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Where to live in Oakland for food?

We are moving to Oakland! What is a good neighborhood for eating?

Our dream one would have the following:
- weekly farmers market
- great bread baker
- neighborhood coffee place where DH can get coffee beans (of the single origin, small roast variety)
- regular supermarket
- good, cheap, baby friendly week day restaurants
- vegetarian friendly options
- nice craft beer bar
- nice place to have drinks outside
- near costco
- several different kinds of ethnic grocers nearby
- several superlative restaurants

thank you!

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  1. There's no Costco in Oakland. The closest ones are in San Leandro and Richmond.

    Hmmm... I'd say Grand Lake/Lakeshore. Temescal, Piedmont Ave. and Rockridge are the others, but while they're good for restaurants, they aren't great for shopping. Grand Lake has the best farmers' market, a Safeway and a Trader Joe's, plus it's not that far from Whole Foods and the ethnic markets in East Lake. Lots of ethnic markets in Oakland, but most of them are not in the greatest neighborhoods. There are not, nor have there ever been, any "superlative" restaurants in Montclair.

    1. Sounds like you are describing Rockridge/Temescal, though many other neighborhoods would fit, too.

      Note that there's no Costco in Oakland, but there is in San Leandro, the next town to the south (short drive).

      1. Stuff is scattered around. Could you rewrite that list in order of importance?

        5 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Most important:

          - farmers market
          - regular supermarket
          - good, cheap, baby friendly week day restaurants
          - vegetarian friendly options
          - nice craft beer bar
          - nice place to have drinks outside

          Everything else is nice, but not essential

          1. re: relizabeth

            Grand Lake, Rockridge, and Temescal all have lots of family- and vegetarian-friendly restaurants and several places to get drinks outside.

            Rockridge has no farmers market, the Safeway is closed for expansion and supposed to reopen in the fall, and at least two good beer bars. If you care about commuting on BART, there's a station right there.

            Temescal has a small Sunday farmers market, no supermarket, and a pizza place that doubles as a great beer bar (Lanesplitter), also the great Hog's Apothecary is not too far. BART is about ten blocks from the commercial epicenter.

            Grand Lake has a Saturday farmers market, a Safeway, and no really strong beer bars I can think of in the immediate area. Parking is a bitch, I would not want to live there without a garage.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Technically the "Temescal" Farmers Market is in Rockridge
              because it is on the Rockridge side of Claremont Ave.

              Which puts it in Rockridge proper.

              http://www.rockridge.org/boundaries

              1. re: Mission

                Draw the border where you like, but the market is called the Temescal Farmers' Market.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                I don't know where you are coming from, but be prepared for real estate sticker shock in Oakland. Especially Rockridge, Temescal, and Piedmont Avenue. They might have most of what you want, but they will cost.

                Even if the neighborhood you end up in does not have everything, you can drive to most parts of Oakland in ten or fifteen minutes. There are good public transit and bike options as well.

          2. I would think Grand Lake/Lake Shore would fit the bill the best.

            1. I live in Oakland. There is no one place that has everything. Better to live where you'ld like to live, and learn the bus system.

              There are farmers' markets at Jack London Square, and in Old Oakland on Friday.

              Piedmont Grocery carries Beckmann's Bread, but I consider this a supplementary market, not a regular supermarket. (I shop at Nob Hill in Alameda.)

              Ethnic grocers are scattered far and wide. I go to an international (mostly central European) market in Hayward.

              Coffee is everywhere, but people are particular about their coffee. You'll have to get around and look for what you want.

              Same with beer. I need a place with the right beer and the right vibe. Only you can pick a beer hangout.

              Good luck!

              1. I was born and raised in Oakland and I like to think I live at Ground Zero of all that is Culinary Oakland.

                Which is Rockridge off College ave. near Broadway.

                Walk or ride your bike to:

                DMV Farmers market on Claremont.
                2 new Safeways in the works.
                Assorted College Avenue Coffee shops
                College Avenue Restaurants
                Piedmont Avenue Restaurants
                Temescal Restaurants on Telegraph
                Grand Avenue Restaurants
                New Broadway and 40th Restaurants...more on the way.
                Nice liquor store w/ parking:Eddies
                Assorted Pubs and bars
                BART

                Or Drive:
                Uptown is a super easy 12 minute drive.
                Berkeley is a super easy 12 minute drive.

                - good, cheap, baby friendly week day restaurants
                - vegetarian friendly options
                - nice craft beer bar
                - nice place to have drinks outside

                - several different kinds of ethnic grocers nearby
                - several superlative restaurants

                are available throughout these areas

                Costco is a easy drive to Richmond during non rush hour.

                1. Where are you moving from?
                  How reliant will you be on public transit?

                  Personally, I would go for Rockridge (if the housing prices aren't too much for you) or Temescal, due to the proximity to BART and Berkeley. I am not as fond of Lakeshore because of the lack of BART and a good beer place.

                  1. If you live on the stretch of Grand Avenue that's parallel to Lake Merritt — technically, I believe this area is called Adams Point — then you're within walking distance of the Grand Lake farmers' market and Trader Joe's (and a number of good mid-range restaurants) in one direction. And Uptown Oakland is just a 10- to 20-minute walk the other way, which gives you access a big Whole Foods, many excellent restaurants, and a couple of beer gardens (Telegraph and Lost & Found).

                    Portal is probably the closest craft-beer bar / beer garden to the Grand Lake area proper, but that's on the other side of the lake from Adams Point.

                    Another interesting area for you would be Old Oakland, though I'm not too familiar with the housing situation around there. There's a Friday morning farmers' market (the least expensive in Oakland, and particularly good for Asian produce) — and you're not too far away from the Sunday market in Jack London Square. There are several noteworthy beer bars. You're right on the edge of Chinatown. And the restaurant scene around there is definitely on the rise. No regular supermarket, though (but tons of Asian markets!).

                    If you're particular about supermarkets and have a car, you'll probably drive up to Berkeley Bowl regularly no matter where in Oakland you live.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: abstractpoet

                      In Old Oakland, near Chinatown there's a Smart and Final on 10th/Broadway but the entrance is in the parking lot off 10th. It's a regular grocery store but on the low end. You can get all the basics but definitely nothing fancy. Very basic, no deli, bakery, etc.

                      +1 on the car and driving to Berkeley Bowl. Honestly, except for specialty items, and craft/artisan stuff, BB's produce will do 80% of the trick most of the time...and there's other stuff, like the bread isle. I've taken out of towners there and their jaw just drops at the bread section. I don't go to FMs very often because of them except for super seasonal stuff like tomatoes where a small farm might excel.

                      1. re: ML8000

                        I would not call Smart and Final a grocery store. It has a good selection of cleaning products but not much in the way of actual groceries.

                        If you live in north Oakland / south Berkeley near Ashby BART, there's the Tuesday farmers market (better than any in Oakland), the Berkeley Bowl (best grocery store in the Bay Area), a handful of restaurants (though several more are opening soon), the Hoi Polloi beer bar, and nowhere I can think of to drink outside, not that the weather really encourages that very often.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          S/F changed their business model a few years ago and concentrates more on consumer retail. There's still odd food service stuff and cleaning supplies but that takes up like 2 isles out of 12. If you're interested, look on their web page and their sale flyer.

                          1. re: ML8000

                            I agree with ML8000 on S/F. When we stay in San Francisco, it is always a stop on our grocery shopping, but not all of it, because they offer some great prices on things. We always find fresh bread, some produce and some meat items.

                      2. re: abstractpoet

                        Lost and Found @2040 telegraph is a recently opened biergarden. local plus some new york brews available last time i went. small bites available after 4.

                      3. Hi relizabeth, glad to hear we'll have you in the Bay Area soon! I'll point out that Oakland is less spread out than your current environs as you tell from those who've replied by including walking/biking proximity and driving times. In 25 minutes you can be in San Francisco by car or BART.

                        1. No one has mentioned greater Jack London Square / downtown.

                          If you have a commute to the city, the ferry commute is glorious.

                          Great farmers market. The produce market is also there, but that's buying wholesale.

                          Good restaurants, and close enough to Uptown (bus or bike not bart though).

                          Good coffee at the original blue bottle.

                          Good bars. I personally like Heinholds and Merchants, although it's a short walk to the trappist place.

                          Area falls down on "regular grocery story". If you have a car I think you hop in and take 880 to the Jingletown grocery.

                          You'll also have to factor in price. The entire region from Elmwood to Rockridge, through to temescal, is pretty expensive because it's got it all... and nice craftsman houses, too. Travelling away from berkeley it gets cheaper, and a bit past grand lake it gets actually cheap.

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: bbulkow

                            I don't know what "Jingletown" is. In the Jack London Square neighborhood we can shop at Lucky, which is in Alameda near the other end of the Posey/Webster tubes.

                            I usually prefer to go to Nob Hill (grocery), however. It is also in Alameda, but a little farther. Even Safeway in Alameda is easier than the Oakland Safeways.

                              1. re: bbulkow

                                Thanks, but Wikipedia is not my "friend." I've lived in Oakland almost 20 years and have never heard of it, so it's probably a recent coinage and an attempt to sound hip, as so many of these nicknames are these days. In any case, I can get along without knowing where it is awhile longer.

                                1. re: GH1618

                                  Those who prefer not to live in ignorance and actually read the wiki will learn that none of your supposition is true.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    I accept that it isn't a recent coinage, still there is no reason to know about it for most people who don't live in the area. I do need to know Fruitvale, for comparison. There is Fruitvale Avenue, with an exit from the freeway, a Fruitvale BART station which I have used, and a Fruitvale bridge to Alameda where I go for groceries nearby. There is not "Jingletown" anything that I have heard of, and "Jingletown" has never been in the news in the many years I have lived here. If there is something in "Jingletown" worth going to, just give me the street address. Telling me it is in "Jingletown" isn't helpful.

                                    1. re: GH1618

                                      'jingletown' was local sub-district argot used by very specific sub-cultures, including a drug gang during the epidemic of 30-40 years ago. the term was revived and commercialized with development investment around the turn of the millenium, with those lofts and such near the waterfront. my cynical hunch, the developers wanted something that seemed more ethnically-neutral in terms of what consumers would otherwise associate with 'fruitvale' or 'san antonio'.

                                        1. re: moto

                                          Back in 1969 when I was introduced to the term, the speaker told me her group used "jingletown" all the time until it occurred to someone that it wasn't ethnically correct any longer. Apparently, her friend considered it a derogatory term referring to hispanic/latino origin?

                                          1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                            acc. to the folklore, the ethnic group originally (latter part of the 19th century) associated with the term were of Iberian origin, but not Spanish speaking -- immigrants from the Azores. the story goes, the men jingled coins in their pockets to show they weren't destitute. apparently the term continued to be used in the area when the Del Monte cannery was operating -- didn't they shut down around the time you heard the term used ?
                                            the folks who have re-popularized the term in the past 10-15 years probably thought those associations had largely faded ; the investors in the new lofts and apartments weren't thinking in terms of housing for cannery workers, and one way the word has been borrowed is very specific -- for the 'jingletown arts district'. something old style getting recycled as hip.

                                    2. re: GH1618

                                      "Jingletown" dates back at least to the 60s, but people who don't live / work there probably think of it as part of Fruitvale.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        In Fruitvale, I would be very close to the Nob Hill grocery in Alameda, which I already use anyway, driving from somewhat farther away.

                                        1. re: GH1618

                                          Don't forget Mi Pueblo Foods on High and Bancroft, just east of International Avenue

                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          Hell, I had to gaagle Fruitvale a few years back to figure out where all the taco crawl/truck action was. I love instant enlightenment.

                                  2. re: bbulkow

                                    And Heinhold's has to be the best having a drink outside experience in oakland, since you're not penned into a backyard, nor are you against a street, and the bar has mad old flavor. Low beer selection numerically, but what they have is local, tasty, cold. Kid friendly because of the huge lawn.

                                    http://heinolds.com/hew/history.html

                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                      By "Jingletown grocery" you're talking about the Food Maxx in the Fruitvale Station shopping center? Whole Foods and the Safeway on Grand are closer to downtown Oakland / JLC.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Yes, I thought there used to be a Safeway in there, so I guess I'm taking about the Food Maxx.

                                        Thanks y'all for backing me up on Jingletown. I heard that used by a friend who lived in the area in the mid-90's. Can't say "I lived in oakland for 20 years and thus I'm right." Oakland's a big place.

                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                          I grew up in Oakland 50 years ago. While I never heard the term "Jingletown" it wasn't a neighborhood that was exactly on my Montclair radar. The first time I heard the term was from a co-worker in the '80s who did grow up near there, so I'm going to vouch for its authenticity.

                                    2. The things you're looking for are plentiful in many parts of Oakland. I live in "downtown" Fruitvale, and here you can find almost everything on that list Fruitvale/Dimond/Laurel area between Fruitvale Av, High St, MacArthur and 880, which about a 5-8 minute drive all the way across (i.e., everything is close).

                                      - weekly farmers market - This is one exception for me, at this point. Fruitvale Station has one though it's really not at the level of the others in Grand Lake, Temescal, etc.

                                      - great bread baker - La Farine is well regarded, though I have no personal experience with it.

                                      - neighborhood coffee place where DH can get coffee beans (of the single origin, small roast variety) - The Hive on MacArthur (Highwire), Cafe 3016 on MacArther (Wrecking Ball)

                                      - regular supermarket - Farmer Joe's (two locations, I usually go to the big one)

                                      - good, cheap, baby friendly week day restaurants - Many, particularly the Mexican restaurants

                                      - vegetarian friendly options - Fists of Flour pizza (aka the Dough-Jo), Cafe Vientian

                                      - nice craft beer bar - closest so far are Brotzeit and Portal

                                      - nice place to have drinks outside - Obelisco for beer once they get their license, a little north is Brotzeit on the water, Portal

                                      - near costco - San Leandro, Hayward

                                      - several different kinds of ethnic grocers nearby - here we have lots of Mexican grocers, a couple neighborhoods north (San Antonio) is a collection of Asian markets.

                                      - several superlative restaurants - Many including Campos, Obelisco, Vientiane, The Doughjo, El Grullense; and for street-style eats there is Gran Chiquita, Pipirin, et al.

                                      Hope you find this helpful!

                                      1. Concord or Walnut Creek

                                        You didn't mention a price range. Rockridge is closest to what you describe but it's also the most expensive neighborhood in Oakland. Montclair has a farmers market and a couple grocery stores but the restaurants are not that great there IMHO.

                                        15 Replies
                                        1. re: RBCal

                                          Rockridge, while expensive, is not the "most expensive" in Oakland

                                          1. re: chefj

                                            What Oakland area do you think has higher prices chefj?

                                            Upper Rockridge (new contruction after Firestorm homes) can command some higher prices.
                                            And a few niche area's around LONGRIDGE, Bacon rd and Fernhoff Rd.

                                            Other than that what area has higher prices?

                                            Certainly not Montclair.

                                            1. re: Mission

                                              Oakland Hills...those bay views have a price. Or you could count Piedmont as part of Oakland. They might not like it but BFD.

                                                1. re: ML8000

                                                  Per square foot, I believe Rockridge is the most expensive neighborhood in Oakland. Many of the houses there have bay views.

                                                  Piedmont is a separate town with its own city council, school district, etc. Montclair is part of Oakland.

                                                2. re: Mission

                                                  Right now, there's a dearth of property for sale in Oakland's "desirable" areas leading to high prices for fixer-ups -- believe me, DH & I just sold one.

                                                  1. re: Mission

                                                    Here is a map of listings by Neighborhood
                                                    http://www.trulia.com/home_prices/Cal...
                                                    Rockridge is not the highest by any of the sorting options

                                                    1. re: chefj

                                                      Highest total price are estates with big houses on a few acres.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        "Rockridge is not the highest by any of the sorting options"

                                                        1. re: chefj

                                                          In terms of price per sq ft on that Trulia data, 4 of the top 8 neighborhoods (Fairview Park, Shafter, Upper Rockridge and Rockridge) are generally considered to be in Rockridge -- in fact they more or less compose what is commonly thought of as Rockridge -- whereas the other 4 areas (with the possible exception, depending on how you look at it, of the neighborhood they call "Piedmont Avenue") don't really have their own retail districts. In a sense those other four districts are "ringers", specifically they are residential real estate designations more than they are self-contained neighborhoods with their own neighborhood restaurants.

                                                          So I'd argue that Trulia data could be interpreted to support the contention that Rockridge is the most expensive neighborhood in Oakland. More than anything, it depends on one's definition of "neighborhood", which gets really tricky any time real estate values are increasing and property owners and developers get motivated to carve out new neighborhood names and so forth.

                                                3. re: RBCal

                                                  The only neighborhood which is more expensive than Rockridge is Estates Drive on the Piedmont side of Montclair.

                                                  As stated previously Piedmont is a separate city from Oakland.

                                                  Claremont/Elmwood is about the same price as Rockridge.

                                                  1. re: RBCal

                                                    since the other discussants lumped together Grand-Lakeshore (Adam's Point disappeared in there and it's a distinct district, quite different than the opposite side of the lake) -- there's an exclusive arm of lakeshore adjacent to Piedmont, Trestle Glen, nearly as dear as Rockridge or Claremont/Elmwood.
                                                    getting back to the original query, other than the cost of inhabitation, much depends on the resident's preferences as far as transportation, basically, how car dependent one prefers to be. we live half a mile from 580/Grand Ave (one of the best farmer's markets in town) and bicycle access for grocery shopping, multiple sources including Piedmont Ave., is excellent. round trip to the farmer's market, or Piedmont Ave., or trader j's, or w.foods, each 20-30 min.

                                                    1. re: RBCal

                                                      Estates Drive is not a neighborhood in the sense of a place with food shopping, restaurants, and other things that smack of trade. Piedmont outsources that to Oakland.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Yes, I know I live in the neighborhood.

                                                  2. How old is your child? If you add public schools into the mix, Grand Lake is a good walking neighborhood (lived there for 25+ years) with one of the better Oakland public elementary schools -- be careful of the zone boundaries though (I know someone who moved 2 homes on the "wrong" side of her preferred school. Good rentals in the Adams Point area. Great bus, casual carpool pickup stops, and easy freeway access too.
                                                    I prefer the Richmond Costco as Berkeley Bowl West, Tokyo Fish and Ranch 99 can be included in the same car trip.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                                      Acme Bread, Mi Tierra, Indus Foods, Milan (Indian grocery), Middle East Market (Persian), Spanish Table, the Pasta Shop, and the Cafe Rouge butcher counter are also all easy stops on the way to Costco.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Yeah, I combine North Berkeley errands with the Richmond Costco, which I think is better than the San Leandro Costco for food. Also, there's a small but nice farmer's market in El Cerrito on Saturdays (in the same parking lot as a Trader Joe's) if you're heading out that way.

                                                    2. So, another option, not actually Oakland, but very very close: Alameda!

                                                      - weekly farmers market (Tues and Saturday)
                                                      - great bread baker (Feel Good, organic in the Alameda Marketplace on Park)
                                                      - neighborhood coffee (hmm, this one might be tougher, but as note elsewhere original Blue Bottle is in Jack London Square, which is just through the tube)
                                                      - regular supermarket -- safeways, luckys, trader joe's, and a target
                                                      - good cheap etc -- tons of places on Park and Webster. There's a Burma Superstar in Alameda ... even though I live closer to the Temescal one, I go to Alameda because it's so much easier to get seated
                                                      - veg friendly - no specific comment, but I'm sure cn be had
                                                      - craft beer bar - there's actually a place called CRAFT beer and wine
                                                      - nice place to have drinks outside - there's a tiki bar on Lincoln Ave, and the weather is very good in Alameda
                                                      - near Costco -- as noted, it's in San Leandro, which is accessible by backroads around the oakland airport from Alameda
                                                      - several different kinds of ethnic grocers - cross Fruitvale bridge for mexican, go through tube for Chinese, there used to be an Afghani place on webster but not sure if it's still there
                                                      - several superlative restaurants -- hmm, dunno if "superlative" will be the best adjectives, but there are some very decent places, not sure if you mean 'fancy' here too ... not many fancy places

                                                      Also ... it sounds like you have kids, and the schools are good in Alameda. It's also flat, but there's a beach with awesome city views. And safe, and walkable / bikeable. There's a trans bay bus and a ferry, but otherwise public transport is the big downside. Luckily, parking is easy.

                                                      Just a thought! I would still live there if I didn't have to commute to my current office. Instead, I live in Montclair, which is also great, and very close to Rockridge for whatever I can't get directly in the village.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Torina

                                                        Agreed on all points. While it's not the happening place Oakland is, Alameda is a great place to live with lots of amenities.

                                                        The food scene on Park Street is continuing to grow, and there are quite a few places now where you can get a drink outside. I think you'll find most places in the East Bay are pretty veg friendly.The Afghan market -- Aria --is still on Webster, although not in its original location. Nob Hill is by far the nicest chain supermarket in the Oakland/Alameda area.

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          Alameda is very pleasant. It has nice selection of casual and ethnic restaurants. And very easy access to Oakland.

                                                        2. re: Torina

                                                          Yes on all fronts. The weather is surprisingly better in Alameda, because of how the fog flows in from the bay.

                                                          Another great beer joint is Lucky 13, and the food along Park St is quite reasonable. Very family oriented places.

                                                          The ferry terminal in Alameda is annoyingly located - it's not a walk from almost anywhere, except that big new development off Atlantic. The terminal has a big parking lot, though, but once you drive over there you'll start thinking you might as well drive to SF.

                                                          1. re: bbulkow

                                                            It's not the driving to SF that's a problem (I did my house off Park Street to CalTrain in 12 minutes one Sunday morning), it's the parking (price, availability or both) when you get there!

                                                        3. I'd say Rockridge is the best fit. An added plus is that it's closer to Berkeley, which has everything that you're looking for. Second choice would be downtown, Jack London Square area. Both are good place from which commute to San Francisco, too.

                                                          1. My assumption (given the Costco) comment is that you'll have a car. I live in in North Oakland, so if you were to choose Rockridge or close to Rockridge you'd definitely be within 10-15 both walking and driving distances of a plethora of options (including too Safeways soon, both Berkeley Bowls, Piedmont Groceries, Whole Foods, Rockridge Market Hall and small vegetable market, butcher, and La Farine on the Alcatraz side of College Ave. And you'd have a BART station.

                                                            As everyone has said, though, it's much easier to get from place to place in the East Bay than in SF. The parking alone shaves a ton of time so you might want to look at Alameda all the way up through Oakland and Berkeley to Albany. In fact, that stretch of Solano Ave. that is Berkeley/Albany might be ideal for you. Plus, the Albany school district is pretty decent and I think the Albany housing prices are still better than Berkeley's or Rockridge.

                                                            1. Thanks for the suggestions! We'd been thinking Temescal/ Rockridge, so it is nice to get some independent opinions coming to the same conclusions. We are of the gentrifying hipster ilk, and we won't have to worry about schools for a few more years for the baby. My belly is so giddy to be moving to a city/region with an active chowhound community.

                                                              We are coming from Kansas City, MO, but have lived in NYC and London before our midwestern experiment. I'm sure there will be some culinary superlatives we will have to say good bye too, but so many more on the horizon to become acquainted with!

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: relizabeth

                                                                Temescal is closer to more things on your list and to date suffers less from upscale demographic syndrome than Rockridge does.

                                                                1. re: relizabeth

                                                                  Make sure to get your fill of good BBQ before making the move.

                                                                2. We liked being close to Lakeshore (Arizmendi, TJ's) and Grand Avenue. We lived on Ivy Hill, which is just a (hilly) walk to get there and it was a super location. Ivy Drive at Park Blvd. Very affordable.