Travel

Oakland

Establishment neighborhood
Ordinaire
3354 Grand Ave., Oakland
Cool, casual, packed with locals—dogs and kids in tow—Ordinaire feels like the village gathering space. And in a way, it is. It’s the kind of wine-bar-meets-tasting-room-meets-store where you pop in to buy a bottle and end up staying to taste a few glasses with strangers who become friends. A stalwart of the Oakland wine scene, the bar has been around for a while, but regular events and menu changes mean Ordinaire feels fresh every time. Images courtesy of Terri Lowenthal.
Minimo
420 3rd St., Oakland
Airy, bright, and beyond soothing, Minimo is a space for lingering. A long communal table encourages tasting and talking with a pack of friends or whomever you find yourself next to. The name “Minimo” translates from Italian to minimal—a nod to the strictly low-intervention, mostly biodynamic, terroir-driven wine list. If outdoor sipping is more your vibe, Minimo’s patio area is part of a larger block party in collaboration with a neighboring brewery and grill. Take a seat, order a wine flight, or a bottle off the shelves inside, a cheese board or something tasty from the restaurant next door, and chill. To really get into the convivial Oakland vibe, join Minimo’s wine club or attend one of their tastings, often led by a wine-maker. Images courtesy of Alison Christiana.
Creative Growth
355 24th St., Oakland
A non-profit in Oakland, Creative Growth lives up to its name. The gallery represents and exhibits artists with developmental, physical, and intellectual disabilities while also functioning as a studio for over 140 creatives. The space is, in a word, ginormous. Twelve thousand square feet house multi-media studios, a kiln for ceramicists, the gallery, a kitchen, and a community hub. All the art produced on-site is for sale both online and through other galleries throughout the Bay Area. Portrait by Latefa Noorzai and abstract piece by Dan Miller.
Peony Seafood Restaurant
388 9th St., Ste. 288, Oakland
“Peony has recently really stepped up its game, and the dim sum here is now simply fabulous. Master chefs in the back make just about everything to order: stellar har gow, garlic chive packets, and fried fun gor (filled half-moon dumplings) with a dipping sauce, while their crackly suckling pigs and lacquered ducks are slowly cooked over open flames. The truffled baozi are beautiful and delicious, too. This cavernous place fills up quickly at lunch and is almost impossible to squeeze into on the weekends, but the service is great and the prices are reasonable.” —Carolyn Phillips
Gum Kuo Restaurant
388 9th St., Oakland
More deli than regular teahouse, this is where you go for amazing Cantonese tamales (braised pork with peeled mung beans and sticky rice bound with bamboo and lotus leaves), roast duck, char siu (sweet roast pork), congee (rice porridge), and cheong fun (silky rice sheets). Gum Kuo, in low-key Oakland Chinatown, has an enormous oven in the rear for homemade roast meats and birds. Service is good and the prices are amazingly low. Cheap parking is located down below the shopping center.
Smitten Ice Cream
5800 College Ave., Oakland
You’ll be hard-pressed to find anybody who’s more passionate about ice cream than the folks behind Smitten, who actually built and patented a completely new technology to make what they claim to be the smoothest ice cream in the world. They started in San Francisco, selling ice cream out of a little red wagon (seriously), and while they’re beloved in their hometown—there are locations in Pacific Heights, Oakland, Hayes Valley, and more—they’ve just expanded to LA with a shop in El Segundo (Silver Lake is opening soon).
Blue Bottle Coffee
300 Webster St., Oakland
There are now ten locations strong in the bay area, with cafés in the Ferry Building, Hayes Valley, Heath Ceramics, Market Square, Mint Plaza, and on Sansome. There are two locations in Oakland, on Broadway and Webster St. Perhaps the most groundbreaking of their brews is the chicory-spiked New Orleans cold brew, which comes in a handy single-serving carton. They also make a pretty great granola in-house while the SFMOMA rooftop location is home to Chef Caitlin Freeman’s modern art desserts. Think: a loaf cake made to look like a Mondrian painting and cookies inspired by Richard Serra’s sculptures.
Blue Bottle Coffee
4270 Broadway, Oakland
There are now ten locations strong in the bay area, with cafés in the Ferry Building, Hayes Valley, Heath Ceramics, Market Square, Mint Plaza, and on Sansome. There are two locations in Oakland, on Broadway and Webster St. Perhaps the most groundbreaking of their brews is the chicory-spiked New Orleans cold brew, which comes in a handy single-serving carton. They also make a pretty great granola in-house while the SFMOMA rooftop location is home to Chef Caitlin Freeman’s modern art desserts. Think: a loaf cake made to look like a Mondrian painting and cookies inspired by Richard Serra’s sculptures.
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