It’s been just over two years since I made the move from Vancouver, British Columbia to the just as culturally diverse Bay Area town of Berkeley, California. The college town, which is just a 20 minute train ride from San Francisco, has no shortage of restaurants, book stores, and places to stroll and get your cardio on (e.g. the Berkeley Marina or Berkeley Hills). However, in the couple years I have resided here, one thing has puzzled me: the shortage of bars in Berkeley. Most mid-large sized cities offer at least one lively block of bars and go-to weekend places, but Berkeley is oddly not one of them. I live downtown and I can count the area’s decent bars on both my hands. I must mention that there is Telegraph Ave., which is home to a couple bars geared toward college students. If that’s you then Pappy’s and Kip’s are where you’ll probably be on a Friday night.
If you have encountered the same conundrum I first faced in Berkeley, fret not, as I have done the work for you and sussed out the most worthwhile drinking experiences in the city.
My Top 2 Places to Grab a Drink in Berkeley
Note that these are beer places, as I am a beer lover (if not already obvious from my profile photo). Refer down the list for wine and cocktail recommendations.
1. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room (West Berkeley)
- Stellar customer service! Our bartender shared a plethora of information on each beer and the brewery
- Well-designed, modern atmosphere
- Great selection of beers
- Easy to find parking
2. Fieldwork Brewing Co. (West Berkeley)
- A great space to drink at with a friend or a big group (they have really picturesque outdoor seating)
- A constantly changing selection of in-house brews
- Offer tasty empanadas if you’re hungry
If you’re looking for lively atmosphere: Jupiter has a great outdoor area and live music on some nights (Downtown Berkeley). Offers beer, wine, and food.
If you’re looking for a dance floor: Missouri Lounge (West Berkeley). Offers beer, cocktails, and hot dogs.
If you’re looking for creative and interesting cocktails: Tupper & Reed (Downtown Berkeley). Offers beer and scorpion bowls too.
If you’re looking for a good Happy Hour: Beta Lounge has Happy Hour 4-9pm (Downtown Berkeley). Offers beer, wine, cocktails, and bar bites.
- Albatross Pub (West Berkeley) offers beer, darts, and a multitude of board games.
- Albany Taproom (technically in Albany, which is just north of West Berkeley) offers beer and food.
- Comal (Downtown Berkeley) offers beer, cocktails, and upscale Mexican food.
- Starry Plough (South Berkeley) offers beer and bar food.
Am I missing anything? If you can think of other great places to grab a drink in Berkeley, let me know in in the comments below!