At first, we thought the lonely, empty feel of downtown Oakland after Five kind of depressed us. But no longer! Now we're happy to spend our happy hours (and extended happy hours) at Van Kleef's Bar on Telegraph between 16th and 17th, just close enough to the 19th Street Bart station to run and make the last BART home.
We had the good fortune of going to Van Kleef's with our friend who is something of a regular there. Otherwise, we might've walked right past Van Kleef's, mistaking it for an antique store. We liked the whole high-ceilings and clutter feel of the bar; it made us feel like we were hanging out in the back of a junk shop. They have a little stage for bands, but that seems to be more of a weekend thing.
The drinks are cheap and good. Plus they serve greyhounds with freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice. They squeeze them right in front of you with one of those cool-looking juice presses. We are now reconsidering our previous dismissal of the greyhound (you're so much more than a screwdriver!).
At first, we were a little taken aback by the enthusiasm of the owner, Peter. But then we realized, it's just been a while since we've chatted with a bar owner so friendly, without any ugly bar- attitude. In fact, we didn’t find any ugly-bar attitude at Van Kleef’s -- and we didn’t really miss it. By the end of the night, we liked Peter. We liked his jokes. And we like Van Kleef's.
Chalk one up for the East Bay.
By Jessie, contributing