It's games galore at the Albatross Pub, the cheerful and spacious bar that describe its atmosphere as the "guts of an old wooden pirate ship." Besides a pool table and a darts shooting gallery, Berkeley's oldest pub boasts 17 types of board games to tickle patrons' competitive spirit. Be wary, though: Connect Four always gets nabbed first. Yarr. If gaming doesn't set your heart aflame, you can occupy yourself listening to the live music sets and sorting, or drinking your way, through the decent selection of Scotches, bourbons, whiskeys, and Belgian-style beers. One buck gets you an unlimited pass to the popcorn machine. Dogs must be on leashes and at the tables, so don't sidle up to the bar with your furry companion in tow. And here's one of the most important rules: dogs must be out by 8 p.m. Consider the Albatross the perfect place to stop by for a sip or two on your pup's evening constitutional.
1822 San Pablo, Berkeley. (510) 843-2473, www.albatrosspub.com. Happy hour: 50¢ off pints, $2 off pitchers, free popcorn, and discounted pool, Wed.–Sat., 6–8 p.m.
Homestead's a lot like other Mission joints — cheap strong drinks, $2 Tecates, and a hipsterish crowd peppered with some normal folks (although according to Yelpers, an unusual number of attractive people seem to congregate here, so use that tip for whatever you will). The bevy of topless pinups hung on the walls sets the bar apart, as does the gorgeous Victorian decor, holdovers from and nods to the establishment of the first bar on the site in 1905. You can also look forward to free peanuts. The rules for dog patrons are on par with the ones at Lucky 13. Dogs can wander around without a leash, but don't be an irresponsible a-hole pet owner. Treats and water bowls are available.
2301 Folsom, SF. (415) 282-4663, www.myspace.com/thehomesteadsf. Happy hour: $1 off drinks, Mon.–Wed. and Fri., 3–6 p.m.