Best 10 Essential Oakland Restaurants

For a long time, a lot of people in San Francisco thought Oakland was just a joke city, better left alone because it didn’t have culture, nice cappuccinos, or good Caesars. They thought it was too black, too poor, and shamefully liberal. These days, it’s difficult to dispute Oakland’s status as the hub of the region’s artistic and cultural endeavours, as well as the location of its independent shops and unique cuisine. Oakland is one of the most vibrant food scenes in America—not because of the glitz of its restaurants, the number of its James Beard medals, or any galaxy of Michelin stars, but rather because of its commitment to chefs telling complex stories through food, about their backgrounds, about their fight for equity, or about how we, as citizens, think we should live.Best Essential Oakland Restaurants

1.Nick’s Pizza

Oakland’s greatest pizza is served at a little pizzeria that borders Berkeley. The base of pizza is a crisp sourdough crust that holds up very good toppings (such as a mushroom mix with foraged specimens, merguez sausage or sweet corno di toro peppers) without deviating from the fundamental purpose of pizza, which is to satiate our primitive craving freshly a spicy, unthreatening slice. Owner Nick Yapor-Cox is a trans man who identifies as queer. He has turned his company into a safe haven for a variety of clients, including LGBTQ people. Yapor-Cox asserts, “I think the shop itself—as a physical location for community—is really how we champion queer causes.” The pizzas are a testament to the dominance of sourdough crust and toppings in Northern California.

2.The Midwife and the Baker at the Sunday Temescal Farmers’ Market

Despite being a South Bay native, Mac McConnell’s company, which he co-owns with the name’s midwife, Jaime Shapiro, feels more at home in Oakland, especially on Sunday mornings when they visit the Temescal farmer’s market. The loaf made entirely of whole wheat is incredible (the levain has a hint of rye). Grown in California, the hard red spring heritage strain of wheat, Glenn, is ground in the bakery. It makes it through the long 16–18 hour fermentation and baking process and comes out a beautiful shade of toasted walnut. Freshly ground wheat combined with lactic acid bacteria give the finished loaf a bright, winey, slightly smoky smell with hints of spices from fruitcakes.

3.Bakesale Betty

Australian-born Alison Barakat occupied a former dessert shop when she opened her first store in Temescal in 2005. With her signature shiny blue wig, the daily sandwich queue was formidable for years. Barakat’s sandwich encapsulates Oakland’s diverse culinary scene in a rapidly changing neighborhood: a panisse-inspired Acme Torpedo roll, a hint of banh mi pickles, jalapeño cabbage, buttermilk fried chicken in the American tradition. Although there aren’t as many lines these days, Barakat’s sandwich remains a mainstay in Oakland.

4.Temescal Brewing

Some family-friendly beer gardens have the vibe of Chuck E. Cheese, stretched by drinking beer and crying toddlers. Located in a former dry cleaning parking lot, this garden is a complete place where the “family” extends beyond biological relationships. Queer First Fridays attendees live up to the promise of “LGBTQ” diversity. On Sunday afternoons, the atmosphere is both young and grizzled, melancholic and not, queer and straight (or whatever). Along with a rotating roster of vendors serving food to go with the light, fresh house brews, which include fruity ales, crisp lagers, and hazy IPAs, there are DJs and other performers.


The Raspberry in Chocolate Crust dish by Jaynelle St. Jean is incredible. The filling is a red slush of tart, seeded berries that is almost shockingly luscious, and the pastry lies somewhere between a shortcrust and the crisp edges of a corner brownie. The store is small. Sit at the table in front, in the strange little car-fringed plaza (which is really more of a bulbed-out gutter), and enjoy pie and coffee while looking out at the tattoo parlour or the disorderly pile of stomped seafood boxes piled at the curb in front of Rockin’ Crawfish. Even better, take your slice to Pine Knoll Park, which is close to Lake Merritt.


Mark Liberman rose to national prominence as chef of San Francisco’s AQ, an ambitious seasonal concept dining room that closed in 2017. Liberman opened a neighbourhood bistro-style restaurant in Oakland with 45 seats that would be ideal for many seasoned chefs to work at. Every meal appears content. Libermanand#039’s skills over a long career are on display with elegant weekly menus such as fried soft-shell crabs with smoked nectarine barbecue sauce and focaccia plates with green tomato and mustard flower salad.Best Essential Oakland Restaurants


With its naturally wine-focused storefront cafe that feels like a well-worn, slightly squishy Birkenstock, Bradford Taylor is the proud antithesis of glitz and gloss. The wines may offer you new possibilities based on your level of experience. They are all free of any material that includes more sulphur dioxide than is necessary, including chaptalizing, fining, and filtering. Even with the large influx of locals, the wine bar’s clientele feels as comfortable and established as the neighbourhood.

8.The Alley Piano Bar & Restaurant

Though the u-shaped piano bar was home to jazz standards performer Rod Dibble for fifty years until his death in 2017, the Alley is still a fusty, dark cavern that acts as a portal to a more outwardly day-drinking age.Alcohol is common and acquaintances are unlikely to find it, and everyone looks good in the glow of red strings. Business cards are nailed to the walls like scales. The best restaurants in Oakland

9.Aburaya/Aburaya Go

Aburaya Go by Day and Aburaya by Night are two sister Japanese fried chicken establishments that exude a strong pop culture vibe despite being located in two adjacent Uptown neighborhoods. Founder Adachi Hiroyuki plays bass in a punk band (like the Cellars) and his fried chicken pieces, covered in sauce and scratched, explode like a two-minute hardcore song. The fried chicken sandwich at Aburaya Go on 15th Street is served on soft yellow Texas toast. It’s impossible to eat this sandwich without getting a smear of spicy Japanese barbecue sauce and coleslaw mayo on your hands, forearms, and the lower third of your face.Best Essential Oakland Restaurants

10.Oeste Rooftop Bar

Sandra Davis, Anna Villalobos, and Lea Redmond are behind Oeste. Though the drinks are good and the chicken wings leave the right kind of insulating fats in your system, the atmosphere upstairs is what you want to look for.. I can only think of one rooftop bar in Oakland, and that’s at Mad Oak Bar. Best Essential Oakland Restaurants

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