Oakland is on the up
The writer and poet Gertrude Stein, who was born in Oakland, once remarked about her California birthplace: “Oakland? There’s no there, there.”
Fast forward to today and few would agree with Gertrude. Indeed The New York Times no less, ranked Oakland as number five on its 45 places to go in 2012 list ahead of big name North American locations like New York, San Francisco and Chicago.
The Times sung the praises of the city’s “sophisticated restaurants” and “upscale cocktail bars” which, it claimed, have helped turn “once gritty Oakland into an increasingly appealing place to be after dark.”
We asked Lindsay Wright, PR & Communications manager at Visit Oakland, for the lowdown on five dining destinations – from $5 food trucks to Michelin-Star restaurants – that have helped put Oakland on the map
Head to Brown Sugar Kitchen in West Oakland, a neighborhood that is home to industrial arts studios and shipping ports, for some authentic southern cuisine. Chef Tanya Holland is somewhat of a celebrity chef here in Oakland, recognised for her buttermilk fried chicken and cornmeal waffle combo. http://brownsugarkitchen.com/
Chef James Syhabout was named Best New Chef in 2010 by Food and Wine Magazine, largely due to his Michelin star restaurant, Commis, on Piedmont Avenue. This upscale eatery serves only five-course, prix fixe dinners. Just this year, Syhabout opened Hawker Fare, a more casual Asian eatery and a welcome addition to the Uptown neighbourhood
Uptown Oakland has become a destination for entertainment and the arts in the Bay Area, but a number of culinary hot spots have also contributed to the popularity of the district. Try Flora for an experience reminiscent of the Prohibition Era. The Art Deco building is a fantastic option for creative cocktails and house-made charcuterie http://floraoakland.com/.
Pizzaiolo and Boot & Shoe Service
Oakland restaurants and locals take pride in utilising sustainable ingredients, even for cuisine as simple as a pizza. Pizzaiolo and Boot & Shoe Service, two sister restaurants in Oakland, specialise in eclectic, wood-fired pizzas with toppings that may include rapini, nettles, spring onions and capers. http://bootandshoeservice.com/; http://www.pizzaiolooakland.com/.
Many visitors to Oakland may also be surprised to find that there are a number of urban wineries here. Head to JC Cellars or Urban Legend Cellars to get a taste of the local wines produced right here in Oakland: http://www.jccellars.com/; http://www.ulcellars.com/. You can also tour all of the wineries by bike with East Bay Winery Bike Tours, who offer urban wine tasting on two wheels: http://eastbaywinerybiketours.com/.
Thanks Lindsay! For more on what to do in up and coming Oakland, check out www.visitoakland.org