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North of the little town of Point Reyes Station, the Marshall Store sits on the banks of Tomales Bay. I've been coming here for years after hiking or horseback riding or walking on the beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. The place is super casual, and you can bring your own picnic supplies (we stopped at Cowgirl Creamery and bought a hunk of nutty Challerhocker cheese). Order raw oysters, BBQ oysters, and oysters Rockefeller. Grab an outdoor picnic table, add in a glass of Sancerre, and the world looks pretty good.
Whenever I'm in Tokyo I go to this tiny sake bar Kuri, in the Ginza district. A very stoic but mellow place to go at the end of the night, and they specialize in local sakes.
A 15-minute drive up into the hills above Oakland's Fruitvale district, Redwood Regional Park is my go-to spot for a quick hit of real NorCal nature. An easy walk leads you along a creek beneath big, beautiful trees. The air is clean, the soundtrack is water--flowing in the creek, dripping from the trees--and birds. Keep an eye out for wild turkeys.
At the restaurant Nopa in San Francisco's Western Addition, the long bar and communal tables are perfect places to perch on a weeknight. Go early, order an elderflower gimlet or a sparkling, minty Old Cuban (both off-menu). Don't miss the Mission School-style mural painted on the wall.
One of the recent additions to Oakland's Uptown neighborhood is Plum Bar, adjacent to Daniel Patterson's Plum Restaurant. The Bailout blends scotch, gin, carpano antico, and orange bitters. It complemented the creamy macaroni and cheese quite nicely.
Boot and Shoe Service is the spinoff restaurant to Pizzaiolo, which has been my favorite spot in Oakland since it opened in 2006. Boot and Shoe, its slightly more casual little sister, serves the same pizza--a blistery and crisp crust topped with farm-y Bufala mozzarella and the lightest tomato sauce. Try the whiskey cocktail or the vin d'orange if you have to wait at the buzzy bar.
This store is the casual gardener’s destination for artfully arranged succulents, air plants, and other horticultural rarities. You’ll also discover vintage curiosities you never realized you wanted until now. (510) 992-3359 for more information. This appeared in the March/April 2014 issue. Photo by Jen Siska.
I remember when they started construction on this $175,000,000 cathedral on Lake Merritt by the also new Whole Foods. It looked like someone had taken their life size Erector Set and started flinging about Tinker Toys. There was no way to tell what designing architect Craig W. Hartman was creating. As it slowly came together and the massive concrete structure below it had dried you could finally read the plaque stating it was to be The Cathedral of Christ the Light. I believe the most popular word I heard in reference to it was gaudy. Fitting but not entirely accurate that word got the point across. Once they laid the glass on the exterior it earned itself a nickname on the breaths of those whom spoke of it. It became the Vulva Church. Particularly due to the shape the glass formed. Google it it you must. I may post a photo later. Complete with everything from mausoleum to cafe to health center to rectory (yes I said it). The grounds also interestingly enough host a healing garden that operates as a space for survivors of clergy sexual abuse. Most do not know that the Diocese of Oakland due to its reduced finances was required to take out a loan to cover half its $56.4 million settlement with 56 sex abuse victims.This is what inspired the garden complete with a plaque inscribed "This healing garden, planned by survivors, is dedicated to those innocents sexually abused by members of the clergy. We remember, and we affirm: never again."
On a lazy Saturday morning head to Caffe 817 in Old Oakland (downtown) for a breakfast of poached eggs, olive tapenade and toasted levain. Add a latte bowl or cappuccino for the perfect start to your day! After breakfast explore the neighborhood with its creative small shops.
Local Cafe opened last year, offering a fresh brunch option on a sleepy stretch of Piedmont Avenue. Oakland-based Starter Bakery provides the pastries, which come served with fruity INNA jams. There is a nice, simple selection of egg dishes and paninis, but I opted for the Cobb salad, which didn't disappoint.
Looking for a great afternoon or evening hike, high above the clouds of the East Bay? Need a few good labyrinths and a volcano to make it desirable? It so happens, I've found your place. Located on the border of Oakland and Contra Costa, the parking for Sibley is on Skyline Boulevard. This is a Regional Preserve and is managed by the East Bay Regional Park District. All the perks of hikes in this part of the Bay are here and include a great network of trails, soaring views and many a grassy vista. It also claims an extinct volcano and at least four or five labyrinths for potential meditation. You have two major continental plates to thank for the geological grandeur and a few thoughtful locals for the peace of mind, found within.
Mama's has been a breakfast institution for decades, and this neighborhood joint--with old wooden booths ornamented with original (non-functioning) individual juke boxes, and vintage posters, embroidered apron, and customers' napkin art on the walls--balances greasy-spoon ambience with borderline-gourmet seasonal specialty omeletes, scrambles, and pancakes. You'll see lots of cutting-edge tattoos, too. Mama's sits between the upwardly trending Temescal and Piedmont Avenue neighborhoods.
Packed into this Vietnamese sandwich, or bánh mì (bAHn-me), are spiced, crushed pork meatballs and a runny fried egg that gushes at first bite. A slather of pâté and mayonnaise melts into the fresh-toasted french loaf...and to top this classic sandwich off, the folks at Banh Mi Ba Le in east Oakland shove fresh strips of cucumber, jalapeno and cilantro into this beauty. For the signature zing, they add shredded pickled daikon and carrots. Of the 24 or so sandwich variations, this is #13. Banh Mi Ba Le sits on the corner of International Boulevard and 19th Avenue, an area considered to be less than savory. But perhaps that's one of the reasons why this comes in at $3, including tax. Worth it and more. (CATCH--Delicious)
Pepples Donut is in a random location (San Pablo and 61st) so it's not really somewhere you would go out of your way to get to (they also sell them in the Ferry Building), but the grimy cafe store is very low key and I love getting a box of dozen colorful and interesting flavors as a house gift before visiting a friend.
From 1928, when it opened as the West Coast Oakland theater (planned original name: The Bagdad), until it slid toward "final" closure in 1970, the Fox Theater was one of downtown Oakland's two classic movie palaces (See the Paramount Theatre as well). Nearly demolished to make space for a parking lot in 1975, it was declared a city landmark in 1978 and put on the National Register of Historic Places the following year. Finally, after more than a decade of planning and restoration, the Fox reopened in February 2009, and is now a live concert venue (mostly modern rock) with a restaurant and bar, and the Oakland School for the Arts upstairs. The Uptown neighborhood around the theater is now one of Oakland's liveliest for dining anc cocktails.
Mind, blown and belly, full. Brown Sugar Kitchen is the place in the East Bay for your brunch in search of food for the soul. Created by the master head chef Tanya Holland (known for her celebration of community as well as her gifts in the kitchen), you'll find this inviting space on Mandela Parkway in Oakland. There are poached eggs swimming in cheddar grits, chicken apple sausages and enormous beignets. Make sure that at least one person in your brunch crew orders the famous chicken and waffles. On a weekend morning, be prepared for a bit of a wait- but you can grab a coffee or watch the action in the open kitchen, before you're seated. There's plenty of space inside and out while you wait for your table. Be sure to arrive hungry and know with confidence that Brown Sugar Kitchen will be in the running for your best brunch spot in the Bay Area!
Browse hammered bronze and brass pieces and leather jewelry in this studio and storefront that suggests Native American and Mexican art influences with a modern, beachy-by-way-of-rock-and-roll aesthetic. For bohos or their loved ones looking for some luxe glamour, look no further. (510) 325-0019. Photo courtesy of Marisa Haskell.
In addition to fantastic and relatively cheap food, this is where you'll find the best backstory of any restaurant in Oakland. In 2011, James Syhabout, Oakland's only Michelin-starred chef (for his Commis, on Piedmont Avenue, which is Oakland's premier fine-dining "molecular gastronomy" restaurant), opened Hawker Fare. His goal: to create a hip sit-down spot for people to enjoy food inspired by the street fare of his family's homeland, Vietnam. His location: the corner storefront where his mother ran a Vietnamese restaurant when he was a child. The food: mostly rice bowls--with amazing tofu curry, pork belly, poached chicken, Issan sausage, and more.
Located in historical part of oakland and close to the metro, Trappist is considered one of the best bars in the country to get Belgian style beers. Lets just say if you are a beer lover, making a pilgrimage to this place is a must. They also serve amazing small plates of food that goes well with their extensive list of beers on tap. Their beer selection change all the time and you could taste before purchase. Bring a friend!!
Discover farmers' market, Baja-style fish taco favorite Cholita Linda, set to open its own brick-and-mortar joint soon. Owner Vanessa Chavez features Latin American favorites like Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken and a flank steak version of the classic Cuban sandwich with the premise that fast casual can look, taste, and be good for you too. Photo courtesy of Cholita Linda.
I've never thought of "molecular gastronomy" as comfort food. But at Haven, chef Kim Alter (before moving over to Plum) created some radical-seeming dishes as homey as anything your grandma made. Even though Daniel Patterson (Coi, Plum) owns this Jack London Square restaurant, and Alter cooked at the Michelin-starred Manresa, there's nothing obviously avant-garde about Haven's cuisine. A bit of foam shows up in the amazing deconstructed shepherd's pie, which otherwise has a rustic feel. The flour for the pasta in the Carbonara, pictured here, is smoked before the noodles are handmade, and instead of being stirred in, the farm egg floats on top of the dreamy pancetta-specked, chive-flecked dish. The bar at Haven concocts some of the best drinks in this cocktail-crazed town, as well.
Looking a place to run while you're in Oakland? Lake Merritt offers a 3.4-mile circumference that takes you past downtown, through Lakeside Park, past the historic Grand Lake Theater, and along Lakeshore Avenue. If you need a challenge, jog up the Cleveland Cascade or continue your exercise by renting a kayak at the Boating Center. For the kids, there's Children's Fairyland, which Walt Disney visited for inspiration before he built the original Disneyland. For adult refreshment, there's Sidebar on Grand Avenue, as well as Zza's, the nearby Boot and Shoe Service, and the historic Alley (with Rod Dibble at the piano bar) among the Grand Lake district's many tippling and dining spots. Visit in the evening to ooh and ah over the "crown of lights" that begins twinkling at dusk around the entire lake.
No matter where you live in Oakland, or where you're staying when you visit, you can find a farmers' market nearby: on Fridays in Old Oakland, East Oakland, and at Kaiser Hospital; on Saturdays in Grand Lake (near Lake Merritt); and on Sundays in Jack London Square, Fruitvale, Temescal, and Montclair. Other smaller scenes pop up, too. Pictured here at the Montclair Farmers' Market in the Oakland hills, cheesemonger and wine merchant Jeff Diamond, proprietor of the nearly Farmstead Cheeses and Wines, proffers samples of smoked gouda to shoppers and passersby.
Finally I had one of the best bbq ribs - ever. Located in oakland and started by the owner of famous Brown Sugar Cafe - B Side bbq is place to eat for you carnivore lovers. Recommend their dark and stormy flavored ribs, spicy cole slaw, mac n cheese, and most delicious corn bread. This place is very cool looking and very friendly staff!
10,000 Steps, a historic walking tour created in 2006, explores downtown Oakland’s historic parks. These parks—Jefferson Square, Lafayette Square, Madison Square, and Lincoln Square – each occupy only one city block. Walking this "Invisible City" is downtown Oakland’s first permanent self-guided walking tour. By following engraved sidewalk markers, walkers can explore this historic city. Oakland’s first city plan, drawn in 1853 by Julius Kellersberger, was framed by seven oak-filled squares. Today, five of these squares continue to support the diverse communities who live nearby. Walking the Invisible City will lead you to these historic parks and vibrant neighborhoods near Oakland's Chinatown.
The interior of designer Lauren Wolf’s art and jewelry boutique blends seamlessly with Wolf’s own collection of handcrafted sterling silver and gold rings, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces inspired by nature. (510) 629-6216 for more information. This appeared in the March/April 2014 Issue. Photo courtesy of Esqueleto.
Near the corner of 9th & Broadway, Marion & Rose's Workshop, in the Old Oakland neighborhood, is fun place for unique gifts for friends or for yourself! Lots of small artwork, children's clothing & toys, housewares, Blue Chair jams, jewelry & LOTS more!
Locals argue passionately about the area’s best coffee. The CRO Cafe pours Sightglass, which pairs well with a freshly made, hand-filled-to-order doughnut from Doughnut Dolly around the corner. This appeared in the March/April 2014 issue. Photo courtesy of the CRO Cafe.
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