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Sep 19, 2012 09:45 AM

Cocktails over food

sister's birthday coming up, wanting to try new spot.

What she likes: She works from home so having cocktails/ meal at lively bar is her thing.
She is vegetarian and loves tequila (no vodka). We live in East Bay so her go to spot is Walnut creek Yacht Club. I'd like to move beyond tried and true, can go to SF, but we're talking this Sat night. What say you??

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  1. Comal in Berkeley. The cocktail "program" was done by the Bon Vivants, and is top notch, with a very long list of tequilas.

    There will be a wait for a dining table on a Sat. night (no resv.), but the back patio with the fire-ring is a good place to drink while waiting.

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodeye

      There won't necessarily be a long wait at Comal, I walked in on a Saturday at 7:45 last month and the whole front bar and communal table where almost empty. The heated back area contains a second bar and table seating for at least 50 people, so peak capacity is much higher than when they opened.

    2. Comal is #1 with a bullet for those criteria. Vegetarian-friendly, great food, great cocktails, most amazing tequila / mezcal / sotol list outside of Jalisco. Block and a half from Downtown Berkeley BART.

      A Cote. Usually I recommend the back room but the front is the lively bar. Two blocks from Rockridge BART.

      On another night I might say Comstock Saloon, but I wouldn't get close to North Beach on a Saturday night.

      1. Good suggestions so far. Some I would add in SF:

        1. Locanda - Big bar scene so get there early, or call ahead to ask about reserving seats at the Bar. Good drinks and food. Good vibe. Service can be a little hectic/absentee.
        2. Lolinda - Haven't been yet. But it looks like it'd have excellent vibe. Initial reviews are very positive.
        2. AQ - the bar isn't very big, so logistics may not be the best. But excellent cocktails and food.
        3. Alembic - again the bar isn't very big. But excellent cocktails and good food.
        4. Bar Agricole - Food is so-so. Drinks are good. Atmosphere is nice.
        4. Absinthe - Big bar, used to be a go-to a few years ago. I think the scene may have quieted here lately though.

        3 Replies
        1. re: goldangl95

          Baretta. Definitely Baretta. Food is terrific and the cocktails are even better.

          Tequila you say? Nopalito.

          You're getting all this rah-rah for Comal, but put me down for a "don't bother." It's the hot, new East Bay spot so everyone here is beside themselves about it, but I could not have been more disappointed, by the food, by the drinks and, most especially, by the service. I was treated like Mitt Romney treats the 47%.

          1. re: Gustavo Glenmorangie

            I've posted at length about what I liked about the food at Comal enough to go there ten times in the four months they've been open. I couldn't care less about newness per se. Service has been consistently good.


        2. Some more options that emphasize drink over food:
          - Prizefighter, Emeryville - drinks only, one of the few places offering mezcal flights but maybe also tequila?
          - Hecho, SF - sushi and tequila, new home of Sachio Kojima, formerly chef/owner of Kabuto
          - Le Penca Azul (fomerly La Pinata), Alameda, or Tommy's Mexican, SF - mexican and the largest selections (hundreds) of tequilas I know of in BA

          2 Replies
          1. re: rubadubgdub

            Have they changed more than the name at Penca Azul? The food at La PiƱata was OK (especially late at night when most places are closed) but not great, and the bar scene looked kind of depressing.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I can't say. I haven't been in a while but when it was La Pinata I enjoyed having food and drink there. Margaritas made with fresh limes, my favorite beans and rice, and fresh chips and salsa. The rest of the menu is standard fare, so I stick with the bar/cafe side.

          2. Agree with Comal. Also in downtown Berkeley, Five and Revival have good cocktails and a few (not a lot) vegetarian options. Fairly lively. Could make reservations.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Glencora

              Thanks everyone, will give Comal a try and keep the others in the cue!