Cato's Ale House

Bar, Eatery

3891 Piedmont Ave
Oakland, California, 94611-5378
United States

(510) 655-3349 | map

View: Place Reviews | Events
Reviews: 14 | Ratings: 22
Photo of chrismcnally1234
4.4/5  rDev +11.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

This is a great neighborhood pub on Piedmont Ave in Oakland. They have 15 rotating taps of good craft, always with a cheaper one (Racer 5 for $5 I think most of the times). The servers are friendly and take their time with you, answer questions and will give you samples to try before you buy. You go to a window to order food which I think makes sense here, you don't have wait staff running around trying to figure out who is there to eat and who is there to drink. It works for me.

There are usually a number of IPAs on the menu, many from local California breweries, but I usually find something else, like a saison, a barrel aged something or other, or sour. Very good selection. I am lucky to live close by.

You can bring your kids, at least during the day, and they have high chairs, big booths, smaller tables and a stand up bar. I always feel comfortable hanging out there with friends, with the kiddo, or by myself. There are TVs which I mostly find annoying, usually playing sports but sometimes I do want to watch a game so I cannot really complain about that.

The food is good. I usually get the chicken pot pie or the sandwich special, but I come for the great beer selection, casual and nice staff, and it's in the business district that I can walk to. There is also a bike corral right outside.

 1,316 characters

Photo of heymikew
3.8/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.25 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.75

Nice beer stop along Piedmont Avenue. No frills but a good enough lineup to quench most thirsts. No crowds during the day. Decent enough lunch at the take away food counter

 176 characters

Photo of mxchap
4/5  rDev +1.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

Pretty nice local pub.
They have a pretty solid rotating tap list and good food to boot.
Plenty of seating (unless it's Monday night trivia...)

Vibe [4.0]: Classic pub feel. Lots of wood. Some cool old posters.
Quality [4.0]: Draft beers are broken into price categories (ranging from $5-10). I like that system. The food prices are pretty standard as well. Good portions.
Service [3.75]: The bar is separate from the kitchen. That's the only downside to this place. But the food line and beer line are never too long.
Selection [4.25]: They do a great job with the number of taps they have. Always a good selection. The food selection is also above average.
Food [4]: Better than your standard pub. Try the sandwiches and burgers. Also have good daily specials.

 763 characters

Photo of JackDempsy
3.5/5  rDev -11.4%

I am rating this place a little above average because of the beer selection and service - wow, great job Cato's. Now, the weird standing in line for food orders, taking your number to a table and then standing in another line to order beer (and paying in both places) is not a favorite thing for me to do - and I love standing lines as much as anyone else, if you get the picture. Also, they don't have a "kids menu", but by the number of them (at least 8 tables had children making children screaming noises) and the "crayon contest drawings" on the wall by the bathroom, you would think that this is on the horizon.

 617 characters

Photo of scottfrie
4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I’ve been going to Cato’s off and on for a long time now. They always have something interesting on tap, and occasionally offer a variety of beers on nitro or cask. The beer selection is broad and consists of mostly local brews, and it’s good to find a place that offers some Moonlight offerings. The atmosphere is very warm and relaxed, although the place can get loud and cramped when busy. Food is pretty good but I’ve never really had anything except their pizzas. The menu consists of the standard pub fair of greasy appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and pizzas, but they have a good selection of vegetarian and vegan offerings. Pizza prices are bit steep, but their other food looks pretty reasonable. Overall I like to go here on days when it’s not so crowded as it is a really comfortable place to find some really great beers on tap

 849 characters

Photo of bcm119
4.14/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Cato's is a well-worn pub with a beer selection that leans heavily towards the locals. Although the selection of taps isn't nearly as large as Barclay's, on many nights its of equal quality. They seem to have several IPAs on usually, which is a major bonus for me. Last night, for instance, they had P.t. Elder, Blind Pig, Green Flash WCIPA, and Moonlight IPA on cask-- which just about covered it for me. They always have at least one each of Moonlight and Drakes, and usually more. I've seen Drakes pale ale on nitro here, which is interesting. The selection is very carefully chosen; its really top notch considering the number of lines.
The atmosphere is dim and woody. I like the atmosphere better than Barclay's; its more comfortable, less sports-oriented and has a more neighborhood feel. If you can score a booth, you can hold a conversation even on weekend nights, provided you've had a few beers. I haven't tried the food because I usually go here before or after having dinner somewhere else on Piedmont. Overall an excellent pub-- a real beer drinkers bar. I wish it were within walking distance for me.

 1,115 characters

Photo of opwog
3.68/5  rDev -6.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2

This was my old neighborhood beer stop when I lived in Piedmont. I still make sure that I make a stop in during every trip to the Bay Area. One large room and a smaller, enclosed patio. Bar area is meant for standing. Beer selection is always good and is a great element in one of Oakland's best neighborhoods. Food is just OK and the ordering is a little odd with the walkup window. But there is enough pub grub items to choose from to keep you from getting too f'd up from the stronger beers. Definitely one of the best craft beer stops that maintains a real neighborhood bar feel.

 583 characters

Photo of bbothen
3.95/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

In the friendly Piedmont area of Oakland.

Front room has windows that open up into the street, nice spot for a pint on a summer evening. Tables have carvings in them by patrons. Gives the place a laid back feel.

Nice selection of California brews. Moonlight, Lagunitas, Stone, Green Flash, Bear Republic, Russian River. Can't go wrong with that selection. Our party had a RR Blind Pig, Moonlight Bombay By Boat on cask, Stone 12th anniv, Lagunitas Czech Pilsner. All fresh, clean, & tasty.

Service at the bar was quick, friendly, & cordial. No problems here.

Just sampled a couple appetizers on my visit. All good. Nothing awesome, but all fine. Nachos & cheese potatoes.

Fine place for a pint with friends. Cool neighborhood. Cool vibe. I'll be back.

 757 characters

Photo of SacoDeToro
3.83/5  rDev -3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Cato's is a cozy little pub right at the end of Piedmont Ave. Right next door is the Bay Wolf, a great restaurant that features French and California cuisine and a menu that changes daily. Anywho, I digress...

Cato's has a good selection of local micros - certainly enough to keep you entertained for an evening. The selection isn't quite as expansive as Barclay's, but still nice.

The food is decent, but pretty standard pub faire.

The service is friendly, but all food orders need to be placed by the patron at a window at the kitchen. Not really a big deal, but IMO, kinda takes it down a notch.

Cato's is a good value and a good place to have a pint - especially after a nice dinner at the Bay Wolf.

 707 characters

Photo of Natural510
4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Cato's is a comfortable neighborhood beer house, with the feel of a college-town dive bar (minus the college). Long wooden tables with lots of etched get the idea.
The atmosphere is welcoming and laid-back; lots of people who live nearby come here to socialize, including families who bring their youngins for the food.
The food is affordable, and pretty good...nothing extraordinary, nothing too greasy either. You can get a baked mac & cheese dish with mixed greens salad for $8.
The beers are, obviously, mostly ales, mostly from California. Usually about 15 at a time on rotation, they're listed on a chalkboard above the bar. Last visit I had a Kona Pipeline Porter & Sierra Celebration Ale.
I've only had one bad service experience here, a daytime bartender with serious attitude. That was years ago, however, and everyone else since has been friendly and super helpful.

You can't help but have a great time at Cato's. Whether for a meal, an A's game or just kicking back some ale...everyone is welcome here.

 1,030 characters

Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.7/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

I hit up Cato’s for some grub with Brewbacca after a meeting of the Bay Area Mashers. Had a great chicken sandwich with pesto sauce but the potato wedges on the side were a bit greasy. Drank a solid local stout. Selection included about 20 taps. Most of them were California micros from Sierra Nevada, Drake, Lagunitas, Moonlight, Bison, Coastal Range, Anchor, North Coast, Bear Republic, etc... Atmosphere was great. Dark and hopping. Lots of young people enjoying themselves. Service was problem free. I’d go back if given the opportunity.

 543 characters

Photo of Tang07
3.83/5  rDev -3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

They only have about 12 beers on tap, but they are a very unique cross section of brew. No Bud.

They have a bar, but no stools. The waitstaff is attenive, but you order your food at the counter then they bring it to you.

The food looks smells and tastes good, not great but certainly decent pub faire.

They have both local California and international brews.

The pub certainly has atmosphere. It's not a boiler plate, generic chain bar and has very divers customers. There are benches and booths for large groups and there is kind of a front porch area where you can watch people walking down Piedmont Avenue.

I'll be going back often to see what there specials are.

 683 characters

Photo of Troyone
3.23/5  rDev -18.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

The atmosphere is unique with standing room only at the bar (no Stools). Sometimes there is live music during the day. Some beer paraphenalia on the walls (even in the restroom).

Most of the (wood) tables have carved graffity all over them. No stools at the bar is strange. The enclosed porch is nice but you may have to fight off the flys during the day.

The service is sometimes questionable. One time I waited so long for a beer (cask) that the cook//busboy had to pour it for me.

Most of the time there is a good selection, only one cask option.

The burgers are not cooked on a flaming grill and the potatoe wedges are spicy and seem to be soaked with saturated fat. There is a turkey burger option and some salads.

Reasonable for the times.

 760 characters

Photo of misterscooter
3.59/5  rDev -9.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5

I dropped in on this place on a late Saturday night. It was busy but not packed and we were able to find a table without much trouble. A lot of medium size groups sat around the dimly lit common areas in booths and tables. The conversations caused a fair amount of sound but it was bearable and we were still able to hear the musician who was playing in the middle of it all. And although it was dim, it wasn't so dark that you couldn't see your way around. It gave a nice mellow feel for this pub and set the mood just right for me to relax and down a few.

If you wanted to sit at the bar, there were plenty of stools. I only noticed one bartender and she seemed to be handling the orders without any lag. She didn't seem too friendly but the person I was with assured me that this was unusual for her and the other wait-staff.

The beer selection was good but not stellar. I'm sure they had the usual macros but I didn't bother to notice. Pyramid, Red Hook, Guinness, Fat Tire, Sudwerk and others were obvious. They also had quite a few local and regional breweries on tap like E.J. Phair and Drake's as well as several I wasn't familiar with. This was nice because it allowed me to find a favorite or explore new ones.

I hope to go back soon and check it out during the day. And try more beers.

 1,305 characters

Cato's Ale House in Oakland, CA
Place rating: 3.95 out of 5 with 22 ratings