8 East Bay spots for sips and swigs with kids in tow

Commonwealth Cafe. Photo: Adrienne Schell
The author’s daughter, Molly Schell, at Commonwealth Cafe. Photo: Adrienne Schell

By Adrienne Schell

Who doesn’t enjoy an adult beverage every now and again? As a parent, the moment when you can sit back with a glass in hand is all the more needed at the end of a hard day of child wrangling. I’ll never forget the moment when I realized life had changed: my husband and I walked into a bar for a beer with our six-month old in the Ergo and we were told, “No one under 21 allowed.” It was a reality check, and, since then, we have done our best to scour the East Bay for spots where we can relax and unwind with great food, a cold beverage and our two kiddos by our side. While family-friendly dining is becoming more widespread on this side of the Bay, the same can be said for the pubs, beer gardens and wineries that are popping up in town.

Westbrae Biergarten

Westbrae Biergarten. Photo: Adrienne Schell
Molly Schell at Westbrae Biergarten. Photo: Adrienne Schell

An oasis on a corner of Gilman and Curtis streets in Berkeley, Westbrae Biergarten brings together a top-notch food truck, a stellar selection of brews and a wonderful outdoor space that is the perfect spot to unwind as the weather warms up. This establishment is at the top of my list because it was truly conceptualized with kids in mind. With high chairs, a kid’s menu and a huge sand-pit just for little ones, this beer garden is a magnet for families who want to sip a beverage in the sun while watching their kids play. During our visit on a recent hot Saturday afternoon, the place was packed, so grab a spot and send one adult up to the counter to do the ordering while your kids settle into the sand. Keep in mind there is no indoor space, so Westbrae is best for sunny days. Westbrae Biergarten is at 1280 Gilman St., Berkeley (at Curtis Street). Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Instagram.

Kensington Circus Pub

Kensington Circus Pub. Photo: Rachael Lopes
Kensington Circus Pub. Photo: Rachael Lopes

With a comprehensive kids’ menu, a play area and the “best of Britain and Ireland on tap,” Kensington Circus Pub is another great spot for parents to sit back with a drink in hand. The play space at Kensington Circus Pub has a great selection of toys and even a chalkboard. And the kids’ menu has a wide selection of offerings, from hot dogs to rainbow pasta. Parents can dig into a burger, fish and chips, or dish of pasta while enjoying a black and tan or a domestic favorite like Trumer Pils or Drake’s IPA. Kensington Circus Pub is at 389 Colusa Ave. (at Berkeley Park Blvd), Kensington. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.


Commonwealth Café & Public House

Commonwealth Cafe. Photo: Adrienne Schell
Commonwealth Café. Photo: Adrienne Schell

At first glance, Commonwealth doesn’t quite feel like a kid-friendly spot. When I walked in I was a bit unsure, but then I saw a shelf of kids’ books and a couple of booster seats, and my mind was put at ease. This neighborhood public house serves everything from breakfast treats and coffee, to an evening toasty sandwich and a pint up at the bar. I was pleased to find kid-friendly drinks available, and our bartender was even kind enough to make sure she split my kids’ San Pellegrino soda right down the middle into two cups to avoid bickering. The food is delicious, with a macaroni and cheese to die for. Commonwealth has an extensive list of bottle and draft options — everything from ales and IPAs to ciders — to wash down your pub grub. Commonwealth Café & Public House is located at 2882 Telegraph Ave. (at 29th Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Telegraph Beer Garden

Telegraph Beer Garden. Photo: Telegraph Beer Garden/Facebook
Telegraph Beer Garden. Photo: Telegraph Beer Garden

Casual, no-fuss and with an amazing mural for your kids to stare at, Telegraph Beer Garden in Oakland is a great kid-friendly outdoor spot to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat. With picnic benches and dogs welcomed, Telegraph is a place where kids can be kids while mom and dad enjoy the sun. The food menu is full of kid food — grilled cheese, burgers, and even bagels and pancakes on the weekends — and the tap list has plenty of interesting beers to choose from. All the seating is outdoors, though, so it’s best to check out Telegraph as the weather warms up. Telegraph Bar and Beer Garden is at 2318 Telegraph Ave. (at 23rd Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Cato’s Ale House

Cato's Ale House. Photo: Adrienne Schell
Cato’s Ale House. Photo: Adrienne Schell

This local ale house on Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue has been a long-time gathering spot for families. Cato’s has 23 beers on tap, a decent wine list of reds and whites, and pizza and pub grub available for order. With plenty of booths and tables to belly up to, Cato’s is a good spot to check out if you are thirsty at the end of a long day with the kids. Pro tip: IPA aficionados will appreciate that Cato’s taps a new keg of the highly sought-after Russian River Pliny the Elder every Tuesday.  Cato’s Ale House is at 3891 Piedmont Ave. (at Montell Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.

Lost and Found

Beer and a snack at Lost and Found. Photo: Lost and Found
Beer and a snack at Lost and Found. Photo: Lost and Found

With an amazing outdoor space and ping-pong and corn hole at the ready, Lost and Found in Uptown Oakland is the perfect spot for an afternoon drink with kids in tow. An extensive beer menu offers plenty for parents to choose from, and kids can sip a cane soda or a milk box off the non-alcoholic drink list. While they don’t have a kids’ menu, I did spot a grilled cheese on the list of their standard fare. Note that minors are only allowed until 8 p.m. Lost and Found is located at 2040 Telegraph Ave. (at 21st Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

Rock Wall Winery

Rock Wall offers a view of San Francisco skyline from its tasting deck. Photo: courtesy Rock Wall
Rock Wall offers a view of San Francisco skyline from its tasting deck. Photo: Rock Wall

Rock Wall Winery has begun to make a name for itself as a nice spot to enjoy a glass of wine while your kids enjoy the wonderful outdoor space at the Alameda Naval Base. Better yet, the Scolari’s food truck is on hand seven days a week to dish out hamburgers, hot dogs and fries to feed you and the kids while you enjoy the amazing Bay views. Keep in mind that kids are not allowed in the tasting room, but they are welcome on the outdoor deck, in the dome or on the tarmac. If you are visiting on the weekends, plan an afternoon visit, as both the winery and Scolari’s close by 6 p.m. Rock Wall Winery is at 2301 Monarch St. (at West Tower Avenue), Alameda. Connect with the winery on Facebook and Twitter.


Faction Brewing

Faction Brewing. Photo: William Newton
Faction Brewing. Photo: William Newton

Also on the Alameda Naval Base, Faction Brewing is another great to sample some great craft brew with kids in tow. Self-advertised as family- and dog-friendly, this local craft brewery has over 20 beers to try out, free stickers and amazing views of the San Francisco skyline. Check out their website for a rotating schedule of food trucks that are on hand most days to fulfill your need for food while you sample their ales, IPAs and more. Faction Brewing is located at 2501 Monarch St. (at West Midway Avenue), Alameda. Connect with the brewery via Facebook.

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