Search Best Of Oakland Winners
2019 Food & DrinkEditors' Choice
Best Hidden Mediterranean Oasis
If youâre craving no-frills Mediterranean food, head to Holy Land Restaurant. The longtime restaurant is easy to miss, because its nestled on a tiny street near the intersection of Lakeshore and Lake Park avenues, but the food is easier to remember: the falafel, dolma, hummus, pita, shakshuka, and matzo ball soup are some of the best in the East Bay. Catering and takeout orders keep Miri Levy and her team busy, but if you go in for a sit-down meal, you'll feel as though you've stepped into an Israeli cafe. In the mood for something sweet? Grab some baklava for your walk around Lake Merritt.
2019 Goods & ServicesEditors' Choice
Best Violin Maker and Violin Repair
Entering Ifshin Violins, you feel as if you'd been transported back to an elegant fin-de-siecle atelier: Persian rugs cover the floor, century-old posters of violinists grace the walls, cello cases line the staircase, and behind the front counter, four large, paneled windows look in on a workshop where nine craftspeople diligently restore and repair violins. Aside from the workshop, there are several rooms available to try out violins either for buying or renting — and if you hit it right, you might hear several master violinists trying out instruments all at once. Raphael Gold, one of the salespeople, is extraordinarily knowledgeable about Ifshin's violins and will help you find just the perfect one. (Younger violinists might liken this to Harry Potter, where students wizards are magically matched with their wands.) Ifshin Violins also make its own line of violins called Jay Haide. These violins are exceptionally high quality but are quite reasonably priced, given their craft and workmanship. The store also sponsors the occasional concert as well as talks by violin and bow makers.
2019 Lifestyle & LeisureEditors' Choice
Best Place for an Evening Stroll in the East Bay
Lake Merritt has often been called the heart of Oakland. Especially on a warm summer's night, there's no better place for a post-dinner stroll than Lake Merritt. Grab an ice cream cone at Humphry Slocombe, then head over to the lake to people watch and observe the twinkling lights of the Oakland city skyline. You might stumble upon a dance troupe practicing for its latest performance at the pergola on the northeast side of the lake or an impromptu group of musicians jamming on the south side, by the bandstand. You'll pass joggers, bicyclists, and couples walking arm and arm. Strolling around the entire lake will take you about an hour — it's 3.1 miles around — but if you get tired, you can always hop on a scooter or a Ford Gobike. For those who want a quieter stroll, visit the lake on a winter night, and you'll have it pretty much to yourself. You'll have to bundle up, but on such a night, as you amble along the lake's winding pathway, illuminated by more than 3,000 lights and 26 lampposts emitting a soft yellow glow, you'll feel transported back to 1925, to when the lights were first strung around the lake.