Hidden Stretch of 19th Street Reveals Treasures

A short block in Uptown keeps explorers busy on the drink, shop, and play fronts.


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Have a field day at eclectic Field Day & Friends.

Photo by Pat Mazzera

Veer slightly off the beaten path in Uptown onto 19th Street, between Webster and Franklin streets, to find a strip of shops and bars where you’ll find happy hour libations, music, and fall fashion.

Drink

Warm up a chilly autumn day with a cup of coffee or tea from Modern Coffee, where you can also grab locally made pastries and bagels. Premium beans from Counter Culture Coffee and Stumptown are among the choices for made-to-order drip drinks, and these baristas do espresso right. For something on the cooler side, sip an iced chai or lavendar lemonade. 510-835-8000, www.ModernCoffeeOakland.com

If you’re in high spirits, or looking for an intimate spot to hole up, head into the Bar Threefiftyfive. Chandeliers shed some (albeit not much) light on the solid oak bar, a good place to pull up a seat and chat with regular patrons or companions over killer cocktails. The menu is always changing, but you can always go for a classic Manhattan if the mood strikes. Check Facebook regularly for dance parties and other events. Facebook.com/Threefiftyfive  It’s a casual affair over at Drexl, a handsome bar that opened earlier this summer in the old Belly Roll Ben space. Grab one of the eight beers on tap, or have a bartender whip up a refreshing cocktail on the fly based on your favorite booze and flavors. If you want to stick to the cocktail menu, go for On the Boat, a rum drink made with Flemish sour ale. Once you’ve got your drink of choice, head up to the mezzanine for some skee-ball or Ms. Pac-Man, or just sidle up at the bar and admire a giant wallpaper mural that was unearthed during renovation. There isn’t any food on the menu yet, but you’re just two blocks away from Telegraph, so it isn’t too risky. www.Drexl.bar

Shop

Whimsy rules at Field Day & Friends, a boutique-cum-working studio where many of the clothes are designed and created. Cull the racks for dresses made from vintage materials (bed sheets have never looked so good) and soft organic cotton hoodies. If you’re there on a first Friday, pop in the portrait studio with a drink in hand; come out with a free photo and a 10-percent discount on antique beeswax, campfire-scented incense, handmade broomsticks, or any of the other magical goods scattered about the store. 510-338-6624, www.FieldDayAndFriends.com

Play

All those witchy wares and cool clothes might leave you with a hankering for some good tunes, which you can find next door at Vamp Music & Art Gallery. The space is a tiny temple of retro randomness: platform shoes, VHS tapes, velvet paintings. But it’s the vinyl collection that will captivate you for hours, if you have the time; check out anything from traditional gospel and 1960s Salvadorian funk to new wave and indie folk.

If an album cover or recommendation from owner Fernando Carpenter sparks your curiosity, go ahead and put it on the record player at the listening station in the back of the store. Carpenter is enthusiastic about all the music in his store—he often snaps up records at thrift shops and yard sales all over the Bay Area—which means you might even get away with putting on a copy of Lil Jon & East Side Boyz’ Crunk Juice. Better yet: Catch a live concert in the small space.

If you get a burst of energy, take a short walk down near Lakeside Park to The Gardens at Lake Merritt for seven acres of lush vegetation and serene features such as the mini-waterfalls near the Torii Gate. Visit for the Autumn Lights Festival, Oct. 17–18, to see art installations glow beside trees and flowers at night. www.GardensAtLakeMerritt.org

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