From their website:
Cafe Van Kleef is a wonderful place to relax after a busy day, enjoy a elegantly strong drink flavored with fresh-squeezed fruits and the finest selection of top-shelf liquor to be found anywhere.
For my own view, it's a funky little neighborhood joint that's kind of caught on in the burgeoning downtown Oakland area. It's run by a guy who seems to know how to keep things lively without being too brash. There's a nice blend of all ages there and a great hangout kind of scene.
Every once in a while people even get up to dance.
Dress Code: None I know of.
There is a no-parking zone after 1 am right in front. Don't get caught there like I did...
Not for the squeamish, this place is for late night crawls when you are up for anything. They have an excellent juke box. The regulars do NOT like having their picture taken.
Almost a dive, lots of personality, don't make extended eye contact with local patrons unless your intention is to know them personally.
I will not get into specifics of all the strange things that have happened to me & friends / business associates in this truly local bar just off Jack London Square. Just be prepared for anything from boredom to striptease to fistfights (not necessarily in that order)
Dress Code: If you dress up, you're asking for it.
This is where you play pool, drink, and try to stay out of trouble.
If you like jazz, Yoshi's (along with my favorite Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle ) is one of the better jazz clubs in the United States.
Decent sound and lights, top jazz artists in the world, and to top it off, tasty sushi you can eat either in the restaurant section, OR brought to you in the club while you watch the artists perform.
If you go to Oakland and you miss Yoshi's, you need to try it again.
YAHOO! - now Yoshi's has a club in the City at 1330 Fillmore at Eddy
Dress Code: None that I know of. It's a dark jazz club.
I suppose you can dress up a little if you're going to eat in the restaurant vs the club.
by the way, they do not let you take fotos, even without flash (??)
(I can understand how flash fotos can break your concentration.
I played music for years, got "flashed" damn near a million times & it never stopped me from playing. But they will "jump" you even if you are correctly and discretely taking professional non-flash fotos.
What's up with that? and all bands need pub..... what bs... boooo!!)
Really a strange little bar.
I think it is worth checking out just for the vibe / ambience.
Some say it was a local "pickup joint.
They serve good quality food - lunch and dinner.
Decor is described as "turn of the century."
A ton of bizarre knickknacks & "tiffany clutter" all over the inside, but it has something.... (je ne sais quoi?)
Tons of stories and history. Legend has it was once a bordello (it feels like it, true or not).
SF Gate describes it as "very refreshing" and I have to agree.
If nothing else, stop in for a drink some evening around 9-10pm and check it out.
I do like this place, & I'm not sure why.
Dress Code: Casual evening to ??? you got me... eccentric perhaps
Check out the website for lots more info.
They now also have a MySpace page
I don't know where to even start when describing Heinold's. This is certainly one of the most unique nightspots I have ever visited. Well, this little shack along the water was built in 1880 and became a pub in 1883...it has been in use ever since. Jack London spent a lot of time here during his youth. The floor and bar have a major slope caused by the 1906 earthquake...like a 3 foot drop from the front door to the back wall. Even better, the bartenders here are awesome, quick with a joke and happy to tell the story of the bar, its memorabilia, and Jack London.
In about 2 hours here, I learned about all of the above, plus why the area behind bar is the only level spot in the small building, how the city waters and mows the grass on the roof of Jack London's shack outside, what the WYBMADIITY sign behind the bar means, why they use green sprinkles on their Irish coffee, and more. Please note the bar rules...no profanity and no cell phone conversations at the bar!
The inside of the bar has just 6 or 8 tilted stools and there are 3 or 4 tables. The table near the back wall is the most popular as it is the closest to being level! There are also several several tables outside.
Thankfully it seems some US cities were smart enough not to demolish all their classic old theatres. Beautiful Paramount theatres are in lots of different cities.
Denver has one, Seattle has one, and Oakland has one. These places are wonderful architectural eye candy, and excellent venues for music, movies, and art.
The Oakland Paramount art deco interior and exterior are beautiful, and you can see a classic film, hear a classical concert by the Oakland symphony, catch a standup comic, then experience world class jazz or rock (from Bob Dylan to Pat Metheny), all in the same week.
Ambience and acoustics, like the one in Denver, are in my opinion outstanding.
If you're going to Oakland, always check the website first to see what's going on at the Paramount.
Photo: For some reason, the digital camera demons munched my nite shot of the paramount, so thanks to sftours for their copy. I return in April and will give it another shot.
Dress Code: Depends on the venue.
Cafe Van Kleef is a small local joint in downtown Oakland. It often has local music, and has a great number of random decorations on the walls. Head there if you like to talk, see local jazz and bluesy artists, na dlike a relaxing area to hang out after a long day at work or sight-seeing in the Bay Area. Their specialty is a greyhound, which they make with fresh grapefruit!
Dress Code: Eh, it's so laid back there's not really a dress code.
There's a cool billiard place called Thalassa on 2367 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley, a short drive from Oakland. They have regulation tables, a large bar, and great rates: $5/hr, and $10/hr after 9pm. The staff are super friendly.
There are also a lot of shops and eateries in the Berkeley area.
Anybody that is going to Oakland needs to read this..........Look, out of all the people on here or this site that knows the criminal world how Oakland is, its me, I been to jail in Oakland a number of time, Santa Rita Jail, San Bruno, matter of fact the Oakland Police is looking for me right now over something!! Anyway, IS OAKLAND DANGEROUS? HELL YEAH IT IS!!! But you have to read between the lines, there are alot of killings in Oakland, Alot!! but these killings happen for a reason, first of all you have to listen to someone that knows the street of Oakland like me, you cant listen to (and no offense) but some white guy named Peter that lives in Piedmont and doesnt deal with the street life of Oakland, I DO!! Now listen first of all, aint nobody just going around shooting people for no reason, most of these killings are over drugs but ALL OF IT ISNT. It's not just a bunch of crackhead killing each other, the other reason is, like in most inner-cities, its over RESPECT. if you read the new and its says "man shot in Oakland" he most likly disrespected someone, its over respect, people in Oakland dont take no sh*t! Im telling you, trust me, I am affiliated with two main prison gangs in Oakland and thats "THE BLACK GORRILLA FAMILY and KUMI, Kumi is a prison gang start in the Bay Area by black inmates, KUMI is swahilli for the number 10, the whole bay was one area code at one time (415) well if you add 4 plus 1 plus 5 what do you get? 10, so that's the secret code name of this main Prison gang in the Bay Area, do your research, anyway, If you come to Oakland, you cant be scared to go out at night, because your gonna miss alot of excitment and you aint really gonna see "Oakland at its finest" you got your thugs but you also got your Players, Im talking about Non violent Blackmen that really respresent The best of Oakland with our fine restarants and bars, you do need to stay out of THE EAST AND THE WEST OF OAKLAND, if you dont know nobody over there. Anyway, depending on what nationality you is, Oakland is pretty much dominated by Blacks, but that doesnt have to be a bad thing, truefully after like 10:00 pm, THE THUGS RUN OAKLAND, so its best not to be out somewhere in your car, you may run across a sideshow and see some gangstaz *** jump-off, like I said if you act too scary you will miss out on alot of action, its not gurrenteed your gonna be attacked. Relax, if you go out at night, if you wanna see the best of Oakland, go to Jack London Sqaure, depending on how old you are, but if you wanna really party and have a blast, you cant come to Oakland and not go to the most popular hang out in Oakland on a Saturday night and thats Jimmy's baby. there you will see Oakland Pimps and Hoe's at their finest, stop being a sissy, come hang out with the Macks, Players, Big Dope Dealers and the G's. you will see some of the best dress brothers & sisters Oakland has to offer, there is security and you will be checked for firearms when you come to the club but if you dont go to Jimmy's on Saturday night in downtown Oakland you aint really seen tha town. So I offer this advice, be on guard but dont be too paranoid, them brothers come in suits and nice clothes, they aint trying to be out there fighting messing up they outfits, its not allways violent, you will have a good time at Jimmy's , they have good food, best soul food in Oakland!! They gonna take care of you, tell them you from out of town and they will show you how we get down, man you will see some of the finnest black woman in Oakland at Jimmy's and alot of football players go there for the woman, so get out on there and party man, just stay yo' ass out THE EAST AND THE WEST, cause they aint smiling over there potna, IT GOES DOWN!!!!!
Yoshi's has the best live music of any club in the Bay Area (which is saying a LOT). Engagements normally run several nights for each band. Built as a jazz club, it has enough sound-proofing that you cannot hear the passing trains.
Dress Code: Smart casual.
This is the last watering hole surviving from Oakland's old days. Jack London used to hang out here, and in places like it, to hear the tall tales of sailors, adventurers, and whoever happened to wander in.
Dress Code: Casual
George & Walt's is a place on College Avenue, in Rockridge, between Oakland and Berkeley. It's a cool place to hang out and shoot a game of pool. The people are really friendly but everyone there seems to drink too much. There are also video games and they have a big screen tv to watch all the important games. Usually A's and Raiders fans are most welcome.
Dress Code: Wear anything. This is the East Bay.
If you can catch a show at Yoshi's, do it. They get great jazz acts in there all the time, and it's a great room. There's a Japanese restaurant attached that is ok, but you don't have to eat there to catch a show.
Dress Code: Nothing too strict, but don't wear jeans, t-shirts, baseball hats, etc.
Grand Lake Theater
Paramount and Grand Lake are old, fascinating, art deco - In the Grand Lake main theater, an organist plays. Paramount has either live shows or old, classical movies. The symphony and ballet have recently won acclaim for greatly improved performance. The best thing to see at the Paramount is Christmas concert of the Interfaith Gospel Choir.
Dress Code: casual
This is a small bar in downtown Oakland. The decor is almost entirely red, and the dark atmosphere & lighted candles are a cool experience. Each night they have a different DJ that spins various records. Depending on the night you walk in, you could hear metal, punk, or new music that sounds like the old Motown tunes. They have $1 draft from 8 to 10p each night.