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Play, Shop & Eat  on the South End of the Strip

Rockin’ in Rockridge


    Rockridge is undoubtedly Oakland’s favorite shopping destination. After all, it’s BART accessible, just off state Highway 24, and crammed with restaurants, boutiques, cafes, bars, vintage shops, bookstores, gourmet food outlets and more. Here, a look at a sampling
of the offerings in the district’s south end.

Bisou Nail Salon

    Stop into this salon, which just opened in November 2007, for any one of six different styles of organic manicures or pedicures, described as facials for your hands and feet. Using organic and vegan ingredients, Bisou offers manis and pedis with scrubs from almond, sea salt and grape seed; mineral baths with eucalyptus, grapefruit and lavender; and a rose petal bath. It even features a killer vegan-chocolate pedicure complete with chocolate bubble bath, chocolate scrub and a chocolate mask—scrumptious! The French-inspired decor and to-the-nines personal treatment will leave your little piggies in heaven.
    5292 College Ave., (510) 655-6363, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Tue.–Sat.; closed Sunday and Monday.

The Conga Lounge

    Mai tais anyone? Hula skirts? Plastic leis? All are welcome and/or available at this delightful retro tiki bar located above Cafe Rustica. Featuring 40 delicious custom cocktails (including one named after our favorite castaway, Gilligan), a bamboo bar and no inch of wall space left undecorated, this is a hip and happening spot to sip tropical drinks and watch vintage Elvis flicks on the TV behind the bar. And if you’re craving some nibbles whilst imbibing, order up whatever you fancy from the cafe downstairs or pupu (those are snacks for you mainlanders) such as lomi-lomi salmon or crabcakes from the bar.
    5422 College Ave., (510) 463-2681, www.congalounge.com, 5 p.m.–2 a.m. Tue.–Sat.

Two Wheels Rockridge

    If you’re in the market for a new two-wheeled Italian motorized vehicle, this spot’s for you. Featuring Vespa and Piaggio scooters, Aprilia motorcycles (both road and off-road varieties) and scooters, as well as all the gear and accessories a real scooter hound needs (even a Vespa alarm clock!). From a few grand to upwards of $8,000 (including the new three-wheeled Piaggio MP3 500 for maximum stability), the store stocks scooters in a range that most modern-day mods can afford.
    5291 College Ave., (510) 594-0789, www.vespawalnutcreek.com, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Tue.–Fri., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday.

Dapper Men’s Store

    This Rockridge men’s boutique certainly lives up to its name. Stylish duds abound here, for both the young and the young-at-heart, from leather sneakers to $64 James Perse distressed-look T-shirts. A recent trip turned up both high-schoolers looking for hipper-than-usual school clothes and a 30-something dad shopping with his kids. Dapper also carries a whole slew of jeans by Paper Denim, Good Society, Crate, Cheap Monday and Kasie; James Perse lightweight button-up shirts; loads of designer sunglasses; and some good ole “butt huggers”—fashionista for “tighty whities”—from Paul Frank for $12 each.
    5332 College Ave., (510) 594-1940, www.dappermen.blogspot.com, 12 p.m.–7 p.m. Tue.–Sat., 12 p.m.–5 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday.

Khana Peena

    This restaurant offers tasty Northern Indian cuisine and has an outdoor patio perfect for relaxing, complete with trickling fountains at both ends, canvas curtains to filter the sun, and tiny mirrors embedded in the walls as a nod to Indian style. Inside, a skylight—rimmed with a mural of classic Indian sculpture—illuminates that main dining room. The eatery’s weekly organic menu and full bar will have you coming back again and again.
    5316 College Ave., (510) 658-2300, 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. daily for lunch; 5 p.m.–9:30 p.m. Sun.–Thu.; 5 p.m.–10 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

Filippo’s

    This cozy corner joint is the perfect place to enjoy fresh pasta, homemade soup and other simply delicious Italian cuisine with a glass of Chianti. Choose sidewalk seating or one of the indoor tables for nibbling bruschetta and pesto caprese. With friendly service, charming decor and very reasonable prices (pastas range from $8.50 to $11.50), Filippo’s is perfect for everything from a dinner with friends to a first date or for your date night away from the kids.
    5400 College Ave., (510) 601-8646, www.filippos.biz, 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. Mon.–Thu.; 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; and noon–9:30 p.m. Sunday.


—By Elise Proulx
—Photography by Amy Perl

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