Best of Oakland and the East Bay

Our Faves, Your Faves


     This is it — the issue in which we go nuts, crazy, gonzo over the best of Oakland (and the East Bay).
     We’ve got your favorites; we’ve got our favorites. Everybody’s got an opinion. But one we can agree on is this: We genuinely love Oakland and the East Bay.
     So have a little fun with the 2012 edition of the Best of Oakland — we did.

Food & Restaurants

Readers’ Choice

Best Vietnamese Restaurant

Le Cheval

Welcome home, Le Cheval, to your original digs. The tried-and-true Oakland Vietnamese restaurant returned to its home less than 15 months after being forced to move a few doors down to 1019 Clay St. where it became the short-lived LCX. The new old space sports more open space, a fresh coat of paint and a newly- stained floor, and patient and friendly wait staff continue to serve up platters of steaming food influenced by French, Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisines. Delicious appetizers: spring rolls, quail and green mussels. Custom meals: from hot pots to vegetable combos over rice with a choice of beef, prawns, chicken or tofu. Go à la carte: Dishes run as inexpensive as $6 for rice beef porridge to $25 for beef dipped in hot vinegar. Thus reads the menu: Vietnamese feasts usually consist of five different flavors: plain, salty, bitter, sweet and sour. Family style is the best way to dine here, in order to enjoy the restaurant’s abundance of available menu options and elegant atmosphere in the heart of downtown Oakland.  —Kyrsten Bean

Le Cheval Restaurant, 1007 Clay St., (510) 763-8495, (locations also in Berkeley and Walnut Creek)

Editors’ Choice

Best Restaurant Re-invention

The Guest Chef

Guest Chef keeps you guessing. At this unique eatery, the brainchild of contractor Scott Cameron, you might taste paella or polenta, Peruvian or Italian. That’s because the menu changes with the chef — and the chef changes every two weeks. The 24-seat restaurant provides a fully equipped kitchen, a cashier/host and a dishwasher. Chefs bring the ingredients and their kitchen support, and then they run the show. Past chefs include a father-daughter team, experienced caterers and a Michelin-starred chef. Anyone can apply to be guest chef. And there’s no shortage of applicants—or enthusiasm. 
—Kathy Hrastar

The Guest Chef, 5337 College Ave., (510) 658-7378,

Readers’ Choice

Best Food Truck

Fiveten Burger

Get the 100-percent grass-fed organic burger with all the fixings and add a fried cage-free egg on top. Add some garlic fries and a Coke (made with real sugar). And, there you have it — a burger and fries the way the makers of Food, Inc. intended. Sure, it will cost you $15. But for those health-conscious, whole foods–lovers who find it hard to indulge in this American tradition without violating their conscience, $15 is well worth it. Bonus: Fiveten uses locally-sourced ingredients — rolls from Bui Phong Bakery in East Oakland, sausage from Taylor’s Sausage downtown. Plus, Fiveten chefs make their own pickles and spicy mustard, and the veggies are fresh. These guys just know how to make a burger. Don’t want a burger? Here’s another recommendation: New York steak sandwich with garlic mayo, caramelized onion and a secret spice mix. And add some truffled tater tots. Since these chefs can cook, you may catch a few surprises on their menu, such as a barbecue pork sandwich or a rib-eye Philly cheese steak. That’s what makes Fiveten Burger special. Natural ingredients. Upscale taste. Food truck convenience. Parked at a happening spot near you. —Marcus W. Thompson II

Readers’ Choice

Best “Non-Burger” Burger

Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers

Also winner of Best Twist on French Fries and Best Burger

Who would’ve ever thunk that one of the best joints in town for carnivores and vegetarians to coexist would be Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers, a spot that celebrates the cow with hedonistic glee? Well, that’s indeed the case, for Barney’s has, hands down, the best non-burger burger going. With a choice between an organic tofu patty or a veggie one, diners have 11 other choices to make as to final presentation. There’s traditional of course, served on a whole wheat bun with onion, lettuce, tomato, pickle and the option to add a choice of cheese, but we skew favorably toward the Caribbean (with its jerk sauce), the Greek (with Feta and served in a lighter pita) and the Sunshine (what says vegetarian more than sprouts, avocado, tomato and cheese?). Where’s the beef, you ask? Who cares?  —Candace Murphy

5819 College Ave., (510) 601-0444, and 4162 Piedmont Ave., (510) 655-7180, (locations also in Berkeley, San Rafael, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks and Brentwood)

Readers’ Choice

Best Dim Sum

Restaurant Peony

Love dim sum? Venture to Oakland Chinatown for an impressive emporium plating up Hong Kong–style dim sum like you’ve never seen before in a raucous setting. The carts roll on and on in this cavernous restaurant where there is almost always a special occasion going on. A sure sign a place is good is when it’s crowded, and Restaurant Peony is consistently that. Another indicator of authenticity is who eats there, and in this case, Restaurant Peony attracts generations of Chinese and Chinese Americans. Our advice is to be choosy and take your time so you don’t fill up on the slightly less-than-spectacular creations winding their way past early on in your meal. Be patient and use discretion, because the goodies just seem to get better as the servers continue making the rounds. —Judith M. Gallman

Restaurant Peony, 388 Ninth St., Suite 288, (510) 286-8866,  

Editors’ Choice

Best West Oakland Diner

Pretty Lady

Sometimes, you just want simple breakfast. No goat cheese frittatas or soufflé pancakes. No clicking high heels and stuffy ambiance music. No eating with your pinkies out. Sometimes, you just want to get in your car as is, find a place with limited frills and pig out on a tasty pile of pancakes. It’s almost like Pretty Lady was created for these moments. This strategically decorated throwback of a diner is a homey breakfast jewel stashed in a relatively grimy part of West Oakland. Where your coffee mug never goes empty, the hash browns come with just the right crisp, and the four thick slices of French toast bring out the glutton in you. (And don’t sleep on the Philly Cheesesteak.) No separate tables. Everyone sits at a long, U-shaped bar with swivel chairs, forcing patrons to be a community. No WiFi or TVs. You pass the time with a newspaper, conversation or a few jokes from The Pretty Lady herself, Sun. No reservations or exorbitant prices. They don’t even take credit cards. What they do take is a fist bump from you when you walk in.  —MWT

Pretty Lady, 1733 Peralta Street, Oakland, CA 94607, (510) 832-1213



Readers’ Choice

Best GLBT Hangout

The White Horse Bar

The White Horse Bar is one of the oldest, most storied gay-lesbian dive bars around, and “White Ho” fans L-O-V-E it with a special passion and deep loyalty. They love it for the pool tables, the patio, the fireplace and the dance floor. They love it for its coziness and its mellowness. The love it for being homey and friendly, and they love it in all its “dark, dungeony, divey glory,” as one Yelper put it. It’s a local social institution for the GLBT crowd and, as such, the White Ho, an East Bay queer Cheers, attracts a diverse and unique clientele. Patrons come to the legendary watering hole for karaoke and dance nights and drag shows. And they drop in to hang and chill, and many hate to leave. It’s that kind of place.   — JMG

The White Horse Bar, 6551 Telegraph Ave., (510) 652-3820,

Editors’ Choice

Best Meal in a Glass

Chop Bar’s “Baconized” Bloody Mary

It’s said a lot these days … mmm, bacon!!! Next time you hit up Chop Bar for weekend breakfast, brunch or lunch, go ahead and indulge in the Chop Bar Bloody Mary and “baconize” it. Is it a drink or is it a meal? It’s like getting a $7 Bloody Mary with a $3 side of bacon: Bacony, smokey, lip-smacking salt rims a cold glass dangerously full of tomato-rich, spicy house-made Bloody Mary (using Rain organic vodka) decorated with a hunky bacon floret and two lanky crunchy green beans. The straw and accompanying stirrer/spear become perfect makeshift chopstick pinchers to grab that last errant piece of bacon rind, and you’ll not want to miss a bite. This is strong stuff — we shared ours four ways. Recommended by some as the perfect “recovery” drink for weekend warriors, by the way.  —JMG

Chop Bar, 247 Fourth St., (510) 834-2467,

Readers’ Choice

Best Place to Drink Cheap

Heart and Dagger Saloon

A night out after a tough day is one of life’s great salves, but dropping a week’s worth of lunch money on drinks at the bar can be a buzzkill. There’s certainly a time and place for the top of the line, as Oakland’s growing ranks of high-end cocktail bars have proven for the world to see, but there’s still much to be said for the affordable and homey neighborhood vibe (don’t call it a dive) of a place like Grand Lake’s splendid Heart and Dagger Saloon. Come for the pinball, pool, rocking jukebox and leafy, laid-back patio — even bring your dog — and stay for the cheap drinks. Happy hour sets the tone with $3.50 drafts and well drinks, 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. But regular prices are just a small step up: Well drinks start at $4, and most cocktails, poured stiff, are only $5 or $6. Beers range from $2 for a can of Tecate up to $7 for a glass of distinctive Chimay or Lambic. Tall cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon are a hit at $4. Heart and Dagger accepts cash only, so stock up — but not too much — before you stop by. —Nate Seltenrich

Heart and Dagger Saloon, 504 Lake Park Ave., (510) 444-7300,

Readers’ Choice

Best Wine Bar

also winner of best wine list


Don’t be fooled: Despite its tagline proclaiming “drink more wine” and a wine list that features small-production wines and changes nearly every day, Toast wine lounge is about more than wine. It’s about tapas, with a fresh daily menu, crafted with high-quality ingredients, including locally-grown produce and meat and fish that’s sustainably farmed or caught. It’s about ambiance, both elegant and playful: a slick interior of black, white, metal and wood set off by a soaring, slanted ceiling; a patio that welcomes dogs; a permeating kid-friendly vibe; and graffiti-inviting bathroom walls (chalk provided). Toast is also about friendly service. It’s a wine bar where they don’t sneer if you order beer, where they bring a blanket if you’re chilly on the patio and where, when you ask if you can get PB&J from the kid’s menu even though you’re not a kid, they respond, “Of course!” —KH

Toast, 5900 College Ave., (510) 658-5900,


Editors’ Choice

Best East Bay Movie Presentation


To say the San Francisco Silent Film Festival presentation of Abel Gance’s Napoleon at the Paramount Theatre on four days this spring was the best movie screening of the year doesn’t come close to the amount of praise necessary for an undertaking of such epic proportion. To show the 1927-released, 5½-hour silent French film required a Herculean effort practically as ambitious as the making of the finance-imperiled masterpiece, a broody, action-packed and humor-wrought telling of the young Napoleon’s earliest years through his glory in Italy. A proper showing of the restored sensation — the first in 30-plus years and the only U.S. production — required a symphony orchestra (in this case, the Oakland East Bay Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Carl Davis, who composed an original score for the 1980 London restoration premiere), three screens, hefty ticket prices, two intermissions and a prolonged dinner break — all purportedly so the event organizers, even at sell-out capacity, could hope to break even. Ultimately envisioned as the first installment of five “super films,” this episode proved compelling from the initial frame to the grand finish. In the end, the Paramount experience delivered the movie in all its majesty. Too bad there are no sequels. —JMG

Editors’ Choice

Best Sunset View

Keller Avenue and Skyline Boulevard

Wait until the sun begins ducking behind mountains shielding the Pacific Ocean, then ride up Keller Avenue. Just before you get to Skyline Boulevard, pull over. To the right is a patch of grass that doubles as the edge of a cliff. It is on that patch of grass you will find one of the most scenic views in Oakland. The tops of the forest just before you give you that elevated feeling, like you’ve temporarily floated away from it all. The lights of the city, sparkling like diamonds sprawled across the floor, remind you of the big dreams you once held. The orange and purple watercolors painted elegantly across the sky, usually blotched with the shadowy clouds, arrest your attention long enough to generate peace. Got some issues you need to think about, escape from? Looking for a place to have a deep conversation with someone? Searching for a majestic place to meditate or pray? You won’t find too many better places to be reminded of the enormity and fragility of life.   —MWT

Editors’ Choice

Best Race Series

East Bay Triple Crown Trail Championship

What’s better than one strenuous, gorgeous race through the East Bay hills? Why, three. Burning calves and rousing views abound in equal measure along each of the three cross-country footraces that make up the East Bay Triple Crown Trail Championship, held weeks apart in late spring. The series, now in its eleventh year, begins with the borderline-brutal Tilden Tough Ten, a 10-mile (oops, a little farther this year) out-and-back along an undulating (mostly paved) East Bay ridgeline that’ll establish your Triple Crown bonafides. Two weeks later is the Lake Chabot Trail Challenge Half-Marathon, a wooded, hilly course deemed one of the best and most scenic half-marathons in the country. Finally, the 9.1-mile Dick Houston Memorial Woodminster Cross-Country Trail Race, with a handicapped start to even the playing field, caps the series with picturesque narrow trails traversing Oakland’s redwood-studded Joaquin Miller Park. Runners need not participate in all three, but awards go to the top male and female survivors with the fastest combined times (except for this year, because of the Tilden mishap). As organizers put it, “The only thing easy about the series is the registration.” — NS

Editors’ Choice

Best Sporting Event for Dogs

Wiener Nationals at Golden Gate Fields

Horse racing enthusiasts predictably have a grand time at Golden Gate Fields, but here’s an entertaining added attraction for even more fun: the Wiener Nationals. And just what are these Wiener Nationals? Dachshund races, natch, for wiener dogs of all shapes and sizes, from tiny 6 pounders to 30-pound behemoths. You can enter your dachshund by filling out an application that seeks weight, gender, race experience and “special interests or hobbies,” among other particulars. The comical short-legged, long-backed dogs compete in weight-class heats between the more elegant, smoothly orchestrated thoroughbred matchups. The perky pups must dash 30 yards, usually from the loving hands of one guardian into the awaiting arms of another, the athletes lured from one owner to the other by the squeaking of a favorite toy, the mad flaunting of a savored treat and the repeated calling of the racer’s name. Some do beeline for the finish line, but chaos tends to ensue more often, with dogs running in circles, detouring for the infield or failing to move at all. There’s no betting, but a total of 108 wiener dogs vie throughout the day for the championship title and purses. These cute canines boast vehement fan bases, so arrive in time to determine your alliances. First dachshund race starts at 12:45 p.m. (horse racing begins at 1:15 p.m.)—JMG

Golden Gate Fields, 1100 Eastshore Frontage Road, Berkeley, (510) 559-7300,

Editors’ Choice

Best Place to Greek Out

Oakland Greek Festival

Once you make it to the Oakland Greek Festival, you’ll be back every year, guaranteed. Consider it a poor man’s trip to the Mediterranean but better somehow, because you can experience the food, the culture, the people and the religion of Greece in the convenience of you own backyard (sans the airfare and hotel expenses as well as the highly unstable and volatile economic climate). Most of Oakland, and the East Bay, wind up at this celebration of all things Greek, put on in grand style at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension. It’s a weekend-long, Greek-to-the-max party that’s been going on for 40 years now. It’s easy to understand why. For one, the venue is fantastic for taking in a stunning Bay Area view. For another, the food — from the gyros and souvlaki to spanikopita and baklava — will transport your taste buds to ancient times. Join in traditional dances, drink restina and eye the architecture, clap and stomp to the live music, shop in the merchants’ market and then drink coffee, eat sweets and scream “opa!” to your heart’s content. Repeat. Worth every penny spent, so go on, Greek out. —JMG

Oakland Greek Festival, Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension, 4700 Lincoln Ave., (510) 531-3400,

Goods & Services

Readers’ Choice

Best Women’s Boutique


In a world full of impersonal high-end box stores, Fit is a welcome alternative, where the capable employees offer to “chat” with each customer who enters about her wardrobe needs — from helping with that necessary little black dress to finding that fancy outfit required for a visit with the potential in-laws. The antithesis to cold, impersonal boutiques where you walk in and find no one to help you and nothing in your size, Fit aims to be a woman’s personal clothes consultant, combining styles from European, Japanese and American designers, including Vera Wang and Diane Von Furstenberg. The store employees will not only help you pick the dress, but will customize your wardrobe with shoes, jewelry and a purse — for the right price. —KB

Fit, 5707 College Ave., (510) 923-0784,

Editors’ Choice

Best Retail Idea of the Year


If you incubate eggs, fluffy yellow creatures emerge and beguilingly peep at you. If you incubate a neighborhood, retail arises and the street scene flourishes (almost as cute). Sarah Filley and Alfonso Dominguez, sick of vacant storefronts, cooked up the idea of popuphood, a program to get retail back on its feet neighborhood by neighborhood. Vendors get six months free rent to try out a previously empty space, and popuphood curates the store selection to ensure a fighting chance. Old Oakland served as the pilot program, and now that the initial term is over, success! “We are thrilled to celebrate the signing of long-term leases by several of the popuphood members,” says co-founder Filley. The hand-selected group included an urban bike store, artisan jewelers, an art gallery and a “general store” — as if Laura Ingalls Wilder had pierced her nose and rocked the Pendleton plaid.  —Erika Mailman

popuphood, Old Oakland, Ninth and Broadway (and environs),

Readers’ Choice

Best Place to Get Married

The Brazilian Room

There is a reason wedding ceremonies are popular here, especially in the spring and summer. Where else is the walk into the wedding ceremony a nature journey — equipped with a scenic backdrop and a fresh spring smell no soap company could do justice. Contrasting the foresty exterior is the pleasantly ritzy aesthetic of the Brazilian Room (aka the Brazil Room), which Brazil gifted to the East Bay Regional Park District back in 1939. Enhanced with fine rock and wood and old English roofing, you immediately feel like you’re walking somewhere important. Inside, the floor-to-ceiling glass in the back of the room provides a guaranteed jaw-dropping view on a sunny afternoon. The streaking dark beams, the glossy hardwood floors, the ginormous fancy fireplace — you might for a moment imagine you’re in Faith Hill and Tim McGraw’s dining room. Have the wedding out on the patio, surrounded by emotive shades of green and pink and brown. Then, head inside for a posh ballroom setting — perfect for a reception. It’s far enough away from the city noise you aren’t distracted by trucks on the freeway or racing fire trucks. It’s small enough — about 200, depending — and quaint enough to force the guest list down to a manageable size. — MWT

Brazilian Room, Tilden Regional Park, Wildcat Canyon Road at Shasta Road, Berkeley,  (510) 544-3164,

Editors’ Choice

Best News for Oakland

Named Top Travel Destination

Oakland gets its share of bad press, so most locals latch onto any shred of positive PR they can. It rarely gets more positive than this: In the travel story heard ’round the city (and the world), on Jan, 6 the New York Times named Oakland its number five international travel destination for 2012, behind Panama, Helsinki, Myanmar, and London. Predictably, the response was swift — as was the backlash. For every booster reveling in the newfound cred afforded by Oakland’s downtown renaissance and increasingly world-class restaurants and bars — “tensions have cooled since violence erupted at the recent Occupy Oakland protests, but the city’s revitalized night-life scene has continued to smolder,” the article posited — there was a critic questioning the Times’ logic. Even some Oaklanders, ever the scrappy underdogs, took umbrage with the paper’s pithy blurb. But by and large, we were flattered, excited and proud to be recognized on an international stage. Perhaps some of our new visitors will catch on to what we already know makes Oakland great, and help bring the good word back home. — NS


Readers’ Choice 

Best Used Toys

also winner of gently used kids’ clothes

Child’s Play

Walking into Child’s Play is going to be sensory overload for your little one(s). They’ll see costumes and Legos, puzzles and tents. They’re going to (want to) run around like crazy touching everything. For parents, here is the good news: he’s going to find a toy car for $2 or she’s going to want the teacup for $5. Child’s Play keeps affordable used toys, which are perfect for indulging the pretty pleases sure to bombard you. Child’s Play has other used toys that are not so cheap but affordable. And the versatility makes this a good place to shop for all ages. You might find a good board game or blocks set or a DVD of a classic cartoon movie missing from your collection. Child’s Play’s standards are pretty high when it comes to what used material it will purchase. That eliminates the junk you may find elsewhere. The used toys here are generally in good condition — clean and well maintained. The best feature in the place, though, is the customer service. Lillian and Dawn won’t hesitate to come from behind the counter and give your darling a big hug. —MWT

5858 College Ave., (510) 653-3989,

Readers’ Choice

Best Birthday Venue

Children’s Fairyland

Nostalgia for an innocent, knee-socks childhood is so strong here it approaches poignance. Posing their kids in front of charming, cement representations of fairy tales makes parents use the Polaroid app to reconstruct the orange-y glow of their own childhood — and they may enjoy the Jolly Trolley just as much as their offspring. Book a catered birthday party here, and gleeful partygoers can ride and visit to the point of exhaustion, then devour cupcakes, ice cream and fruit punch wearing a party hat in a dedicated area of the park. The birthday child gets a free Fairyland T-shirt. The $20-a-child (10 minimum) cost, of course, includes park admission for each child and one accompanying adult, and extras — like the famous keys that unlock storybook boxes throughout the park — can be added for a small fee. Choose from the Cinderella-, Japanese tea garden– or circus-themed party areas, each with their own little feature only accessible to the partygoers, such as the shoe slide in Cinderella’s area. Alas, only summer birthdays can be celebrated here, from April to October, sorry.  —EM

Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., (510) 452-2259,

Readers’ Choice 

Best Children’s Birthday Cakes

A Taste of Denmark

Walking into this warehouse of sugar is a bit over-whelming. The variety, flavors and decorations on display will hijack your focus instantaneously. Perhaps one of the best features of A Taste of Denmark (formerly Neldam’s Bakery), is you can go in there with a birthday cake idea for your child and have it realized. Whether it’s her favorite cartoon or movie or the sport he’s taken a liking to, the bakers can make it happen. Or, pick one of the pre-designed cakes for kids on display. Either way, beneath the design will be moist, rich and flavorful cake adults can savor. Simple, traditional and dreamy. And by chance you can’t decide between Finding Nemo or Dr. Seuss, or your child is old enough to appreciate a scrumptious dessert, all good. Get A Taste of Denmark’s Chocolate Dream Cake and throw a candle on top. It’ll probably be their best birthday cake ever.   —MWT

A Taste of Denmark, 3401 Telegraph Ave., (510) 420-8889

Readers’ Choices
Best of Oakland and the East Bay

Food & Restaurants

Best Barbecue

Everett & Jones Barbeque

126 Broadway, (510) 663-2350 (locations also in Hayward and Berkeley)

Best Breakfast Sandwich

Chop Bar

247 Fourth St., Suite 111, (510) 834-2467

Best Brunch

Meritage at the Claremont

41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley, (510) 549-8510

Best Twist on French Fries

Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers

5819 College Ave., (510) 601-0444
4162 Piedmont Ave., (510) 655-7180 (locations also in Berkeley, San Rafael, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks and Brentwood

Best Chef

Kim Alter, Haven

44 Webster St., (510) 663-4440

Best New Restaurant


44 Webster St., (510) 663-4440

Best Bakery

Bakesale Betty

5098 Telegraph Ave., (510) 985-1213
2228 Broadway, (510) 251-2100

Best Breakfast (sitdown)

Mama’s Royal Café

4012 Broadway, (510) 547-7600

Best Burger

Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers

5819 College Ave., (510) 601-0444
4162 Piedmont Ave., (510) 655-7180 (locations also in Berkeley, San Rafael, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks and Brentwood)

Best “Non-burger” Burger

Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers

5819 College Ave., (510) 601-0444
4162 Piedmont Ave., (510) 655-7180 (locations also in Berkeley, San Rafael, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks and Brentwood)

Best California Cuisine

Wood Tavern Restaurant

6317 College Ave., (510) 654-6607

Best Chinese Restaurant

Little Shin Shin Restaurant

4258 Piedmont Ave., (510) 658-9799

Best Date Night Restaurant

À Côté Restaurant

5478 College Ave., (510) 655-6469

Best Dim Sum

Restaurant Peony

388 Ninth St., Suite 288, (510) 286-8866

Best Ethiopian Restaurant

Asmara Restaurant

5020 Telegraph Ave., (510) 547-5100

Best Express Lunch

Bakesale Betty

5098 Telegraph Ave., (510) 985-1213 2228 Broadway, (510) 251-2100

Best Food Truck

Fiveten Burger

Best Gourmet Doughnuts

Colonial Donuts

3318 Lakeshore Ave., (510) 893-2503
1636 Franklin St., (510) 834-3736
6126 La Salle Ave., (510) 339-8230

Best Italian Restaurant

Italian Colors Restaurant

2220 Mountain Blvd., (510) 482-8094

Best Late-Night Munchies

Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café

1805 Telegraph Ave., (510) 251-9400
4081 Hollis St., Emeryville (510) 594-1221

Best Mediterranean/Greek Restaurant


3407 Lakeshore Ave., (510) 663-2500

Best Mexican Restaurant

Restaurante Doña Tomás

5004 Telegraph Ave., (510) 450-0522

Best Overall Restaurant


2295 Broadway, (510) 834-1000

Best Outdoor Restaurant

Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill

1520 Lakeside Drive, (510) 208-5253

Best Place for Soup-Sandwich Combo

Sacred Wheel Cheese and Specialty Market

4935 Shattuck Ave., (510) 653-1353

Best Place to Buy Cakes

La Farine Boulangerie Patisserie

6323 College Ave., (510) 654-033,
3411 Fruitvale Ave., (510) 531-7750
4094 Piedmont Ave., (510) 420-1777
(location also in Berkeley)

Best Restaurant With a View

Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill

1520 Lakeside Drive, (510) 208-5253

Best Restaurant With Staying Power
(5 plus years in business)

BayWolf Restaurant

3853 Piedmont Ave., (510) 655-6004

Most Romantic Dining Spot

 À Côté Restaurant

5478 College Ave., (510) 655-6469

Restaurant With the Best Service

Wood Tavern Restaurant

6317 College Ave., (510) 654-6607

Best Thin Crust Pizza


5008 Telegraph Ave., (510) 652-4888

Best Thick Crust Pizza

Zachary’s Chicago Pizza

5801 College Ave., (510) 655-6385
(locations also in Berkeley and San Ramon)

Best Soul Food/Southern Food


2295 Broadway, (510) 834-1000

Best Sushi Restaurant

Kakui Sushi

2060 Mountain Blvd., (510) 338-1188

Best Thai Restaurant

Soi4 Bangkok Eatery

5421 College Ave., (510) 655-0889

Best Vietnamese Restaurant

Le Cheval

1007 Clay St., (510) 763-8495
(locations also in Berkeley and Walnut Creek)


Best Coffee

Peet’s Coffee & Tea

(510) 844-0061

Best Bottled Beer Selection

Beer Revolution

464 Third St., (510) 452-2337

Best Draft Beer Selection

The Trappist

460 Eighth St., (510) 238-8900

Best Local Beer

Linden Street Brewery

95 Linden St., (510) 812-1264

Best Cocktails


1900 Telegraph Ave., (510) 286-0100

Best GLBT Hangout

The White Horse Bar

6551 Telegraph Ave., (510) 652-3820

Best Happy Hour


4395 Piedmont Ave., Suite 2, (510) 601-0305

Best Hotel Bar


41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley, (510) 549-8585

Best Margaritas

Restaurante Doña Tomás

5004 Telegraph Ave., (510) 450-0522

Best Martini

Somerset Restaurant

5912 College Ave., (510) 428-1823

Best Neighborhood Bar


6101 La Salle Ave., (510) 339-2098

Best Wine Bar


5900 College Ave., (510) 658-5900

Best Wine Shop

The Wine Mine

5427 Telegraph Ave., (510) 547-9463

Best Wine List


5900 College Ave., (510) 658-5900

Best Local Winery

Rosenblum Cellars

2900 Main St., Suite 1100, Alameda (510) 865-7007

Best Place to Drink Cheap

Heart and Dagger Saloon

504 Lake Park Ave., (510) 444-7300

Best Sports Bar


6101 La Salle Ave., (510) 339-2098


Best Bay Area Day Trip

Pt. Reyes

Best Weekend Getaway


Best Girls’ Getaway


Best Guys’ Getaway

Oakland A’s Game

Best Art Gallery/Art Show Venue

Oakland Art Murmur

Best Gym

Namaste Personal Training

1240 Powell Street, Suite 1C, Emeryville

(510) 595-6842

Best Local Festival or Annual Event

Art & Soul

Best Local Tourist Attraction

Lake Merritt

Best Live Music Venue

Fox Theater

1807 Telegraph Ave, (510) 302-2250

Goods & Services

Best Antique Store

Montclair Estates

4268 Piedmont Ave., (510) 339-6505

Best Bookstore

Walden Pond Books

3316 Grand Ave., (510) 832-4438

Best Butcher Shop

Ver Brugge

6321 College Ave., (510) 658-6854

Best Consignment/Resale Shop

Rockridge Rags

5711 College Ave., (510) 655-2289

Best Cosmetic Surgery Facility

Joseph Togba, M D.

3300 Webster St., (510) 763-2525

Best Gift Shop


6134 Medau Place, (510) 339-7090

Best Grocery Store

Piedmont Grocery

4038 Piedmont Ave., (510) 653-8181

Best Home Decor/Home Furnishing Store

Rockridge Furniture

5601 College Ave., (510) 652-5753

Best Jewelry Store

Pavé Fine Jewelry

5496 College Ave., (510) 547-7000
(location also in Berkeley)

Best Beauty Salon

Seven 7 Salon

5358 College Ave., (510) 601-7776

Best Manicure/Pedicure

Natural Nails Plus

3527 Grand Ave., Suite B, (510) 251-2111

Best Place to Book a Shower/Party

Claremont Hotel Club & Spa

41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley, (510) 704-0371

Best Place to Get Married

Brazilian Room

Tilden Regional Park, Wildcat Canyon Road at Shasta Road
Berkeley, (510) 544-3164,

Best Spa

The Foot Spa & Tea Bar

582 Grand Ave., (510) 735-9868

Best Shoe Store


5525 College Ave., (510) 595-7272

Best Shopping District


Best T-shirts


1444 Broadway, (510) 652-7490

Best Women’s Accessories

Philippa Roberts

4176 Piedmont Ave., (510) 655-0656

Best Women’s Boutique


5707 College Ave., (510) 923-0784

Best Chiropractor

Carolyn Finnegan, Align Chiropractic

6239 College Ave., Suite 201, (510) 654-2207

Best Dentist

Melinda Chan, D.D.S.

5277 College Ave., Suite 203, (510) 654-2226


Best New Kids’ Clothes


1444 Broadway, (510) 652-7490

Best Gently Used Kids’ Clothes

Child’s Play

5858 College Ave., (510) 653-3989

Best New Toys

Rockridge Kids

5511 College Ave., (510) 601-5437

Best Used Toys

Child’s Play

5858 College Ave., (510) 653-3989

Best Children’s Birthday Cakes

A Taste of Denmark

3401 Telegraph Ave., (510) 420-8889

Best Kid-Friendly Vacation Destination


Most Kid-Friendly Restaurant

Cactus Taqueria

5642 College Ave., (510) 658-6180

Best Birthday Venue

Children’s Fairyland

699 Bellevue Ave., (510) 452-2259

Best Preschool

Temple Sinai Preschool

2808 Summit St., (510) 832-6800

Best K–8 School

Thornhill Elementary School

5880 Thornhill Drive, (510) 339-6800

Best High School (9–12)

Bishop O’Dowd High School

9500 Stearns Ave., (510) 577-9100

Best Summer Camp

Camp Galileo

Best Overnight Camp

Camp Winnarainbow

Best Kids’ Haircuts

Snips Children’s Hair Salon

5335 College Ave., Suite 4, (510) 547-7277

Best Music Instruction for Kids

East Bay Music Together

2640 College Ave., Berkeley, (510) 848-7464


Best Pet Shop

Redhound Pets

5523 College Ave., (510) 428-2785

Best Veterinarian

Montclair Veterinary Hospital

1961 Mountain Blvd., (510) 339-8600

Best Pet Sitter

Three-Way Tie

Doggy Lama Pet Care

3312 Loma Vista Way, (510) 434-1974


Happy Hound

1695 34th St., (510) 547-3647



642 54th St., (510) 595-7328

Best Dog-Friendly Restaurant (local)


400 40th St., (510) 597-0400

Best Dog Walker

Woof Walks

15935 Gramercy Drive, San Leandro (510) 220-0214

Best Place to Go Overnight with Fido


Best Place to Board Pets

Woof Walks

15935 Gramercy Drive, San Leandro (510) 220-0214 

The Readers’ Choices list was researched and compiled by Michelle Jewell.

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