From the Editor


The Best of the Rest

   We’re at it again, bringing our readers the Best of Oakland, 70-something winners in loads of categories from breakfast and burgers to sushi and spas, covering plenty of territory in between.
    A few categories—among them best neighborhood, best Mexican restaurant and best bookstore—produced fierce competition, while a few institutions, most notably Zachary’s Chicago Pizza for best pizza, Yoshi’s for best live music venue and Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers for best burger, trounced their rivals. The single biggest vote getter in this year’s contest was Fentons Creamery & Restaurant in the best ice cream category. And while editors and readers sometimes disagree on what constitutes the best, this editor was especially happy to see readers prefer a little indie grocer, Farmer Joe’s Marketplace, over bigger guys like Whole Foods and Berkeley Bowl.
    To find out our readers’ local faves, and for fun editors’ picks, turn to page 35. Remember, you get to vote in the spring, so look for the ballot next year. If you have strong ideas about ditching loser categories or adding ones we’ve overlooked, let me know for 2008.
    Contributing writer Jeff Swenerton, an Eagle Scout and through-hiker of the Appalachian Trail, has a few favorite day hikes to share in this issue, narrowing down the many close-to-home Bay Area options to five don’t-miss excursions in “Get Out More—5 Ways to Hike the East Bay.” These trips make perfect outings for newbies and experienced outdoors lovers alike.
    Thanks to the best weather ever, getting outside here is always doable, so follow Swenerton to the fog-lined canyons of Redwood Regional Park, the rocky terrain of the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, the fern-covered trails of the Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve, the switchbacks and summit of Mount Diablo and the gentle fire roads of Tilden and Inspiration Point. To make sure you have the experience of a lifetime, he also offers pointers on backwoods essentials.
    I’ve traveled the trails Swenerton chooses, marveling at the rolling hills and expansive views, the flora and fauna, with and without dog in tow. I’ve roamed from Tilden to Chabot, passing through Sibley, Huckleberry and Redwood along the way. I’ve had to stop to catch my breath from a spiny ridge on Mount Diablo with drop-offs so sheer I felt more atop the Great Wall of China than a Contra Costa mountain. What makes these places even more awesome is that within a quarter mile of most of these trailheads you rarely encounter others, so that means you’ve got a whole world to yourself.    
    What are waiting for? Go to our Web site,, for maps of the five great East Bay hikes Swenerton raves about, and get out there. You’ll be glad you did, trust me.

    — By Judith M. Gallman

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