The East Bay Al Fresco Dining and Drinking List

FactionNow’s the time of year when I start getting text messages from my friends asking me for summer evening date spots. So I figure we could all step up our warm-weather game with a handy list of East Bay bars and restaurants with outdoor spaces. I’ve yet to find the perfect spot where the food, drinks and location are equally as good, but I will never stop trying. Some of you may say, “hey what about my favorite beer drinking holes like Telegraph and Heart and Dagger?” To that I say the menu offerings are nothing that special, and with weather this nice I’m really not interested in seeing more flannel and black jeans. Because we all know that the real reason we’re excited to go out once the weather gets like this is to put on our favorite summer fits and admire all the other beautiful Bay folk in their dresses and bare arms and summertime glow. Happy heat wave, friends.

For Eating and drinking:
Fuse Box: [CLOSED and I am forever devastated] A husband-and-wife-owned Korean restaurant with a decent patio housing a long communal table and some outdoor lounge-ish chairs in West Oakland. The food is what keeps me coming back. The menu always has specials but you can’t go wrong with their standards like the bacon mochi and BAP sets. I love their tofu and that I occasionally wake up thinking about their chicken wings, and I think it’s adorable that sometimes they close for their daughter’s soccer games. They have a nice selection of local beers on tap, so you may want to make the trip for happy hour (and then stay for dinner). Hours are weird sometimes so check online before you go.
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Trappist: Delicious beer, a back patio with some wood benches, a grilled cheese that in the end I always submit to and never regret, and 4505 chicharrones.

Doña Thomas, where brightly colored floral tablecloths and heat lamps light up the patio, is great for a cocktail or Mexican brunch.

Portal: When this place first opened I was supposed to avoid it because my boyfriend at the time had some awkward business dealings with them. But now that he’s my ex-boyfriend I have a slightly vindictive reason for coming here (kinda like how he hated cinnamon, and I have always enjoyed cinnamon like normal people do, and now when I put cinnamon in my oatmeal or hot chocolate I shake the bottle with force and laugh evilly and say muahhahahahahah so much cinnamon muaahahahahah!) But anyway, they have a full brunch and dinner menu, nothing’s extrodinary but it’s all fine. The view looking out over Lake Merrit is what really makes the place. One Sunday there was a DJ and lots of parents with small children, creating an overall very confused vibe, so may be best during the week.

Bocanova (for happy hour) [CLOSED]: From 3-6 this upscale Pan-American restaurant in Jack London which is a little too stuffy for a regular Ferronlandia dinner has a nice happy hour: small bites like empanadas and yucca fritters for $5-$6, and a menu of $7 cocktails. The outside seating looks out at the docks. Also next door is the Last Chance Saloon (a classic), Forge and Lungamore. If you’re going out in the city afterwards you could grab the sunset ferry to Embarcadero, for the most romantic commute ever.
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Grand Lake Kitchen: Everything you want from a contemporary deli is here. Want weekday brunch? They got you (try the savory french toast). Feeling healthy, like some homey chicken soup or a little faro and yam salad? No problem. Want some picnic goods from local producers and a beer for the road? Cheers, and beers are $1 less when you take them to go. Their sidewalk patio across from Lake Merritt is fairly small so expect a wait on weekend mornings.

Just Drinkin’:
Prizefighter: Sometimes there’s a weird crowd here of Emeryville techies and ladies in stilettos who still haven’t gotten the memo that it ain’t Kitty’s no more (Prizefighter is in the space formerly known as a rowdy weekend bar called Kitty’s).Regardless, the drinks are flawless and the Oaxacan standoff is one of my favorite drink specials. Read my past blog post here. No food but you could grab rotten city pizza next door and sometimes they have food trucks.

Linden Street Brewery [NOW Old Kan & Beer Co.]: Oakland’s own brewery in West Oakland is open on the weekends from noon to five, occasionally with food trucks or local chefs on the grill. There are some picnic tables and a lot of hot cement. If you like Oakland or if you like beer and you haven’t had their beer yet I think you are being a little bit silly.

Comal: If you are in a downtown Berkeley kinda mood, this patio is the queen of patios. Get the comal swizzle with mezcal, then get another. I don’t like the food much, but boy do I love liquid dinners at Comal.

Beer Revolution: The king of beer selections, a small patio over looking the sidewalk, and vegan food next door.

Faction Brewing: I just wrote about this Alameda brewery for SFWeekly, so check it out. Also, for my Berkeley homies, a guy who works here used to work at Berkeley High and we recognized each other because one time he rode by me in his maintenance cart and said I looked like Dark Angel (Jessica Alba’s show on the WB, if you don’t recall). So I think he calls me Jessica now.

Honorable mentions: Lost and Found just opened and I haven’t been yet, someone should go and tell me about it. Lake Chalet has the best location hands down, but their food and drinks just can’t get my stamp of approval. You know the drill to survive mediocre food: happy hour, beer, and fries if you have to. Chop bar has a few outside spots, I like it for brunch cocktails.

Got more places to add? Tweet them at me or leave a comment.