Inside KoNo and Pill Hill

Buy CDs, play pool, eat vegan, and do more along vibrant Telegraph Avenue.



Art meets vegan food at Classic Cars West and Hella Vegan Eats.

Pat Mazzera

Locals long dubbed the area southeast of Interstates 980 and 580 Pill Hill for the hospital and many doctors offices there on the hill. Utility poles along Telegraph Avenue between 20th and 35th streets now sport signs designating that area as KoNo, shorthand for the combined neighborhoods of Koreatown and Northgate. The KoNo identity was coined in 2007 to promote neighborhood development. Whatever the ’hood is officially, it’s an unofficial East Bay arts and cultural hub, because of ongoing Oakland First Fridays and Oakland Art Murmur gallery walks. There are scads of eclectic spots worth noting; here’s a tour of a few on Telegraph between 26th and 30th streets.

 

Shop

Bees can be a nuisance in cities, but at the Bee Healthy Honey Shop, bees and bee lovers are welcomed with open arms. This fourth-generation store sells beeswax candles, bee pollen, honeycombs, beeswax soap, beekeeping supplies, and, of course, honey. Raw, local honey is sold by the pound or in smaller quantities, as well as royal honey, organic honey, and honey from different flowering plants, each giving their own distinctive flavor. The owners are also bee removal experts, specializing in live bee extraction and relocation. 2950 Telegraph Ave., 510-388-9112,  www.BeeHealthyHoneyShop.com

Just down the street is another neighborhood institution, Oasis Food Market, a one-stop-shop for authentic Middle Eastern ingredients and delicacies. Shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to make your own hummus, Turkish coffee, kibbeh, or kafta, including a halal butcher on-site. Don’t feel like cooking? An attached cafe has all the traditional Middle Eastern favorites, including kebabs and baklava. 3045 Telegraph Ave., 510-655-5111, www.OasisFoodMarketOakland.com

The sign below House of Soul bills the store as a place to buy and sell CDs, but walking in, you soon realize it has much more to offer. It is a small, inconspicuous store with a robust selection of incense, bath salts sold in bulk, African shea butter, and black soap, purported to calm problem skin. House of Soul has a wide collection of affordable jazz and soul CDs, sure to please any collector, and also carries movies, concert DVDs, and an impressive selection of famous boxing matches. 2829 Telegraph Ave., 510-645-9076

 

Play

No visit to this area would be complete without stopping in at a local gallery. Warehouse 416 is a unique space where artists and small businesses can grow alongside one another. On First Fridays, the warehouse opens a new exhibit, showcasing the talents of community artists and those in residence. There is a cafe within the gallery, as well as conference rooms and event facilities available for rent, and the gallery is a stop on the Oakland Art Murmur Saturday Stroll Art Walk, which takes place every Saturday 1-5 p.m. 416 26th St., 510-325-5703,  www.Warehouse416.com

If you enjoy playing pool but hate the noise of bars, Sam Won Billiard might be up your alley. With both regulation-sized pool and billiard tables, players can choose their game and settle in for an evening of fun. Tables are rented by the hour and, though no alcohol is allowed on the premises, sodas and snacks are available for purchase. 2600 Telegraph Ave., 510-208-3356

Looking for an activity that’s a little more high impact than billiards? Project Pedal is an indoor cycling studio that offers drop-in rides or intense cardio classes. Burning up to 600 calories per session, riders can get in shape and have fun as live DJs spin hip-hop, rock, pop, and EDM. For early birds, Project Pedal is open at 6 a.m., Monday through Friday. 2633 Telegraph Ave., Suite 107, 415-937-0348,  www.Body-Mechanix.com/Project-Pedal

 

Eat

Commonwealth Cafe and Public House was established in 2010 and instantly became a favorite among soccer fans for its daily live matches broadcast throughout the bar. With a menu that moves beyond traditional pub fare, Commonwealth serves fresh, filling food in a welcoming, neighborhood atmosphere. Commonwealth also stocks games, books, crayons for the kids, and hosts a weekly pub quiz on Sundays. 2882 Telegraph Ave., 510-663-3001, www.CommonwealthOakland.com

Blind Tiger, downstairs from the popular Korean barbecue restaurant, Gogi Time, is a Pan-Asian tapas and craft cocktail bar. In an expansive basement space, diners sit under colorful paper lanterns and chalk graffiti and eat Marin Miyagi oysters, Szechuan frog legs, Bavette steak, and finish off their meal with Taiwanese snow ice. The Tin Violin cocktail, featuring Nilla Wafer vodka, is not to be missed. 2600B Telegraph Ave., 510-899-9694, www.BlindTigerOakland.com

Only in Oakland: Classic Cars West is a boutique vintage car dealership that expanded in March 2016 to include a restaurant and beer garden in its showroom. Hella Vegan Eats, an Oakland food truck heavyweight, has set up shop inside the dealership and serves delicious bites with menus changing weekly. The beer garden is set against colorful murals and offers a cheerful place for friends to gather and enjoy all that Oakland’s craft beer industry has to offer. 411 26th St., 510-922-1319, www.ClassicCarsWest.com

 

Published online on Nov. 8, 2016 at 8:00 a.m.

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