Best of Oakland
Oakland's Tight, Hella Tight!
Where’s the best finger-licking food? Who serves the finest sushi? Who’s got your number when it comes to fine-crafted beers? Where do you treat your feet?
We know, and we’re telling all in our 2010 Best of Oakland issue.
We’ve got the lowdown on the hippest, happeningest, hottest people, places and things in the East Bay, from Rockridge and the Dimond to Uptown and Lake Merritt, to wit: Beer Revolution’s startling collection, Fernseed’s treasures, Picán’s fried chicken and Bakesale Betty’s chicken pot pies. And then: the best buffalo wings, the best non-artisan pizza and the best sporting event. As well as the best chef, the kickingest cocktails and the best happy hour(s).
We’ve got winners in 100-something categories, some of which readers voted as their favorites in our annual poll and others that we declare as our personal preferences. Congrats to all the winners, and thanks for voting in the annual Readers Choice poll.
Best Oakland Theme Song “Oakland’s Tight” by Carne Cruda
It’s funk; it’s Latin; no, it’s Carne Cruda! Spearheading the post-Latin genre in a major way, this band is taking the world by storm, from Oakland to Macedonia and back. Carne Cruda’s music conjoins aspects of nearly every kind of booty bouncin’ sound familiar to us including soul, ska, surf and salsa. The most recent release was a joint effort with super-producer Greg Landau in which Carne Cruda fused its eclectic influences to create the album Oakland’s Tight. The title track sings the praises of our blossoming cultural hot spot with gritty brass and inspired back-up vocals. “Every place I go, when the people want to know about where I come from, I grab my guitar and start to strum. I’ve got to sing them all about it because it feels all right. Oakland’s tight. Hella tight!” Carne Cruda’s newest project is broadening its musical horizons even farther by pulling Brazilian samba queen Dandara Backen into the mix. This new amalgamation of the group is known as De Bahia a Bahia — From One Bay to Another, as Backen hails from Salvaor, Bahia, Brazil, and brings all the energy of Brazilian Carnival to the group’s tunes.
— Nicole Edmison
Food & Restaurants
Best Non-Artisan Pizza Lanesplitter Pub
Don’t get us wrong: We like artisan pizza as much as the next guy. But sometimes, eh, we’re just not in the mood for another rustically charred oeuvre, with parchment-thin dough and effete toppings. Seriously, people. Ramps? Quail eggs? On a pie? So that’s when we head to Temescal’s Lanesplitter Pub for a good old-fashioned pizza. Sure, we like the fact that there are toppings sold separately (Pineapple! Pepperoni! Anchovy! Yay!), but we especially dig the house specials. We’re partial to the Neapolitan-style Heartstopper (bacon, gorgonzola, roasted garlic and spinach, $24.50 for a large), but we’ve been known to go all-out on a thick crust Sicilian Garbage pie (pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, onion, olive, spinach, artichoke hearts and fresh tomato, $32.50). And the crowd? With tattooed twentysomethings packing the tables alongside little league baseballers, we humbly submit that the patrons are as real as the pies.
4799 Telegraph Ave., (510) 653-5350, www.lanesplitterpizza.com. Also Emeryville and West Berkeley. Find a Lanesplitter Pit Stop — for a slice or pie on the run — at 536 Lake Park Ave., (510) 893-4001, and in Albany.
— Candace Murphy
Best Sweet Treats La Farine, Various locations, www.lafarine.com
Best Go-To Gathering Spot Sidebar 542 Grand Ave., (510) 452-9500, www.sidebar-oakland.com
Where to Dine With a Reservation Wood Tavern, 6317 College Ave., (510) 654-6607, www.woodtavern.net
Best Chef Charlie Hallowell, Pizzaiolo / Boot and Shoe Service
Best Place to Guarantee You’ll Score with Your Date À Côté, 5478 College Ave., (510) 655-6469, www.acoterestaurant.com
Where to Get a Loaf La Farine, Various locations, www.lafarine.com
Where to Get Your Patty and Bun On Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers, Various Locations, www.barneyshamburgers.com
Best Burrito Cactus Taqueria, 5642 College Ave., (510) 658-6180, www.cactustaqueria.com
Where to Brunch In Style Meritage at the Claremont, 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley, (800) 551-7266, www.meritageclaremont.com
Most Head-Turning Party/Event Food Provider Miraglia Catering, 2096 Burroughs Ave., San Leandro, (510) 483-5210, www.cateringandmore.com
Best California Cuisine Bay Wolf Restaurant, 3853 Piedmont Ave., (510) 655-6004, www.baywolf.com
Best Egg Rolls Little Shin Shin, 4258 Piedmont Ave., (510) 658-9799, www.littleshinshin.com
Local Willy Wonka Wannabe Michael Mischer Chocolates, 3352 Grand Ave., (510) 986-1822, www.michaelmischerchocolates.com
Can’t-Miss Dessert Destination Fentons Creamery, 4226 Piedmont Ave., (510) 658-7000, www.fentonscreamery.com
Best Dim Sum Legendary Palace, 708 Franklin St., (510) 663-9188, www.themenupage.com/legendarypalace.html
Best Pasta Lo Coco’s, 4270 Piedmont Ave., (510) 652-6222, www.lococospiedmont.com
Best Mexican Restaurant Doña Tomás, 5004 Telegraph Ave., (510) 450-0522, www.donatomas.com
Best Pies Bakesale Betty, 5098 Telegraph Ave., (510) 985-1213, 2228 Broadway, www.bakesalebetty.com
Best Pizza (thin crust) Zachary’s, 5801 College Ave., (510) 655-6385, 1853 Solano Ave., Berkeley, (510) 525-5950, 3110 Crow Canyon Place, San Ramon, (925) 244-1222, www.zacharys.com
Best Pizza (thick crust) Zachary’s, 5801 College Ave., (510) 655-6385, 1853 Solano Ave., Berkeley, (510) 525-5950, 3110 Crow Canyon Place, San Ramon, (925) 244-1222, www.zacharys.com
Most Spanish Tapas Joint César, 4039 Piedmont Ave., (510) 985-1200, 1515 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 883-0222, www.barcesar.com
Best Soul Food Brown Sugar Kitchen, 2534 Mandela Parkway, (510) 839-7685, www.brownsugarkitchen.com
Freshest Sushi Kirala, 2100 Ward St., Berkeley, (510) 549-3486, www.kiralaberkeley.com
Best Thai Curry Soi 4 Bangkok Eatery, 5421 College Ave., (510) 655-0889, www.soifour.com
Best Vegetarian Restaurant Souley Vegan, 301 Broadway, (510) 922-1615, www.souleyvegan.com
Best Vietnamese Restaurant Le Cheval Restaurant, 1007 Clay St., Oakland, (510) 763-8495, 1375 N. Broadway, Walnut Creek, (925) 938-2288, 2600A Bancroft Way, Berkeley, (510) 704-8018 (Le Petit Cheval), www.lecheval.com
Best Buffalo Wings Crogan’s Montclair Restaurant and Bar
Crogan’s sometimes gets a bum rap. Yes, the Thursday meatloaf special wore out its welcome long ago. And yes, if you show up at 4 p.m. for happy hour, you’re likely to bump into a gaggle of octogenarians finishing their early bird dinner dessert course. But new executive chef Robert Hopton has redone the menu, and while it is indeed jazzier, what we just can’t get enough of are the buffalo wings. Sure, there were wings on the menu before, but not these wings. Made with Petaluma Poultry’s Rocky all-natural free range chicken, these babies are moist, juicy and basted with just enough hot pepper sauce to make a tall, frosty beer go down without complaint. And besides, it makes us feel good inside to know that these Rocky chicks were once cage-free and romping around the rolling Petaluma countryside before alighting upon this, their higher calling.
6101 La Salle Ave., (510) 339-2098, www.crogansmontclair.com
— Candace Murphy
Best Pies Bakesale Betty
The thing is, with the pie dough that Alison Barakat churns out at Bakesale Betty, you could probably stick any old foodstuff in between two layers of the lard-filled goodness and call it lip-smacking brilliant. Eggplant and cabbage pie? Bring it on. The dough — flaky, buttery sin in a pie tin — is that good. Fortunately though, Barakat stays a bit more conventional, offering staples like apple, and if the season’s right, pecan and pumpkin. But the real winner? The acclaimed chicken pot pie ($25 whole; $6 individual). A monster when purchased whole, this pie o’ poultry is the weight of the average 3-year-old child and packed with goodness to boot: Toothsome chunks of chicken, bodacious hunks of carrots and civilized slivers of celery. One tip though: If you take either the whole or individual pies home to bake, add an egg wash and a sprinkling of kosher salt to the top shell. Divine.
Newest location: 2228 Broadway; original location: 5098 Telegraph Ave., (510) 985-1213, www.bakesalebetty.com
— Candace Murphy
Best Happy Hour(s) Adesso
Time was when a place scribbled out “Half-Priced Drinks” on a chalkboard and scattered fake wooden bowls of Chex Mix across the bar, happy hour was on. But then along came Adesso. A spin-off from Dopo up the street and originally designed as a place to wait the sometimes hour-plus for a table at that mother restaurant, Adesso has raised the happy hour bar. Because here, free snacks don’t come in a large red plastic bag reading “Party Mix.” Instead, free snacks can include Blu del Monviso cheese, duck liver pâté and a variety of house-cured salumi (hope and pray for the pork belly rigatino), grilled porchetta panini and maybe even some deep fried chicken hearts. Like to mix in a cocktail? The pisco sours will make you pucker, and the grapefruit gimlet is worth its own Facebook page. Even beer drinkers belly up to the bar happily with the price tag of just $10 a pair. Sound too good to be true? Wait — there’s more! Because Adesso doesn’t have just one happy hour, it has TWO — one before dinner rush and one after (early happy hour is 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; late happy hour is 10:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; and 11 p.m. to 12 a.m. Thursday through Saturday). Heck, adesso means “now” in Italian, and that’s exactly when we’re going there next.
4395 Piedmont Ave., (510) 601-0305, www.dopoadesso.com
— Candace Murphy
Fanciest Fried Fowl Picán
With a slogan like “A Taste of the South,” upscale Uptown dining establishment Picán sets the bar high. Fortunately, that taste of the South is more than just a passing sample: The Southern-style dishes created at Picán are far too delicious and classy to be found at a by-the-road diner in Alabama. And that’s a good thing. Picán’s menu is filled with gourmet takes on Southern classics, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the restaurant’s fried chicken. In a city where experimenting with fried chicken is something of a tradition, Picán’s take on the dish is a refreshing return to basics. With Bakesale Betty’s undeniable hold on the prize for Best Fried Chicken in Sandwich Form, Picán’s haute cuisine take on the fried chicken dinner plate is a comforting return to down-home cooking in an atmosphere that’s a downtown destination. The Picán buttermilk Southern fried chicken has to-die-for crispy skin — crispy and spicy enough to satisfy those looking for a heart attack — and is cooked to a juicy perfection for any foodie to appreciate. Add the smoked Gouda mac n’ cheese that comes on the side and the tableside truffled honey service, and you’ve got a recipe for some spectacular Southern-style eats, with a decidedly city feel.
2295 Broadway, (510) 834-1000, www.picanrestaurant.com
— Alex Handy
Best Beer With a View (Or Vice Versa) Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill
When Lake Chalet opened on the shores of Lake Merritt, we were pumped. After all, it’s the sister restaurant of San Francisco’s Beach Chalet, a spot we used to enjoy at sunset with a pint of frosty Playland Pale Ale not so long ago. As it turns out, Lake Chalet, with its own views and house brews, doesn’t disappoint. Then again, how could it, with its striking nautical chic architecture, its 80-foot-long white marble-topped pump house bar and its outdoor bar? Yes, that outdoor dock bar enthralls us — whether we’re watching the winking Necklace of Lights around Lake Merritt’s perimeter or simply some snugglers on a passing gondola. And if the bar’s packed? Then we grab one of the many tables in the dock bar’s orbit and enjoy the onset of dusk under a roomy red umbrella. Just make sure to forego the draft imports and the bottled Bud, Corona and Heineken. Because the real treat here is the house-made beer, a batch that’s been specially made for this East Bay outpost. Whether it’s an icy 19-ounce glass of Lady of the Lake, Regatta Red or Lake Merritt IPA (all $6.50; $3 at happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to closing), we can safely say that it’s the town’s best beer with a view. Or view with a beer. Take your pick.
1520 Lakeside Drive, (510) 208-5253, www.thelakechalet.com
— Candace Murphy
Most Surprising (and Delicious) Ice Cream Flavors Tara’s Organic Ice Cream
With an astounding and imaginative flavor selection that typically numbers in the 60s, the combinations are endless. Some of the unexpected characters at Tara’s include bay laurel, goat cheese raspberry, pink peppercorn, stout with fudge, earl grey, sweet corn and yerba santa. Tara Esperanza’s background in the culinary arts shines through with her ability to bring out the subtleties in each unique ice cream and sorbet. The list also includes classics to please the not-so-adventurous palate and mix well with the uncommon flavors. No matter how many times you stop by, each visit begins with extended sampling followed by a grueling decision-making process that always ends in pleasure. Tara’s is just over the border into Berkeley but close enough to make it nearly impossible to resist being lured into the store by the seductive smell of black sesame waffle cones and the promise of a flavor adventure.
3173 College Ave., Berkeley, (510) 655-5014, www.tarasorganic.com
— Nicole Edmison
Kickingest Cocktails Flora
We’re not sure what we like best about Flora, a true jewel in the Uptown crown. The handlebar mustaches sported by some patrons and staff? The New York City Meatpacking District vibe? The cocktails that might only scream retro louder if they were mixed in an actual bathtubs? Well, it’s the cocktails, of course, but not by much. Grab a seat at the Art Deco bar here and you won’t see any pedestrian mint muddling and soda splashing. No, sir. Here at Flora, they muddle rhubarb and splash mezcal. It’s a cocktailian crowd that flocks to Flora, to be sure, and the changeable menu doesn’t disappoint. Bartenders here are as comfortable mixing up a Moncada (created by Jessica Moncada, one of Flora’s five bartenders, and featuring Tanqueray gin, rhubarb and orange bitters and garnished with showy ribbons of fresh rhubarb, $10) as they are pouring a Japanese-made Hitachino Nest Belgian white ($11). But the best thing? There’s a chance that bartender Chris Lane will mix your drink. Because last time we were in, he was sporting one of those handlebar ’taches.
1900 Telegraph Ave., (510) 286-0100, www.floraoakland.com
— Candace Murphy
Best Chef Charlie Hallowell
The first time we knowingly sampled Charlie Hallowell’s food was back in 2005, in the then-newly opened Pizzaiolo, the Temescal joint he established after toiling at the Chez Panisse pizza oven in the years prior. We’d gone out on a limb that day and opted for the Pizzaiolo Special, a wood-fired pizza pie whose toppings would be a surprise until the moment it arrived at the table. That day’s special turned out to be salt cod. But it wasn’t the only surprise. Moments after that pizza arrived tableside, so did then-Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who strode up, eyed our pie and asked what we’d ordered. We raved about the toothsome salt cod (who knew how fabulous it would taste on that paper-thin, charred dough?), and not 30 minutes later, Brown was enjoying a slice of his own in a neighboring booth, knocking it back with a flute of Champagne. Since then have come the accolades — a rising star chef award, a spread in Food & Wine magazine — and Hallowell has become the undisputed King of Artisan Pizzas. Oh, to be sure, Pizzaiolo, has pastas and protein, and any diner would be remiss to not try the pappardelle with pork sugo, but Hallowell is pizza, and pizza is Hallowell. To wit: Hallowell’s newest venture, Boot and Shoe Service, offers savories of only antipasti and pizza. And that’s just fine with us, for there’s no one better to re-create the art of the pie. Using heretofore little imagined ingredients, like sunny-side up egg, wild nettles or guanciale and wild arugula, Hallowell has reinvented a foodstuff that Pizza Hut and Domino’s almost destroyed with mediocrity. And quite frankly, judging Hallowell’s performance over the past five-plus years, that’s no surprise.
Pizzaiolo: 5008 Telegraph Ave., (510) 652-4888, www.pizzaiolooakland.com
Boot and Shoe Service: 3308 Grand Ave., (510) 763-2668, www.bootandshoeservice.com
— Candace Murphy
Most Awe-Inspiring Beer Selection (draft), The Trappist, 460 Eighth St., (510) 238-8900, www.thetrappist.com
Most Unbelievable Beer Selection (bottles), The Trappist, 460 Eighth St., (510) 238-8900, www.thetrappist.com
Kickingest Cocktails, Flora, 1900 Telegraph Ave., (510) 286-0100, www.floraoakland.com
Best Happy Hour, Adesso, 4395 Piedmont Ave., (510) 601-0305, www.dopoadesso.com
Best Wine Shop, Farmstead Cheeses and Wines, 6218 La Salle Ave. , 1650 Park St., Alameda, (510) 864-9463, www.farmsteadcheesesandwines.com
Where to Linger with Your Latte, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Various Locations, www.peets.com
Best Margaritas, Doña Tomás, 5004 Telegraph Ave., (510) 450-0522, www.donatomas.com
Best Tea Shop, L’Amyx Tea Bar, 4179 Piedmont Ave., (510) 594-TEAZ (8322), 3437 Lakeshore Ave., (510) 835-TEA2, www.lamyx.com
Best Local Wine/Spirits Producer, Hangar One, 2601 Monarch St., Alameda, (510) 769-1601, www.hangarone.com
Best Pub For Kids Quinn’s Lighthouse Restaurant & Pub
Peanut shells on the floor. Need we say more? Not really. Because the moment a child peeks into Quinn’s upstairs room, sees the mess o’ shells on the floor and realize it’s a mess he doesn’t have to clean up and won’t even get blamed for, the kid will think the place is as perfect as a glob of Jack and cheddar melting on a pile of corn chips. Speaking of which, as far as food goes, it’s pretty standard for kids — chicken fingers, fries, burgers (all under $9) — but parents can find satisfying grown-up goods ranging from the Diddly Doo Seafood Stew (shrimp, mussels, clams and calamari in a tomato broth, $11.49) to prime rib at a decent price (with baked potato and vegetables, $25.99). Maybe even better than those peanut shells, though, is the view. Because no kid — be they bored or bickering — can resist the soothing sight of a bevy of boats. Every adult can toast to that.
1951 Embarcadero East, Embarcadero Cove Marina, (510) 536-2050, www.quinnslighthouse.com
— Candace Murphy
Best Beer Ramble
There is a rockin’ beer scene in our fair city. The subject at hand is watering holes that specialize in suds.
Mmmmmmm, beer. All are within walking distance of public transit! Imbibe safely, folks. Here’s the circuit, listed from south to north.
Linden Street Brewery: Set up a tour and taste the old Oakland style of brewing. In the Gold Rush days, Oakland boasted 40-plus breweries, and these folks are reclaiming a piece of that history in a major way. 95 Linden Street, (510) 812-1264, www.lindenbeer.com
Beer Revolution: Thirteen taps and hundreds of bottles later, this specialty bottle shop and tasting room keeps its frills simple but elegant with ample outdoor seating, dog water bowls and a bring-your-own food policy. 464 Third St., (510) 452-2337, www.beer-revolution.com
The Trappist: Featuring Belgian and specialty beers and a knowledgeable staff, the 28 rotating taps in service and 160 bottled varieties spanning the globe of sudsy delectation never fail to please. 460 Eighth St., (510) 238-8900, www.thetrappist.com
Pacific Coast Brewing Co.: Between seven house brews and a tasteful selection of microbrews and imports, there’s a beer or cider for every day of the month. 906 Washington St., (510) 836-2739, www.pacificcoastbrewing.com
Luka’s Taproom & Lounge: Boasts an exceptional Belgian-centric tap selection, along with many bottled varieties, coupled with tasty brasserie-style comestibles. 2221 Broadway, (510) 451-4677, www.lukasoakland.com
Cato’s Ale House: Wash down a little pub fare with one of 30-plus delicious brews on tap and in the bottle or can. Cato’s also has a full bar for the non-beer lovers in the crowd. 3891 Piedmont Ave., (510) 655-3349, www.mrcato.com
Barclay’s Restaurant & Pub: Thirty beers (mostly Californian) on tap all the time, so you’re bound to find something you like. The trick is deciding on one. 5940 College Ave., (510) 654-1650, www.barclayspub.com
— Nicole Edmison
Best Place to Ogle Fine Art Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., (510) 238-2200, www.museumca.org
Where to Let It All Hang Out Once a Year Art & Soul Oakland Festival, www.artandsouloakland.com
Friendliest Farmers Market Grand Lake Farmers Market, Grand and Lake Park avenues
Where to Shop Like Alice Waters Berkeley Bowl, 2020 Oregon St., Berkeley, (510) 843-6929, 920 Heinz Ave., Berkeley, (510) 898-9555, www.berkeleybowl.com
Best Chiropractor Carolyn Finnegan, D.C., Align Chiropractic Center , 6239 College Ave., Suite 201, (510) 654-2207, www.alignchiro.com
Most Memorable Facial Skin and Tonic, 474 Santa Clara Ave., (510) 268-9500, www.studioskinandtonic.com
Where to Get a Hole in One Tilden Park Golf Course, 10 Golf Course Drive, Berkeley, (510) 848-7373, www.ebparks.org
Where to Go to Look Like a Beauty Queen Seven 7 Salon, 5358 College Ave., (510) 601-7776, www.seven7salon.com
Professional Who Can Make Your Home Look Like a Million Dollars Kelley Flynn Design, 3315 Grand Ave., (510) 207-9603, www.kelleyflynn.com
Best Live Music Venue Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, (510) 238-9200, www.yoshis.com
Where to Catch a Flick Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave., (510) 452-3556, www.renaissancerialto.com
Best Museum Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., (510) 238-2200, www.museumca.org
Best Place to People Watch Lake Merritt
Best Venue for Drama and Comedy Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley, (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org
Best View to Impress Out-of-Towners Grizzly Peak
Where to Go to Look Like a Beauty Queen Seven 7 Salon
While you won’t leave the Seven 7 Salon sporting a tiara, you will leave with a fabulous haircut. Fans of this trendy salon appreciate the stylists’ attention to detail and the way they each offer suggestions on stunning hairstyles that flatter every face shape and hair type. By offering amenities such as online booking, complimentary beverages and a full cadre of esthetician treatments, Seven 7 is the perfect place to go when you’re hoping to channel your inner supermodel.
5358 College Ave., (510) 601-7776, www.seven7salon.com
— Linda Childers
Best Sporting Event The Oakland Running Festival
First-time events can be disastrous, but not the inaugural Oakland Running Festival, Oakland’s first marathon in 25 years on March 27 and 28. A smashing success by all accounts. It was an ambitious undertaking: a twilight 5K, a kids’ run, a half-marathon, a marathon and a four-person relay. In short, something for just about everybody who runs, and nearly 6,500 did. The course got better and better as the race progressed. It passed through all city council districts, coming close to Berkeley and Emeryville but never venturing outside of Oakland proper. Families and neighbors waved signs in Temescal, Rockridge and Montclair; ambassadors welcomed runners to the Dimond and Fruitvale; kids spun noisemakers on High Street; corner store vendors along International Avenue offered bottles of water from their own inventories. A’s fans cheered, and Gorilla Rilla high-fived all day. Oakland and especially Oaklanders shined every step of the way, from City Hall to the hills to the flats and back again. Don’t miss next year’s running festival on March 26 and 27, 2011. www.oaklandmarathon.com
— Judith M. Gallman
Best Total-Body Workout The Dailey Method
Want to get bikini-ready in a hurry? Or look enviously svelte for that college reunion? The Dailey Method is your ticket. Part ballet barre work, part yoga and all-around core strengthening, The Dailey Method is toning boot camp. But all body types, shapes and sizes are welcome. Co-ed classes last an hour and participants employ balls, light weights, straps and the ballet barre to lengthen, stretch and tone all muscles — even the ones you didn’t know you had. Devoted fans who come three times per week rave about how the class “kicks butt” — but in a good way. Accompanied by upbeat music, cheery instructors lead you through an efficient workout, that, while not aerobic, will certainly make you fit. Created in 2000 by Pilates-trained Jill Dailey, The Dailey Method has studios in several Bay Area cities, including Berkeley, Lafayette and Danville, as well as branches in Illinois, Arizona, Vancouver and even Paris. Closer to home, the Piedmont Avenue location has onsite childcare ($6 an hour), an added bonus. Who needs a personal trainer when you’ve got a class that will leave you sore in all the right places — and have you begging for more.
4409 Piedmont Ave., (510) 985-1955, www.thedaileymethod.com/piedmont.html
— Christina Boufis
Best Place to Ogle Fine Art and Best Museum Oakland Museum of California
After 41 years as the city’s reigning grand dame of fine art, the Oakland Museum of California reopened in May with a new look. While it’s always been a great place to brush up on California history, the revamped museum now features many interactive exhibits and encourages visitors to share their own perspectives and stories. With a new cafe, revolving exhibits and a natural history museum set to open in 2012, it’s the same museum that readers have always loved, only better.
1000 Oak St., (510) 238-2200, www.museumca.org
— Linda Childers
Best Pet Shop Redhound, 5523 College Ave., (510) 428-2785, www.redhoundpets.com
Best Veterinary Clinic Montclair Veterinary Hospital, 1961 Mountain Blvd., (510) 339-8600, www.montclairvethospital.com
Goods & Services
Best Bike Shop, Cycle Sports, 3530 Grand Ave., (510) 444-7900, www.cyclesportsonline.com
Best Bookstore, Diesel, A Bookstore, 5433 College Ave., (510) 653-9965, www.dieselbookstore.com
Best Place for Bespectacled Peepers, Next Eyewear, 5417 College Ave., (510) 601-6398
Best Store That Treats Your Art Like a Picasso, Galleria Scola, 3646 Grand Ave., (510) 451-3525, www.galleriascola.com
Best Garden Center, Grand Lake Ace, Garden Center: 4001 Grand Ave., (510) 652-9143, www.acehardware.com
Best Gift Shop, Bella Vita, 5407 College Ave., (510) 653-1639, www.bellavitahome.com
Best Grocery Store, Farmer Joe’s Marketplace, 3426 Fruitvale Ave., (510) 482-8899, www.farmerjoesmarket.com
Most Helpful Hardware Store, Grand Lake Ace, Hardware Store: 1221 Grand Ave. (510) 652-1936, www.acehardware.com
Best Outlet for Health Nuts, Whole Foods Market, 230 Bay Place, (510) 834-9800, www.wholefoodsmarket.com
Best Home Furnishings, Rockridge Home, 5418 College Ave., (510) 420-1928, www.rockridgehome.com
Where to Buy an Engagement Ring, Pavé Fine Jewelry Design, 5496 College Ave., (510) 547-7000, 1778 Fourth St., Berkeley, (510), 528-7300, www.pavefinejewelry.com
Where to Relax With a Rub Down, Andrea Turner, CMT, 585 Mandana Blvd., Suite 3, Oakland, CA 94610, (510) 268-0443, www.andreacmt.com
Best Nail Shop (Manicure/Pedicure), The Nail Shop on Grand, 3326 Grand Ave., (510) 832-6245
Spa with the Highest “Ah!” Factor, The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa, 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley, (510) 843-3000, www.claremontresort.com
Where to Shop for Garments Your Mother Grew Up Wearing, Rockridge Rags, 5711 College Ave., (510) 655-2289, www.rockridgerags.net
Best Women’s Boutique, Fit, 5707 College Ave., (510) 923-0784, www.fitclothing.net
Best Grocery Store Farmer Joe’s Marketplace
When the Berkeley Bowl and Whole Foods get too crowded or expensive but you’re just not ready for mainstream mega chains like Safeway or Lucky, head to the Dimond District for a pleasurable shopping experience at indie grocer Farmer Joe’s. A welcoming selection of garden starts — organic veggies, herbs and flowers — greet shoppers on entering the upscale New Joe’s, which boasts an excellent inventory of locally manufactured products as well as tried-and-true national brands. The produce, fresh and lovely, is cheaper than most, and discerning customers can choose from organic and non-organic versions of many items. The fish-meat-poultry counter is pleasingly stocked and run by superb sales folks. Bulk dry goods occupy a good chunk of space, and the deli counter and bakery are chock full of irresistible, ready-to-eat treats. You’ll be making up items you left off your list so you’ll return here.
3426 Fruitvale Ave, (510) 482-8899, www.farmerjoesmarketplace.com
— Nicole Edmison
Best Eco-Conscientious Store Fernseed
At Fernseed, the business cards are printed on old Kleenex boxes and calendars. The huge, decorative lanterns hanging from the ceiling are crafted from hula hoops abandoned after Burning Man. And the plants are everywhere — in pre-owned tiki vases and vintage ashtrays. This funky store and refab shop takes reuse to the next level: Owner Kristine Dang literally creates treasures out of trash. “We retain, reclaim and reinvent,” her website states. Her stylish furniture, housewares and gifts come from landfills and things people would normally throw away: ripped lampshades, tables with missing legs or tops; defunct kerosene heaters. With a background in retail, Dang uses her trained eye and artsy aesthetic to turn “other people’s trash” into stylish décor, employing local artisans to help. It’s no wonder customers rave about her and friend her on Facebook. Where else can you nab a $35 day bed and a one-of-a-kind housewarming present — and feel good about saving the earth?
3436 Dimond Ave., (510) 207-4050, www.fernseed.com
— Christina Boufis
Most Relaxing Place to Take a Load Off Foot Spa and Tea Bar
Those seeking quality “me time” head to this Oakland sanctuary where pampering is a priority. Watch the tension in your shoulders miraculously disappear after receiving a neck and shoulder massage. Then listen to soothing music and sip a cup of calming tea while you enjoy a foot reflexology massage. With a variety of treatment options designed to fit your individual needs and budget, the Foot Spa and Tea Bar offers a chance to calm your mind and soothe your soul without ever leaving the city limits.
582 Grand Ave., (510) 735-9868, www.thefootspateabar.com
Best Garden Center and Most Helpful Hardware Store Grand Lake Ace
If you’re looking to avoid the cookie-cutter feeling of Home Depot and the likes, Grand Lake Ace is the place for you. The folks in the garden center are sincerely helpful and will go out of their way to figure out your issue. The selection is wide, ranging from trees and shrubs down to creeping vines and tiny ground cover and even includes a group of Bay-friendly plants for your gardening desires. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, they’re no strangers to special orders. The hardware store has that jammed-full feeling that only older stores of this ilk seem to be able to achieve. This means that some version of nearly any item that you might be looking for is probably in there somewhere. Just ask one of the department specialists, and they’ll point you in the right direction.
Garden Center, 4001 Grand Ave., (510) 652-9143, and Hardware Store, 1221 Grand Ave., (510) 652-1936, www.acehardware.com
— Nicole Edmison
Best Inner-City Barbershop Jackie’s Cuts & Styles
First, you’ll be greeted like you’ve been there, even forced into some animated debate. Eventually, you’ll be invited to sit in a chair and asked that timeless question: What would you like?
If you’re at Jackie’s Cuts & Styles, a few steps from 66th and Bancroft avenues in East Oakland, your answer can be whatever.
You can get a simple-but-classic temple taper, for that professional look. Or a bald fade, with the kind of contrasting blend and crisp lines that will have people asking where you got cut. Or, you can join in the latest hair trend and get a perfectly shaped faux hawk or whatever design you like carved in your head.
“They have barbers who can do just about everything,” says Jirema Gilette, who before opening up his own shop, Dream Stylez in San Leandro, earned his stripes cutting hair at Jackie’s, where he still gets his own hair cut.
And while your mane is being groomed into a work of art, you will be entertained by all the typical trappings of an inner-city barbershop: the unique characters who come through, the lively discussions on current events, banter about the local sports teams and all the gossip your ears can handle.
When you walk out, you’ll have a wealth of new information (little of which is reliable), a smile from the entertainment and a sharp haircut to show off.
6660 Bancroft Ave., (510) 632-7011
— Marcus Thompson II
Best Women’s Boutique Fit
If you think you have to visit a department store to reap the services of a personal shopper, think again. Oakland’s Fit boutique offers a wide array of beautiful and stylish clothes to help the fashion-conscious look fabulous. Featuring designer labels including Vera Wang, Robert Rodriguez and Cop Copine, Fit has become the ultimate lifestyle-shopping destination among readers who appreciate the store’s exceptional customer service, individual attention and ever-changing closet of day and evening wear. — Linda Childers
5707 College Ave., (510) 923-0784, www.fitclothing.net
— Linda Childers
Best Goods for Decking Out Baby, Rockridge Kids, 5511 College Ave., (510) 601-5437, www.rockridgekidsstore.com
Best Children’s Clothing Store, Bella Vita, 5407 College Ave., (510) 653-1639, www.bellavitahome.com
Where to Find Exactly What Your Kid Wants, Rockridge Kids, 5511 College Ave., (510) 601-5437, www.rockridgekidsstore.com
Most Kid-Friendly Restaurant, Cactus Taqueria, 5642 College Ave., (510) 658-6180, www.cactustaqueria.com
Where to Make Birthday Dreams Come True, Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., (510) 452-2259, www.fairyland.org
Best Public School, Crocker Highlands Elementary School, 525 Midcrest Road, (510) 451-5900, www.crockerschool.org
Best Private School, Head-Royce School, 4315 Lincoln Ave., (510) 531-1300, www.headroyce.org
Best Summer Camp, Camp Galileo, Various Locations , (800) 854-3684, www.galileo-learning.com
Best Local Author, Michael Chabon, www.michaelchabon.com
Best Local Artist, Jared Gutekunst, www.artgoblin.com
Best Must-Read Local Blogger, www.abetteroakland.com
Best Meteorologist, Bill Martin, www.ktvu.com
Best News Anchor, Frank Somerville, www.ktvu.com
Best Local Poet, Nina Serrano
Best Photographer, Shari Cleland, www.sharicleland.com
Best Oakland Athlete Stephen Curry
Despite finishing with the fourth-worst record in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors are feeling good about their future prospects. Because even with all the things that went wrong in the 2009-10 season, one thing went really right.
His name is Stephen Curry, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound point guard with a baby face and a grown man’s skills.
“He’s going to be in the league for a long time and is going to be an outstanding player,” says Larry Riley, the Warriors general manager who drafted Curry No. 7 overall. “I think that’s obvious to everyone.”
Curry, son of longtime NBA player Dell Curry, has team management ecstatic and the rest of the league abuzz about his play. He finished runner-up for NBA Rookie of the Year Award and solidified himself as the Warriors point guard of the future.
Curry came into the league with plenty hype. He became a national star when he led little-known Davidson College to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament in 2008, and led college basketball in scoring in 2009.
He did not disappoint in the pros.
With his smooth outside shot, high basketball IQ and relentless competitiveness, he drew comparisons to two-time MVP Steve Nash and earned the love of the Warriors fan base. Not since Chris Webber in 1994 has a Golden State rookie been so productive.
Throw in a humble personality, and it is obvious why coach Don Nelson often called Curry “the perfect rookie.”
— Marcus Thompson II