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CHOW Tour Oakland, Your Thoughts On Where To Go?

Hi Bay Area Chowhounds,

In a few weeks, myself and CHOW senior editor Roxanne Webber are heading to Oakland as part of the next CHOW Tour. We're looking to create some CHOW videos about the Oakland food scene, and plan to focus on chefs and restaurants that specialize in handcrafted food. We'd love to find special, off-the-beaten-path stuff to cover, but that said, we don't want to miss out on key places.

We'll have about a week in town.

Here's a few ideas we have from interviewing some Oakland folks, and skimming the boards:

-The rise of Neo-Southern cuisine, like Pican and Brown Sugar Kitchen: any others?

-Ethnic Food Hotbed: of the Lao food along International Blvd, and the Korean and Ethiopian on Telegraph, are there places in particular we shouldn’t miss?

-Frozen Desserts: aside from Scream and Lush, where else can we get our sweet fix?

-Relaxed fine dining: Plum, Mua, Pizzaiolo?

-What are we missing that really defines the food of Oakland? Which chefs/restaurants would you really want to see covered?

Thanks for your help,
Blake Smith of CHOW.com

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  1. I'd suggest both Hibiscus and Aunt Mary's Cafe in the Neo Southern cuisine category, though Hibiscus is a little different.

    Champa Garden for the Ethnic food hotbed topic. And are you going to do anything about the taco trucks in Fruitvale? A discussion of the food in Oakland is missing a lot if you don't include that.

    Commis is definitely missing in the relaxed fine dining category -- I'd group it with Plum, and I'd add Dopo and A Cote. Though I don't know if "relaxed fine dining" sums those restaurants up well.

    Oakland has some great cocktails, Flora, A Cote, Adesso and Sidebar all have great cocktail menus.

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    Dopo
    4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

    Champa Garden
    2102 8th Ave, Oakland, CA 94606

    A Cote
    5478 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

    Aunt Mary's Cafe
    4307 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

    Adesso
    4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

    Commis
    3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

    6 Replies
    1. re: JasmineG

      I can see putting Plum and Commis in a "tweezer cuisine in a relatively informal setting" category, but if you throw Mua, Pizzaiolo, or A Cote in the mix, I'm not sure how you would exclude any other place with really good food.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I wouldn't put Plum in the same category as Pizzaiolo, no -- I'd put Commis and Plum one grouping, and Pizzaiolo, Dopo, A Cote in another. I like Mua, but I wouldn't put it up there with the others.

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        Pizzaiolo
        5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        Dopo
        4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

        A Cote
        5478 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

        Mua
        2442A Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

        Commis
        3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

      2. re: JasmineG

        A Cote is overrated, and cocktails are easily eclipsed by Adesso, Sidebar and Boot and Shoe. I ordered *everything* on their menu one night, and the only standout dish was the muscles. Wont go back.

        Great Korean on Telegraph. La Mexicana on Internation is great too.

        -----
        A Cote
        5478 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

        Adesso
        4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

        La Mexicana
        3930 International Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94601-4012

        1. re: Jumbo_Jack

          Perhaps there is a mistake somewhere, but the link to La Mexicana, a place I've not heard of, supposedly on International Blvd in Oakland, goes to a place on A Street in Hayward.

          1. re: tpc

            la mexicana makes their own flour tortillas, food is fresh but not cheap
            3930 International Ave. (510)533-8818. closes mon, tue or both, call to check
            older lady is waitress. service is "leisurely"
            next block is otaez restaurant, i think. parking in back.
            very memorable food.

            1. re: shanghaikid

              I'm a dissenter on La Mexicana.. The tortillas are delicious, and the sounds of them being made in the back is quite satisfying. But I found the rest of the food average at best, and mostly spectacularly uninteresting. For Mexican, I'd stick with Oakland Taco Trucks or a whole fried fish in garlic sauce and served with tortillas at El Taco Zamorano on Foothill. I can't speak for the homemade nature of Zamorano's tortillas, but at least the whole meal will be good, not just one part of it.

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              El Taco Zamorano Restaurant
              4032 Foothill Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

              La Mexicana Restaurant
              3930 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

      3. I would add Bakesale Betty which is an Oakland Institution. Aunt Mary's is an interesting twist because the Southern Cuisine has a Texan flavor to it. The owner is from Texas which means you get an interesting Tex (and sometime Mex) set of dishes on the specials list.

        -----
        Bakesale Betty
        5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        Aunt Mary's Cafe
        4307 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        7 Replies
        1. re: Dcfoodblog

          Bakesale Betty hasn't been around long enough to be an "institution"! Besides, I think they're the most over-hyped place around. They have about three good things and the rest are very "I could easily make this at home if I wanted to."

          -----
          Bakesale Betty
          5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Agree completely. I cannot understand the appeal.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Wow, Ruth! You come down hard on B. Betty's .

              I like Bakesale Betty's but that's because I've only had one thing they make - scones. The ones with ginger in them are amazingly delicious. Never had their chicken because I always worried it'd have too much crust and grease for me. Now I won't try the rest of the stuff because of my respect for your superior knowledge and experience!

              I mean we stopped going to Merritt Bakery for chicken and mashed potatoes with country gravy because of our fear of parameds rushing to our rescue after the first bite...sooooo

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              Bakesale Betty
              5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

              Merritt Bakery
              203 E 18th St, Oakland, CA 94606

              1. re: oakjoan

                Oakjoan, apparently I just have my cranky pants on for this thread. Lots of people love Bakesale Betty's. I think it just depends on how good your own baking skills are: I think a lot of people who love BB have never baked themselves and are unduly impressed. When I go to a bakery I want to buy things I can't easily make at home, and BB just doesn't do it for me. Most of the stuff I've tried there hasn't impressed me as exceptional.

                I've heard good things about the Lamingtons, and I thought the strawberry shortcake was fabulous. I apparently just don't get the whole concept of a fried chicken sandwich (why would you put something breaded on bread?).

                -----
                Bakesale Betty
                5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  She used to make a good pie, but that was before the chicken sandwiches took off. I remember stopping by weekly to see what seasonal fruit she put in the crust. Yum. The date pudding with caramel sauce was good too.

              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                I totally agree. I'm so happy that someone has finally spoken out about this.

              3. re: Dcfoodblog

                Have to agree on Bakesale Betty. Overrated, messy, overly salty chicken sandwiches.

                -----
                Bakesale Betty
                5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

              4. Frozen desserts: Nieves Cinco de Mayo in Fruitvale -- very much handmade and delicious.

                Ethiopian on Telegraph ... I think that Cafe Colucci is the best of the bunch. Addis was next on the list for intermittent Oakland Ethiopian Chowdown series.

                One Korean place you might try is the unmarked one behind the blacked out door on Telegraph near West MacArthur -- Kang Tong Degi. We had a chowdown there once, and it has a sort of speakeasy vibe: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/330015

                -----
                Nieves Cinco de Mayo
                3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

                Cafe Colucci
                6427 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                Kang Tong Degi
                3702 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                6 Replies
                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  There are three soju bangs in a short stretch of Telegraph: Kang Tong Degi and Dan Sung Sa, which reportedly have the same owners, and a new place, Dae Po Jib, at 3838 Telegraph.

                  -----
                  Kang Tong Degi
                  3702 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                  Dan Sung Sa
                  2775 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Dae Po Jib is closed. 3838 Telegraph is going to be the permanent home for Beauty's Bagels

                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                    For Telegraph Ethiopian, I'd look at Dareye (former Hideaway Cafe, across the street from Cafe Colucci). Really good, bright flavors and spicing there. It postdates the Telegraph Ethiopian chowdowns, and I think holds its own.

                    -----
                    Cafe Colucci
                    6427 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I'm so glad you mentioned this place...I live around there and always wondered what the hell it was! Thought it was a massage parlor....

                      1. re: zunzie

                        I think Dan Sung Sa a few blocks away has better food. Either might be totally dead before 9 or 10pm. Too bad about Dae Po Jib. Oriental BBQ Chicken Town up Telegraph at 61st is another soju bang.

                        1. re: zunzie

                          Yeah, I for sure wouldn't have walked in the door if I hadn't been brought there!

                      2. You should throw Wood Tavern in the picture.

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                        Wood Tavern
                        6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                        1 Reply
                        1. Linden Street Brewery... as Oakland as you're gonna get

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: donbonus

                            Along the same lines

                            Commonwealth Cafe - and as you mentioned beer who could leave out Beer Revolution?

                            -----
                            Beer Revolution
                            464 3rd St, Oakland, CA 94607