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Early Friday night in Berkeley for older fun-loving SF artists

My husband has paintings in a show at the Addison Street Windows (downtown Berkeley) opening this Friday. We will be joining friends for drinks, etc. after viewing the work and hope to find a place that can accommodate a spontaneous group of 3-8 for drinks, apps/dinner. No loud music! I'm not partial to Asian food and I hope for a full bar (but cocktails under $10, please). Enough guests will be driving so distance is not a problem. I know this is a list of "nots," but I hope for Hounds to sympathize with us older bohos wishing to celebrate three years of artistic struggle.
Please put your thinking caps on, Hounds, and help us find a venue for our little party.

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  1. Check out FIVE in the Shattuck Hotel, easy walking distance, cocktails apparently in your zone according to their online menu and a talented chef. Service issues noted near opening, no recent reports.
    http://www.chow.com/restaurants/53163...
    Happy hours menu.
    http://www.five-berkeley.com/docs/fiv...

    1. This is a surprisingly hard request. I would probably say Five as well, although it might be a little expensive.

      My second choice would be driving up to Fonda. They typically have space (you could call on your way when you know the # of people if above 4), is pleasant and celebratory, and parking up there is pretty easy. Their cocktail list is decently affordable; just watch out - the small plates stack up in price quickly.

      Alborz on Center - anyone tried it?

      Anh Hong is now in the space on University which has a full bar and a rotating series of medium-high-end asian places that never quite catch hold. Anyone been?

      Maybe - Sea Salt? Too far? Not enough bar? If that's in range, what about Bucci? Great bar, very good food, soul, easy parking.

      The No list:

      Jupiter has a party atmosphere, especially if it's warm enough for the patio, but no full bar. Limited menu - they have a nice pizza oven - very convivial on the patio.
      Thlassa is a full bar but too casual.
      Beta Lounge doesn't have enough food.
      Anna's jazz island is closed.
      Cesar is also a drive, but gets loud and no guarentee for a party of that size. Best bar in that area, though.
      Beckett's fits the parameters, but has no soul, and the food is mediocre at best.
      Zatar has soul and good food but is small and wine only.
      Triple Rock gets very frat party on friday nights.
      Lanesplitter has soul, art on the walls, no full bar, too casual, and a drive to boot.

      1. My first thought was Cesar, because their drinks are good, and it's casual enough so that some people can nibble and some can have dinner. It would work as long as you get the big communal table -- I've had casual gatherings there where part of the party got the communal table early on and we just gradually took it over as people left.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JasmineG

          Getting there early enough on a friday to stake out space probably means between 6 and 6:30. I've had serious problems with noise there after about 8 - it becomes a shouting restaurant. Again, if you call an hour or two in advance - once you know the rough trajectory of the party - you'll be in good shape. The cocktails there hover in the $10 range and crest that level, but are *so* worth it.

        2. La Note comes close - but it does not have a full bar.

          (OMG, on Friday nights they have a live accordian? That would cross it off my list!)

          1. How bout the resto "Downtown" on Shattuck. Good for drinks + apps/dinner. Pricey.

            I don't recall if Alborz has a bar... food is ok. not stellar.

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