Secret Eats

Jeff Diamond’s Favorite Treasures


     It’s tough to find a local foodie more immersed in his neighborhood than Oakland cheesemonger and oenophile Jeff Diamond. The tireless 56-year-old regularly keeps the conversation going with his blog, newsletter and, of course, his two Farmstead Cheeses & Wines stores (one in Alameda and one in his own Montclair). “One thinks you’re just opening a shop and you end up entangling your life into the community,” the former arts and technology publicist offers.
     “We have had a collective 11 years of being open between these two shops,” raves Diamond. “And I think that’s a record in this economy. We keep on keeping on, and our weekly wine tastings are becoming more and more popular,” The dynamo slowed down to contemplate his favorite local treasures:

Taqueria Sinaloa
It’s a hybrid of two taco trucks and a brick-and-mortar restaurant. The best fish tacos in the East Bay with a wonderful eclectic atmosphere where you’ll meet everyone and everybody, from politicians to rival gang members. There’s always a wait and great food.
2138 International Blvd., (510) 535-1206

Mi Pueblo Food Center
Shopping at Mi Pueblo brings back the excitement when I first visited Mexico City. It’s chock-full of everything you want to make a great Mexican meal. Everyone within driving distance should visit at least once.
1630 High St., (510) 532-2654,

Banh Mi Ba Le
Where else can you go to feed two people with a beverage and amazingly well-prepared Vietnamese sandwiches for under 10 dollars? The flavors are exciting, and they have great combinations. It’s always busy and lively and the food is well prepared and fresh.
1909 International Blvd., (510) 261-9800

Kakui Sushi
It’s extremely innovative cuisine. The sake list should be the envy of many Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area. I take pictures of my food there! The rolls aren’t just rolls — they’re sculptures. Impeccable taste in fish and great vendors — just a lovely, lovely experience. And on the weekends, there are DJs, so it’s very cool.
2060B Mountain Blvd., (510) 338-1188,

Southie and Wood Tavern
Last and not least is Rich and Rebekah Woods’ Southie and Wood Tavern. I can think of no place I’d like to spend time at, outside of my home, than the warm confines of Southie and Wood Tavern. Rich and Rebekah have created
an amazing, welcome pair of spaces. You feel like you’ve entered someone’s home, but the food is better than you can ever cook. His wine list is also incredible. Quite frankly I look to his wine list for ideas of wines to bring into the shops.
Southie, 6311 College Ave., (510) 654-0100,;
Wood Tavern, 6317 College Ave., (510) 654-6607,

Farmstead Cheese & Wines, 6218 La Salle Ave., Oakland, (510) 864-9463; 1650 Park St., Alameda, (510) 864-9463;

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