Restaurants in Oakland (East of Lake Merritt)
Look...I am going to be honest with you. I have lived in this part of Oakland for over 6 years and other than Champa Garden for cheap and tasty Thai/Lao, you are pretty much out of luck. Most of us just head for Rockridge, Gourmet Ghetto in Berk, Dopo on Piedmont Ave, or the bit of Telegraph that stretches from Bake Sale Betty to Dona Tomas. IMO, there ain't much on Grand or Lake Shore, so drive the extra five minutes and get some decent eats elsewhere in the East Bay. We live in hope however! There is a new spot opening up near Ace Hardware and have our fingers crossed.
For your restaurant folks who may see this post....HELP! Where is our Pizzetta, Woods Tavern, or Chez Panisse Cafe????? We have money to spend so throw us some love, will ya?
what's your distance range around the Lake? if you're talking about less than 1 mile radius then I'd say you're a bit more limited. Wasabi is interesting, though not outstanding. More of a Korean influence and they actually have more Korean items than most Korean owned Japanese restaurants. DeClancy's Welcome Table over on Park Blvd is a good stop for southern comfort food. Excellent fried chicken, though be prepared for the sometimes very slow-cooked food, which while fresh is also time consuming. Whole Foods just opened in the area...looks pretty swanky if you're into pricey grocers. There's a series of vietnamese restaurants down International Blvd, a few chinese restaurants too, but none of those stand out too much.
Merritt Bakery is more of a greasy spoon, but still, i love their pork chop and eggs breakfast and strawberry cake.
Mezze is an absolutely wonderufl restaurant, top notch, inventive food. It's on Lakeshore.
Coach sushi in Grand is a charming sushi place, incredibly friendly and you get your own sake cup to decorate and they save it for your next visit!
Di Bartolo makes excellent pizza and fun cocktails, but service can be extremely hit or miss. Hopefully they'll whip the service into shape, because the location and the menu are a lot of fun.
Soizic is near Jack London area and is lovely. Nearby are Tamarindo (excellent mexican tapas, high end) and the new Levende East, vibrant (read fun but noisy) and swank, and Restaurant B, a bi more sedate but pleasant and good ingredients. The Fat Lady is an overlooked sweet spot, traditional sounding menu but generally good execution, adorable interior (very bordello) and always humming.
How far "just east"? Vientian might be a bit far.
Right around the lake, I would check out the 2-3 block section stretch of Lakeshore just past MacArthur. There are a number of places there (and, a bit further, along Grand). Search here on 'Grand' or 'Lakeshore' and you'll find some recent mentions. Also, further south, around 18th Ave within a few blocks of the lake, there are a lot of places.
In between the two areas is a Leaning Tower of Pizza that has half-price beer and wine on Mondays. It's my favourite pizza in the area (but many may differ with me, pizza being as subjective as barbecue).
For Japanese, Wasabi around 1601 2nd Ave is good (I like the fact that you can get spicy tuna rolls in the bentos), but they are now just open for lunch.