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Work Cocktail Party for 30 in Oakland or SF Financial District

I'm looking for a restaurant to have a work cocktail party for around 30 people (no sit down dinner, just drinks and apps). I'm assuming we would need a private room so everyone can mingle but a nice space off to the side would work as well.

My office is on Lake Merritt so one idea is Lake Chalet, though I think their service is awful. A few other ideas are Pican or Ozumo, but I'm hoping for something a little different (we go there all the time). (Luka's is great btw but I'm looking for a place that's a little nicer.)

If not some place close by in Oakland, then somewhere in the Financial District in SF since our out of town guests will be staying there anyway and it's close to BART. A few ideas are Americano, MarketBar, but again, looking for something a little different. Ideas? As for price range, I think something comparable to one of those places I've listed.


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  1. Just tossing out some ideas since you've covered a lot of the obvious choices.

    Yoshi's is good for things like this, a bit more upscale, and they have a whole page about it on their website. Bites and drinks, they do well.

    What about going more bar than food, and asking if you can bring food in. Someplace like the Easy over on Lakeshore, or The Trappist, or all of Van Kleef or Heinhold's. The benefit of going with a place that doesn't do food at all is you can pick your favorite place (like Pican or whatever) and have them make a few flats of munchies - separating your space decision from your food decision. I'm not sure any of those is better than Luka's, though.

    The Scott's Seafood down on JLS might be the best of the Scott's. A little, you know, corporate, but the drinks and food are decent. They have a room in the back about the right size. I have a soft spot for that particular Scott's.

    Fat Lady has a banquet room. Never been.

    I'm kind of thinking that Soizic has an upstairs, but I don't think they do. They do have that largish bar area. If you promised only a few hours, and they could seat people in the main room, maybe they'd let you.

    One of the Dim Sum places has an upstairs (was Tsing Tao, 2nd and Broadway, as I remember), which would be different. Legendary Palace is faded but has some atmosphere. The chinese don't know from cocktails, however.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bbulkow

      Soizic has a back private room (on the main floor) where I went to an event very similar to what OP is describing, perhaps a year ago. (apps and drinks, stand up, similar crowd size). It was very nice.

    2. My first thought was the upstairs space at Mua - I haven't been in a while, but I think it could be a good size for 30 people.

      I'd also consider Levende East, Sidebar, and Grand Tavern - Grand Tavern would probably be the easiest to get a semi-private space.

      1. Caffe Verbena in the APL building (11th and Broadway) serves good drinks and good appetizers. The atrium is a very attractive space for a party.

        1. How about Bocanova? They have a fair-sized private room.

          1. Waterbar on Embarcadero might work for you. Great views, close to BART and not at all that ordinary. Next door is Epic Roast House, another option.

            Here's a link:

            1. Since a sit down meal isn't going to happen, I'd consider Lake Chalet your first choice. It's a very, very nice place and if drinks and apps can be figured out...the risk seems low. I'd just ask to sample the apps and get a set number.

              The big plus is being near work makes everyone happier. An easier bump in schedule to deal with. If I had to cross the bay (even on BART) I'd be less then happy just for drinks...more so if I had a schedule, kids, etc.

              Another option is B Restaurant. I've seen work cocktail parties there. The food is good and it's not a dark bar type place. Could go to Trappist afterwards or grab food somewhere else.

              6 Replies
              1. re: ML8000

                Is B really large enough for 30 while standing and talking? Just haven't walked inside, myself.

                1. re: ML8000

                  B is good call. Their stated capacity for private events is 100 people for cocktail parties, 70 seated. Food, drinks, and service are all excellent. Three blocks from 12th St. BART, parking lot right around the corner (though street parking's usually easy in the evenings).

                  There's another branch on top of Yerba Buena Center in SF, also a great place for private parties.

                  B Restaurant & Bar
                  720 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                  B Restaurant & Bar
                  499 9th St, Oakland, CA 94607

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Thanks all for the great suggestions, I'll pass this along to the lady coordinating. Let you know where we end up!

                  2. re: ML8000

                    Yeah, I've been to a party in the private room at Lake Chalet, and it was nice and the service was fine. They have a bar over there, and I'm sure it would be easy to do passed or buffet apps.

                    1. re: JasmineG

                      We ended up at Lake Chalet and it was surprisingly great. The people coordinating ended up not booking a private room, but a section of the bar area. When I walked in I thought it would be weird but turned out fine. We had one server, Ann, that was great. She was quick, witty, and very accomodating to the diverse group. We had fish sticks, that were probably the best fish sticks I've ever had. The crab cakes were good, but tiny. We also had chicken wings, fried calamari and a variety of cheeses that were all pretty good. Drinks were off and on depending on who made them. I wasn't too impressed with their by the glass wine list, but overall we had a great time.

                      1. re: calalilly

                        Thanks for reporting back! Glad your event went well.