A foodie’s paradise, Oakland has been the leader of the farm-to-table scene for decades. More low-key dining than in San Francisco, but just as innovative, Oakland is perfect for every meal, from a quick taco lunch to a fancy sit-down dinner. If anyone ever needed an excuse to cross the Bay and visit Oakland it would be for these 10 restaurants.
Pizzaiolo Courtesy Savannah Vasco
Bar, Pizzeria, Restaurant, Contemporary, Italian, $$$
On Telegraph Ave, between 51st and 52nd Street, each store is hipper than the next. In the middle of this hip paradise sits Pizzaiolo. You have to know what you’re looking for to find it. There is no flashy sign or writing on the windows announcing its location. Instead, a simple wooden sign hangs from the doorway, the name carved faintly in the wood. Its understated elegance is complimented by its lovingly prepared food and large full bar. Every visit is a mind-bending debate of whether to order just from the delicious antipasti and secondi sections of the menu or instead get multiple pizzas (best ordered with the fresh farm egg). Unlike many restaurants in the area Pizzaiolo accepts reservations for all party sizes, but don’t wait until the last second to make one or you risk not being able to get a table.
Considered by some as Pizzaiolo’s hipper, cooler younger brother, Boot & Shoe Service serves a similar menu with a more relaxed vibe and an amazing weekend brunch. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Boot & Shoe is perfect for the taste of Pizzaiolo any time of the day. What sets Boot & Shoe apart from its sister restaurant is its beautiful patio and café where you can grab a pastry and wait for a table or just enjoy the sunshine with a coffee. Make sure to head over for brunch and try one of their superb breakfast cocktails and breakfast pizzas. Boot & Shoe does not currently accept reservations though wait times are manageable and well worth it.
In the Bay Area carnitas tacos cannot be taken lightly. It is a goal for many to find the best in the entire Bay. One needs to look no further than Guadalajara Taco Truck for their carnitas fix. Probably one of Oakland’s best cheap eats, Guadalajara Taco Truck is located on the corner of Oakland’s famous International Boulevard. There is something magical about eating a taco from a truck. Maybe it’s the simplicity of it all or the speed of the transaction. Whatever it is, the Guadalajara Taco Truck is not to be missed when in Oakland.
With its own cookbook and a new no-tipping policy, Camino is hard to beat for those who desire an upscale Californian cuisine experience. Prices include service so there is no messy tip calculations or arguments over the correct percentage to leave the waiter. The food is traditional Californian with entrées such as grilled local king salmon with turnips, grilled cauliflower, sorrel and chrysanthemum broth or king trumpet mushroom parcel with wood oven-baked artichokes, polenta, wild nettles and an egg cooked by fire. Make a reservation for that special someone’s birthday or when the relatives are in town. Camino will not disappoint.
With locations in Oakland, Alameda, and San Francisco, Burma Superstar manages to deliver superb Burmese cuisine with a strong focus on customer satisfaction. Burma Superstar is a spice lover’s dream. Every dish has its on unique flavor and satisfying kick, even for those who hate spicy food. Most dishes can be prepared vegetarian and all use the freshest ingredients possible. It’s the perfect place to go with friends and share several dishes with plenty to take home and enjoy later.
An auto row exterior greets diners as they enter the large industrial-looking space that is Mua. There is no one there as you first enter the ‘unfinished’ building that houses the restaurant. Instead a long bar and balcony lounge are the first things you see. After the bar is the host’s podium which stands on the cusp of the vast dining room. It could be an artist’s studio with the graffiti and avant-garde art that lines the walls. The look seems like planned randomness and gives off a fun vibe for those willing to experiment with Mua’s yummy fusion cuisine. There is something for everyone on the menu whether you want to try the bone marrow or are a staunch vegan who enjoys a good chickpea burger. The cocktails are adventurous and to die for. Mua is the kind of hip, experimental restaurant one would expect in Oakland, however it manages its funkiness without seeming like it’s trying too hard. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Nido serves up authentic Mexican food with a farm-to-table twist. A trove of family recipes make Nido more than a taqueria (though the tacos are some of the best around). California produce and and humanely raised animals make up the bulk of the menu while a focused liquor program means meticulously selected spirits, beer, and wine from all over the world. Located at the edge of Oakland’s Jack London Square district, Nido is true neighborhood restaurant that goes above and beyond for its patrons.
As Oakland’s best modern burger joint serving up classic American Burgers, mouth-watering shakes, and crispy fries, TrueBurger provides the best possible quality at a reasonable price. An original trueburger with a milkshake and fries is bound to delight even the most grumpy member of any group.
Located across the street from Oakland’s Fox Theater and a few blocks from the Paramount Theater, Xolo is the perfect place for a pre-show taco or burrito. Started by the owners of Berkeley’s Taquybya, Oakland’s upscale Doña Tomas, and neighboring restaurant Flora, Xolo brings farm-to-table to the taqueria scene in Oakland. It brings to mind the old-school taqueria vibe from the 50s and 60s. It’s even named after Frida Kahlo’s old hairless dog. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whatever meal you’re there for, make sure to get at least one taco.
Located in Oakland’s uptown neighborhood, Hopscotch serves upscale Californian cuisine with a Japanese twist. The food is decadent, but not too pretentious for the average diner. Menu items include girdled beef tongue on top of the house-ground burger with sesame aioli, soba pappardelle with leeks, spinach, mascarpone and a jidori egg, or black cod marinated in sake lees and served with pickled turnips and broccolini tempura. Along with its regular dining area, Hopscotch also has a private dining space for parties larger than ten.