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Mar 7, 2013 10:45 AM

Which neighborhood of Oakland do you prefer for restaurants?

This article really hypes up Rockridge. Truly a great place, but this is so close to Berkeley and super crowded. I wonder if Ramen Shop will ever have reasonable lines when the hype dies down. Seems like this neighborhood is just chronically crowded for restaurants new and old.

Personally, I prefer JLS (Lungomare, Nido, Forge, Haven, ABC), Downtown Oakland (Beauty's, Plum, Xolo, Duende, Hawker Fare, etc.), Temescal (Betty's, Pizzaiolo, ??), West Oakland (Bside, Fusebox, ??) and Grand Lake (Boot & Shoe, Grand Tavern, etc.) areas to Rockridge. What are people's ratings and favorite neighborhoods to go out in and check out some of the new (or older but still top of the game) restaurants?

Also, feel free to list your fav's by neighborhood.

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  1. I live in Oakland, and I think it comes down to the particular restaurants, not the neighborhoods. The places I like are dispersed among several neighborhoods.

    1. Downtown and Uptown, the variety is great, not just upscale places but inexpensive Chinese, Korean, Cambodian, Vietnamese, etc. However, the restaurants are so scattered around with dead space in between that it doesn't cohere as a single neighborhood.

      Grand Ave., Rockridge, and Piedmont Ave. all suffer from upscale demographic syndrome. There are a handful of great destination restaurants in each but they're outnumbered 10 or 20 to one by undistinguished overpriced places.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I agree that "Downtown," or even "Uptown," is too big and spread out to consider one cohesive neighborhood. But if you take the intersection of Broadway and Grand, and go a couple of blocks in each direction, that leaves you with: Plum, Pican, Hawker Fare, Trueburger, Sweet Bar, and -- coming soon -- a new Jamaican place, Kingston 11. If you go as far as the 19th St. BART, then you can add Duende and a couple other good places.

        Intersection of Telegraph and 51st, a couple blocks in each direction, you've got: Pizzaiolo, Bakesale Betty, Juhu Beach Club, Sura, Pyeongchang Tofu House, Burma Superstar, Lanesplitter, Scream Sorbet (RIP), and -- coming soon -- Cholita Linda. That's also pretty darn good (and mostly quite affordable).

        Old Oakland and JLS have both gotten like a hundred times more interesting in the last year or so.

        1. re: abstractpoet

          Around Broadway / Grand / Franklin the Punchdown, Plum, Plum Bar, and Hawker Fare are the only places I'm likely to go to, but there's also an Umami Burger coming in, La Bonita Taqueria, Ike's, the Punchdown, Plum Bar, Luka's, Ozumo, Vo's, and some other lunch-only places. The three blocks between there and BART / Duende are totally dead.

          There are a lot of restaurants in Temescal but Lanesplitter, Barlata, Pizzaiolo, Sura, and Pyung Chang are the only ones I go back to. I think the neighborhood's verging on upscale demographic syndrome. At least they don't have a Barney's yet.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            You might argue that the new restaurants are catering to the "hipster" demographic, but what places do you consider upscale/overpriced in that particular section of Temescal?

            Seems to me that all those places are solidly in the mid-range, and by and large not a bad value for what you get. Pizzaiolo, Dona Tomas, and Barlata are probably the most expensive of the lot, but the latter two are hardly trendy places these days.

            1. re: abstractpoet

              Barlata's very reasonably priced compared with other places serving that kind of food.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Right, I'm just saying those are the more expensive restaurants on that block -- not necessarily that they're overpriced. (I've said in the past that I think Barlata's a better value than Cesar, for example.)

                1. re: abstractpoet

                  Pizzaiolo and Dona Tomas are about as expensive as pizza and Mexican food get.

          2. re: abstractpoet

            There's also Barlata, Tanjia and Aunt Mary's in Temescal. Dona Tomas was the pioneer in that neighborhood. Of course, you can't park in that neighborhood any more!

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Maybe it's because we go on the late side, but I've never had to park more than half a block from Pizzaiolo or Barlata.

        2. just for your info, as we don't need another patch of oaktown catering to bo-bo's and would be hipsters, the stretch of Grand Ave roughly going from Camino west along the lake to Harrison (serving the densest concentration of residential housing, Adam's point) will be getting two more places. the owner of Pizzaiolo/Boot & Shoe is making over a store front across from B&S, and Milano will be converted into another pizza based place. there are a number of o.k. breakfast and lunch spots, cafes, and Asian eateries in this stretch, malasadas and a Jewish bakery as well.

          1 Reply
          1. re: moto

            Trying to decide if I am a bobo or would-be hipster... I think I am too old to be a hipster (has-been hipster?) and I rent so I think that rules out bobo... but I do like most of the places in my eponymous neighborhood. Sidebar, Ahns, Grand Ave. Thai, Boot and Shoe, Grand Tavern, Lin Jia, New Easy, even Rolling Dunes in a pinch.

            Honestly, the only places I don't love are Los Cantaros (has gotten better, but still needs work), all of the Chinese places on Grand (awful, the lot of them), and the Korean and Ethiopian places (I know they are "good"; just not my preferred fare). I know I can count on Coach for decent sushi but that dude just loves to get me drunk so I try to not go there. Ta-Ke sucks. Kitchen 388 might be better now, I need to try it again. Oh, Grand Lake Kitchen: too pricey, love the pickles.

          2. Frankly it's all good and we're lucky. Yes, categorization is a human thing but really just enjoy it and be happy we live in an area that has great diversity in food.

            Also agree, as mentioned, I just go to a 'hood where there's food I want, and I'm happy it's all close by.

            p.s. don't forget Fruitvale

            1. If the definition of "foodie-mecca status" relates to upscale dining, maybe that's true. The lack of good quality lower-priced options always irked me about Rockridge, and is why I rarely ate there, despite it being my neighborhood for four years.

              The bo-bo/yuppie neighborhoods aside, some good thematically consistent parts of Oakland include: the Ethiopian/Eritrean stretch of Telegraph, the Korean & Chinese-Korean stretch along Telegraph, Chinatown, Fruitvale & Internation Blvd. (Huarache Azteca stands out. Good stuff at Taco Grill and Mariscos La Costa).

              1 Reply
              1. re: hyperbowler

                Rockridge is maybe something of a mecca for people *opening* restaurants somewhat the way Fillmore and Valencia are in SF. If you've got a restaurant or two and are looking to expand, it probably seems like one of the safer locations in the East Bay.

                Due to upscale demographic syndrome I'm not sure there are any good cheap places there except for bars. I think Wood Tavern, Toast, Ramen Shop, Oliveto, A Cote, Enoteca Molinari, Soi 4, and Chu are good value for the money but you're paying for quality, atmosphere, and location.