Loving the Laurel District
Eat breakfast at Sequoia Diner, pick up swag at Beast Oakland, and let the children try ballet at Kids ’N Dance.
If you walked through the Laurel district this spring, you might have stumbled upon the paper-covered windows of the shuttered Full House Café, a long-beloved Laurel institution. Pasted to the front door were two handwritten notes. One was from Full House owner Fred Dozier, giving thanks to the cafe’s loyal customers over the last 18 years. But underneath it was a letter promising a new, quality-dining experience from the owners of the new kid on the block, Sequoia Diner. It served as a reminder that on this stretch of MacArthur Boulevard, neighbors come first.
In May, Andrew Vennari opened Sequoia Diner along with his wife, Sequoia Broderson. The couple’s mission is to bring a sustainable sensibility to breakfast and lunch. Pastries, bacon, and bread, among other fixings you expect from an all-American meal are made in house. The menu is always rotating, and you can soon wash down the goods with mimosas and beers. 3719 MacArthur Blvd., 510-482-3719, www.SequoiaDiner.com.
Places like Communit? Table blur the lines between sit-down and to-go menu options, but the neighborhood mostly serves up the latter with pizza, fried chicken, and barbecue, among other quick and popular take-out choices. One of the best deals comes from Chopsticks Express, where you can get a three-item entrée—think chow mein, fried rice, and beef broccoli—for less than four bucks. And if it’s Cambodian cuisine you’re interested in, there are fine options through the doors of Phnom Penh House Restaurant, where coconut sauces, herbed broths, bold chilis, and mint dress up salads, soups, beef, pork, seafood, and vegetable dishes. Chopsticks Express, 4104 MacArthur Blvd., 510-482-1648; Phnom Penh, 3912 MacArthur Blvd., 510-482-8989, www.PhnomPenhHouse.com.
For a light snack, pop into the new Peter’s Kettle Corn shop for surprising flavor combinations. The small storefront makes fresh batches daily. Maple and bacon, matcha green tea, and a spicy cheddar mix are among the choices that you can get in bags to take home or to a ball game, thanks to the brothers Peter and John Ngu behind the brand. 4139 MacArthur Blvd., 510-612-1163, www.PetersKettleCorn.com.
If you’ve got the popcorn for your next A’s game, but no swag, just cross the street to Beast Oakland. Owner Fernando “Rush” Santos is giving Oaklandish some friendly competition with his recognizable logo of a Port of Oakland crane made to resemble a T-Rex. Santos has been adding his original designs to clothing and hats for seven years, but finally opened his flagship store here in October. 3924 MacArthur Blvd., www.BeastOakland.com.
Over at Vista Madera Tack & Feed, Kathy Dunn has kept a stable business running for many years. Inside the small, well-stocked store, you’ll find saddles, brushes, and grooming products for your horse friends, not to mention a few knickknacks and things for chicks and dogs. Hipsters and equestrian-loving fashionistas might stop in for a selection of show shirts and other ranchy accessories. 3908 MacArthur Blvd., 510-531-1989, www.VistaMadera.com.
Every Laurel-ite knows where to pick up high-quality rakes, hoses, and garden gloves: The Laurel Ace Hardware, once the Key Route Hardware. Need help finding a special battery or a certain light bulb? How about paint, a padlock for the garage door, or even street numbers for the mailbox? This family-owned hardware palace is the place. 4024 MacArthur Blvd., 510-530-1966, www.AceHardware.com.
During the summer, expect some parties in the Laurel. On June 20, you can ring in the school-free months with The Summer Solstice at the Laurel Art Garden, 35th Avenue and Delaware Street, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s a free art-filled morning, offering opportunities to hub-cap paint and create new sculptures for the garden. It just happens to fall on one of the garden’s third Saturday work days, with this one chosen to celebrate the solstice. Then on Aug. 8, enjoy one of the biggest Oak Town neighborhood gatherings during the Laurel Street Fair between 35th and 38th avenues. www.LaurelVillage.org, www.LaurelStreetFair.com.
Kids ’N Dance is a popular place to take the little ones for ballet and gymnastic classes that focus on learning the movements. But instructors also encourage improvisation. For your aspiring actors and actresses, there’s even a musical class that culminates with a performance. The kids aren’t the only ones having fun, though. Adult classes include ballet, tap, and even a cardio-dance workout. 3840 MacArthur Blvd., 510-531-4400, www.KidsNDance.com.
Interested in the Chinese arts? Learn about qi gong, taiji, meditation, judo, jiu-jitsu, healing, meditation, and more at Zhi Dao Guan—The Taoist Center. It was founded by Master Alex Feng, an accomplished healer who uses traditional Chinese medicine, particularly acupuncture, and the center is equal parts clinic, temple, school, and classroom. The Taoist Center includes the Clinic for Traditional Medicine, the Temple of Zhi Dao, and the Wu Tao Kuan Martial Arts Institute. 3824 MacArthur Blvd., 510-336-0129, www.TheTaoistCenter.com.
Loving the Laurel DistrictEat breakfast at Sequoia Diner, pick up swag at Beast Oakland, and let the children try ballet at Kids ’N Dance.
Photos by Pat Mazzera