'Tis the season for cozying up next to a fire with good friends and a good drink... especially in COVID times. Whether you prefer to avoid the interiors of bars and restaurants or you just love making the most of the long evenings this time of year, these East Bay watering holes with fire pits will keep you warm all winter long.
Just remember: Open hours can change, as can other details, so it's worth calling ahead, particularly if you want to be sure they'll be lighting those fires. As always, check health and safety regulations.
Once the location of a Dodge dealership, Drake's Dealership is now hangout central with a homey and hopping open-air beer garden with fire pits, a full menu of wood-fired pizza, East Bay-brewed craft beer (32 varieties on tap), and more.
Located at 2325 Broadway, Oakland. Open Mon.-Wed 4-11 p.m., Thurs. noon-11 p.m., Fri.-Sat. noon-midnight, and Sun. noon-11 p.m. (But note the kitchen closes at 10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs. and 11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.) More info: drinkdrakes.com/places/dealership/
Berkeley favorite Jupiter has been serving up handcrafted ales for two decades in its two-story venue designed to emanate gothic influences with metallic-pressed tin on the walls, salvaged church pews, and antique church lighting. The large patio features a central fire pit and string lights, plus live music up to six nights a week. Wood-fired pizza forms the heart of the food menu (though we have to call out the beer and cheese fondue appetizer, too), but hand-crafted beer is the real star. This spot is perenially popular, so check the waitlist on their website and plan ahead!
Located at 2181 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley.
More info: www.jupiterbeer.com
Richmond's Armistice Brewing Company is a brother-and-sister brewing outfit that specializes in highly aromatic, juicy, hazy IPAs with hardly any bitterness. The constantly-changing lineup often features milkshake IPAs, PiePAs, fruit-forward juice bombs, big stouts, and various experimental beers that leverage innovative local ingredients and methods. Located by the city's shipyards (a key element of the home front during WWII), the Armistice taproom is meant to channel the old English public house (aka pub). And, yes, they've got an outdoor seating area with fire pits! Check their site for guest food offerings and happy hours.
Located at 845 Marina Bay Parkway, Ste. 1, Richmond. Open Mon.-Thurs. 1-8 p.m., Fri.-Sat. noon-8 p.m., Sun. noon-6 p.m. www.armisticebrewing.com
Photo: Oakland United Beerworks
Visit Oakland United Beerworks' dog-friendly taproom, outdoor beer patio, and mezzanine seating area complete with gas fire pits to enjoy a diverse selection of beer, guest offerings of wine, ciders, and sours, and food. Food offerings from local guest chefs are meant to complement the brews. Check the menu online for current choices.
Located at 262 Second Street, Jack London District, Oakland. Open Wed.-Thurs. 2–9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. noon–9 p.m., Sun. noon-8 p.m. More info: oaklandunitedbeerworks.com
Westbrae is the place to go for a one-liter German-style stein of beer (perfect for those who want to work their arm muscles while indulging), although they also serve regular sizes and flights. They serve a variety of California craft ales and lagers on a series of eight rotating beer taps, as well as local hard ciders, wine, and hard kombucha, plus specials like Brazilian caipiriñhas, rotating sangria options, and seasonal drinks -- we're eyeing their mulled wine next to fire pit, ourselves. Also on offer are extensive food selections from the Brazil Cafe (whose other locations have closed down permanently).
Located at 1280 Gilman St., Berkeley. Open hours vary depending on the weather, so call ahead to make sure they're open: (510) 647 - 9079. More info: www.westbraebiergarten.com
Just north of the Downtown Berkeley BART Station, Comal's lush, secluded rear patio features a full bar, covered dining area and al fresco beer garden with fire pit. Enjoy modern interpretations of dishes from throughout Mexico, with emphasis on Oaxaca and neighboring coastal regions, plus the spot's “all-Mexican” list of craft cocktails, house-made sangrias, curated collection of agave spirits, and various local beer and wine on tap.
Located at 2020 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Open for dinner service from 5:30-9 p.m. Sun.-Wed. and from 5:30-10 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. More info: www.comalberkeley.com
Photo: Club Mallard / Facebook
This long-time Albany dive has pool tables, a quirky hunting lodge theme inside, and a bamboo-lined patio with gas fire pits that feels like a tropical oasis to the interior's punk-rock mountain lodge vibe. Order all your standard bar drinks, plus seasonal specials — for example, hot cocoa with Fernet Branca Menta liqueur and whipped cream was on offer not long ago, which sounds just about right for sitting by the fire outside.
Located at 752 San Pablo Ave., Albany. Open 2 p.m.-2 a.m. More information: www.facebook.com/clubmallard, (510) 524-8450