by Chelsea Lin - 273 Reviews - 109 List
As much as SFers like to think they live on the better side of the bay, Oakland's got a lot worth fighting for these days: a love-it-or-leave-it attitude, cheaper rents and now the emergence of some serious hot spots offering food, drinks and entertainment that easily rival their SF counterparts. Revitalization or gentrification? Either way, the venues on this list--a temple to Southern comfort, a wait-worthy Burmese restaurant and a revamped concert hall, to name a few--are worth a try.
Updated: November 10, 2009
Lake Merritt has long been one of Oakland's finest but underutilized attractions--no more, thanks to this brilliant resto that moved into the revitalized, century-old Lake Merritt boathouse. Expect surf-and-turf comfort foods and stellar views similar to sister eatery Beach Chalet on SF's Ocean Beach.
This casual-but-classy cocktail spot just steps from BART and the Fox Theater is exactly the antidote Oakland needed to the ultra-lounge fad that is so last year. Part neighborhood networking spot and part nighttime watering hole, head here for happy hour or a post-concert drink.
Having been restored to its former glory, this epic venue is pretty much the centerpiece of the Uptown resurgence and boasts a better concert calendar than any SF club has in years: Bon Iver, The Pixies, Gogol Bordello, Phil Lesh, The Decemberists... the list of rock goes on. Bookend a live show with drinks at The Den next door.
It may not be the cheapest sushi place in town, but this Uptown offshoot of an SF favorite is worth every penny of its admittedly high price tag. Stop by the spacious stunner on Mondays for a sweet deal: all-you-can-eat sushi for $30 when you dine at the bar.
Inconspicuously hidden among nail salons and mom-and-pop shops, this carefully preserved 1920s Victorian houses the sort of cozy neighborhood spot equally suitable for an esoteric beer on the back patio with the guys or a couple of shared plates with a date.
The new Temescal location of this Bay Area empire is exactly what fans have come to expect from the Burma Superstar name: super long lines but delicious cuisine in the form of samusa soup, egg curry and tea leaf salad. At least East Bay residents won't have to add travel time onto their ridiculous wait for a table now.
A seasonal, farm-to-table prix fixe is the only way to go at this new venture from Chef James Syhabout, who earned his stripes in the kitchens of such acclaimed restaurants as Manresa, El Bulli and the Fat Duck. For being one of the most highly anticipated openings on either side of the bay this year, first reports say the experience lives up to the hype.
Southern cooking is all the rage these days, and nowhere is that truer than at this impressive restaurant on Broadway. Specialties include traditional comfort food dishes like fried green tomatoes, corn bread and barbecued pork ribs; to drink, the only way to go is with a selection from the extensive bourbon portfolio.
One of the jewels in Grand Avenue's crown, this easygoing joint aims to lure in hungry locals for early lunch, late dinner and everything in between. The restaurant's Cal-Med cuisine may be the main draw, but there's also a serious bar serving up classic cocktails made from local ingredients.
Traditional Asian street food--complex, flavorful food meant for quick, on-the-go eating--is brought indoors and California-fied here for a lovely Oakland lunch option. Local, organic and sustainably farmed ingredients go into dishes like banh mi, lettuce wraps and grilled fish, and all sauces are house made, yet prices are delightfully reasonable.
Specialties include ribs, brisket and the eponymous Brick Pig--a beef link wrapped in a flour tortilla with cheese and a splash of sauce--at this BBQ house on the Berkeley-Oakland border, which is already being called one of the better 'cue spots in the Bay Area.
This downtown spot's most notable features are its theater-like exhibition kitchen and unpretentious hospitality, eco-bent and hearty American food (oyster po? boys, fried chicken sandwiches), Mediterranean dishes and low (most everything's under $8) price point.