Poor But Still Pouring: The Best Spots for Happy Hour in Oakland
By James Gage
Oakland is a town that knows how to get boozy. If its yeasty, fizzy, salt-rimmed, or citrus-infused, there’s a dimly lit hole-in-the-wall bar or glitzy cocktail spot in Oakland to enjoy it. This week, Bwe’re bringing you a comprehensive list of the best places to imbibe during everyone’s favorite hour of the day— Happy Hour. From Temescal to Buena Vista, from Old Oakland to Adams Point—here are the best booze-for-your-buck deals in town.
Not enough can be said about this iconic Telegraph Avenue fixture. Originally opened as a bait shop in 1922, the cozy, hipster-friendly interior of Kingfish Pub beckons all with tattooed sleeves and summertime beanies to lock up their vintage Bianchis at the racks out front. Savor the buzzing neon signs, gnarled wood accents, and expansive patio complete with jukebox, shuffleboard table, and popcorn machine (that’s right—free popcorn; your drunk self will thank you). Try one of their freshly-sizzled burgers paired with $1 cans of Olympia beer from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. every weeknight. The menu also offers $6 drink specials including the four-rum Fish Punch. Beware the low ceilings after your afternoon bender.
5227 Telegraph Ave.
Hopscotch Bar & Restaurant
If you’re looking for an Oakland experience that’s top-notch, try Hopscotch. This Japanese-inspired spot is the best of both worlds culinary and alcoholic. While you pound back a few, try menu items like the duck fat chips, bacon gumbo, and the fried chicken. This is a place where you can enjoy refined, taste bud-titillating Japanese-inspired American cuisine and, simultaneously, get completely tanked. Daily happy hour from 3 – 5 p.m. includes $2 High Life Cans or Bartender’s Choice Amaro, $2 off house specialty cocktails, $7 mixed drinks and cocktails, and $6 glasses of sparkling red or white wine. This is one of the few places in Oakland you can have a booze-fueled romp to start off your evening and come back the next morning for an artisanal brunch.
1915 San Pablo Ave.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. daily
Ben & Nick’s Bar & Grill
Ben & Nick’s Bar & Grill is as close as you can get to a Cheers-like setting in Rockridge. Cozy, dim, and complete with taxidermied deer heads and various beer-related memorabilia, you can get $3 off all pitchers and $1 off all cocktails Monday – Friday. This is the spot you want to gather your friends into a booth or at the barstools for the next Warriors game in October. Soak up neighborhood chatter, music, and atmosphere with a big selection of craft-brews and bar food. The famous Ben & Nick’s Trivia Night is every Tuesday beginning at 8:30 p.m., with karaoke on Saturdays at 10 p.m. Bring your next party here–they take reservations of ten or more.
5612 College Ave.
Hours: Mon. – Sun. 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.
The Double Standard
Escape the First Friday Telegraph Ave. crowds at The Double Standard. Make your way to the bar and then proceed immediately to the outdoor patio nestled under the towering redwood tree. Stringed lights will no doubt twinkle in your periphery while live music fills the outdoor space. Settle in with a thoughtfully-crafted libation made by one of the Standard’s expert bartenders and wile away the hours. If you’re wondering why this bar is any different than other spots with bigger patios and better deals—wait until you try the drinks. Beer-plus-shot deals go for $8 and there are half-priced drinks 3 – 6 p.m. Monday – Friday.
2424 Telegraph Ave.
Hours: Mon. – Fri., 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Sat. – Sun., 2 p.m. – 2 a.m.
The Avenue is the type of place you go before and after work, especially if you’re in a satanic motorcycle gang. This is the place to hitch up your hog and stumble out hours later onto Telegraph Avenue for something greasy and delicious. “Post-industrial,” “grungy,” and “metal” do not do The Avenue justice—literal 50-pound chains dangle from the ceiling next to chandeliers adorned with human skulls. The walls are a pastiche of old rock and roll album covers and hairy, vintage porn mag centerfolds. The Avenue is probably not the spot for a first date unless they are a true badass who won’t mind resting their drink on a glass casket. Happy Hour is Monday – Friday, 5 – 7 p.m. with $1 off domestic beers, draft beers, wine, and well liquor.
4822 Telegraph Ave.
Hours: 12:00 p.m. – 1:15 a.m. daily
For authentic Mexican cuisine and liquor in the heart of Old Oakland, there is no spot better than Tamarindo Antojeria. Served up in the traditional “small-plate” style, everything found at Tamarindo is a gastronomic fiesta and is meant to be shared with a large group of friends or family. With bragging rights for establishing the first mescal bar in Oakland, Tamarindo is also the ideal place to wet your whistle. On Tuesdays, from 5 – 7 p.m., you can get $2 tacos and $8 margaritas and on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. – close you can enjoy 2-for-1 margaritas. Andale, amigos.
468 8th St.
Hours: Mon. – Thurs. 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Fri. – Sat. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
The Legionnaire Saloon
When you’re bumbling up and down Telegraph Ave. during the next First Friday celebration, stop into the Legionnaire Saloon for two floors of fun, music, and dancing with DJs, burlesque, and televised sporting events of all varieties. This family-run, patriotic spot is decorated with tasteful Americana and boasts a robust and well-rounded happy hour: Monday – Saturday, 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. and all night Tuesday you can get $3 Modelo pints, $4 well cocktails, and $2 bucks off all wine, with a $10 Irish whiskey and a pint of Guinness. Sunday nights are legendary for “Beat the Clock”— when all tap beers start at $1 at 8 p.m. and the price raises $1 every 30 minutes. Drink up!
Hours: Mon., Wed., Thurs., Fri., Sat. 4 p.m. – 1:45 a.m.; Tues 6 p.m. – 12 a.m., Sun. 4 p.m. – 12 a.m.
2272 Telegraph Ave.