Gems of the Dimond District
Fresh baguettes, spacious parks, and Oaklandish gear make for a fine excursion.
Treat your pooch at Paws & Claws, treat yourself at La Farine, and treat your feet in Dimond Canyon.
In October, Oaktoberfest brings beer lovers from all over the Bay Area to the Dimond District. But the Dimond’s offerings are far more diverse than just a local beer festival on a crisp fall day. You can visit Fruitvale Avenue for a smattering of independent shops and lush parkland any day of the year. And hey, you can always throw back a cold one at Soon’s Cocktail Lounge or Club 2101, if the mood strikes.
Puffy pastries, fresh rolls, and flour-dusted baguettes satisfy customers morning, noon, and night at La Farine. The bakery typically welcomes a line of early birds eagerly awaiting the Swiss twinkie, a sugary pastry that shimmers as the morning light streams through the storefront’s windows, among other staples such as croissants, brioche, scones, and the ever-popular morning bun. 510-531-7750, www.LaFarine.com.
Fresh bread is the perfect complement to softball-size oranges, wild-caught seafood, and other organic eats from Farmer Joe’s Marketplace, aka New Joes’s, just across the street. The beloved family-run grocery store, where shopping feels more like an event, attracts loyalists from all over the area for top-notch, natural food. 510-482-8178, www.FarmerJoesMarket.com.
And while the neon-colored “Italian water ice” over at Flavor Brigade might not look natural, the fruity treat has been satisfying dessert lovers for thousands of years. The shop dishes out the ancient dessert Philly style, plopping balls of “water ice” (think shaved ice but with a creamier consistency) over frozen custard flavors like caramel, chocolate, and vanilla. With more than 20 icy tastes to choose from, such as sour apple and grapefruit, it’s a rare chance to get an East Coast specialty right here in Oakland. www.FlavorBrigade.com, 510-479-1672.
On a warm day, bring your cool treats to enjoy in the sprawling Dimond Park, where you’ll find a swimming pool, tennis courts, picnic areas, play structures, and the city’s oldest oak tree.
Four-legged friends need a leash in Dimond Park, and just north is the entrance to the Sausal Creek trail, where Fido can romp some more. Get your feet (or paws) wet in the stream on the 2-mile Dimond Canyon trail that leads from a lush gully to a forest, where you can continue uphill to admire redwood trees and a Mission church. Be on the lookout for mountain bikers and fellow hikers as you zigzag up to the path. www.SausalCreek.org.
Consider dunking your dog in a post-hike bath at Paw & Claws pet store on Dimond Avenue, celebrating its third anniversary in the Dimond this year. Wash your furballs in the “bathhouse,” towels and natural pet shampoo included. Alternatively, your pet can get the full spa treatment with kennel-free grooming that includes bath, nails, and even a facial. 510-336-0105, www.PawsNClawsOakland.com.
Animals can also be found at the recently opened second Oaklandish location, on Fruitvale Avenue, but this time on kids’ T-shirts like “Oakzilla.” Opened in the winter of 2013, this new outpost has all the same gear and accessories you could expect to find at the flagship store on Broadway. The latest “Oakland State” tee, designed in blue and gold, dresses die-hard Warriors fans with a statement about where Dub Nation lives, and it’s not in a waterfront arena in San Francisco. 510-251-9500, www.Oaklandish.com.