Good, cheap places in Oakland (within 5-10 min walk of BART stations)
- Dave MP Jul 12, 2013 12:12 PM
I feel like I always read about places in Oakland that I want to try, but then when I am tasked with choosing a place for an actual meal, I draw a blank.
I am looking for: dinner spot for 7 PM on a Wednesday, casual/cheap (I want the total food bill for 2 people to be under $40, ideally closer to $25 or $30). Walking distance from 12th, 19th or MacArthur BART stations (probably not willing to go to any others unless there's an amazing choice).
Most importantly, I want it to be really good food.
Any help for what I'm missing?
Thoughts include: Miss Ollie's, Hawker Fare, somewhere Korean on Temescal, Vietnamese or Chinese in Chinatown....what else?
Obviously you can eat well in Fruitvale on that budget as well -- El Huarache Azteca comes to mind.
Miss Ollie's, although at the top of your price range, seems like the best bet for quality of food. I've heard too many mixed reports about Hawker Fare. For Korean in Temescal I like PyeongChang Tofu House -- if you go one of the BBQ places you'll likely spend more. Juhu Beach Club might fit all your criteria except it's a little longer walk than that.
re: Ruth Lafler
Thanks again to everyone who responded to this discussion. I ended up trying Juhu Beach Club, which ended up being a very good choice for the occasion. It was slightly pricier than my original criteria, since each of us had three sliders. But I was definitely full afterwards, and two probably would have been enough!
The Sloppy Lil'P was really spicy, but had a good flavor. It did remind me of a spicy, vegetarian sloppy Joe. The braised short rib was my favorite of the sliders, though the lamb meatball was pretty good too. I didn't find the lamb spicy at all.
We also shared an order of fries, which had a great flavor, but got limp pretty quickly. Tamarind ketchup was very tasty.
I tried the nimbu pani (cilantro limeade, toasted cumin) and I did not care for it. Now I know :)
re: Ruth Lafler
If you're willing to go to Juhu, where I know I spent more than $40 for two people because the servings are tiny, I have always liked Koryo. It's a BBQ specialist unlike Pyeong Chang (which is also great).
I usually get out of lanesplitter for less than that, with the "7-10 split" combo priced the way it is.
Umami stretches the budget and you walk out hungry.
Miss Ollie's is hard to beat for great food on a tight budget. Last time we went we got:
pickle plate 4
salad with fried oysters 10
fried chicken 12.50
slow-cooked pork 14
Total $44.50 but we took half the chicken and more than half the pork home.
Disco Volante is also great food for not much money.
Kang Tong Degi (soju bang) is close to MacArthur and I think about as cheap as Korean food gets.
Ideas for good/cheap around BART:
some of these have already been mentioned
Binh Minh Quan
A burger from Hopscotch.
A branch of Umami Burger just opened around here. Went this week and was good, may be pushing budget a bit.
Hawker Fare - I haven't been here for awhile, but I remember the pork belly rice bowl and the issan sausage bowl being very good.
Sahn Maru - some things are expensive here, would probably not get the grilled items. Good tofu stew and other soups around $10-$20. I like the Yuk Gae Jang and the tofu stew.
Pyeongchang Tofu House
Juhu Beach Club
Unless you are eating the lunch buffet, Red Sea is painfully slow. And I do mean painfully! Lunch took 2 hrs, yet nothing seemed any different from the buffet (which we eat at regularly).
If one is going to walk all that distance, the better choices are Abesha and Eritrea. Abesha is not very distinctive but generally good; Eritrea does a better job on meat than on the veggies, in our opinion. In fact, we think they do a worse job on veggies than any other Eth/Erit place around. Love the shiro, but it's a tiny portion.
Cafe Romanat and Enssaro are better than all three above, but they are not within easy walking distance of a BART station, although Enssaro is nominally within walking distance of the 19th St. BART. Definitely not 10 minutes away, though.
I'd be interested in your take on a couple of places in downtown Oakland that haven't gotten much play on this board:
1. Aria Grill on 14th Street between Webster and Harrison - Afghan food at a place that has been open less than a year. I had the mantu, a beef dumpling topped with spices, about 6 months ago and preferred it a tad over the same dish from Kamdesh, which is on the same block a few doors to the west. The man I talked to behind the register said that their cook had worked for years at the highly-regarded Salang Pass in Fremont. I'd go back to Aria to try the badinjaan (eggplant) and the bolani.
The room is not overly attractive but it sounds like the food is your main concern. It's about 2 blocks east of the Oakland 12th Street BART station.
2. Molcajete - I had the fish tacos for lunch in about November, 2011, not long after it opened. From what I remember, the battered white fish was lightly fried with an appropriate crispiness, fresh and not overly salty. At that time, the restaurant was still feeling its way and some confusion with the service and menu was to be expected but since it was run by the operators of Antojeria Mexicana El Chilar, located around the corner at 365 17th St, where I had had first-rate cochinita pibil and burritos, I got the feeling that Molcajete, given time, was heading in the right direction.
And according to this week's review of Molcajete by Luke Tsai in the East Bay Express, they are on target. Luke particularly liked the mole poblano and chiles relleños and his article made me regret not having gone back sooner.
Molcajete is about 2 blocks east of the 19th Street Oakland BART station.
Here's a link to a YouTube video with some pictures I took in about November, 2011 of Molcajete and Antojeria Mexicana starting at the 1:30 mark:
Aria Grill & Cuisine
308 14th St
Oakland, CA 94612
Molcajete Cocina Mexicana
1734 Webster St
Oakland, CA 94612
Why not Lake Meritt bart? 7-10 minutes and you are in Jack London. Nido, Chop Bar might be a bit too pricy, but Souley Vegan is in your range. Now that I think about it, actually, can't think of much that isn't going to be more than $15-20 person for dinner around there... hmm (market opportunity?)
If you are okay with spicy food, we enjoyed Spice Monkey quite a bit. However, I think your price point is really too low. We don't even get out of La Calaca Loca Taqueria for that amount, and although you can barely manage it at Juhu you'll probably still be hungry.
1628 Webster St
(between 17th St & 15th St)
Oakland, CA 94612
I'm bumping this up because I have a similar question as the OP.
I will be carless and staying at the Homewood Suites Oakland Waterfront for about a week. That being said, most of my time will be spent around the Lake Merritt Bart and around Jack London Square. I am mostly looking for lunch places as I will likely be busy for most dinners, within walking distance or Bart distance from where I will be staying and visiting. That being said, my definition of walking distance is liberal - I don't mind a 45 minute walk to get lunch if it's worth it.
More important information:
- Price range - would like to keep it reasonable but if there is something exceptional that costs more, so be it.
- Food preferences - I'm from Montreal so we have French/Italian food pretty well covered. I'm not really interested in trying your Montreal bagels place. I am looking more for Asian-based flavours, California/South West, Mexican/Central American/South American. If there is something exceptional that doesn't fit into my description, I'm open. Also, while our skin is white as snow, we can handle (and enjoy) very high levels of spice.
- Food non-preferences - I'm a pescatarian. My husband eats everything.
- Misc - If there's a good pub/bar we should know about near where we're staying, that would be great too. Is Brotzeit Lokal Boathaus & Biergarten any good? Also, because we'll be walking, if a place that you're recommending is in an area that is dangerous to walk during the day or at night, please let me know.
Your help is very much appreciated!
I actually went there on my last visit to the area, which I think was just a few weeks after they opened. I liked it. It was cute.
Probably also worth noting - last time we went to and enjoyed Spices II (or was it III?) and some food trucks (which at the time were prohibited in Montreal)
There's nothing in the immediate area but Brotzeit, which is very nice. Chai Thai Noodle, Jalisco Cafe, Banh Mi Ba Le, Nido, and Chop Bar are all around 20-25 minutes. Chinatown's a little over half an hour.
Beer Revolution and Trappist are two of the best beer bars in the Bay Area.
That's a very car-oriented hotel in the middle of nowhere, separated from downtown by an 8-lane freeway and rail yards. If you can stay somewhere else you'll spend less time walking through industrial and abandoned areas.
The area around that hotel is pretty deserted at night, and hobos camp in some of the abandoned areas, but I think it's more creepy than dangerous. There's major freeway construction going on, so the road under the freeway to Lake Merritt BART / International Blvd. might be unsafe or even closed to pedestrians. There might be pile driving and other construction noises at night, since that's when they work.
Seriously, stay somewhere else.
re: Robert Lauriston
I think the hotel has a shuttle that can take them downtown. If you walk over the 16th Ave. overpass there's a decent Vietnamese place at 15th and E. 12th (Pho Huynh Hiep 1 - Kevin's Noodle House), and on 14th and International there's the little shopping center with Cambodian food. At 17th and International is Jalisco, which a lot of people swear by for their carnitas. There's also Ba Le at 19th and International for banh mi (closes late afternoon).
That said, I'd agree with Robert that it's not a safe area to walk after dark and not a nice place to walk at any time.
re: Ruth Lafler
I don't see any mention of a shuttle on the hotel's web site, though there are reports of one (weekdays only?)) on TripAdvisor. That would be a lot nicer than walking to BART.
Except maybe for walking through the temporary underpass detours due to the freeway construction, I don't think it's unsafe, just the kind of deserted industrial / abandoned area that creeps a lot of people out.
Consider getting a cheapo bicycle off Craigslist or somewhere. For a month it will be worth it and will make getting to BART and food a lot easier/faster and it can help with the safety stuff. Walking might be iffy but riding door to door shouldn't be. There's a bike shop in Jack London Sq that might be of help. They do rentals but on a daily basis it's expensive.
From where you're staying you can easily get to downtown (Chinatown, Old Oakland, Uptown), Fruitvale and Alameda.