Oakland is enjoying a moment in the sun right now, as evidenced by a recent spate of media hits and amorous outpourings on social networks. But after Nat Geo photographer Catherine Karnow and I spent time there on assignment, we both left convinced that the city’s ascent isn’t fleeting, but one that will have a long tail, bolstered by a steady stream of colorful shop and restaurant openings and an influx of equally colorful characters seeking lower rents and a less stressful lifestyle.

That being said, I would stop short of calling Oakland “Brooklyn by the Bay.” I live in Brooklyn, and seemingly everywhere I travel lately, I am met with food, clothes, and culture described as the “Brooklyn of…” or “Brooklyn-style”—terms meant to evoke a less touristy, hipster alternative to a major metropolis that has historically overshadowed its neighbor.

To be sure, Oakland does offer an antidote to expensive San Francisco and its smaller next-door neighbor, Berkeley. The city’s racial and ethnic diversity also draws apt comparisons to Brooklyn. But, as a local named Emily told us at Cole Coffee in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, that diversity is unlike anything she’s encountered before.

At Wood Tavern in the Rockridge section of Oakland, Brad Anderson, with his wife Denee, raves about "the best pork chop [he has] ever eaten, served with smoked bacon, potatoes, mushrooms, and a Marsala cream sauce." (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

Outside Wood Tavern in the Rockridge section of Oakland, Brad Anderson raves about “the best pork chop [he has] ever eaten, served with smoked bacon, potatoes, mushrooms, and a Marsala cream sauce.” (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

“If you explore Oakland, it’s not like the Mexican neighborhood is here, the African-Americans are here, and the whites are over here,” the 34-year-old tech strategist said. “If we had yuppies in Oakland, we’d all be here at this coffee shop. But we don’t. It’s so laid back.”

She pointed across the street, to the stretch of College Avenue between 63rd Street and Alcatraz Avenue. “This block reflects the city’s growth today,” she said. Indeed, independent local-owned shops—a bakery, a beer café, a pizzeria, and, a major draw for foodies, the spirited Wood Tavern, among them—make the block a poster child for the Oakland of today.

Here are four of the trends we witnessed as we explored this sister city on the rise:

> Food Phenoms: Oakland’s Dynamic Restaurant Scene

When Rich and Rebekah Wood left a popular San Francisco restaurant to open Wood Tavern in 2007, they kick-started a food frenzy in Oakland. The classy, warm joint was soon brimming with neighborhood locals and visitors from across the Bay Bridge—commanding attention from the San Francisco fooderati and exploding old stereotypes.

At Juhu Beach Club, owner Preeti Mistry (left) prepares Indian street-food-inspired favorites, such as the Navi Mumbai chicken salad, made with seasonal greens, roasted root veggies, and grilled green chili chicken. (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

At Juhu Beach Club, owner Preeti Mistry (left) prepares Indian street-food-inspired favorites, such as the Navi Mumbai chicken salad, made with seasonal greens, roasted root veggies, and grilled green chili chicken. (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

Many chefs are following the Woods’s lead, moving in from San Francisco and Berkeley to make their mark on Oakland. In the past three years, more than 200 restaurants have opened their doors in the city. Top Chef contestant Preeti Mistry is at the helm of one of them—Juhu Beach Club, a casual, modern Indian eatery that’s earning rave reviews and repeat visitors.

And you simply can’t talk about the Oakland food scene without mentioning chef Charlie Hallowell, who honed his skills at Berkeley’s legendary Chez Panisse before opening Pizzaiolo. He has since followed up his success there with Penrose and Boot and Shoe Service, but Pizzaiolo remains the star. The Italian hotspot is packed for dinner but also offers up one of Oakland’s best bets for breakfast, with daily pastries like a spicy cheese croissant and cornmeal-raisin scone.

 

Locals flock to Pizzaiolo for the many different varieties of Neapolitan-style pizza, authentic in its puffy crust and charred in spots. The squid pizza is a favorite. (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

Locals flock to Pizzaiolo for the many different varieties of Neapolitan-style pizza, authentic in its puffy crust and charred in spots. The squid pizza is a favorite. (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

Camino, with its giant, open room and communal tables, is the labor of love of yet another Chez Panisse alum, chef Russell Moore, who shares ownership and creative vision with his wife, Allison Hopelain. Another early favorite in Oakland, the still-beloved restaurant is known for its emphasis on open-hearth cooking and rustic yet refined dishes.

The vibe is casual at Romney Nani Steele and Steve Day's new California café and wine bar, The Cook and Her Farmer. (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

The vibe is casual at Romney Nani Steele and Steve Day’s new California café and wine bar, The Cook and Her Farmer. (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

And in Old Oakland, the Friday farmers market continues to be a launchpad for local talent (many of Oakland’s most popular places, like Bakesale Betty and Cholita Linda, got their start here), with current stand-out stall Flour Chylde Bakery serving up delicious gluten-free treats.

Upscale Camino restaurant, whose chef and co-owner Russell Moore cooked at Chez Panisse for more than 20 years, is known for its rustic, ingredient-focused dishes, such as the smoked duck breast and fig salad with carrots, greens, and pounded shiso. (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

Upscale Camino restaurant, whose chef and co-owner Russell Moore cooked at Chez Panisse for more than 20 years, is known for its rustic, ingredient-focused dishes, such as the smoked duck breast and fig salad with carrots, greens, and pounded shiso. (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

Catherine and I especially loved brand-new oyster bar and café The Cook and Her Farmer. Located in the old Swan’s Market building and accented by natural light and wood tables, this foodie favorite is co-owned by Romney Nani Steele, whose family owns Big Sur darling Nepenthe, and former public school teacher Steven Day. Their unique culinary offerings reflect both of their personalities, blending Steele’s coastal sensibilities with Day’s Memphis-born southern soul.

> The Alter-Napa: Oakland’s Urban Wineries Take Flight

The urban wine landscape has been growing steadily in the Bay area for the past decade, and there are now ten wineries in Oakland, represented by the East Bay Vintners Alliance (EBVA).

Many vintners, like Cerruti Cellars, are taking formerly abandoned spaces and turning them into wine destinations, combating, as Nina Newhouse of the EBVA noted, “the notion that living in a vineyard is the only way to make fantastic wine.” Cheers to that.

> Breaking the Chains: Mom ‘N Pop Retail

It is refreshing and increasingly unremarkable to explore a city without being assaulted by mass-market retail brands. Oakland is one such city.

Lisa Monda tends to Alexander Seeley at the Temescal Alley Barbershop, known for its cool atmosphere, slick and dapper haircuts, and old-school razor shaves.  (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

Lisa Monda tends to Alexander Seeley at the Temescal Alley Barbershop, known for its cool atmosphere, slick and dapper haircuts, and old-school razor shaves.  (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

Shopping local there should start in Temescal Alley. Formerly home to a horse-drawn streetcar line, the narrow street now houses an eclectic mix of jewel-box-size boutiques and eateries along with the popular walk-in-only Temescal Alley Barber Shop.

Walrus, which started as an Etsy outlet before opening up shop here, up-cycles or refurbishes home goods to fabulous effect. And don’t miss Kickstarter-funded Doughnut Dolly, where the fist-sized treats are infused with your choice of filling—like “naughty cream,” fruit jam, and dark chocolate—before being rolled in granulated or powdered sugar.

Mahogany Moton tries on a vintage sweater at Owl N Wood, a new boutique in Oakland's Uptown District.  (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

Mahogany Moton tries on a vintage sweater at Owl N Wood, a new boutique in Oakland’s Uptown District.  (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

It’s worth the trip to head two miles southwest to Uptown, another mom ‘n pop mecca. At Owl N Wood, you’ll find a curated hodgepodge of pieces reflecting the Afro-Scandinavian style of Denmark-born owner Rachel Konte, who worked with Levi Strauss for years as a designer before opening up her own shop.

> Fair-Weather Fun: Out-of-Doors Oakland

When you’re blessed with weather this good (temperatures hover in the 60-70°F range most of the year), it makes sense that much Oakland’s art and culture scene is centered outdoors. The first Friday of each month brings Art Murmur, a grassroots initiative that has grown to include live music and more than 40 galleries that keep their doors open late for the occasion.

A young Jack London, an Oakland native, developed a thirst for adventure while soaking up the atmosphere in Heinold's First and Last Chance. The historic bar, which provided inspiration for scenes in two of London's novels, is known as "Jack London's Rendezvous." (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

A young Jack London, an Oakland native, developed a thirst for adventure while soaking up the atmosphere in Heinold’s First and Last Chance. The historic bar, which provided inspiration for scenes in two of London’s novels, is known as “Jack London’s Rendezvous.” (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

Oakland’s sizable waterfront is another focal point for outdoor activity. Jack London Square may be experiencing rapid change, but time seems to stand still at 19th-century mainstay Heinold’s First and Last Chance saloon, whose name harkens back to a time when sailors enjoyed a final drink before heading out to sea. The cozy throwback, famous for its heavily slanted floor caused by the 1906 earthquake, fits ten people, at most. Instead, opt for a modern, level chair outside on the ample patio.

At Lake Merritt, Robyn Kick relaxes after a day of volunteering at an organic farm that donates produce to Oakland residents in need. (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

At Lake Merritt, Robyn Kick relaxes after a day of volunteering at an organic farm that donates produce to Oakland residents in need. (Photograph by Catherine Karnow)

Across town, the area around Lake Merrittwhere white lights twinkle at night and beautiful, historical buildings are being renovated into upmarket apartments—is emerging as a favorite outdoor space in the city. The 3.5-mile path encircling the lagoon has long been a popular jogging and walking route, but as one Oaklander told us, “If you haven’t seen Lake Merritt in three years, you wouldn’t recognize it.”

The neighborhood still has a long way to go before it becomes a tourist destination, but for locals, the improvements—including major upgrades to Children’s Fairyland, a storybook themed park that first opened its doors back in 1950—are gratifying.

Annie Fitzsimmons is National Geographic Travel’s Urban Insider, exploring the cities of the world with style. Follow her adventures on the Urban Insider blog, Twitter @anniefitz, and Instagram @anniefitzsimmons.

Catherine Karnow is a contributing photographer at Traveler magazine known for her vibrant, emotional, and sensitive style of photographing people and places. Connect with her on Facebook and on Instagram @catherinekarnow.

> More from Annie and Catherine’s Trip:

> Related:

Comments

  1. Marlene Daniels
    Jack London Square, Oakland
    July 10, 2:52 pm

    Yes Oakland definitely is rising! We are blessed to live here with all the amenities it has to offer!

  2. Naomi Schiff
    Oakland, California
    July 10, 6:35 pm

    OAKLAND: it is bigger and even more interesting than National Geographic thinks!

    Although Oakland is getting some good press, it is the same tiny part of it that gets all the attention. Okay, yes, we know about Rockridge, Temescal, downtown, uptown, Jack London Square, and Lake Merritt. And we’ve heard about the fabulous regional parks. But all that is a tiny slice of Oakland!

    Please check out my map: http://17th.com/blog.html

    Now! Guided Tour Offer! We hereby offer to any reporter, travel writer, or columnist, an educational tour of other sites of cultural activity, natural beauty, extraordinary cultural riches, fascinating architecture, local history, artistic endeavor, and our diverse and friendly population. In exchange, we just hope you will go beyond the tiny area that your many colleagues already wrote about!

  3. T. Bergenn
    Oakland, at Power Source Unlimited
    July 10, 9:44 pm

    Excellent article capturing many of our alluring and gratifying qualities.

    We love Oakland. We live Oakland!

    We aim to turn Oakland into the second Longevity Hot Spot in the U.S.! Come experience wonderful Connection in lush, natural destinations here… on our Longevity Community Walks: http://Meetup.com/BayAreaLongevityCommunity

  4. Shannon Way
    Oakland
    July 10, 10:41 pm

    Thank you for noticing. We have been putting out a little extra effort to try to charm the hipsters off SF. Our master plan is working. Jerry Brown must be so proud.

  5. Jason
    Oakland
    July 11, 4:02 pm

    Why on earth would we want to “charm the hipsters off SF”? Please stay on the other side of the bridge!

  6. Tamera White
    Oakland, CA
    July 11, 5:34 pm

    Hi Annie,

    Re: Your article “City to Watch: Oakland Rising”

    Sorry you missed West Oakland!

    My point in writing is to let you know there is SO much more to Oakland than the lovely yet often-covered neighborhoods of Rockridge, Temescal, Uptown, and Lake Merritt.

    My second point is to say that I wholeheartedly applaud you for covering Oakland and covering it positively. Oakland is deserving of all positive coverage and recognition. For this reason, it’s important to go beyond the already-been-done and the low-lying fruit story of Oakland.

    Even a cursory search of West Oakland on Wikipedia, Yelp and other sites will reveal our often-forgotten neighborhood has a vibrant art scene (American Steel Studios, international sculptor Bruce Beasley, The Crucible, Slow Burn Glass, Lobot Gallery, etc.), a growing food presence (10th & Wood, FuseBox, Nellie’s Soul Food Restaurant & Bar, just to name a few) and mom ‘n pop ventures of all kinds. If you go to Yelp and leave the category blank and just type “West Oakland” in the location, you’ll be amazed what pops up that would interest travelers.

    Despite the article’s missed opportunities, as I said, I was ecstatic to see a neighbor had posted a positive article about Oakland on our Positively Prescott Facebook page. I immediately and happily shared your article on my personal Facebook page with the following notation:

    “Oakland IS indeed a lovely place to live. So nice to see a positive article about a truly vibrant and diverse (art, culture, food, etc.) city.

    Sadly the authors failed to cover anything outside of the stereotypical trendy spots. There’s SO much more to Oakland than Rockridge, Temescal, Jack London Square and Lake Merritt. West Oakland (my neighborhood), International Boulevard, San Pablo Avenue, East Oakland collectively have tons of great eateries, clothing stores and more! Oh well. Next article! ”

    Annie, come back to do a follow-up article on THE REST OF OAKLAND that almost all national journalists miss whenever they cover Oakland. Your follow-up would certainly be a way to get a leg up on the competition!

    Should you come back and cover West Oakland and beyond, you’ll truly be an Urban Insider.

    All the best.

  7. Ian Hetzner
    Fruitvale
    July 11, 5:35 pm

    it would be wonderful if JUST one of these so-called reporters would actually venture outside of new oakland and new-old oakland into, you know, actual oakland. i could take you to dozens of local restaurants that:
    a. are NOT flash-in-the-pan hipster food network bait founded by san francisco transplants
    b. have been there for more than 5 years
    c. are cheaper
    d. have better food
    e. represent oakland’s ethnic diversity

    it would also be wonderful if these reporters wouldn’t quote naive tech people who say things like “it’s not like the Mexican neighborhood is here, the African-Americans are here, and the whites are over here” as if that were remotely true. please just google “oakland race map” and you will find that, shockingly, there ARE latino neighborhoods and african-american neighborhoods and asian-american neighborhoods in oakland, and that there are socio-economic factors and institutionalized racism which keep things that way.

    i’m not trying to sound completely negative, i think growth and new business is, in general, a good thing but i would really appreciate a more holistic approach to journalism about oakland that acknowledges that growth and gentrification come at a cost and that there are things in oakland that have been here before all the techies that are worth noting as well.

  8. grumpy gus
    oakland
    July 11, 9:36 pm

    you’ve already ruined san francisco. stay over there . you can afford it.
    must you turn oakland into another milquetoast town for your boring tech lifestyles ?
    when will it stop? once all the charms of every city are drained ?
    I hear lincoln nebraska is hip..why dont you go make your start up happen there ? be a trailblazer for once ,not a follower.

  9. Jen
    Oakland
    July 11, 10:44 pm

    Loving all of the attention, and I do see why, practically speaking, it makes sense the national media somehow honed in on all of the new, ‘gentrified’ businesses catering to hipsters, as sourcing more in-depth tips takes more time and energy… but can’t help but feel like this article misses the mark– mentions Oakland’s racial and cultural diversity yet doesn’t bother to look any further than Temescal Alley and equivalents. NatGeo I expect more from you!

  10. Annie Fitzsimmons
    July 12, 12:53 am

    I knew from the moment I arrived in Oakland that writing about it would bring passionate discussion, both positive and negative. I also knew that, especially in a story of less than 1,000 words, it would be impossible to cover everything that Oakland was, is, and will be. This is certainly not meant to be the definitive city guide to Oakland.

    For many, Oakland is still undiscovered – even the places that are mentioned in many media outlets. To me, there are reasons these places still deserve recognition. We also highlighted places like The Cook and Her Farmer that have been open for less than two months. That said, I hope that the next time I’m in Oakland, I have several of you as my tour guide to show me even more of why Oakland is such an incredibly fascinating and singular city.

  11. Ron Chris
    Oakland
    July 12, 2:14 am

    The Lakeshore/Grand (or Grand Lake) area is where Boot and Shoe are located. There is also the Montclair Village as well as West Oakland which the other commenter mentioned. Its a nice article. I think folks get annoyed when its all Rockridge all the time. I moved here from Noe Valley in San Francisco (which is supposed to be the hottest neighborhood) but liked the houses Crocker Highlands off Lakeshore Ave (where the shops etc are) better than Rockridge. Drive up Lakeshore, drive up Longridge, Sunnyhills, Hilcroft, etc., and you’ll discover a 100 year old secret that few know about and you’ll blow up the media’s tired notions of the City of Oakland. You’ll also probably want to move, but hurry, cause its getting pricey and most people still don’t even know this corner exists.

  12. Jennie Schacht
    Oakland
    July 12, 2:33 am

    Thanks for showing Oakland some love. We get entirely too much coverage for crime and not nearly enough for what makes Oakland the best town in the universe. (And that from a native New Yorker!) So glad you had a chance to check out Nani Steele’s new place. Next time you’re in town, don’t miss Oaktown Spice Shop on Lake Merritt, as well as East and West Oakland, both rich meccas of food and culture. Not to mention the incredible network of parks and public spaces, and the Oakland Museum. Oh, and we still have lots of active bookstores and many authors, as well. Plenty to warrant a return visit!

  13. a.l.j.
    oakland
    July 12, 2:33 am

    I am from Oakland. This article, and many others…really bother me. These pictures do not represent Oakland. They represent the parts of Oakland yuppy white people feel comfortable in, now that they are here in large numbers. It’s like christopher columbus all over again. I am not trying to make this about race, but it is frankly insulting to the cultures and communities that have been here when you use ignorant words such as “undiscoverable” instead of saying “places white people were scared of before their friends checked it out and said it was okay and restaurant that serves 20 dollar cocktails showed up”. This is why people don’t like gentrification. The part that really grinds my gears is the fact that I know the person who wrote this has a degree. Oakland is a lot more diverse than what was shown, and if you cannot show the diversity, and the history – why highlight Oakland at all? This is insulting.

  14. David Saia
    Dallas, Texas
    July 12, 6:33 am

    Ah, makes me so homesick for beautiful Lake Merrit! Help, someone save me from Texas!!

  15. Sam
    United States
    July 12, 10:42 am

    Brooklyn is the Oakland of New York. Ha!

  16. Tina
    July 12, 12:13 pm

    For your next visit come to Fruitvale, Laurel, Dimond and Jingletown neighborhoods for a side of Oakland missing in this article.

    “Oakland: it’s not just for SF exiles!”

  17. Jenna
    United States
    July 12, 12:28 pm

    Well its all really great..but nothing until we can have schools worth writing positive articles about. We need to build a community that can have growth in ways other than commercial.

  18. Kerry
    Oakland, Ca.
    July 12, 12:39 pm

    I love Wood Tavern and don’t misinterpret what I write here but Wood Tavern did not “kick start a food frenzy” in Oakland. If you knew the restaurant history in Oakland you might say Bay wolf, Oliveto, Autumn Moon Cafe, or any number of a hundred restaurants with chefs who studied in Europe, or worked their ways up in fine dining restaurant across the country, “kick started the food frenzy” in Oakland. We love Oakland because it is a great city with a bad rap. But don’t tell everyone or we’ll be overrun with hipsters and driven out by insane rents. Thanks for a good article but shhhhhhhhh. Stop telling everyone!

  19. Adrea
    Oakland
    July 12, 5:47 pm

    Yay Gentrification!!

  20. paul valva
    Oakland
    July 13, 10:29 am

    To further put this multi-dimensional city in perspective, it is interesting to note that over 100 languages are spoken here, Oakland is the only city in California with a professional baseball, football and basketball team, and has more listings on Air B&B than San Francisco.

  21. Jim D
    Oakland
    July 13, 11:13 am

    I’ve lived in Oakland for 10 years and good things are absolutely happening here – diversity, climate, restaurants, art the outdoors. A great place to live.

    But please don’t fooled by Mayor Jean Quan’s claims of having anything to do with this metamorphosis! She is clueless and ineffective.

  22. Shayna
    Oakland
    July 13, 1:03 pm

    I love hearing great stories about my city, but I have to admit this article irked my nerves…

    After living, working and going to school here in Oakland for 10 years, I can tell you that the existing bones of this city are part of what make it a great place–not just the influx of new people and businesses.

    Come down to the Fruitvale area where you can find numerous mom n pop shops, HELLA GOOD Mexican and Central American food for ridiculously cheap prices, and some of the most incredible street art in the Bay Area.

    What about West Oakland, Chinatown, the Ethiopian area of North Oakland? What about the taco trucks (those families that actually started this whole mobile food truck craze)??

    The (cultural) history of this place has value, but you have to look beyond the obvious, the new, the trendy, to find it.

  23. Andy
    Brooklyn
    July 14, 8:46 am

    Loved this article, can’t wait for my next trip to the Bay area and actually get out and see more than just what SF has to offer.

  24. Nancy Friedman
    Oakland
    July 14, 1:05 pm

    What’s new at the lake are numerous upgrades made possible by a $198 million bond passed by voters in 2002 and completed in 2013: improvements to Children’s Fairyland (the oldest storybook theme park in the U.S., and the inspiration for Disneyland), renovation of the boathouses, the rebuilt 12th Street overcrossing, and–most significant for the lake’s ecology–the removal of culverts so that the estuary can flow into the lake. As a result of the restoration, new species have been spotted in the lake, including river otters, leopard sharks, and bat rays.

  25. Carole
    July 14, 4:37 pm

    All mention are Oakland highlight’s The real perspective, go east of 23ed. Mom & Pop neighborhood are now very different. Go east young men, that represent Oakland.

  26. Annie Fitzsimmons
    July 14, 9:59 pm

    Shayna – I absolutely agree that what makes any city tick is the existing bones. But just as in Brooklyn where I live, the newer places that are moving in or seem to be “trendy” include truly great businesses and restaurants that are trying to make it just like everyone else. That’s not to say the existing bones are not worth visiting – they absolutely are! This article was more to reflect and answer WHY there has been so much buzz around Oakland lately – and part of the answer is because of the fast-moving openings with incredibly talented people at the helm.

    I would love to visit the Fruitvale area and eat good food and find great street art as well as West Oakland and the Ethiopian area.
    We did visit Chinatown, which was authentic and fascinating – but felt it didn’t fit into the theme of this particular story which was more about the new.

  27. Annie Fitzsimmons
    July 14, 10:00 pm

    Paul – great factoids, especially about over 100 languages being spoken. I had read that in reference to the school system and thought it was incredible.

  28. Annie Fitzsimmons
    July 14, 10:03 pm

    Kerry – thanks for the note. I understand what you’re saying about the food frenzy and Wood Tavern. I believe it did in a way, especially in regards to national media attention, but definitely see your point.

    I don’t think the people of Oakland would ever allow the city to be unrecognizable from what it was and is today!

  29. Annie Fitzsimmons
    July 14, 10:06 pm

    Ron – thanks for the tips. We did visit Montclair Village which felt so neighborhood-y and truly “locals only.” I loved it. Alas, it didn’t fit in with the angle of this story. I get the feeling of “too much Rockridge.” For me, I hadn’t been before and the amount of talent and good food in the area was really great to discover.

  30. Annie Fitzsimmons
    July 14, 10:10 pm

    Tina – Thanks for the neighborhood tips of Fruitvale, Laurel, Dimond and Jingletown. Next time!
    I definitely don’t think Oakland is “just for SF exiles” – I do think that it’s better than ever as a whole for the traveler exploring the Bay Area.

  31. a.l.j
    oakland
    July 16, 2:03 pm

    Dear national geographic – why was this lady hired and how can I get a shot at her job? I would do it for half the pay and do a #200% better job. For an urban insider you seemingly avoided most of the areas that have restaurants that would fit this article. Its obvious – just like you living in Brooklyn tht you are a product of gentrification and you are basically gloating about it/making excuses. Oakland is not undisciverable, and rock ridge is where affluent white transplants feel most comfortable living. I also notice how everyone else questions and comments were addressed but mine weren’t. Stay out of Oakland, or get to k ow your surroundings.

    • Annie Fitzsimmons
      July 16, 2:27 pm

      Hi a.l.j.,
      Thanks for your thoughts. While I don’t understand what you mean by I am “gloating about it” and “making excuses” by living in Brooklyn (and I most definitely am not a “product of gentrification” – and we can argue all day on the pros and cons of gentrification), I can see that being from Oakland and living there makes your passion for it flare. As I’ve mentioned in previous comments, this piece represents more of the new and if you consider that to be “where affluent white transplants feel most comfortable living,” that is your prerogative. I thought it represented an exciting new chapter for the city of Oakland, with truly great people making things happen.

  32. Lorie
    Pleasanton
    July 16, 7:44 pm

    Living in the East Bay (Pleasanton) a trip to the City no longer just means SF. Going to the City for dinner can just as easily mean going Oakland.

  33. Darlene
    Oakland
    July 17, 7:24 am

    Thanks for the article but Oakland does not need more press, esp. press geared towards the cool, hip, tech types who want to feel they are living on the “edge.”
    I moved to Oakland from San Francisco in 1991 and what I see of Oakland today makes me sad. Sure, I like the First Fridays and other nice additions, but gone are some of the things that made Oakland unique and had been staples of it’s diverse and blue collar past.
    A trip to East Oakland would be interesting for Nat Geo. A true journey into real Oakland, not the gentrified landscapes of Rockridge and the Temescal. Come on down to my neighborhood and learn to read the gang tags and count the underage hookers on International Blvd. Have an interaction with an Oakland Cop, most of whom do not live in the city so they don’t care about the inhabitants. See the economic disparity between the (mostly white affluent) neighborhoods you wrote about and the places where the real people live.
    The Google buses are now dropping people in Fruitvale. I can’t wait for the first real experience a Google person has with the reality of East Oakland.
    I love this city and adopted it many years ago but I am not fooled about it being a paradise and I do not trust Mayor Quann or the OPD for one minute. Just remember how brutal the reaction to Occupy Oakland was and you get a sense of the reality of Oakland. Step out of the safety zone designated by the gentrification and you will see an Oakland your handlers did not show you.

  34. E. G.
    Pleasant Hill
    July 17, 3:15 pm

    Annie,

    Thanks for the great article. Oakland is a great city which many times gets defined in selective and negative terms by the powerful SF media across the Bay.

    Oakland means passion as you can tell from the comments. Oakland stays with you where ever you go. Oakland has this incredible grip which tugs at you.

    The topography, the climate, the neighborhoods and the character of the city is what really should define Oakland. The restaurants, the gorgeous restored theaters, the incredible religious architecture like the Mormon Temple, Christ the Light Cathedral and Greek Orthodox Church, the two waterfronts in Lake Merritt and Jack London Square, the interesting neighborhood shopping districts like Rockridge, Piedmont Avenue, Temescal, Montclair, Grand Avenue, Lakeshore, Fruitvale, Chinatown, Laurel, Dimond, etc. is what makes Oakland so interesting.

    Also, let’s not forget the incredible passion of our sports fans. There is no better atmosphere to watch a baseball game in the United States than watching the Oakland A’s and their amazing fans at the Oakland Coliseum. It’s one big party.

    Thanks again and please visit again.

  35. Michael Stephens
    Montclair
    July 18, 7:30 pm

    Oakland has had its ups and downs. After the war until the mid 60′s downtown was happening. Then BART just killed it. That and the white flight to the suburbs. I was working downtown then. Dead at night. Now we are on the way back. Evenings downtown and uptown are vibrant and fun. Let’s see, ball clubs, sunny weather, great neighborhoods and people. PERFECT!

  36. Jose Martinez
    Oakland
    July 28, 6:23 pm

    Oakland sucks! Don’t move here!

  37. Didi
    Manhattan
    July 30, 3:51 pm

    Wood Tavern? Yes, it’s an excellent restaurant. But it DID NOT spark Oakland’s culinary scene. Oh, please.

    That credit goes to the iconic Baywolf and Olivetos, both of which earned national/international renown dating back to the 1970s and the early 1990s respectively.

    Indeed, credit for the New Wave of Oakland’s culinary caché MUST include James Syhabout’s landmark and michelin-starred Commis, which made Syhabout a bona fide foodie superstar chef almost overnight (he now owns various other hotspots throughout Oakland).

    You credit Wood Tavern over Commis? Really?

    And what about the high-end soul cuisine of the tony Pican and media fave Tanya Holland’s hipster/hip Brown Sugar Kitchen…?

    Yes, Wood Tavern is a great spot. But the catalyst to Oakland’s culinary scene? NOOOOOOOOOOO.

    This is the type of error that makes one somewhat circumspect about your on-point praise of Oakland. It seems as if Oakland is happening only in those places that have some connection to San Francisco, which has a number of unfortunate racial connotations as well.

    I hope you might address this or at least consider the perspective in your future reporting on Oakland. Otherwise, I, for one, enjoyed your article and found it a very positive step in the right direction.

  38. Annie Fitzsimmons
    July 31, 4:26 pm

    Hi Didi – Thank you for your thoughts. Commis is a stunning restaurant in so many ways and so is Brown Sugar Kitchen.
    A few thoughts and notes on where I’m coming from –
    I didn’t arrive at saying Wood Tavern kick-started the frenzy by pulling it out of a hat and saying “This sounds good.” It came after interviewing many, many people, research on older articles and reviewing the media and food landscape. Commis, for example, opened in 2009 and Wood Tavern in 2007. By dates alone, Wood Tavern was there first and hence, perhaps more of the kick-starter. That said, I am definitely okay with admitting an error – I am just not sure that it is an error. I think both places helped to start the current spotlight on foodie Oakland. For Baywolf and Olivetos, I absolutely agree – this article, by its nature, simply focused mostly on what is new in Oakland. And I just want to be very, very clear that I in no way was trying to highlight only places that have a SF connection and/or saying that those are the only “worthy” spots. I find it fascinating (from my reporting all over the world) when people leave cities, no matter what they are, and start trends or restaurants in other places. Again, thank you for your thoughts – I could be completely wrong about Wood Tavern. But my research and interviews indicated to me that it was, if not THE kick-starter, than ONE OF the ones that did. By the way, you sound like someone I’d genuinely love to have a long dinner with.

  39. Annie Fitzsimmons
    July 31, 4:28 pm

    E.G. – Thanks for your comment – and silly as it sounds, this part of it made me tear up a little bit: “Oakland means passion as you can tell from the comments. Oakland stays with you where ever you go. Oakland has this incredible grip which tugs at you.”

    If I have learned nothing else, I have learned that. And also – I agree about the Oakland A’s!