Sometimes 45 minutes is all you get for a date. That’s why we are posting a short list of date night ideas for “just a drink.”
1. Fonda on Solano. Conveniently located for parents in Kensington, El Cerrito and North Berkeley, this small-plates-style modern Mexican restaurant is the coolest place on Solano Avenue. At least, it’s the only place on Solano that’s open until midnight. The margaritas are excellent, but the drink list is worth exploring in full. Spicy, salty rim on a glass of Negro Modelo with lime? Yes, please.
2. Ben and Nick’ s on College Avenue. In the heart of Rockridge, this place is for lovers of beer. Uber-casual and friendly, you can bring your kids for dinner as well.
3. Cesar on Shattuck or Piedmont. I’m not even 40, but I find it hard to hear my companions in Cesar when it’s full, so be warned. I’m a sucker for mosaic tile, however, and I like fancy drinks, so that’s why I keep going to this tapas and drinks destination. Open air seating is a big draw on a warm evening. Gourmet Ghetto location for Berkeley Hills and Berkeley folks; Piedmont location for Oaklanders.
4. T. Rex on Gilman. The Bay Area’s not big on sports bars, we’ve noticed, but there are enough TVs mounted at T.Rex to satisfy the crowd. Great for Dad’s Night Out, although we were talking about date night here. Let’s consider this a bonus entry.
5. Seasalt or Paisan. Two restaurants in West Berkeley that offer full menus and a nice drink list, Seasalt and Paisan are next to each other on San Pablo Avenue, south of Dwight.
6. Bar Dogwood. This bar is in the Uptown area of Oakland, convenient for pre-Fox Theater outings, or for those who travel via BART. I went there for cocktails for a birthday party and was found that the crowd was hip, but not painfully so, and not overwhelmingly young. Bonus: There’s a counter inside the bar from which you can order charcuterie and sandwiches.