Review: Cafe Van Kleef

1621 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 763-7711

These days, there’s a big noise surrounding a little bar in Oakland. The bar is Cafe Van Kleef, and the noise is the blues.

Named one of “The five places in the West that would do the Big Easy proud” by SFGate, Cafe Van Kleef is a newcomer on the Oakland music scene. But that’s not stopping it from becoming one of the most well-known jazz and blues clubs this side of the Mississippi.

This bar is about as undiscriminating as they come: The artists, the crowd, and especially the décor defy any preconceived notions of what a Jazz bar ought to be. Walking into this little club is like entering Alice’s Wonderland, if Wonderland is your creepy uncle’s dusty attic, where he’s throwing a party for a grungy hipsters and Oakland locals—all while an act with a name like the “Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow” plays in the background. But you really can’t have any fun without a little crazy, right?

Tip: Try the greyhound. It’s the house specialty, and it’s pretty much all anyone can ever talk about.

Read about the other places to see a show in the Bay Area.

Take BART (Pittsburg/Bay Point line) to 19th Street. Cafe Van Kleef is about two steps away, where Telegraph meets 16th.