to check out in the East Bay is Tiki Tom’s in Walnut Creek! It’s a smaller tiki-themed bar that usually brings about a big crowd during the weekend. Unfortunately, this can be the worst part as being smaller sized it means there can be a wait to get in if it’s super busy. If you catch it on a moderately-busy night it should be a great time with their fun atmosphere and great drink selections. It’s also located right near the local movie theatre if you want to catch a movie before or after!
7. Sauced BBQ & Spirits
If you’re looking for a bar in the East Bay with great food, drinks, and axe throwing then this is the place for you! Sauced BBQ & Spirits in Walnut Creek is a super popular and fun bar/restaurant with tasty food, a full bar and an area to bring out your inner Viking and throw some axes. Their barbeque food is a little on the pricier side but is authentic, delicious and filling. The bar is fully stocked with tons of different whiskeys, a rotating tap, and more. Besides the delicious food and great drinks, the big attractant of Sauced is the axe throwing pits. In a session, you get a little over an hour, including instruction from an axe coach, to throw some axes with your friends and see who’s the most accurate! It’s a really fun experience and I highly recommend trying out, however, it can be very popular and thus a long wait if you don’t set up a reservation ahead of time.
8. Cayon Club Brewery
If a more casual, Biergarten experience is what you prefer then the Canyon Club Brewery would be a good fit. Recently opened in Moraga, the Canyon Club offers a great selection of house-brewed beer and wines as well as a menu of tasty food such as burgers, tacos, sandwiches and more. The food can be a little pricey and depending on how busy they are can take some time to be prepared. The atmosphere at the Canyon Club is really fun and relaxed and has plenty of seating both indoors and outdoors. The outdoors area is huge with a great fire pit and plenty of seating, but occasionally hosts private parties which limits it a bit. The overall vibe of the Canyon Club is very relaxing and inviting to any and all looking to enjoy some great beer or wine with some friends.
9. The Roundup Saloon
Opening in Lafayette in 1935, originally as Lou’s, the Roundup is one of the longest standing locations in the small town found in the East Bay. Located right in the middle of town, the Roundup is a very popular bar in Lafayette bringing a varied crowd from college students of Saint Marys to local regulars. This bar features a well-stocked bar as well as two pool tables, a shuffleboard, and a foosball table. They also have a great variety of specialty-nights like karaoke on Wednesday, which usually attracts more college students, as well as live music on Thursdays and occasionally Friday or Saturday as well. The Roundup is a cash-only bar, unfortunately, but offers an ATM inside next to a retro jukebox. It’s decently sized with a really interesting western theme featuring old-school signs, a fake deer head, a fake mounted gun and more. It’s a fun bar to stop at in Lafayette while exploring drinking spots across the East Bay.
What are some of your favorite places to go out drinking in the East Bay? Let us know in the comments below!
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I have a passion for helping others and see journalism as a great way to reach and impact many people. Born in Texas but raised in the San Francisco Bay Area! Then with a short detour in Boulder, Colorado to get my bachelor's in Journalism with a minor in political science. I'm a determined, motivated individual striving to make a difference in this world. I have hopes to play a role in the continued development of journalism and in maximizing efforts to inform and inspire the public. Check out my articles on Society19!