Pyramid Brewery and Alehouse tantalizes tongues with a malty medley of seasonal and year-round beers, which splash about beside no-nonsense, pub-raised plates. The bright, renovated warehouse space enhances the simplicity of any dish, from the robust bowl of spicy beef chorizo dip, blended with warm cream cheese, provolone, peppers, and bacon ($9), to the Haywire Hefeweisen-infused honey-cilantro chicken, which pairs well with the light body, full flavor, and unchecked telepathy of the Crystal Wheat Ale ($12). Likewise, the zesty aioli suffusing the spicy amber halibut answers the call of the wild by teaming up with the hulking hops and malty tones housed inside the MacTarnahan's Amber Ale ($15).
One of the oldest saloons in Berkeley, Albatross Pub has provided a friendly setting for quaffing, socializing, and gaming for almost half a century. Sidle up to the bar to peruse the spirit selection, or browse beer listings, which boast more than 50 bottled brews and 13 tap selections, from the local Anchor Steam on draught to Belgian Delirium Tremens bottled up for the shaking. Challenge friends, family members, or mirror reflections of yourself to a game of Connect Four or Scattergories, or throw down on darts and billiards to integrate sharp objects, big sticks, and menacing plastic triangles into the fun.
The cooks at Lanesplitter bake up a menu of New York–style pizzas and pocket-like calzones, and bartenders at the three pub locations pour a large selection of microbrews. An army of nearly 30 meaty, veggie, and vegan toppings stands ready to occupy thin neapolitan or thick sicilian crusts in combinations such as the herbivore's spinach, mushrooms, onions, and olives ($23.50 for a 19-inch) or the garbage pie's heaping mélange of spiced meats and crisper-drawer items ($27.50 for a 19-inch). The bar's taps have recently flowed with Racer 5 by Bear Republic, E.J. Phair's doppelbock, and hand-pumped Bombay by Boat IPA from Moonlight Brewing Company. Some locations host art openings, where diners and drinkers may admire photography, paintings, or mosaics made entirely of anchovies.
The chefs at Mint Leaf follow family recipes to fashion Northern Indian dishes with seasonal, organic produce, free-range meats sourced from local farmers, and spices handpicked by family back home in India. Kebabs spear mahi-mahi, chicken, and other meats marinated in a house-made yogurt sauce before baking in a clay tandoor oven. A collection of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options eases the strain of dietary restrictions. Mint Leaf's selection of more than 50 wines and specialty cocktails helps temper the heat when guests get ambitious in selecting their meal's spice level. On select nights, local musicians entertain diners as they eat and inspire guests to break it down on the dance floor after finishing their meal or winning a game of I Spy.
Meridian's seasonal menu draws inspiration from global bar bites made from all-natural and locally grown ingredients. Start with an order of bacon mac ‘n’ cheese with buttered panko ($8) or the almond-breaded cod fingers served with jalapeño tartar sauce ($12). For a refreshing post-triathlon meal, opt for the togarashi ahi-tuna niçoise salad with capers, tomatoes, Humboldt fog, and sesame-orange vinaigrette ($14) or quell carnivorous cravings with an all-natural beef burger served with cheddar or blue cheese ($9). The grilled bangers and mash ($13) will evoke sweet childhood memories of playing hopscotch outside the smoky pubs of Bangladesh and also will serve as a delicious stomach stretcher for a third course of sticky toffee pudding ($6) or a house-made ice-cream sandwich with mocha sauce ($6).
Born in Melbourne in 1978, Circus Oz is an animal-free circus troupe that performs all the death-defying stunts and astounding feats of Cirque de Soleil while undercutting its spectacle with a refreshing dose of irreverent Australian humor. The motley band of tumblers, tightrope-walkers, foot-jugglers, magicians, and acrobats favor leather pants, Viking helmets, and wild facial hair over spangly Lycra unitards—giving the circus a wondrously raw feel, like a steampunk Victorian circus comprised of Mad Max extras. Over the course of two hours, voluptuous ringleader Sarah Ward will unfold a cheeky phantasmagoria of star-crossed trapeze artists, roller discos, bicycles overflowing with 11 riders, two men balanced atop the shoulders of a single woman, and a mysterious event known only as “the senior citizens’ hour of power.” An off-kilter brass band (complete with a tiny tricycle organ) replaces the typical cirque’s New Age mood music with joyous rock and roll.
With an emphasis on local, organic, and sustainable ingredients, FIVE takes a fanciful flight in the afternoon with its signature market business lunch, which gives diners the option of pairing a tea or soda with a two-course meal built from three-course options. Because the chefs at FIVE keep close tabs on seasonally fresh ingredients, the menu changes on a weekly basis. To paint a more palate-pleasing picture, check FIVE's website for the latest menu.