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Suggestions for Oakland area

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I"m thinking of doing a wine tasting Friday or Saturday night at The Punchdown (I guess it's in Franklin Square) in Oakland. I'm looking for a nice restaurant in the vicinity. Good quality and different.
I've found Hopscotch and Enssaro. Any other suggestions? Is there some fantastic new place in Oakland Chinatown or Alameda worth checking out?

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  1. Plum, Flora, Pican, Spices!3, Battambang, Bocanova, District, Borgo Italia (new and probably still a bit rough at peak hours)

    1. Plum is probably the nicest and most convenient since it's right next door to Punchdown. Also across Broadway at the corner of Grand Avenue are Ozumo for Japanese and Pican for Southern food. Hawker Fare is also nearby, but not sure if it's what you would consider "nice" because it's a casual rice bowl spot. These places are walkable to Punchdown. Spots in Chinatown and Old Oakland would mean having to drive between spots.

      17 Replies
      1. re: singleguychef

        Pican certainly has excellent fried chicken - we were there recently for the first time in two years and thought it had definitely improved - but it would never qualify as 'different'. Plum would probably fit the bill best.

        We like Enssaro quite a bit, but Cafe Eritrea is slightly better; their shiro is amazing and their kitfo is the best beef tartare we've ever had anywhere. But Eritrea skimps on the veggie portions, for some odd reason.

        1. re: singleguychef

          thanks all for the tips. I guess what I'm saying is my preference is a restaurant relatively close to the PUnchdown unless there's something exceptional some place else.

          1. re: SteveTimko

            Close to Punchdown, Plum is hard to beat.

            1. re: SteveTimko

              Your request is a little odd -- you're asking for interesting places that are a 20 minute drive (minimum) away, and asking for a close restaurant (alameda?), when there's all of Uptown to explore just steps away - no repark necessary.

              Plum isn't just "close" it's actually the perfect match. If you were anywhere in oakland, with the specs you said, I'd say go to plum. It's different, it's interesting, it's very oakland, it has a great mix of informality and astonishing food.

              Try to sit at the bar, and you'll see the amount of work that goes into the prep. These are very well constructed 10-ingrediant dishes on a rapidly changing menu. Which is why, sometimes, the service can be slow as they get behind. It can also be a little uneven, as they're really "overreaching" by doing very complex dishes with only a couple of people behind a bar. I call any restaurant good when I have a single astonishing dish a meal, and the rest solid, and Plum usually delivers. Last time I was there, it was the beet boudin noir - I remember the taste perfectly.

              The only other bad thing about Plum - the cocktails aren't worth it, and the wine list is good, so go wine or go with one of their interesting house made spritzer things if you've had enough alcohol.

              1. re: bbulkow

                I agree the food is good but the service is lacking. Considering the price point and the well executed dishes the service is noticeably weak. Often time the servers appear uninterested and often you have to ask the server to describe the dish when presented to the table. Many times they just set the dish off and leave. The dishes are well constructed and the servers should take the time to explain what is on the dish.

                The cocktails are fine but too expensive. I ordered an old fashioned and asked for it to be made with Four Roses boubon. When the bill arrived the cocktail was $18. Luckily I had only ordered one.

                1. re: Scott M

                  I like to sit at the counter at Plum, so I know what's in each dish.

                  Wow, the wine list has really changed. Almost all California, way less interesting than it used to be.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Next time I go I plan on trying to sit at the counter.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Next time I go I plan on trying to sit at the counter.

                  2. re: bbulkow

                    I'm asking for the best places near by, unless there's a new destination-type restaurant somewhere else in the area. For me, the Burma Superstar in Alameda counts as a destination type restaurant, at least the few times I've eaten there.
                    I've looked at Plum's online wine list. Domestic chenin blanc, bleh. The Wing Gap looks like a winner but I've never had a Finger Lakes Riesling so I'd probably get that.
                    I don't see a red wine I want to try.
                    Thanks again to everyone for all the input.

                    1. re: SteveTimko

                      I had the Wind Gap Trousseau Gris on tap at Comal, it was great.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        It is also extremely food friendly.

                      2. re: SteveTimko

                        Sidebar is relatively close and so is Boot and Shoe Service. You could also try Tamarindo, which I haven't been in a while.

                        1. re: Scott M

                          Boot and Shoe on a Friday or Saturday night is really loud and crowded with a long wait. If you want that kind of meal, I'd make a reservation at Pizzaiolo.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            If the OP is going to make reservations and drive all the way to Temescal after hitting Uptown, then I would throw in making reservations at Commis and doing the short drive to Piedmont Avenue as another possibility.

                            1. re: singleguychef

                              If we're talking about this weekend, it's probably way too late to get into Commis.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                I haven't eaten at Commis but I'm familiar with it and it's way out of my price range. I'm going to the Punchdown to try wine imported by two guys and one of the importers raves about his meals at Commis on his Facebook page. But I can't afford $100 plus for dinner and a glass of wine.

                                1. re: SteveTimko

                                  Based on your affinity for Burma Superstar, you'd probably like Hawker Fare, which is the Commis chef's very casual "street food" venue. You could park just once, between there and Punchdown and have just a short walk to each place.

                2. If you don't mind the short drive, I was actually more satisfied with my meal at Haven than Plum, though it's not perhaps as creative.