Oakland in Oakland
Oakland  is a city in the Bay Area of California in the United States of America. While it neither has the concentration of tourist amenities present in its glamorous neighbor San Francisco nor the suburban safety of sprawling San Jose to the south, the visitor can easily spend a few pleasant days here. The often negative opinions of those who have neither lived in nor even visited Oakland should not deter you from exploring what is the Bay Area's and probably America's most diverse city and undervalued cultural center.
If nothing else, you can simply enjoy what Rand McNally rated as the best weather in the country. It is called "Oakland" because it is heavily populated with oak trees.
Travel guides to Oakland, by long-standing tradition, often start off with that quote by famous Oakland resident Gertrude Stein, who said of the city, "There is no there there." The quote takes Stein's rumination out of context, as she was describing how upon returning to Oakland after many years away, she found that the house in which she grew up no longer existed.
Although Oakland is often overshadowed by tourist-friendly San Francisco across the bay, and politically famous Berkeley to the north, Oakland exemplifies both the best and the worst of the Bay Area in general.
For the visitor, "There" is most easily found in one of Oakland's beautiful neighborhoods and interesting, if somewhat eccentric, shopping districts. Oakland, like New York, is constituted of a number of very distinct, village-like neighborhoods, all of which play host to a heady mix of cultures and peoples.
Since the 1960s, Oakland has been a hub of radical culture, and is known as the birthplace of both the Black Panther Party and the Hell's Angels. Oakland's history in the arts and entertainment arena is notable as well, as Oakland has nurtured or been a second home to novelists Jack London, Gertrude Stein, Amy Tan, and Maya Angelou; actors Mark Hamill, Bruce Lee, and Tom Hanks; architect Julia Morgan, classical conductor Calvin Simmons, rapper Tupac Shakur, graphic-novel author Daniel Clowes, and many more notables in the liberal arts and sciences.
According to the 2000 Census, Oakland is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States (a title it shares with Long Beach, California), with over 150 Languages spoken. Reflecting this, a number of annual events are held in Oakland, such as the Art & Soul Weekend (held on Labor day weekend), the Cinco de Mayo Fruitvale Festival Parade (early May), the Chinatown Streetfest (late August) and the Oakland Holiday Parade in December.
Oakland International Airport  is served by many domestic and international carriers, including Southwest Airlines  and JetBlue. There is private shuttle service ($10-25) to hotels in Oakland and San Francisco, and public transit service (AirBART , and AC Transit  Line 73 or Line 805) to the Oakland Coliseum BART Station which takes exactly 12 mintues from the airport to the Oakland Coliseum Bart Station (which is adjacent to the similarly named Amtrak Capitol Corridor station).
Other air travel options include the San Francisco  and San Jose  International Airports. SFO, with its BART station, is the more convenient of the two. Those flying into San Jose might have to battle significant traffic, pay for an expensive van or taxi ride, or take VTA's Airport Flyer (Route 10)  to the Santa Clara Caltrain Station, then Caltrain to the Millbrae Intermodal Station, and then BART toward Oakland. (From SFO and Millbrae, BART provides direct service to West Oakland, Lake Merritt, Fruitvale, and Coliseum stations; those traveling to other Oakland stations, such as Oakland City Center/12th Street, must change trains no later than West Oakland.)
For private pilots, Oakland Airport has a separate General Aviation area "North Field", essentially the equivalent of another airport to the north of the commercial facilities, with separate tower, taxiways, and radio frequencies. Its long runway is frequently used for jet travel, and Oakland makes a far better GA destination than San Francisco's complex, heavily trafficked field.
Oakland is served by the regional rail system Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)  and the nationwide, long-distance rail service Amtrak , with the Bay Area's largest Amtrak station located in the neighboring city of Emeryville.
BART  connects to Oakland from stations in San Francisco, the Peninsula, Contra Costa County, and the far northeastern reach of Silicon Valley. Prices vary by distance, but a one-way ticket to Oakland is usually $2-4.
The following Amtrak lines serve the Oakland station at Jack London Square, an easy twenty-minute walk away from the center of Downtown:
- Capitol Corridor  San Jose to Auburn via Sacramento). The route also includes a stop at the Oakland Coliseum/Airport Amtrak station, adjacent to the Oakland Coliseum BART station. The Oakland Coliseum/Airport Amtrak station has no station agents. Passengers may board the train and buy the tickets from the conductor at no surcharge.
- San Joaquins  (Oakland to Bakersfield, California)
- Coast Starlight  Seattle to Los Angeles
The California Zephyr route (Emeryville, California to Chicago) starts and ends at the nearby Emeryville Amtrak station, accessible on public transit by AC Transit  line 31 and by the Emery-Go-Round shuttle  to the Macarthur BART station in the Temescal neighborhood.
AC Transit Route 73  (day) and Route 805  (owl) provide fast, frequent, inexpensive, 24-hour bus service between the Oakland Coliseum BART station and the Oakland International Airport. Amtrak Capitol Corridor customers pay $0; ask your train conductor for a Transit Transfer. BART customers pay $1.75; take a BART-to-bus transfer from the white machine, before leaving the paid area of the BART station. The second part of either transfer is valid for a discounted return trip within several days. Otherwise, AC Transit's regular cash fare is $2.
AirBART is a direct bus shuttle between the Oakland International Airport and the Oakland Coliseum BART  train station. The shuttle costs $3 for adults and $1 for children, seniors and persons with disabilities. AirBART accepts fare payment in the form of prepaid BART tickets, available just inside the BART station's entrance; you can also pay by inserting three $1 bills into the machine on the bus.
From San Francisco, Highway 80 east over the beautiful Bay Bridge leads to Highways 580, 880, and 980, which go to east, west, and downtown Oakland respectively.
From Marin, Sonoma, and other counties along the northern coast of California, take US-101 to Highway 580 and cross the Richmond Bridge. 580 leads directly into Oakland.
From Monterey, Salinas, and the Central Coast, follow US-101 to San Jose and connect to Highway 880, which leads to Oakland.
From Tracy, Modesto, and the Central Valley's southern portion (Southern California, too), take the scenic Highway 580 over the Altamont Pass.
From Stockton, either follow the Altamont Pass route or take Highway 4 through Contra Costa County to Highway 242, then to Highway 680, which connects to Highway 24.
From Contra Costa County, Highway 24 through the Caldecott Tunnel leads to north Oakland.
From the northern East Bay, Vallejo, Fairfield, and the greater Sacramento, Highway 80 west leads directly to Oakland.
Most northern entries to Oakland go through the heinous MacArthur Maze, a spaghetti-like mashup of four freeways trying to merge and pass each other. It's got terrible traffic during commute times (7AM-10AM, 4PM-8PM), so you might want to avoid driving on the freeways at these times.
Specific AC Transit Transbay bus routes  run between San Francisco's Transbay Terminal and different parts of Oakland. Some run as often as every 15 minutes. The Transbay All Nighter (Route 800)  serves (San Francisco's) Market Street, the Transbay Terminal, Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond. Additional All Nighter  routes link other areas with Oakland, after BART shuts down for the night.
Greyhound  has a terminal conveniently located in downtown Oakland, on San Pablo Avenue near 20th Street. It's notorious -- be careful.
The Alameda-Oakland Ferry  has departures from both Pier 41 and the Ferry Building in San Francisco, weekdays year-round and weekends except for mid-winter. Its Oakland terminal is at the foot of Clay St. in Jack London Square. (On summer weekends there are also trips to Angel Island , an island park in the middle of the bay, formerly an immigration station.)
The AC Transit  bus system service is a good way to get around if you're headed for downtown Oakland, Jack London Square, the Grand Lake district, or Temescal. Otherwise, depending on where you're going, it can seem like you're waiting for a long time for the bus to arrive. The AC Transit costs $2 for adults. Add $0.25 for transfers. BART provides easy access to the Downtown, Fruitvale, and Rockrdge areas, and makes for an easy day-trip from San Francisco. The last return train runs at about 12:15AM.
BART has 8 stops at major areas of visitor interest, which makes it perhaps the best way to experience Oakland. A majority of these stations are adjacent and of walking distance to popular neighborhoods, eliminating car and parking hassles. Furthermore, BART stations are usually named after the neighborhood they are located in. For example, to visit the chic Rockridge neighborhood, exit the Rockridge BART station, conveniently located steps from this area. Same goes for the Fruitvale District (Fruitvale BART station). Lake Merritt BART station is only a block away from the Oakland Museum of CA. Chinatown is 3 blocks from the 12 Street/City Center BART station.
Those hoping to go to the hills are probably best off in a car, as bus service to these areas is sparse.
- 16th Street Station (address: viewable at 16th and Wood in West Oakland)
Erected in 1912, this once prominent train station has a great facade. Going inside it is officially off limits as of now due to reconstruction because it suffered significant damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.
- African American Museum & Library at Oakland (directions: at 14th St and Martin Luther King Jr. Way)
Check the AAMLO web site for information on special exhibits, programs and events, such as an African American walking tour of downtown Oakland.
- Jack London Square (directions: west end of Broadway)
open: Open 24 hours
Oakland's principal tourist destination, Jack London Square has seen serious renovation over the years. Named after writer Jack London, the city's favorite son, the area was the original wharf district of Oakland and retains some of its maritime feel. The main attractions today are shopping and restaurants, though, and you may find yourself wondering how exactly JLS differs from a large waterfront mall.
- Oakland Museum of California (address: 1000 Oak St) (directions: at 10th; Lake Merritt BART station) +1 510 238-2200
price: $12, $9 seniors and students, $6 youth 9-17, free 8 and under
open: W-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-5PM
A startlingly good museum dedicated to the art, history, and culture of California. The building itself is an admirable piece of architecture, and the exhibits are almost uniformly excellent and engaging. Well worth a visit.
- Joaquin Miller Park (address: Joaquin Miller Rd) (directions: entrance about 1 mile from Hwy 13) +1 510 238-3481
A beautiful park in the Oakland hills, made up in part of "The Hights", the old estate of California poet Joaquin Miller. The park has some of the few remaining old-growth redwood groves in the East Bay. Lots of hiking and bike-riding opportunities.
- USS Potomac (address: Water St) (directions: adjacent to Jack London Square) +1 510 627-1215
price: Dockside tours $10, $8 seniors, free for children 12 and under
open: The ship is available for dockside tours W F Su 11AM-3PM
Historic cruises on the bay are available Apr-Oct Th & Sa; these must be booked with TicketWeb  or by calling +1 866 468-3399. Originally built as a Coast Guard Cutter, the Potomac was remodeled as Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidential yacht in 1936 and served in that role until his death in 1945. In 1941, a fishing trip on the Potomac served as a cover story for Roosevelt's secret meeting with Churchill in Newfoundland waters; this meeting led to the allied partnership during World War II and eventually to the formation of the United Nations.
- Peralta Museum of History and Culture (address: 2496 34th Ave) +1 510 532-9142
Check website for tour hours and special events. Once headquarters of the Rancho San Antonio Spanish land grant, this six-acre park contains the 1870 Antonio Peralta House and interpretive exhibits, a native plant garden, and changing exhibits on history and culture.
- Chabot Space and Science Center (address: 10000 Skyline Blvd) +1 510 336-7300
Opened in August 2000, the Center is a state-of-the-art science and technology education facility on a 13-acre site in the hills of Oakland. Visitors can watch planetarium shows and/or Megadome movies, simulate space missions in the Challenger Learning Center, explore a variety of changing hands-on exhibits, observe the sky through the center's telescopes, and much more. In addition, the Science Discovery Lab (for children 7 and under and their parent/guardian) is fantastic.
- Children's Fairyland (address: 699 Bellevue Ave) (directions: enter via Grand Ave near Lake Merritt) +1 510 452-2259
Mixed seasonal hours, almost always open on weekends. Amazing, dynamic playground and destination for children, right on Lake Merritt. Please note that only adults with children can enter. Make sure you get a Magic Key.
- Oakland Zoo (address: 9777 Golf Links Rd) (directions: Exit off I-580) +1 510 632-9525
price: $10.50, kids and seniors $7
open: 10AM-4PM daily
The mission of the Oakland Zoo is to inspire respect for and stewardship of the natural world, while providing a quality visitor experience. At the Oakland Zoo, you can explore together, learn together, and have fun together.
- Oakland Raiders (NFL) (address: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, 7000 Coliseum Way) (directions: connected to Coliseum BART) +1 510 569-2121
price: ">Known as "The Team of the Decades,
- Oakland Athletics (MLB) (address: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, 7000 Coliseum Way)
With nine trophies to their name, four since relocating to Oakland, they are one of the most successful franchises in baseball. While they are not currently considered a playoff contender, the AL West is the smallest division, so a playoff appearance is always possible and the competition goes down to the wire. The A's also have the best deal in baseball: $2 tickets and $1 hot dogs for nearly every Wednesday game. The cheap tickets sell out quick, so buy a day or two in advance. In the baseball configuration, McAfee Coliseum has the odd distinction of having the most foul territory of any MLB field, and by a large margin.
- Golden State Warriors (NBA) (address: Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way) (directions: adjacent to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, connected to Coliseum BART)
The Warriors play a fast, loose, and fun type of basketball, a departure from the stereotypical NBA team. After moving from Philadelphia to San Francisco, the Warriors settled in the East Bay and won their second championship in the 1970's. Prices are on the lower end for the NBA ($15 to over $250), though cheaper tickets sell out for most games and all tickets sell out for big games up to a week before.
- Fox Theater (address: 1807 Telegraph Ave) (directions: downtown, near 19th St) +1 510 548-3010
A former movie theatre, the Fox was built in 1928. It closed its doors in 1970 and stood empty until 2009, when it reopened as a 1,500-2,800 seat music venue, following a two-year, $75 million renovation. One block from the 19th St BART stop, it is in the heart of Oakland's Uptown neighborhood, which is also being re-branded as the Arts and Entertainment district.
- Grand Lake Theater (address: 3200 Grand Ave) (directions: near MacArthur Blvd and 580)
This beautiful Art Deco theater (built in 1926) shows first-run movies. It has a spectacular neon sign that is lit on weekends, and is famous for the ultra-liberal (and sometimes conspiracy-minded) weekly sign proclamations from the theater owner. At Friday and Saturday evening shows, an organist plays standards in the main theater.
- Paramount Theater (address: 2025 Broadway) (directions: downtown, near 19th St) +1 510 465-6400
This gorgeous Depression-era theater, completed in 1931, has been completely restored and is maintained in almost mint condition. It's worth just looking at the sculpture, the paintings, even the carpets. Shows include classic movies, concerts, and other live performances.
- Parkway Speakeasy Theater (address: 1834 Park Blvd) (directions: near Lake Merritt) +1 510 814-2400
Closed its doors in May 2009. A second-run movie theater, the Parkway had two huge screens with large comfy couches to sit on. Best of all, they served pizza, salads, and beer that you could eat and drink while you watched the movie. There are community efforts to reopen the Parkway at some point in the future.
- The Hat Guys (address: 1764 Broadway) +1 510 834-6868
The type of classic men's hat store you can't find anymore -- except here. First-class service and a contagious passion for hats. The largest inventory of hats on the West Coast -- hats in all sizes and hats for women and children, too.
- College Avenue is well-known for its shopping and food. Easily reached from the Rockridge Bart station , one can enjoy delicious food hailing from various continents, take in a yoga class, go book shopping at friendly independent book stores, buy artisan crafted jewelry, treat oneself to gourmet chocolate and sweets, or take a break with a pint and some pub grub. Family friendly and easily reached, College Avenue is a destination for many Oaklanders.
Downtown Oakland contains some excellent Asian foods that are as authentic as anything else you'll find in the Bay Area.
- Battambang (address: 850 Broadway) (directions: cnr of Broadway and 9th St) +1 510 839-8815
Excellent Cambodian-style fare, but the portions are slightly smaller than might be expected.
- Breads of India (address: 948 Clay St) (directions: on the corner of Clay and 10th Sts) +1 510 834-7684
- Flora (address: 1900 Telegraph Ave.) (directions: at 19th) (510) 286-0100
The hottest addition to Oakland's dining scene.
- Golden Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant (address: 1301 Franklin St) +1 510 893-0383
Serves vegetarian Vietnamese food, considered by some to be some of the best vegetarian food in the Bay Area.
- Lake Chalet (address: 1520 Lakeside Dr.) (directions: between 14th and 17th) (510) 208-5253
Fantastic seafood and steaks in an elegant dining room overlooking Lake Merritt. Step out onto the pier for a drink and gondola ride.
- Luka's Taproom & Lounge (address: 2221 Broadway) (directions: at W. Grand Ave.) (510) 451-4677
Excellent food with a great selection of Belgian Ales, a small dance floor in a separate room, and a pool table in the back.
- Mua (address: 2442 Webster St.) (directions: (between 24th St & 25th St)) (510) 238-1100
A hip, new restaurant and bar in a large space just north of downtown.
- Restaurant Peony (address: 2F of Pacific Renaissance Plaza, 388 9th St) (directions: btwn Franklin and Webster) +1 510 286-8866
Serves Cantonese-style dishes and dim sum. One of the most popular Chinese restaurants on the East Bay. Big crowds on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Shanghai Restaurant (address: 930 Webster St) +1 510 465-6878
Rivals the best you'll find in Shanghai. The decor is minimal but the staff is friendly. Xiaolongbao (steamed dumplings) and Szechuan style shredded pork are two highlights.
The Grand Lake neighborhood contains an eclectic mix of restaurants, from high-end to drive-thrus.
- Bacheeso's (address: 246 Grand Ave.) (directions: at Park View Terrace)
The best Mediterranean brunch buffet anywhere (or order from the menu).
- Mezze (address: 3407 Lakeshore Ave) +1 510 663-2500
High-end Mediterranean cuisine, with a good bar and occasional live music.
- Michael Mischer Chocolates (address: 3352 Grand Ave) +1 510 986-1822
Incredible gourmet chocolate and gelato.
- Mijori (address: 3260 Grand Ave) +1 510 465-8854
One of the best Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area. Usually a long wait for a table on the weekend.
- Miss Saigon (address: 3345 Grand Ave) +1 510 835-3474
Great family-run Vietnamese restaurant with good food at good prices, and a ridiculously good beer selection. Local delivery, but it's always better fresh out of the kitchen.
- Spettro (address: 3355 Lakeshore Ave) +1 510 451-7738
A neighborhood favorite, with cuisine ranging from Italian to Mexican to Thai. Order the Coconut Lime Mussels, and save some rosemary rolls for dipping. No corkage fee.
The Piedmont Avenue neighborhood is a foodie's delight. From gourmet Bay Wolf and Jojo to Baja Taqueria great food abounds.
- Baja Taqueria (address: 4070 Piedmont Ave) +1 510 547-2252
An avenue institution with lines sometimes out the doors for their great and innovative Baja style seafood and other Mexican food. The fish tacos are legendary and the lobster burritos hit home like nothing else. The portions are big and the prices are reasonable. Try the agua frescas too.
- Bay Wolf Restaurant (address: 3853 Piedmont Ave) +1 510 655-6004
A Bay Area tradition for almost thirty years, Bay Wolf offers an elegant and relaxed setting in which to enjoy fine cuisine inspired by the regions of the Mediterranean.
- Fentons Creamery and Restaurant (address: 4226 Piedmont Ave) +1 510 658-7000
price: $5-15 large sundae or entree
open: M-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight
This hundred-year-old ice cream parlor is a cornerstone of Oakland culture -- one of those places that East Bay folks point to as making the region special. The parlor is mentioned in the 2009 Pixar film Up. Huge bowls of ice cream and sundaes of various sorts are served in this always-crowded eatery. Sugar-amped kids roam the aisles all day and into the evening, and although the place attracts a cannabis-enhanced college crowd towards the end of the night, it always has a sweet and wholesome atmosphere.
- Xyclo (address: 4218 Piedmont Ave.) (directions: at Entrada Ave.) 510-654-2681
Superb Vietnamese fushion and cocktails (try the lychee martini). The spring roll sampler platter is unbelievable.
- Caffè 817 (address: 817 Washington St) (directions: in the Ratto's building) +1 510 271-7965
open: M-Sa breakfast & lunch
Stylish Italian caffè where patrons line up patiently for capuccini, chorizo & eggs, polenta, fresh fruit granola, panini sandwiches & salads.
- New World Vegetarian (address: 464 8th St) (directions: off Broadway) +1 510 444-2891
open: Lunch & dinner daily
Offers an eclectic and broad array of sumptuous and satisfying vegan dishes -- Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Chinese, American, even Brazilian.
- TJ's Gingerbread House (address: 741 5th St) (directions: a few blocks from Old Oakland) +1 510 444-7373
price: ">TJ's calls itself "a fairytale come true
open: Tu-Sa breakfast, lunch & dinner
West Oakland has some great, homey places for breakfast and lunch.
- Brown Sugar Kitchen (address: 2534 Mandela Pkwy) +1 510 839-7685 email@example.com
price: ">Serving what chef Tanya Holland calls "new style down home
- Pretty Lady (address: 1733 Peralta St) (directions: btwn 17th St & 18th Sts) +1 510 832-1213
Go for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Korean American diner with a friendly staff. The only seating is bar stools.
- Bakesale Betty (address: 5098 Telegraph Ave) (directions: btwn 49th & 51st Sts) +1 510 985-1213
Bakery/cafe. Folks are literally lined up down the block for BB's chicken sandwiches and lemon slushies. Outdoor seating at ironing boards makes for very fun people-watching along one of the main streets in the Temescal district.
- SadieDey's Cafe (address: 4210 Telegraph Ave) +1 510 601-7378
The Gal has infused the comfortable atmosphere of an yummy cafe with the excitement and variety of a play space. Toddlers can slide, climb, jump, build, role play and pretend cook in the safe play area while parents look on with their cappuccino in hand or play along in their socked feet. Not only do they offer no-reservations-necessary play times, they also host movie nights, parent education lectures and workshops, sing-alongs and story times. Mother's Helpers available 10AM-2PM daily.
- Champa Garden (address: 2102 8th Ave) +1 510 238-8819
open: Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM
Located in a residential neighborhood, you will find this cozy restaurant that has a flair of Southern Asia flavors. The mix of Vietnamese, Lao, Thai and Mien cuisine makes this restaurant a unique one. Make sure to get an order of Pad Thai.
Oakland's vibrant Latino community, a 10-block strip located on International Boulevard adjacent to the Fruitvale BART station, is a host to some of the best (and most inexpensive) Mexican food in the Bay Area. Although the recently built "Fruitvale Village" shopping area next to the BART station has several new restaurants, they are probably worth visiting. If one prefers real local flavor, one should visit the following:
Essential eateries are:
- San Jose Taqueria (directions: cnr of International Blvd and 35th Ave)
open: Until 10PM
Widely regarded to have the best tacos, but offers a wide array of options (burritos, enchiladas, tortas, etc) and dinner plates. Most items are less than $5, have medium-large portions, and have generous ingredients (dinner plates are less than $10 and are "a la carte"). Another plus is the free self serve restaurant-made tortilla chips and delicious salsa and guacamole. Plenty of room to sit inside this historic and creatively decorated restaurant, or sit outside on the patio and enjoy the sunshine.
- Tacos El Gordo (directions: cnr of International Blvd and 42nd Ave)
open: Tu-F 6PM-3AM, Sa-M 10:30AM-3AM
- Taqueria La Costa (directions: cnr of International Blvd and 37th Ave)
price: $5 or less
open: Until 7PM
A small, outdoor patio restaurant that features seafood but has the regular fare of typical Mexican restaurants. Spicy, so make sure you request no salsa or jalapenos if that is your preference. A former burger joint turned-taqueria, this eatery is good for lunch and best enjoyed in fair weather with a refreshing agua fresca, as tables are exclusively on the outdoor patio.
- Saigon Wraps (directions: located inside the Fruitvale Transit Village)
price: $2.50 sandwiches
This is home of the original Banh Mi Sandwich. The restaurant's origins and claim to fame is that they introduced banh mi sandwiches to California in the early 80s.
- A Cote (address: 75478 College Ave) +1 510 655-6469
open: Lunch & dinner
Charming small portion French meals in great ambiance.
- Cactus Taqueria (address: 5642 College Ave.) (directions: (between Ocean View Dr. & Shafter Ave.)) (510) 658-6180
A family-friendly Mexican restaurant dedicated to freshness and sustainability while maintaining traditional flavors. Everything at Cactus Taqueria is made from scratch with no artificial ingredients or fillers. Top your taco, burrito, quesadilla, or enchilada with one of the multiple house-made salsas, and cool your mouth with a delicious glass of horchata.
- Noodle Theory (address: 6099 Claremont Ave) (directions: cnr of Claremont and College Aves) +1 510 595-6988
Asian Fusion food is a must see for the trendiest in California cuisine.
- Soi Four: Bangkok Eatery (address: 5421 College Ave) +1 510 655-0889
Expansive selection of dishes at affordable prices especially given prompt service, simple and pleasant ambiance, solid wine by the glass list. A weeknight favorite. Seafood items among strongest on menu.
- Zachary's Chicago Pizza (address: 5801 College Ave.) (directions: (between Birch Ct & Chabot Rd)) (510) 655-6385
No one will dispute that Zachary's has the best stuffed deep dish in the Bay Area (thin crust is also available). Not to be confused with “Sicilian” style, “Stuffed Crust” or other “deep dish” pizzas, Zachary's stuffed pizza starts with a thin layer of fresh made-from-scratch dough in a deep pan filled with a blend of quality cheeses and any combination of fresh ingredients. Another thin layer of dough is then added to cover the filling. The pizza is then topped with a mildly spicy, tangy tomato sauce and is cooked in an oven.
To get the real essence of "Chinatown," Oakland rather than San Francisco is your best bet. There are innumerable places to eat, not only Chinese restaurants, but Japanese and some Vietnamese as well. Chances are, any place you choose to venture in will have inexpensive and great food.
- Shan Dong Restaurant (address: 328 10th St) +1 510 839-2299
- Vien Huong Restaurant (address: 712 Franklin St) +1 510 465-5938
This is the best restaurant in Chinatown for a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. Be sure to order a noodle soup and fish cake(with a sweet and sour salad).
San Antonio District
The neighborhood centered on International Blvd and 8th Avenue is not officially named "Little Saigon" but may as well be, as this area has predominantly Vietnamese shops and restaurants. As Vietnamese is the language of choice, it will take some creativity when seeking restaurants and ordering food, but it's well worth the effort for those unbeatable $2 French-inspired Vietnamese sandwiches and the infinite varieties of Pho.
Have a martini made from Hangar One vodka, a premium micro-distillery located on the island of Alameda, just off Oakland's waterfront.
- The Alley (address: 3325 Grand Ave.) (directions: (between Lake Park Ave & Santa Clara Ave)) (510) 444-8505
Sing along with pianist Rod Dibble as he plays the oldies.
- Bar 355 (address: 355 19th St) (directions: btwn Franklin and Webster) (510) 451-3355
Prohibition-era atmosphere bar with early-20s clientele, reasonable prices.
- Barclay's Restaurant & Pub (address: 5940 College Ave.) (directions: (between Chabot Rd & Harwood Ave)) (510) 654-1650
Featuring the best beer selection in Rockridge and good pub food, Barclay's is a fun place to meet friends and watch a game. A short walk from the Rockridge BART station.
- Ben and Nick's Bar & Grill (address: 5612 College Ave.) (directions: (between Keith Ave & Ocean View Dr)) (510) 923-0327
Good beer selection and the bacon cheeseburger is to die for. An easy two minute stumble from the Rockridge BART station.
- Cafe Van Kleef (address: 1621 Telegraph Ave) (directions: btwn 16th and 17th)
Artsy bar with live music. Greyhounds are the house drink--their margaritas are good too.
- Cato's Ale House (address: 3891 Piedmont Ave.) (directions: near Montel St) +1 510 655-3349
A popular pub and restaurant with a great local feel.
- Coach Sushi (address: 532 Grand Avenue) (directions: Grand and Euclid Ave) 510.834.7866
Bottomless sake for $3.50 provided you spend $12 on food. Need I say more?
- Commonwealth Cafe & Pub (address: 2882 Telegraph Avenue) (directions: Telegraph and 29th St.) 510.663.3001
open: 9a-10:30p M-Sa, 9a-3:30p Su
Good pub food with a fresh twist, microbrew beers on tap, and cafe.
- Conga Lounge (address: 5422 College Ave.) (directions: between Kales Ave. & Manila Ave.) (510) 463-2681
A great tiki bar serving dangerous tropical drinks in Rockridge.
- Disco Volante (address: 347 14th Street) (directions: 14th and Webster) 510 663 0271
open: 11:30p-12a M-W,11:30-1:30 Th-F, 6p-1:30a Sa, 6p-12a Su
Full bar with bistro type menu and live music.
- Easy Lounge (address: 3255 Lakeshore Ave) (directions: next to Arizmendi) +1 510 338-4911
The reigning see-and-be-seen king in Oakland. Farmer's Market Cocktail Hour (new menu every week with drinks made from Grand Lake farmer's Market produce) every Saturday afternoon.
- Kona Club (address: 4401 Piedmont Ave.) (directions: at Pleasant Valley Ave.) (510) 654-7100
Enjoy a tropical drink in this tiki bar, and lift up the grass skirt on the anatomically correct hula girl statue.
- Lake Chalet (address: 1520 Lakeside Dr.) (directions: between 14th and 17th) (510) 208-5253
open: happy hour 3-6 PM, 9-midnight
The outdoor patio and pier with views of Lake Merritt is the perfect place to have drinks and appetizers on a sunny day or a warm evening. Take a gondola ride around the lake from the pier
- The Layover (address: 1517 Franklin St.) (directions: between 15th and 17th) (510) 834-1517
A small, cozy lounge.
- Lucky Lounge (address: 3332 Grand Ave)
A more upscale bar with a mixed crowd of people.
- Luka's Taproom & Lounge (address: 2221 Broadway) (directions: at W. Grand Ave.) (510) 451-4677
Excellent food with a great selection of Belgian Ales, a small dance floor in a separate room, and a pool table in the back.
- McNally's Irish Pub (address: 5352 College Ave.) (directions: between Bryant Ave & Manila Ave) (510) 655-3929
A standard Irish Pub in Rockridge.
- Pacific Coast Brewing Company (address: 906 Washington St) (directions: at 10th St in Old Oakland) +1 510 836-2739
A popular brewpub.
- Pat's (directions: on Franklin near the corner of 15th St)
An ordinary after-work bar with a really cool Blues Open-mic night on Wednesday nights, hosted by the charismatic Bird Leg. If you like live music, this is a highlight of the Bay Area.
- Radio Bar (directions: btwn Broadway and Franklin)
A small hipster bar with a cool DJ.
- Ruby Room (directions: btwn Madison & Jefferson, across from Central Library)
A larger bar with a similar ambiance to the Radio Bar.
- The Trappist (address: 460 8th St) +1 510 238-8900
Large selection of both Belgian-sytle and local beers. Knowledgeable staff and good bottle selections for the road.
- Uptown Nightclub (address: 1928 Telegraph Ave) (directions: Telegraph btwn 19th and 20th)
Local bands and DJs, often with no cover. Big venue with an antique bar and outdoor patio.
- Best Western Airport Inn and Suites (address: 170 Hegenberger Loop) +1 510 633-0500
- Best Western Inn at the Square (address: 233 Broadway) +1 510 452-4565
- Courtyard Oakland Downtown (address: 998 Broadway) +1 510 625-8282
Steps from BART subway, traveling to San Fran in mins. Property offers: outdoor pool, fitness center, & 3 meeting rooms.
- Executive Inn & Suites (address: 1755 Embarcadero) +1 510 536-6633
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites (address: 66 Airport Access Rd) +1 510 569-4400
- Holiday Inn & Suites - Oakland Airport (address: 77 Hegenberger Rd) +1 510 638-7777
Airport shuttle service and a swimming pool.
- Homewood Suites by Hilton (address: 1103 Embarcadero) +1 510 663-2700
An all-suite hotel with fully-equipped kitchens. Complimentary hot breakfast daily, dinner with beer and wine Monday-Thursday, and high-speed Internet.
- Motel 6 - Embarcadero (address: 1801 Embarcadero) +1 510 436-0103
- Oakland Marriott City Center (address: 1001 Broadway) +1 510 451-4000
Onsite restaurant, fitness center and heated swimming pool. Access to downtown shuttle system.
In past years, Oakland has enjoyed the dubious distinction of having one of the highest per capita murder rates in the United States. Although many parts of Oakland are considered generally safe, it is a good idea to exercise care and always be aware of your surroundings. Jack London Square and the hills east of Interstate 580 are the safest parts of the city. Downtown and Chinatown are safe during the day, but not necessarily at night. Most other parts of the city, including the vast "flatlands" between Lake Merritt and the San Leandro border, and large parts of West Oakland north of downtown and west of Martin Luther King Blvd. have a high crime rate and should be trodden in carefully at all times by tourists.
- San Francisco. Oakland's neighbor across the Bay.
- Berkeley. Eclectic, political and always interesting neighbor to the north.
- San Leandro. Oakland's quieter neighbor to the south, home of Otis Spunkmeyer's headquarters and many other worldwide industries, malls, hotels, regional parks and beaches.