Oakland’s Restaurant Scene Is Blowing Up—Here’s Where You Need to Eat Now
In case you’ve been living under a rock: Oakland is blowing up. The East Bay hot spot is teeming with new places to eat—from Palestinian-Syrian fine dining from a recent James Beard Award winner to smoky, melt-in-your-mouth brisket marking the city’s barbecue revival. Here, eight newish restaurants with mouthwatering dishes across the flavor spectrum. Save your clean-eating goals for later.
DYAFA (JACK LONDON SQUARE)
The flatbreads at Reem’s California have become fan favorites, but now chef Reem Assil (who just took home a prestigious James Beard Award) has launched a much grander Middle Eastern concept in collaboration with acclaimed chef and restaurateur Daniel Patterson. The restaurant is housed in the former Haven space in Jack London Square, and the menu is inspired by Assil's Palestinian-Syrian heritage with shareable dishes like charred eggplant with tahini, shrimp clay-pot stew and braised lamb shank. But don't limit your visits to lunch and dinner: Brunch includes shakshuka (poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce) and um ali (sweet phyllo milk porridge). Our mouth is watering just thinking about it.
44 Webster St.; 510-250-9491 or dyafaoakland.com
BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN (UPTOWN CAFÉ COMING FALL 2018)
Tomorrow is your last chance to experience chef Tanya Holland’s famous West Oakland kitchen in its current iteration. The queen of chicken and waffles is closing up shop on May 18 and reopening on June 6 as more of an experimental dining space to test new recipes. And she’ll be bringing the new concept to Uptown Oakland this fall. Don’t worry, though—her legendary dish isn’t going anywhere. There will still be plenty of chicken and waffles to go around, along with the more elevated soul-food dishes she’s been wanting to try out.
2534 Mandela Pkwy.; 510-839-7685 or brownsugarkitchen.com
NYUM BAI (FRUITVALE)
If Southeast Asian is one of your go-to cuisines, then head straight for this new Cambodian restaurant in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood. Chef and owner Nite Yun brings the familiar flavors of her heritage—tamarind, lemongrass, kaffir lime—to fresh new life in dishes like braised short-rib curry and amok, a traditional Cambodian dish of fish, coconut milk, egg and spices, all wrapped up and steamed in banana leaves.
3340 E. 12th St. #11; 510-500-3338 or nyumbai.com
CDP BAR (PIEDMONT AVENUE)
Don’t let the name deceive you. This is no ordinary bar, and it’s much more than just cocktails. The sister spot to Michelin-starred Commis next door, CDP Bar offers an à la carte menu of Commis-style dishes and bar bites such as oysters on the half shell, caviar service and slow-poached eggs with smoked dates. If you’re in the market for something more substantial, stop by Wednesday through Sunday for the four-course Côte de Boeuf dinner ($65, not including drinks), which centers around a shared main course of aged beef with accompanying sides. Think of it as a more affordable way to experience chef James Syhabout’s brilliant cooking.
3861 Piedmont Ave.; 510-653-3902 or commisrestaurant.com/cdp-bar
THE KEBABERY (LONGFELLOW)
On those days when all you’re craving is something chargrilled, head to the Kebabery. The fast-casual spot from the Camino team serves up just that: skewers of lamb, chicken, mushrooms and seasonal veggies along with sides like sauerkraut and beet and carrot salads, plus flatbread sandwiches topped with yogurt-chili sauce. Two things you won’t find here are hummus and falafel—but trust us, you won’t miss ’em.
4201 Market St.; 510-922-1601 or thekebaberyoakland.com
SMOKIN WOODS BBQ (UPTOWN)
You can thank gentrification for the closing of many old-school barbecue joints in Oakland (sigh), but lately the city has seen a resurgence of smoked meats. At Smokin Woods BBQ, expect Texas-style beef ribs and melt-in-your-mouth brisket, along with all the usual suspects like house-made sauces, collard greens and ooey-gooey mac ’n’ cheese. Fair warning: Afternoon food comas are in your near future—the barbecue here is so good that it sells out long before dinnertime.
478 25th St.; 510-423-8634 or smokinwoodsbbq.com
ITANI RAMEN (UPTOWN)
There’s no shortage of restaurants in Uptown, but we’re fans of this spot from Hopscotch chef/owner Kyle Itani for piping-hot bowls of miso pork ramen. Pair the classic menu item with izakaya-style bites like cucumbers and kimchi, house-made gyoza or crispy pig ears. Just be sure to save room for some mochi from the restaurant’s dessert vending machine. If you’re looking for something new, check back in June, when the restaurant will launch its summer series of izakaya dinners hosted in the Genki Room every Thursday through Saturday throughout the season.
1736 Telegraph Ave.; 510-788-7489 or itaniramen.com
BARDO LOUNGE & SUPPER CLUB (LAKESHORE; COMING SUMMER 2018)
Beloved neighborhood spot Michel Bistro has sadly closed its doors, but don’t get too discouraged: Later this summer, it will reopen as a cocktail lounge and supper club with a mid-century living-room vibe and live music. Cocktails will take center stage, likely with an emphasis on well-executed classics. Michel Bistro chefs Anthony Salguero and Brian Starkey are still on board but will switch gears from French to American cooking with dinner-party-style dishes like shrimp cocktail and deviled eggs.
3343 Lakeshore Ave.; no website yet