If you're looking for a new East Bay watering hole that features substantial food and drink, there's always the newly renovated Plum Bar
. It was voted the winner in two categories of the East Bay Express reader's poll
in the Bar-and-Restaurant category, earning "Best Cocktails" and "Best Food at a Bar." A winning combination for lushes, hipsters, and anyone who's a sucker for mixology bars with fried foods, methinks — and who isn't the latter, really? It was certainly worth at least a taste for me, as I spotted the sandwich board outside the restaurant displaying these accolades.
The space is split into two rooms, a dining room and a bar area. There's a lot of wood (bench-like seats and booths), sunlight, and even wifi for those of you wanting to channel your inner Don Draper and will take a nice morning Old Fashioned with your work musings. Decor aside, what sets Plum Bar apart from other similarly dressed hipster bourgeoise-esque establishments? A few things: several punch bowl options (complete with ladles and adorable teacups), house-made bitters (rows and rows of them), and an adult Happy Meal. Ordering one of those will be a first for anyone who never got carded at McDonalds. While $22 may sound steep, PB's Happy Meal comes with a half pound cheeseburger, smoked fries, whatever beer is on tap, and a shot of Four Roses bourbon. A vegetarian version with a falafel burger and a super green elixir (a green juice) is an alternative, as is a happy hour version with sliders that's discounted even further.
I spotted a walnut liqueur, which, alongside the bitters, is one of the many that Plum Bar makes in-house, and requested a drink based around it. While the concoction the bartender whipped up was a bit one-note (but still highly drinkable, as attested by me leaving only a glass of ice cubes and my slight wobble out the door later), Plum's featured drinks are otherwise a cast of standouts. I also tried a a Manhattan with coffee bitters — available with house, mole, or clove bitters — that was both tasty and went down smoothly.
Plum Bar is one of the two East Bay members of the esteemed DPG restaurant family
, with Aster, Coi, Alta CA, and Haven as the other kids in that club. PB's location is a quick 15-minute BART ride for you SF FiDi folks and otherwise it's within a couple blocks from the 19th Street Bart station, right next to the Ike's Downtown Oakland location. They're open for lunch, where you'll find options varying from massive biscuit sandwiches (including a cod po' boy, pulled pork, corned beef, and fried chicken) with fluffy fresh biscuits that may require you to fork and knife them, plus a separate dinner menu with a Southern-inspired menu that includes poutine fries, braised short ribs, "Top Ramen" noodles (of the non-Maruchan variety), and biscuits and gravy.
It's a hidden gem for those looking for a nice reprieve at lunch, and a more obvious choice for the after-work crowd. However you'd need to rush there to catch happy hour, which ends at 5:30. If you don't make it in time, you can still order a Happy Meal to console yourself.
, 2216 Broadway, Oakland. 510-444-7586