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Best Of Oakland and the East Bay

169 winners—our biggest list ever—representing the tops from sausages and spirits to circus arts and pub crawls


2014 Families and Pets

Best Place to Get Fit and Fulfill a Circus Fantasy

Kinetic Arts Center

Think “circus” and you may think of clowns, trapeze, and people twisting like pretzels. But the big tent of “circus arts” covers many disciplines that make for exciting, athletic, and creative ways to get fit and develop new skills. Kinetic Arts Center, on the corner of Seventh and Brush streets in West Oakland, offers adult fitness classes (as well as kids’ classes and performance programs) such as Rope & Tissue, Aerial Hoop, Contortion & Flexibility, Pole Fit & Play—and of course, Trapeze and Clowning. The instructors come to Kinetic Arts with stellar credentials and inspire all ages and ability levels. If you can’t stand the gym, then run away to Kinetic Arts.
Photo by Pat Mazzera

2014 Food and Drink

Best Bakery,Best Desserts

La Farine

2014 Food and Drink

Best Happy Hour Crowd,Best Outdoor Dining,Best Restaurant View

Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill

Drawing a mixture of employees ending the workday and surrounding residents, Lake Chalet’s happy hour crowd is always up for a good time. The food-and-drink specials served in the Pumphouse and Pumphouse bar inevitably find their way out onto the dock floating atop Lake Merritt. Perhaps it’s the view of the lake and the breeze rustling cocktail napkins that put patrons in such a good mood. Then again, it could be that Lake Chalet offers two happy hours (3–6 p.m. and 9 p.m.–close) every day. Whatever the cause, the effect is worthy of celebration, and Lake Chalet revelers are all too eager to raise a glass to toast their happy hour hosts.
Photo by Lori Eanes

2014 Lifestyle and Leisure

Best Bike Ride,Best Hike-Walk

Lake Merritt

2014 Food and Drink

Best Mediterranean-Middle Eastern Restaurant

La Mediterranee

2014 Food and Drink

Best Local Brewery

Linden Street Brewery

2014 Food and Drink

Best Chinese Restaurant

Little Shin Shin

2014 Families and Pets

Best Day Care Center

Little Stars Preschool

2014 Food and Drink

Most Inspiring Space Within a Beer Garden

Lost & Found

At first glance, the plants in the back patio of Uptown’s new Lost & Found are simply a nice “garden-y” touch for the latest addition to the suddenly beer garden–crazy Oakland dining scene. But peek behind the foliage, and you’ll find a story with deeper roots. Christi Vaughn, who owns Lost & Found and the Layover bar with her husband, Tim Martinez, is a passionate gardener (many of the plants were transplanted from the backyard of the couple’s West Oakland home). And she’s passionate about sharing that love for a greater good. Vaughn helped start a pilot gardening program at San Quentin State Prison, the idea being to teach inmates a skill that they can use in the outside world. In fact, she plans to employ some of the program’s graduates to maintain the plants at Lost & Found: “We’re hoping that this can provide some structure and employment opportunities for some of these guys to help them succeed outside of prison.”
Photos by Lori Eanes

2014 Food and Drink

Best Lounge

Lounge 3411

2014 Lifestyle and Leisure

Best Local Book

Lucky Leo by Abbey Richter

2014 Food and Drink

Best Place to Meet Members of the Opposite Sex,Friendliest Bar

Make Westing

It’s Friday night in downtown Oakland, and if you’re looking for a cocktail and a crowd, you’re at Make Westing. This wide-open, industrial-style space is wall-to-wall with 20- and 30-somethings who have one agenda in mind: drink and mingle. Whether it’s getting acquainted over bocce ball (the lounge boasts two venue-long courts) or chatting it up at the bar (with a side of artichokes or a Cuban sandwich), there’s ample opportunity to flaunt your game, and you’ll look cool doing it in the mood lighting cast by chic metallic fixtures. It’s low-brow enough to serve tall boys and has enough class to offer a fine martini. Words to date by: When the sun has set over the Fox Theater, you should be here.

2014 Goods and Services

Best Bike Shop

Manifesto Bicycles

2014 Lifestyle and Leisure

Best Philanthropist(s),Best Public School: K–8

Marc and Lynne Benioff

2014 Food and Drink

Best Seafood Restaurant

Marica Restaurant

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