11 Reasons to Eat and Drink in Oakland Right Now
Taken from Bon Appetit, Summer 2015 – This article helps show the diversity and continued up and coming food mecca that Oakland is becoming.
For years people have been proclaiming Oakland the next big food destination. Well, I was done waiting. Turns out I timed my visit perfectly. Burger savants, fried chicken masters, and ramen prodigies are all here now, and they’re onto something: Oakland is no San Francisco side trip; it’s the destination. The diversity of eating experiences in just a few square miles is insane. I chased a meticulously made French pastry with a Chinatown cruller and ate pizza topped with half the farmers’ market—and that was just lunch. Here are 11 reasons to eat in the East Bay right now.
1. Doughnut-Stuffed Crepes
Stuffing a doughnut into an eggy crepe sounds like a fusion dessert gone terribly wrong. But at Tian Jin Dumplings, a take-out-window spot in Chinatown, the savory, cruller-filled pancake is the best thing to happen before 11 a.m.
2. The School of Alice Waters
These acolytes continue the fresh-off-the-farm legacy started just five miles away.
Grilled ricotta at Camino.
Almost everything on the menu comes from the two wood-burning hearths that dominate the open kitchen where chef Russell Moorepractices his rustic NorCal artistry. Seven years in, it’s the cool aunt of the Oakland dining scene.
All smiles at Ramen Shop.
Give three Chez Panisse alums a 600-pound noodle machine shipped from a Japanese culinary god, and you get ramen Cali style.
The margherita pie at Boot & Shoe Service.
Boot & Shoe Service
The wood-fired pies are just the beginning at this crowd-pleasing pizzeria in an old cobbler’s shop. Owner Charlie Hallowell should run for mayor already.
3. The Finest Fried Chicken
Nouveau diner Hopscotch (think swivel stools and Japanese ingredients) serves the Bay Area’s juiciest fried chicken, marinated in buttermilk and soy sauce, dredged in potato starch, and served atop chrysanthemum salad.
4. Eating Swan’s Market
Four things to try at Oakland’s tastiest food hall:
1. Tomales Bay oysters, chilled rosé, Big Sur vibes at The Cook and Her Farmer
2. Phoularie (split-pea fritters) dipped in garlicky shado beni sauce at Miss Ollie’s
3. Wild shrimp tacos and an iced horchata latte at Cosecha
4. Matcha affogato at B-Dama, go-to of nearby off-duty chefs
5. Killer Pan-Asian Food
At Hawker Fare, chef James Syhabout’s tribute to pan-Asian party food includes fiery larb lettuce wraps and coconut-milk short ribs.
6. Chris Kronner Likes It Better Over Here
The chef’s burger—a drive-through-esque masterpiece of dry-aged beef—became famous at the KronnerBurger pop-up in San Francisco. But its bricks-and-mortar spot now calls Oakland home. Why? “It’s like the San Francisco I moved to 15 years ago: There’s space for creativity and diversity,” he says.
The crunchy bhel salad (left) and cumin-cilantro lemonade at Juhu Beach Club.
7. Mumbai Street Food
It’s an all-day tropical blowout at Juhu Beach Club, a bright strip-mall oasis where mohawked chef Preeti Mistry is the one to thank for bringing her sloppy, spicy pavs (India’s version of sliders), puffed-rice salads in jars, and cumin-cilantro lemonade to the East Bay. Save room for soft serve with candy-coated fennel seeds on top.
The Tea Leaf Salad at Grocery Café.
8. Burma Express
Where have all these deliciously fish-saucy noodles and fragrant stews been hiding? Apparently at Grocery Café, an unassuming spot with church pews for seats and ‘80s records for decor. The platter of potent fermented tea leaves, crunchy yellow beans, and tiny dried shrimp—gently tossed tableside by the sole soft-spoken server—will challenge all you thought you knew about salad.
Bottles, bottles everywhere at Alchemy Bottle Shop.
9. The Obscure-Booze Capital of America
Of all the unofficial titles the city holds, my favorite is its claim on most hard-to-find booze per capita. Any shopping done here should be for bottles: funky natural Blaufränkisch from a nearby winery at the unpretentious Bay Grape; small-batch amari off the dreamy whitewashed shelves of Alchemy Bottle Shop; and esoteric Japanese craft beers atUmami Mart.
Vodka + fresh grapefruit juice = a good time (also known as a Greyhound).
10. The Unofficial Cocktail of Oakland
Had it with 14-ingredient drinks and judgey mixologists? (I’m raising my hand.) Meet me at Cafe Van Kleef, where the locals will tell you there’s only one drink to order: the Greyhound. It’s vodka topped off with fresh grapefruit juice that flows freely all night from the old-school juicer. This is no cookie-cutter bar. It’s somewhere between a dive, an art experiment, and a hoarder’s sanctuary.
11. The Temescal Crawl
First stop: Cortados at Subrosa.
Oakland’s hippest neighborhood is the place for boutiques, coffee shops, and bagels worth the long lines. Here’s how I spent a half day strolling Telegraph Avenue, the coolest ten blocks in town.
9:45 a.m. / Beauty’s Bagel Shop
Worship at the altar of Montreal-style bagels and buy in to the notion that deviled eggs work for breakfast too.
10:45 a.m. / Book/Shop
The first editions at this sleek bookshop-slash-gallery make a strong case for ditching your tablet.
11:30 a.m. / Doughnut Dolly
Head next door for a Naughty Cream: a fried puff filled to order with crème fraîche and vanilla-bean pastry cream.
12:15 p.m. / Homestead Apothecary
Name an ailment, and there’s a remedy at this haven for modern herbalists.
1 p.m. / Bakesale Betty
The fried chicken sandwich is rightly famous, but it’s the strawberry shortcake that I’ll get back in line for.