From street eats to fine dining, the food scene in Oakland is blowing up. Separated from San Francisco by only a 4.5-mile bridge, Oakland is coming out from behind its famous neighbor’s shadow, offering visitors and locals exciting food and drinks that will even have staunch San Franciscans proclaiming, “I Hella Heart Oakland.” To get a real taste of Oakland, here are our top six foodie musts.
No. 6 – Feast on the Lake Riviera
Do as the locals do and head down to picturesque Lake Merritt for a picnic or roll into one of the many restaurants along the lake that boast lakefront seating such as local favorites BarLago and Grand Lake Kitchen. This is fast-becoming known as Oakland’s “Lake Riviera” for its fantastic setting. On Saturday mornings by the lake you can buy your picnic fixings from the city’s best farmers market such as Cowgirl Creamery cheeses, rotisserie chickens, or fruits and breads. Or on Sunday afternoons you can hit up “Bites at the Lake” to sample the city’s best food trucks.
No. 5 – Stock Up Your Spice Pantry
Visit the magnificent husband and wife duo, John Beaver and Erika Perez, at Oaktown Spice Shop to get some of the freshest and most exquisite spices you’ll ever have. Oaktown Spice Shop sells top quality herbs, spices and hand-mixed blends. If you or someone you know likes to create, cook and eat, a stop at this shop is a must. Strike up a conversation with the staff and smell some of their fresh spices, and you will walk out inspired.
No. 4 – Taste Local Brews
Oakland has been a haven for brewers like Linden Street Brewery for many years, and over the last few years it has become home to some of the most ingenious brewers in the bay area. In Uptown, visit Jim Woods over at Woods Bar & Brewery to try some of his Yerba Mate-infused beer, or pop by Diving Dog Brewhouse to get inspiration from one of their 30 beers on tap and then sign up for their brew-on-premise experience and brew your own creations.
No. 3 – Go To Market
Once a European-style food market, Old Oakland’s Swan’s Market has been transformed into a foodie’s paradise. Home to a half-dozen cuisines, this traditional market will have something that hits the spot. Maybe start with some oysters at The Cook and Her Farmer, wash it down with a cocktail from Deep Roots and then mosey on over to Cosecha for their braised beef and pork belly tacos or to Miss Ollie’s for her skillet-fried chicken.
No. 2 – Go Wine Tasting
Hop on the Urban Wine Trail that takes you from Jack London Square through the hip Warehouse District. The trail is dotted with urban wineries that offer exquisite wines made from grapes sourced from stellar wine regions such as Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Some of our favorites are Cerruti Cellars, Dashe Cellars, JC Cellars, Rosenblum and Urban Legend Cellars. Cap it all off with a feast at one of the many restaurants in the area such as Venga Paella, Nido or Forge.
No. 1 – Eat Like a Local
Want to eat and drink like a local? Then hop on one of See.Eat.Love.’s food tours. Each Saturday See.Eat.Love. focuses on a different Oakland neighborhood and takes tour participants to several of their favorite establishments in that neighborhood. At each stop you get to hear about the business from the people who run it and taste a variety of inspired dishes and drinks. Come hungry.
About The Author and See.Eat.Love.
Raquel Navarro is the founder of See.Eat.Love. a food tour company that offers food lovers intimate culinary strolls through Oakland’s diverse neighborhoods. Raquel takes guests on gourmet adventures to meet the makers behind the scenes, and discover delicious edible treasures one bite and sip at a time. She lives in the Grand Lake District with her husband, two year old son, dog and three chickens, Louise, Gertrude and Agnes.
About Lokal Bites
On Lokal Bites, the BookaLokal Blog, they bring you the latest in food and travel news, introduce you to some of their favorite hosts and share recipes and photos from their food and drink events around the world.