A BARTable guide to Hayward: the Heart of the Bay

Playt serves Southern comfort food, cocktails and plenty of Southern hospitality. 

Hayward is known as the “Heart of the Bay” for good reason. It’s the sixth largest city in the Bay Area and is central to many other cities in the region. Besides its accessible location, it has a lot of local love and community spirit. To get a sense of how people hang in the city, check out our guide for where to find bites, drinks, music, entertainment and scenery, all homegrown and close to Hayward BART.

For food and drinks

The Dirty Bird: Check out The Dirty Bird if you want to experience a local Hayward watering hole. Unique cocktails, Argentine bites like empanadas and choripan, a pool table and a lounge atmosphere are some of the things you can find at The Dirty Bird. There are often DJs who’ll play music as well, for those who want to get the party started. It’s a 6-minute walk from BART.

The Dirty Bird: Check out The Dirty Bird if you want to experience a local Hayward watering hole. Unique cocktails, Argentine bites like empanadas and choripan, a pool table and a lounge atmosphere are some of the things you can find at The Dirty Bird. There are often DJs who’ll play music as well, for those who want to get the party started. It’s a 6-minute walk from BART.

Brews and Brats: Brews and Brats offers exactly what you may be thinking — lots of beer to drink and a variety of sausages nosh on.

Brews and Brats: Brews and Brats offers exactly what you may be thinking — lots of beer to drink and a variety of sausages nosh on. Its “brats” menu consists of options like Jerk Chicken, Louisiana Hot Link and even a “Hayward Brat” along with toppings like “The Kraut” and “The Breakfast.” Enjoy the expansive beer menu, brats, BBQ, TVs for games and indoor or outdoor seating. It’s an 8-minute walk from BART.

Playt: For those who were a fan of Oakland’s Pican that closed last year, there’s good news: the team behind the acclaimed restaurant have opened up a Southern comfort food haven in Hayward.

Playt: For those who were a fan of Oakland’s Pican that closed last year, there’s good news: the team behind the acclaimed restaurant have opened up a Southern comfort food haven in Hayward. Customers can expect a menu that incorporates Cajun, Creole, Gullah and other Southern-influenced dishes. There are also fun cocktails like the Rose of Sharon and a Peach Sidecar. It’s an 8-minute walk from BART.

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills: One of the nation’s oldest brewpubs is here in Hayward, and is known for year-round craft brew favorites as well as seasonal specialties. Buffalo Bills started in 1983, right after it became legal for brewers to sell directly to customers, and helped launch the U.S. craft beer movement. Patrons can expect delicious flavors like a strawberry blond ale for the summertime and a black pumpkin oatmeal stout for the fall. The restaurant also has pub food favorites like nachos, pizza, burgers and sandwiches. It’s a 9-minute walk from BART.

For live music 

The Bistro: Jazz, hip-hop, Monday open mic nights . . . what more could you want?

The Bistro: Jazz, hip-hop, Monday open mic nights . . . what more could you want? The Bistro offers live music every night of the week, which customers can pair with some top rated beer and wine. You can find Pliny the Elder on tap here, so you know The Bistro takes its beers seriously. It even has an annual IPA Festival! Kick back inside or on the outside patio that’s dog friendly. It’s a 7-minute walk from BART.

World Famous Turf Club

World Famous Turf Club: It's easy to see why this bar and outdoor patio is a favorite among locals — there's live music on the weekends, plus karaoke and game nights throughout the week. And if you're a student at Cal State East Bay, flash your student ID for discounts on drinks. It's a 9-minute walk from BART.

For books

Books on B

Books on B: Renee Rettig hailed from Hayward’s the Book Shop until 2017, when its owners retired. When Hayward found itself with one less bookshop (when there already was so few), Rettig opened up Books on B with the help of an Indiegogo campaign. She hopes to keep up the tradition of celebrating new, used, quirky and rare reads at the new Books on B. Visitors can also trade or sell used books with appointments or walk-ins. There’s also Books on B swag to buy: T-shirts, mugs, pint glasses and more. Stop by this independent bookstore that’s all about the community. It’s a 7-minute walk from BART.

For games

High Scores Arcade

High Scores Arcade: Describing itself as both an arcade and a museum, High Scores Arcade offers its customers a mighty collection of all the favorites: Tron, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Star Castle, Mortal Kombatt II and more. It hopes to take people back to a time when gaming was a social experience — play to impress the crowd. To make the experience even more retro, the arcade’s juke box only pumps late 70s and 80s rock, pop and hip-hop. One hour of unlimited playing is $5 or a day pass is $12. There’s also a location in Alameda. It’s an 8-minute walk from BART.

Chalk It Up: For a large selection of pool and ping pong tables and pinball machines, along with craft beer and snacks, Chalk it Up is a great spot to visit with your crew. Whether it’s for a post-work outing, or just a place to hang on the weekend, head over to Chalk it Up and rack ‘em up! It’s a 10-minute walk from BART.

Chalk It Up: For a large selection of pool and ping pong tables and pinball machines, along with craft beer and snacks, Chalk it Up is a great spot to visit with your crew. Whether it’s for a post-work outing, or just a place to hang on the weekend, head over to Chalk it Up and rack ‘em up! It’s a 10-minute walk from BART.

If you're up for a bike ride ...

Hayward Japanese Gardens: Sometimes we all just need to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The Hayward Japanese Gardens are a place to find some calmness while surrounded by a koi pond, turtles, a pagoda, a wooden bridge and bonsai trees. It’s picturesque, so don’t be surprised at people taking photos for their wedding, prom, pregnancy and other special occasions. It’s free to enter, and open daily. Catch a 7-minute rideshare from BART, or take a 10-minute bicycle ride.

Hayward Regional Shoreline: For beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay, and five miles of public trails along the water, visit the Hayward Regional Shoreline. Take some time for a walk, dog walk, run or bike ride along one of the many trails. There are also areas for bird watching, picnicking and fishing. Catch a 14-minute rideshare from BART, or take a 30-minute bicycle ride.

Mural Arts Program: If you see a diverse range of striking murals across Hayward, it’s probably a part of the city’s Mural Arts Program. The program was created as a direct response to the chronic graffiti and blight that was affecting the city. Partnerships with the city of Hayward and artists, business owners, schools, volunteers, property owners, and public and private organizers have come about because of the program. See the murals on your own or join one of the city’s free tours for a chance to interact with local artists. Tours are offered between May to October. You can find murals in downtown Hayward, right near the BART station.

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