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Flora or Mua? Or something else?

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My husband and I are going to see the Pixies tonight at the Fox and are going out to dinner prior. It's sort of a big deal, because we have a two year old and a two month old and this is our first night out in. . .I don't know, maybe a year? Anyway, looking for a place with excellent drinks and food and ideally an interesting ambience. I've never been to Flora, but I've heard good things and the drink list looks great. My DH is a former bartender so interesting drinks are definitely a plus(I met him when he was bartending ten years ago, and he's still my favorite drinking buddy). It's a bit pricy for us, but if you guys tell me the food is great I'm willing to do it.

I was also looking at the menu for Mua, which looks good and the prices are a little lower. I'm thinking the ambience might not be as "special", though. I considered Binh Minh Quan, which I used to love, but it's a little far and I recall some downhill reports. Also, might not quite be what we want for tonight. I was also thinking about that newish bar, Penelope. Is the food substantial enough and interesting enough for a light dinner?

So, opinions? Other places we should try? Thanks for any advice!

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Binh Minh Quan
338 12th St, Oakland, CA 94607

Mua
2442A Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

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  1. Mua is good, but I wouldn't go for a special occasion.

    Some good options (like B Restaurant in Old Oakland) closed on Mondays. New in the neighborhood is Pican, which does amazing California-influenced Southern food, but it's quite expensive. Take a look at the menu, though, and see what you think.

    Camino (on Grand) is doing paella dinners on Monday nights this month--I'm not sure whether that's within your budget, at $25 a person for a 3-course meal, but it seems like a very good deal, considering the quality of food there.

    Tonight's menu:

    Puntarelle and radicchio salad with anchovy and garlic

    Paella cooked in the Camino fireplace with local clams, fire-roasted peppers and grilled local ling cod

    Burnt milk pudding, poached quince and almonds

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    Camino
    3917 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610

    Mua
    2442A Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

    Pican Restaurant
    2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

    1 Reply
    1. I drove to the Pixie's show at the Fox last night and had no trouble finding parking within a few blocks at 8:00 pm. If you don't mind parking twice, Camino (or anything else in Oakland) could still work.

    2. Flora's nice and the drinks are excellent. The food's good but not exceptional by Oakland standards.

      Franklin Square is nice, beer and wine only. http://www.chow.com/restaurants/16751...

      Vo's has good Vietnamese food and is nicer than BMQ. Beer and wine only.

      Mua's atmosphere is interesting, it's been made over from an art studio and is still fairly industrial-looking. Great cocktails. My favorite burger.

      Penelope's more of a cafe-feeling space, good cocktails, I haven't tried the food yet.

      2022's another budget possibility near the Fox: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/648229

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      Mua
      2442A Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

      Penelope
      555 12th St, Oakland, CA

      Vo's Restaurant
      59 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

      1. Robert's sum up of Flora is spot on. We went a few weeks back before a show at the Fox and I have to say that the convenience and drinks made it worth it.

        1. "Interesting ambiance" depends on how you define the term. do you want quiet & romantic in a classical sense?

          Mua is really great -- industrial, arty, usual quite an array of Oaktown people. And I gotta agree with Robert, they have my fave burgers, along with other really interesting dishes. And I like the drinks.

          But you can't go wrong with any of the options.

          1. Well, that was a bust. We decided on Flora, only to get there and discover it was closed. It never even occured to me that any of these restaurants would be closed because it was Monday. Duh. Rather than give up our prime parking spot, we stayed put & had some drinks and crummy concession food at the venue.

            Thanks for the advice, though! Hopefully one day in that not too distant future we'll get a babysitter and try some of your suggestions. I still want to try Flora and Mua, and that Camino paella dinner is intriguing, too.