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Best Of Oakland and the East Bay 2019

Our annual celebration of The Town and the East Bay.

Winners

2019 Food & DrinkReaders' Choice

Best New Restaurant

Dyafa

2019 Lifestyle & LeisureEditors' Choice

Best Podcast Surprise

Ear Hustle

The news that inmate Earlonne Woods was to be paroled from San Quentin Prison in late 2018 was wonderful — and startling for the millions of fans of Ear Hustle, the heart-wrenching, provocative, and often humorous podcast he hosted out of San Quentin’s media lab. “€œEar hustle”€ is prison slang for “€œeavesdropping.”€ Since 2016, the show has covered themes like ministering on death row, what causes (and how to survive) a lockdown, and being gay or an immigrant in an American prison. When Gov. Jerry Brown commuted Woods' sentence after 21 years of incarceration he said, “€œ[Woods] has set a positive example for his peers and, through his podcast, has shared meaningful stories from those inside prison.”€ Glad news for his fans, Woods now lives in Oakland and has a full-time job with PRX, the producer of Ear Hustle. He will continue the Ear Hustler podcast with his stalwart co-host, Nigel Poor, a Bay Area visual artist who volunteers at San Quentin. She helped launch the podcast by entering and winning a Radiotopia contest back in the day. Instead of prison, Woods now records at the Emeryville offices of the Center for Investigative Reporting. If you haven'€™t listened yet, now is the time to “€œget your binge on,” as Woods said post-release. The fourth season of Ear Hustle will be out this summer.

2019 Goods & ServicesReaders' Choice

Best Arts and Crafts Store

East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse

2019 Goods & ServicesReaders' Choice

Best Animal Shelter or Rescue Group

East Bay SPCA

2019 Food & DrinkReaders' Choice

Best Dim Sum

East Ocean Seafood Restaurant

2019 Goods & ServicesReaders' Choice

Best Place to Get Clothes Altered

Eclipse Alterations

2019 Lifestyle & LeisureReaders' Choice

Best Public Middle School

Edna Brewer Middle School

2019 Food & DrinkEditors' Choice

Most Legit & Authentic Burrito 

El Paisa

El mejor. East Oakland, on International Boulevard, there'€™s a plancha heating up every flavor you long for. On a bright afternoon when salsa and seasoned meats are igniting the imagination, El Paisa is making all dreams a reality with deluxe burritos filled with lengua, carnitas, pollo, al pastor, or cabessa. If you want to up the spice game, make sure they hit your order with the enormous mortar near the window, and then find yourself overjoyed by the pickled vegetable and toppings bar behind you. Take a seat on the covered back patio or eat in the gloriously festive restaurant. Either way, you will indulge knowing this place not only loves you, they are the staple of te quiero in The Town. Gracias a dios para este lugar.

2019 Lifestyle & LeisureEditors' Choice

Best Place to Learn Taiko Drumming

Emeryville Taiko

Whatever Taiko drumming is, it'€™s not just drumming: It'€™s an immersive sensory experience that combines percussion with carefully choreographed movements and a dash of chanting thrown in. Drummers stand on the stage, feet planted on the floor, legs spread wide, arms raised, drumsticks poised, awaiting their cue. One of them shouts a command in Japanese, then — in perfect harmony — the drummers begin to pound on their drums, all the while leaping around the stage, switching drums, clicking drumsticks and pointing them upwards. Taiko is spectacular to watch, but even more fun to perform, and anyone with the desire and willingness to learn can do so at Emeryville Taiko. For many, it'€™s a life-changing practice and requires a kind of discipline akin to a martial art, though students clearly have fun, too. The first Saturday and Wednesday of every month are when beginners can start, but after your first session, you'€™re welcome to come to practices at other times of the month. Despite its name, most classes take place in Oakland. Emeryville Taiko offers classes for kids, too. What a place.

2019 Food & DrinkReaders' Choice

Best Ethiopian/Eritrean Restaurant

Enssarro Ethiopian Cuisine

2019 Goods & ServicesReaders' Choice

Best Financial Planner

Erik Wolfers, First & Main Financial

2019 Goods & ServicesReaders' Choice

Best Waxing Salon

European Wax Center

2019 Food & DrinkReaders' Choice

Best Barbecue

Everett and Jones

2019 Food & DrinkReaders' Choice

Best Ice Cream

Fentons Creamery

2019 Lifestyle & LeisureReaders' Choice

Best Cultural Event

First Friday Art Walk