Thanks to this California city’s rich cultural diversity, most Oaklanders know how to use their fingers to dunk a chunk of injera bread into ye doro wat chicken stew at Ethiopian eateries like Enssaro in Adams Point, or wrap up a lettuce-and-steamed pork bo ssam at authentic Korean restaurants like Jong Ga House. Restaurateurs fleeing the high costs of San Francisco have made the East Bay dining scene smarter, while its proximity to Berkeley, home to the University of California and the pioneering Chez Panisse by Alice Waters, informs the city’s seasonal, hyperlocal ethos. Oakland exemplifies California’s can-do attitude and elevates its garden-fresh produce with multicultural influences.
To taste Northern California in one stop, make a beeline to this epicurean wonderland where fresh produce, world-class local wine, baked goodies and freshly kneaded and cut pasta jostle for space under one roof, alongside the nose-to-tail Oliveto Restaurant & Cafe and the fishmonger Hapuku Fish Shop, with its special fish sandwich and soups. Round out your visit with an espresso at Highwire Coffee Roasters.
Along with its standout fried chicken and slow-cooked pork shoulder, this Caribbean soul joint serves up an unforgettable Oakland Bistro Salad. Made with oysters fried in cornmeal and tossed with a delicate frisée salad of peas, pickled green tomato, watermelon and roasted fresno chili vinaigrette, this dish is substantial, yet refreshing, much like Oakland itself.
Start your day with a buttery brioche sandwich of applewood-smoked bacon and an over-easy egg, or try an avocado smashed on toasted sourdough and topped with a squeeze of lime—the continent’s avocado toast craze is still going strong in the Bay Area.
Indian street food like sev puri—fried bread garnished with chutney—gets a West Coast makeover in this colourful eatery in the Temescal district. Wash down the tangy tamarind curry of kabocha squash with a refreshing glass of cilantro lemonade.
In less than three years, this eatery has become a beloved local institution thanks to its healthy dishes with Mediterranean accents. Try the chorizo, fish and Manila clam paella fired up in a wood oven.
Though this Rockridge eatery is famous for its organic noodle soups like the vegetarian Meyer lemon ramen, its lively bar alone is worth a stop for creative concoctions like a highball made with grapefruit oil and St. George California Shochu (rice liquor fermented in nearby Alameda).
At this stylish Oaxacan joint with an extensive mezcal and tequila menu, the bartenders mix drinks like La Niña Fresa, featuring a strawberry frozen in an ice cube, and Mole Sour, made with chocolaty mole.
In this watering hole named after a short story by Oakland native Jack London, try the Garden Gimlet—gin lightened with cucumber, basil and lime—before hitting the bar’s on-site bocce court.
Downtown’s Donut Savant offers cheeky twists on classic fried dough, like salted maple donut holes and the nutty “007 Sean Pecan-ery,” a cinnamon roll made with raised dough.
In Rockridge, Chocolate Dragon Bittersweet Cafe & Bakery prides itself on its bean-to-cup dark cocoa, bread pudding and chocolate pudding.
Located on Telegraph Avenue, Oasis Food Market serves many kinds of baklavas, as well as other Middle Eastern pastries. Try the kunafa, a cheesy dessert drenched in syrup.
Dine at multicultural restaurants located inside beautifully restored Victorian architecture.
Hirsute hipsters and long-time locals mingle at globally inspired eateries.
A wine-and-cheese market hall and European bistros can be found amid million-dollar homes.
Find date-night favourites and a superb farmers’ market featuring the freshest California-grown produce.
Getting there: WestJet flies to San Francisco three times a day from Vancouver and Calgary.