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Mar 30, 2014 10:13 AM

Parents in town, help!

For people who enjoy food, my parents are some of the pickiest eaters I know. Finding a place to go that meets my criteria and theirs is never easy. They are in and out of Oakland from 10-6 on a Sunday, which means I need to figure out a brunch place and an early dinner place. Here's the list of almost impossible criteria:

1. No Chinese food or a menu consisting of fried foods; mom likes "healthy"
2. We don't want to spend all of our time in a car; there are 5 of us and one four door car, they are only in town for 8 hours
3. Menu must have a good selection of lunch items, they will not want to order eggs and other standard breakfast items
4. They are Chinese, so they gravitate toward Asian food. Have had success with Italian food in the past
5. Seafood preferred over meat due to "healthy" criteria mentioned in 1 above

Past places they have liked include Kiss, Slanted Door. I thought Cotogna would be great for brunch because handmade pasta is similar to handmade Chinese noodles. Unfortunately they are not open for Sunday brunch. So far my best idea is Boulette's larder for brunch and a 4pm snack at Tay Ho before the flight. Does anyone have any additional ideas that fit these crazy criteria?

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  1. If they're flying in and out of Oakland, why spend a big chunk of time in bridge traffic?

    You could have lunch at Gather, Champa Garden, Fusebox, Marica, Bowl'd, Camino, Oliveto, Centouno, Burma Superstar (Alameda branch is nicer than Oakland), or A16.

    Then park somewhere around Jack London Square, browse the farmers market, enjoy the views, and stop by Pho Ao Sen on the way back to the airport.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      We live 2 blocks from Bart so could Bart into the city if needed.

      I realized I forgot to mention criteria 6: no hole in the walls or anywhere that could seem dirty. This rules out Champa and Pho Ao Sen.

      Fusebox and Marica are both closed during the visit.

      My parents don't enjoy potatoes, sandwiches, or pizza. This really limits what they would order at A16, Camino, and Oliveto. Centouno's menu is very small and they probably use dry pasta for their amatriciana and penne bolognese.

      Bowl'd is not good enough, their palate for Korean and Japanese food is phenomenal.

      Gather and Burma Superstar might work! Excellent suggestions I hadn't thought of.

      1. re: felice

        Doh, just looked at the Gather menu and it is 1/3 breakfast, 1/3 pizza.

        1. re: felice

          I've never thought of Champa Garden as being either dirty or a hole in the wall!

          If the Vietnamese places in Oakland are too gritty, what about Alameda? I finally checked out Side Street Pho (open 10-10 every day) and was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. If you want to go fancier, Dragon Rouge opens at 11, and it can be really nice to sit outside on a sunny day.

          1. re: felice

            Tay Ho is OK but Champa Garden isn't?

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              The bathroom at Tay Ho is better than the bathroom at Champa.

            2. re: felice

              If Bart is an option, how about Zuni?

              1. re: Mr_Happy

                Oooh, I forgot about Zuni. Definitely fits the criteria.

          2. I think Robert has good suggestions; you really, really want to stay off the Bridge on a weekend.

            If you do spent some time in the afternoon at Jack London Sq. or Chinatown, our new fav, Desco Italian, is open on Sundays with a light menu starting at 3p.

            499 9th Street
            Oakland, CA 94607

            I'd be partial to Camino for brunch (with reservations!!); such a pretty restaurant inside, and the service is now very good.

            3917 Grand Ave.
            Oakland, CA 94610
            Ph: 510.547.5036

            Both are on OpenTable, I believe.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jaiko

              I like Desco but wasn't sure what the light menu would contain... If their pappardelle or tagliatelle were available, it would definitely work.

              1. Might they enjoy brunch at La Mar Cebicheria? Echoes of Asian flavors in some Peruvian dishes and plenty of seafood, if they like cebiches.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Yes, that sounds great. Their lunch menu is not too pared down from their dinner menu.

                  1. re: felice

                    You can BART or take the ferry. It's been a couple years since my last time there... remembering that I liked the appetizers and cebiches more than the larger plates. It is a lovely space with some bay views so will be special from that aspect alone.

                2. just curious, where do you parents live, that the Chinese foods here don't meet their standard, but Vietnamese food is acceptable ?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: moto

                    Los Angeles but they grew up in Taiwan. They hadn't had much Thai or Vietnamese but have had lots of Korean and Japanese.

                    The Chinese food in restaurants is too oily and salty for them. "Unhealthy", which is ridiculous but they only visit once every few years so I deal with it.

                    1. re: felice

                      your parents sound reasonable to me. Indian-Pakistani foods can be marvelous but in many restaurants they're too salty and oily as well. and home cooked Sichuan food is oily and salty similar to what's in the restaurants.

                      have you ever been to Fusebox ? their interpretation of Korean-calif food has a lighter touch ; the ambience is austere, by no means fancy, but not divey.

                      1. re: moto

                        I've been meaning to go to Fusebox but haven't made it yet. They are closed Sundays so it won't work for this visit.