Best of the East Bay 2016: Fun
Hiking and beer; a happy hour hot spot.
Comedy Club: Tommy T’s Comedy Club
Perennial Winner Back in the comedy boom of the late 1980s, the East Bay was filled with stand-up. Tommy T’s has been a lasting name in comedy since those days. The classic laugh house, which opened its Pleasanton location in 2006, has brought in national headliners (Tommy Davidson, Craig Ferguson, and Andrew Dice Clay have played here in recent years) as well as local comics. The club also has open mic nights the first Tuesday of every month. 5104 Hopyard Rd., Pleasanton, (925) 227-1800, tommyts.com.
Brewery/Distillery: Drake’s Brewing Company
The new kid Drake’s has been fermenting suds for more than 25 years at its San Leandro brewery. But it’s the new sprawling beer garden and restaurant—in a former Dodge dealership, in Uptown Oakland’s Hive development—that’s been generating buzz of late. At Drake’s Dealership, the most coveted seats are the Adirondack chairs encircling fire pits in the beer garden, where servers deliver upscale pub grub—such as poutine and duck confit—wood-fired pizzas, and draughts from up to 40 taps. 2325 Broadway Auto Row, Oakland, (510) 833-6649, drinkdrakes.com. —Kristen Haney
Bar Menu: Revel Kitchen and Bar
Curtis and Esin deCarion’s upscale tavern on Hartz Avenue has been a welcome addition to Danville’s dining scene since its 2014 opening, bringing a chic urban vibe to suburbia. The bar menu offers such tasty bites as chile-spiced almonds, marinated olives, deviled farm eggs, and oysters on the half shell. The menu matches nicely with Revel’s abundant craft cocktails. 331 Hartz Ave., Danville, (925) 208-1758, revelkitchenandbar.com.
Happy Hour: Walnut Creek Yacht Club
Walnut Creek’s seafood standby offers a killer happy hour menu Monday through Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. Draft beers are $4, well drinks are $5, wine is $6, and choice food picks (Black Angus burgers, fish tacos, and Monterey calamari) are $7 each. Here’s the catch: These deals are only available to holders of the Yacht Club’s loyalty card, which is free to everyone who registers online or in the restaurant. 1555 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek, (925) 944-3474, wcyc.net.
Girls’ Night Out: 1515 Restaurant and Lounge
The epicenter of downtown Walnut Creek’s hangout scene, 1515 Restaurant and Lounge is where Diablo’s gal pals go for a big night out. The pick makes sense. The hot spot, with its large bar and spacious patio, has amplified Main Street’s nightlife factor considerably since opening in 2007, while newer additions to the scene, such as Modern China Cafe and Opa!, have transformed this small stretch of Main into the party block. 1515 N. Main St., Walnut Creek, (925) 939-1515, 1515wc.com.
Beer Bar: ØL Beercafe and Bottle Shop
Refreshingly free of TV screens and neon signage, this Walnut Creek beer bar feels like you’ve stepped into a cozy Danish pub. Eighteen taps rotate a carefully curated selection of craft brews for the bar’s deeply passionate beer aficionados while hundreds of premium bottles are kept cool in the refrigerated walls in the back. Although you can’t watch the Warriors game here, ØL Beercafe and Bottle Shop frequently hosts talks by master brewers. 1541 Giammona Dr., Walnut Creek, (925) 210-1147, beer-shop.org.
Sports Bar: The Stadium Pub
There isn’t a better example of a business changing with the times than Stadium Pub. Initially called The Original Hot Dog Place, this sports bar opened 40 years ago as a spot to buy Chicago-style franks. As Walnut Creek became more cosmopolitan, so did Stadium Pub. The restaurant doubled in size (then doubled again); increased its number of TV screens; and kept adding beers, wines, and spirits to the menu (including 30 different tequilas). Today, you’ll find A’s fans mingling with Giants fans next to a table of Europeans who came to watch the Barcelona vs. Madrid soccer match. Maybe it’s because everyone loves the $2 tacos on Tuesdays. 1420 Lincoln Ave., Walnut Creek, (925) 256-7302, thestadiumpub.com.
Date Night Spot: Va de Vi
Looking for a romantic night out? Make a reservation at Va de Vi, and dazzle your date with sensory overload. Start with chef Brad Zeller’s perfect-for-sharing small plates, such as tuna-stuffed piquillo peppers, duck confit lumpia, and Chinese five-spice meatballs, any of which can be paired with the abundant selection of wines. Then, add atmosphere: Va de Vi’s back patio, with its ancient oak tree covered in twinkling white lights, is like a set out of an Audrey Hepburn movie. 1511 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek, (925) 979-0100, vadevi.com.
Line Dancing: Mavericks Country Lounge
Editor Pick The Tri-Valley’s newest nightclub gets the weekend started with line dancing classes every Friday night at 7:30 p.m. (Be on time because the club doesn’t start charging a cover until 8 p.m.) On Saturdays, Mavericks juggles live bands, DJs, and mechanical bull rides. The owners also run the new Pick 6 Sports Lounge next door, if you’d rather watch the A’s or Giants than kick up your heels. 4825 Hopyard Rd., Pleasanton, (925) 202-5491, maverickscountrylounge.com.
Wine Bar: Residual Sugar Wine Bar and Merchant
Reader’s Quote “Residual Sugar is a special treat to visit, with a distinctive list and knowledgeable staff,” says Walnut Creek’s Marie Lichauco. “It’s also convenient: I like to go there before a show at the Lesher Center or after dinner at a downtown restaurant; I only have to park once.” Walnut Creek, residualsugarwine.com.
Winery: Wente Vineyards
Big Number: 133 Years of continuous wine production in the Livermore Valley, including 14 years during Prohibition, when Wente made wine for sacramental purposes. Livermore, wentevineyards.com.
Long Story Short: Views and Brews
Best Way to Earn Your Beer: Fieldwork Outdoor Club
Editor Pick I’m all for grabbing a beer at an East Bay brewery, but it’s hard to justify enjoying a cold one when Mother Nature’s sunshine beckons. Thankfully, Berkeley’s Fieldwork Brewing Co. has found a way to combine my thirst for exploring the outdoors with my thirst for exploring their boundary-pushing beers.
The Fieldwork Outdoor Club’s monthly meet-ups involve self-guided group hikes of different sites around the East Bay, ranging from Wildcat Canyon to Redwood Regional Parks. The premise is simple: Choose from two levels of difficulty (the easier route often commences at the pace of a three-year-old, the daughter of one of the organizers), then head to Fieldwork’s Sixth Street location after the hike for your free pint.
Find out about Fieldwork’s next hike by following its Facebook page (facebook.com/fieldworkbrewingco) or signing up for its newsletter at fieldworkbrewing.com. After your hike and free beer, stick around to taste some of Fieldwork’s more left field offerings, like the spicy hot chocolate stout, a chenin blanc wine grape IPA, and a Berliner Weisse dry hopped with Simcoe hops. 1160 Sixth St., Berkeley, (510) 898-1203, fieldworkbrewing.com. —K.H.