Uptown Bar Crawl
In the name of research, the intrepid Edible Excursions Uptown Oakland Food & Drinks Tour guides and the boss lady recently went on a bar crawl for purely educational purposes, of course.
The Uptown Oakland area is well-known for its watering holes. We already feature Woods Bar & Brewery on tour and for several years Plum Bar, Two Mile Wines, and Bar Dogwood were regulars in our tour rotation. You can also enjoy a craft cocktail at Hopscotch, Calavera, and Dosa, and we do, on both public and private tours.
Or, you know, for the day drinkers among us. No judgment here.
In the past year or so, a bunch of new bars have opened in the ‘hood and it was time for us to scout locations.
Below, some new favorites from the area for your enjoyment. Cheers!
A Telegraph Avenue newcomer, Bar Shiru is modeled after Japanese listening bars where vinyl and high-end sound systems with stellar acoustics are as much of a draw as the craft cocktails and impressive whiskey list. This stylish venue, the brainchild of co-owners Daniel Gahr and Shirin Raza, makes for a good date night location. It has a groovy chillaxed vibe; there’s a wall of record albums, and jazz is the music of choice. Simple bar snacks, online reservations for parties of 5 to 7. In the spirit of the venue, find seasonal sips that are hi-fi, low-fi, or no-fi on the alcohol scale, as you prefer.
Well, Hello Stranger! This is a welcome addition to Broadway, a bi-level bar right above 19th Street BART with comfy booths, cannabis-infused cocktails, and a rotating cast of DJs who keep the beats coming. It’s a pretty laid-back place to have an after-work/show or pre-dinner/show drink; the music doesn’t start in earnest until later in the evening on a weeknight, when the dance floor is thumping. (For schedule, check their IG feed.)
The locally-owned space feels unpretentious, welcoming, and inclusive and is brought to you by the trio Summer-Jane Bell, Josh Trabulsi, and Bill Stephens.
Try the Oaksterdam with rye, cognac, vermouth, and OG Kush terpenes. And don’t be a stranger to the Hello Stranger: Passion fruit, Spanish Vermouth, Sacred Bond brandy over crushed ice and garnished with fresh thyme. You’re welcome.
A delightful wine bar on Broadway, The Punchdown is dedicated to natural wines, organic and biodynamic offerings with naturally occurring yeast and minimal intervention. There’s a rotating list of pours, a compact but tasty bar menu, and bottles are available for purchase. It’s a cozy spot with outdoor seating, and, technically, not new. The Punchdown made a comeback to the neighborhood in 2016 after being, ah, knocked out of the ‘hood in 2013. Owned by the husband-and-wife duo, D.C. Looney and Lisa Costa, The Punchdown has an enthusiastic staff happy to educate drinkers about their chilled reds, orange wines, Loire Valley drops, Republic of Georgia drinks, and more.
Handily located right across from the Fox Theater this newbie offers novel, in-house canned cocktails in addition to its regular craft cocktail menu. Here’s How, named after a 1940s illustrated cocktail recipe book, is the first solo project of long-time local bar star Jennifer Colliau. Bar nerds will delight in the attention to detail, including cocktails stirred with digital thermometers to ensure proper temperature, hand-cut ice, and housemade sodas. Drinkers will appreciate the thoughtfully constructed drink menu. There’s also an extensive food menu.
This place is a party in a glass or bowl, depending on your preference. The Kon-Tiki is a good place to go with a group. Located on 14th Street it’s technically in Downtown not Uptown but why spoil the fun over arbitrary borders? The Kon-Tiki serves classic tiki drinks, as well as original, “exotic” tropical libations: think strong, spirit-forward drinks featuring lots of rum, fresh juices, handmade syrups, and spices. We enjoyed the elevated bar food featuring seasonal bites, such as grilled trumpet mushrooms, tempura corn on the cob, and blistered padron peppers. For something heartier try the pork belly tocino. The place has pedigree: One of the co-owners, Christ Aivaliotis, hails from Hawker Fare San Francisco’s Holy Mountain upstairs bar. And we appreciated the wait staff, who knew the drink and food menu down pat and were spot on with their recommendations.