La Pena Cultural Center
3105 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94705
Open seven days a week, this vibrant and welcoming cultural center offers special Saturday night entertainment that invites patrons to dance to the rhythms of Afro-Cuban music and hosts other cultural events, including poetry, theatre and jazz. Nationally renowned for its community participation, La Pena Cultural Center will make you aware of the importance of social justice in a fun and artistic way, such as through music. The exterior is decorated by an easily recognizable and striking mural depicting people coming together in song. La Pena also houses Café Valparaiso, which offers Chilean and Latin American cuisine. Under the banner of El Che, the cafe offers a long and tempting list of empanadas that are especially tempting after a night of music and dancing.
Related: Unique Nights Out In East Bay
The Fox Theatre
1807 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA 94612
Only a 12 minute train ride from San Francisco and half-a-block from the BART, the FOX Theatre offers a wide variety of popular live concerts from international pop rock to top Billboard music. This breathtaking historical venue is a treat. Open only for top acts, patrons experience artists amid its golden Buddhas, terra-cotta tiles and elaborate art deco detail. Recently renovated, the venue offers spacious and comfortable seating. The Den, a lounge-style café, is open for happy hour 5–7 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, with VIP tables available.
Cal Performances — Zellerbach Auditorium
University of California
101 Zallerbach Hall #4800
Berkeley, CA 94720
Located on the University of California, Berkeley Campus, this dance, music and theatre venue has planned an outstanding performance schedule for the 2012–2013 season, including a World Premier collaboration with the San Francisco Opera and a West Coast Premiere of Einstein of the Beach, composed by Philip Glass. The venue's musical repertoire includes opera, early music, and new music. Diverse programming offers patrons a musical choice almost every weekend. The public can become donors for $75+ and qualify to purchase early tickets and other benefits. Cafe Zellerbach offers pre-performance dining starting 90 minutes before curtain. Reservations are recommended.
The New Parish
579 18th St.
Oakland, CA 94612
If you're looking for a place to experience up-and-coming musicians, The New Parish is the venue. It stands as a landmark of the musical expression of Oakland's cultural revival. Tucked away on 18th Street, this intimate venue offers VIP packages in conjunction with Hibiscus, a restaurant located two doors away, and the opportunity to have VIP seating in a private booth overlooking the stage. Some events are 18+; others are 21+. The website also features the venue's radio outlet, New Parish Radio a hip and edgy compilation of addictive music. Prices range from $10 to $25 a ticket, but be on the look out for the occasional free event.
The Greek Theatre
2001 Gayley Road
Berkeley, CA 94720
Amid its Greek corinthian pillars and ancient open-air theatric qualities, The Greek Theatre wins the prize for best outdoor venue in the Bay Area. Overlooking the San Francisco Bay and Mt. Tamalpais, its panoramic view and Greek theatre experience makes a unique summer entertainment suggestion for guests who love music and good scener. Food and beverages are for sale, including some alcohol. Advance tickets can be purchased, and reserved seating is available.
Kristina Ruiz-Healy is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.
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