Bay Hop to Bar Hop: Best of Berkeley's Bars

Although San Francisco has no end of top-notch bars, and the Oakland nightlife scene gets more popular by the hour, it's a mistake to overlook Berkeley. No other city in the Bay Area has the unique history of Berkeley and the commanding, upbeat presence of nearly 40,000 college students. This fun town puts the life in nightlife.

If your idea of nightlife includes hitting a bar for drinks and socializing, then our Berkeley guide is just what you want. Capitalizing on first-hand experience and extensive research, we've located the best bars in Berkeley for hanging out and kicking back. From long-lived mainstays like César to busy places like Henry's that get lots of 10Best reader approval, we present the top bars in town and offer details about them all. What's the energy like? How do the bartenders pour? Are most bars located in the Downtown Berkeley area? No fear - we share all the facts!

Bear's Lair


The epicenter of campus social life, the Bear's Lair may be the quintessential college hangout, but it's more than comfortable for faculty, staff, and visiting alumni as well. Depending on the day, folks will gather around the fireplace or the...  Read More



Is it a shop or a bar? Actually it's both. The shop downstairs stocks a selection of California and International wines, in all price ranges. Art Deco posters adorn wood paneled walls, while cool jazz wafts from strategically placed speakers,...  Read More



This festive Spanish hotspot attracts a diverse clientele with sensational tapas and excellent wines and cocktails. Small-plate delicacies are much more than delicate though – they're boldly flavored and rich in appeal. Savory options include...  Read More



At Henry's you'll find great food, a comfortable atmosphere, and friendly service from morning to night. Breakfast is a surefire hit – the Chef's Hangover Special (cheese omelet, pancakes, bacon, fried potatoes, and coffee) is a steal. For...  Read More



If you want your night out to have a Latin feel, there's no question where you should head first: Comal's. Run by Executive Chef Matt Gandin, a former chef at San Francisco's legendary Delfina, Coma's dishes and drinks are heavily influenced by...  Read More



One of the best reasons to escape to Berkeley from San Francisco - especially during San Francisco's chilly, fog-shrouded summers - is to grab some sun. And nothing pairs better with that warm sun on your face than a cool pint in your hand. No...  Read More



Opened in 1986, Triple Rock is the oldest brewpub in the US that's still in operation, with the same owners, no less. They brew more than 40 beers through the year, with 10-12 on tap at all times, including the favorite Red Rock Ale, a hoppy...  Read More



Bet you didn't know there was a short cut from Berkeley to Merry Olde England! It's called the Albatross Pub. The oldest pub in Berkeley is also the most British. You'll find all the traditional Brit activities – pool, darts, board games –...  Read More



Although it's taken locals awhile to warm up to Tupper and Reed - the bar took over the space of the beloved Irish bar, Beckett's - making fantastic cocktails is a good step towards winning anyone over. Housed in the former music store of John...  Read More



Housed in what was once a stable, Jupiter has taken full advantage of its unusual location by creating a unique modern day Gothic ambience. Pews and Gothic-style chandeliers were scavenged from an old church, bronze-colored pressed tin panels...  Read More


Meet Tom Molanphy

The only thing that Tom Molanphy loves more than the food, art, music, and culture of San Francisco is sharing it with others. San Francisco never gets old for Tom.

Tom has lived in the San...  More About Tom