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Jan 17, 2009 04:38 PM

Recommendations for Oakland eating

My boyfriend and I are going to be spending the day in Oakland. We'd like to take the opportunity to explore food options in the area. What would you recommend for breakfast, lunch, dinner? We are also looking for snack options--like bakeries, ice cream places, chocolate/dessert shops as well. We'll be driving around so can wander a bit afield if necessary. Thanks in advance!

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  1. That's a really broad question. Oakland is a diverse place with many neighborhoods with many kinds of food. Plus, there are adjoining areas of Alameda and Berkeley, which are actually closer than the "farther afield" parts of Oakland. Can you be more specific about where you're going to be and what you're looking for?

    1. doublehelping, if you like cal-ital, high quality ingredients, wood-fired oven pizzas (non-pizza main courses as well) Pizzaiolo is one of the best in the entire region. Temescal area of Telegraph Ave

      1. Which day of the week will you be driving around. Bakesale Betty's fabulous fried chicken sandwich is not available every day. Same block as Pizzaiolo. Or perhaps Korean.

        5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        Bakesale Betty
        5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        6 Replies
        1. re: wolfe

          We'll be there on a Saturday. The only firm commitment we have is that we'll be going to a show at the Fox Theater in the evening. We'd like to do a bit of food shopping and snacking throughout the day as well. We pretty much eat everything, and we value great food especially if it's a great value. I also love fried chicken, so I have been curious about Bakesale Betty and Pizzaiolo (especially since the bf loves pizza!). I have also been curious about Vik's Chaat Corner for years--is it still worth going?

          1. re: doublehelping

            I wasn't blown away by Vik's, and my bf reports a recent disappointing meal there (he thought the spicing had been toned way down, compared to a few years ago).

            Where are you coming from? That will help narrow down options significantly.

            1. re: daveena

              We live in SF and rarely visit the East Bay. I have been hearing of great restaurants and good eats, so I thought we'd take the opportunity to explore...

              1. re: doublehelping

                If you're around the Grand Lake neighborhood in the morning, it's worth it to stop by the Farmer's market to grab a loaf of Phoneix Pastificio's olive bread (I don't think it's available in SF). Split and slathered with chevre, it somehow fulfills my bagel cravings in a way no California bagel has. The pretzel croissant from the Oktoberfeast stand is good, too. The farmer's market itself is small but good - more a place to do your weekly grocery shopping than a destination, but as long as you're there, you might as well do a quick loop around. Then walk up Lakeshore to Arizmendi bakery (unless you frequent the Arizmendi in SF) - I especially like their sauceless veggie pizzas and their oatmeal scones.

                You could maybe do Champa Garden for lunch - it's an easy drive from the Grand Lake neighborhood. The appetizer plate (with sour sausage, rice ball salad, and egg rolls), Lao-style larb, and the angel wings (boned chicken wings stuffed with sausage lightened with bean thread vermicelli and cilantro) make a good meal.

                Then I'd maybe head up to Berkeley and make my way back down to Oakland - start at Sketch in the 4th street area (I've never been because they always seem to be closed when I'm in the area, so check hours). Head over to College Ave, where you can easily hit Ici (interesting flavors, somewhat icy texture - I prefer Bi-Rite's style, personally), La Farine (French), Rockridge Market (the deli has an excellent selection of local salumi).

                You could also go to Crixa for Eastern European (in Berkeley, near the Berkeley Bowl. BB also worth a visit but will be insanely crowded on Saturday) - squeeze them in between Sketch and the College Ave crawl.

                You could also try to get in to the cafe at Chez Panisse for lunch, then hop over to the Cheese Board. Or Vik's for lunch - even with recent reports, it's probably still worth going to, if you're coming from the city, and it puts you in the right place to hit Sketch right afterwards.

                End with dinner at Pizzaiolo (be there when it opens at 5:30 if you want to get to your show on time). Bakesale Betty is in that neighborhood, so you could go there first (I'm not really a fan of either their baked goods or their fried chicken sandwich, to be honest.)

                Another CH'ers East Bay food tour report from earlier this year:

              2. re: daveena

                I had some good stuff at Vik's recently. I would go back....

            2. re: wolfe

              I'm pretty sure BB does have the fried chicken sandwich every day, but they frequently sell out by 1 pm or shortly thereafter. My favorite baked goods at BB- best ginger cookies I ever ate and very good shortbread. If you are going to Pizzaiolo at any time, I 'd strongly recommend a reservation- they get hopping very early. I think Champa Garden for lunch and Pizzaiolo for dinner, with maybe a cake at Crixa in between, sounds like heaven. I don't think Ici or Sketch are all that amazing, though I know other's disagree- I'd go to Tara's Organic Ice Cream on College @ Alcatraz, if you want ice cream. If you go to Crixa, and you're into produce, you may want to stop at Berkeley Bowl, just to check it out- it's only a block or so from Crixa. Their array of produce is off the charts....they had around 15 kinds of oranges this weekend.

            3. second and third Pizzaiolo. Never been disappointed, if they have the sformata (sort of a savory custard, with nettles and chanterelles), get it - one of the 10 best things i've tasted in the last maybe 2 years.) pizza is great- tho for me, the simpler the better - a margherita with an egg maybe. they also have a great mixologist - try their home-made tonic - even without alcohol it's lovely - she mixes lavender and other herbs into it. oh, and the meatballs are fantastic. i can't say enough about this place. it's warm, beautiful - you can't go wrong. A close second for me is Wood Tavern, in Rockridge. Used to be my favorite for "higher end" food in Oakland until Pizzaiolo came along.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mariacarmen

                Pizzaiolo YES! Their Gin & Tonic is the best in the Bay, also try their other cocktails. If they have fried chicken on the menu, you will not be disappointed!

                1. re: mariacarmen

                  Wood Tavern and Pizzaiolo are definitely two of my favorite places in Oakland (though Pizzaiolo opened years before Wood Tavern) -- Wood Tavern is also a good spot to stop for lunch, it's open for lunch on Saturdays, and they have fantastic sandwiches (especially the pastrami). Then you could stop at La Farine next door for a pastry or sweet to snack on later (or the next day). Right down the street is Market Hall, where there's the Pasta Shop, with a good selection of cheeses and meats, and lots of great imported goods, and is a nice place to wander. College Avenue in general is a nice little shopping area and fun place in Oakland to explore. For dinner, people have already trumpeted the praises of Pizzaiolo, so I won't join in, but will recommend another of my favorite restaurants, Dopo on Piedmont Avenue. That's another one where you'll have to get there at 5:30 to get a seat immediately (they don't take reservations for small parties); it's a little restaurant, with delicious housemade pastas, great pizzas, crudo and housemade salumi. It's probably my favorite restaurant in Oakland these days, just because I always leave there happy.

                  Another idea is to spend some time in the Fruitvale area discovering some of the great Mexican food around there -- a recent visitor did a great taco crawl that has a lot of great ideas

                2. If you like fried chicken I recommend chicken and waffles for breakfast or lunch at Brown Sugar Kitchen or Nellie's soul food for lunch or dinner (if you have the time, it can take a while).

                  Nellie's Soulfood
                  1155 3rd St, Oakland, CA 94607

                  Brown Sugar Kitchen
                  2534 Mandela Pkwy, Oakland, CA 94607

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: thejab

                    I think Nellie's move or they opened another branch on lower Broadway, in Jack London Sq, next to the Nations. Sorry no link yet.

                    1. re: thejab

                      As far as I can see, nobody's mentioned Cafe 817. This place has been around forever and, although it changed owners a few years ago, the breakfasts are still great. They have the most wonderful chorizo and poached eggs with levain toast! Eggs are also served with thinly sliced ham and are also very good. Fine coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice, too.

                      And it's next door to Ratto's which, although it's getting more and more depressing, still carries lots of good stuff and is always fun to wander. Both of these places are on Washington Street between 8th and 9th Streets in downtown Oakland. Easy to part on weekends.

                      1. re: oakjoan

                        Combine that with a walk across the street to Housewive's Market and a chance to pick up some nice sausages and other foodstuffs.