To the casual observer, the sudden arrival of Pennsylvania upstart Jules Thin Crust on College Avenue earlier this year—directly across the street from Zachary’s, the East Bay’s longtime deep dish purveyor—may have seemed like the opening salvo in an all-out war for the hearts and minds of Rockridge pizza connoisseurs. But according to co-owner Heather Clapp, its presence is not intended as a bold challenge to the kingdom of Zach’s.
Park Street, Alameda’s main drag, has a remarkably high concentration of ethnic food options: four Japanese restaurants, three Thai restaurants, two Mexican, and, well, you get the idea. Besides just offering a plethora of dining choices for adventurous foodies, perhaps the best part about having all these great options within a few-block radius is that the food is often as affordable as it is delicious. Here’s our guide to Alameda’s ethnic eats from $1 through $10.
Love to eat and drink? Then this is an issue for you. It’s got big, bold, grown-up hamburgers and fancied-up fast food that can be delivered to your door. It dips into the exploding craft beer scene taking root in the East Bay and explores why the cocktail-drinking public has gone wild for refreshing shrubs (no, not bushes, but fermented syrups whose name likely comes from sharab, an Arabic word for beverage). And it travels Park Street for an ethnic culinary journey around the world.
Ask bar manager Jay Crabb at Berkeley’s BUILD Pizzeria what’s in his off-menu cocktail the Amalfi Coast, and he’ll say: St. George Botanivore gin, Aperol, Barolo Chinato, lemon juice, and house-made grapefruit shrub.
Umami Burger, after taking over Los Angeles, strategically began to expand the empire. San Francisco and New York were musts. But Oakland?
In a sprawling Berkeley commercial kitchen, workers pare squash. Chop eggplant. Heft trays of fresh pork shoulder. Scoop snowy mounds of garlic mashed potatoes into the left-hand sides of row upon row of Gideon’s Bible–sized plastic boxes. Whole star anise, bay leaves, and peppercorns dance in the thick braising liquid that simmers in a massive pot.
The East Bay has always been a haven for beer lovers, whether they’re sipping pints from the source at Linden Street Brewery in Jack London Square, checking out the facilities at Drake’s Brewery in San Leandro, or exploring the selections at The Trappist and Beer Revolution. But those are just drops in the pint glass compared to the torrent of new craft-beer purveyors that have begun to arrive since early fall.
If Oakland is a city filled with industrious dreamers, then John Streit and Bradford Earle are visionaries of the culinary elite. When Da House of Suds Laundromat closed in late 2011, vacating a prime corner of real estate in Oakland’s Mosswood neighborhood (or, as of late, aka the Jewel Box area, so-called for its gem-named streets such as Ruby, Opal, and Emerald), Streit saw an opportunity that others may have considered a bit unrealistic.
Rockridge has long been established as one of the city’s most desirable, affluent areas. And with popular, gourmet restaurants such as Oliveto Restaurant & Cafe, Wood Tavern, and À Côté, it boasted the dining scene to match. But as the rest of the city’s dining scene exploded in recent years—Plum in Uptown! Commis on Piedmont Avenue! Bocanova in Jack London Square!—the grand dame of Oakland neighborhoods was starting to seem a little, well, stale in comparison.
Grand Avenue seems to have always been overshadowed by its more happening neighboring thoroughfare Lakeshore Avenue. While cool coffee shops, pizzerias, and bars dotted Lakeshore Avenue, Grand seemed to be stuck in time, filled with quaint, but hardly destination-worthy, mom-and-pop businesses.