Late last month, Townie, an American Bar and Restaurant opened half a mile down University Avenue from Cal’s campus. The space is just getting its wheels off of the ground, but is very roomy, and has a lot of potential to become a popular place for drinks. It distinguishes itself from its predecessor, Café Venezia, by making its bar a prominent feature of the establishment.

Also, the new management’s  introduction of attractions like Netflix, Oakland A’s baseball, Street Fighter II, and a large Foosball table, suggest Townie is targeting a little younger crowd than did Venezia.

The bar itself is 20 feet wide, and has several bartenders serving drinks. A menu of craft cocktails and a solid wine selection compliments an impressive list of draught beers. Two large LCD TV’s that hang from the ceiling give the clean restaurant a sports-bar feel. Townie certainly considers itself a bar first as well. Their web URL boasts:

The Bar at Townie

The bar, televisions, and brick wall at Townie

As mentioned, Townie’s interior is clean, contemporary, and very different from Café Venezia. The restaurant is spacious, well-lit, and designates a lot of area for socialization. There are communal tables and a considerable amount of standing space surrounding the bar. With a max capacity of probably 200 patrons, Townie certainly has the equipment to host large weekend crowds.

Wooden tables and a towering brick wall give the restaurant a rustic, American feel. This is complimented by cocktails like Ginger Thistle, Classic Manhattan and the Barley Flower. Townie’s drinks are refreshing, classic, and not overly sweet. Ranging from $8 – $12, their drink menu is on par with the Shattuck bar scene.

The Ginger Thistle & La Florencia cocktails at Townie.

The Ginger Thistle and La Florencia cocktails at Townie.

The Food menu is tapas-like and gathers inspiration from popular dishes across many cultures: ham and cheese croquettes, Bahn Mi, chicken liver mousse, and mussels steamed in white wine. Other sharable items include garlic cheese toast, nuts and seeds, and chicharrones. Chicharrones are pork rinds flavored with seasoning and spice. Few of Townie’s plates are a full meals, and are certainly meant for snacking on aside beers, wine and cocktails.

Mussels in White Wine with Chorizo

Mussels in white wine with chorizo

Croquettes, Fries, and Hot-sauce Aoili

Croquettes, fries, and hot-sauce aioli

The waitstaff is very accommodating and lacks pretentiousness. The ambiance is high-end, but the restaurant runs casually: patrons are free to roam from their tables, to the bar stools, to the game room, and back. Great playlists featuring late 90s and early 2000s punk and rock, and artists like The Gorillaz and Lou Reed help add to the “coolness” percolating through Townie’s open layout.

The bar is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 4 p.m. to midnight (and 2 a.m. on weekends!) and is located at 1799 University Avenue, on the corner of Grant Street and University Avenue in Berkeley. Don’t forget, they seriously have the legendary arcade-game Street Fighter II!

Street Fighter 2 and Foosball await patrons in a separate game-room

Street Fighter II and Foosball await patrons in a separate game room.


1799 University Avenue in Berkeley,
(510) 356-4903

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