Downtown San Leandro Has Plenty to See, Taste, and Do

San Leandro is often overlooked, but it has a lively downtown.


Published:

DC Dance Center

Photo by Lori Eanes

Sandwiched between its more populated neighbors of Oakland and Hayward, San Leandro can sometimes get overlooked. But this close-knit and diverse community has lots to offer, and it’s only a short BART ride (or quick drive) away. Most East Bay-ers know San Leandro for the outlets at Marina Square Center, but off the highway, downtown San Leandro has plenty to see, taste, and do. And the Cherry Festival, at 107 years old, is San Leandro’s oldest tradition, but festival fans will have to wait until next June for it.

 

Shop

Are you looking for help finding the perfect gift for that certain someone? Mandy and Arthur Britto of Mandy’s Jewelers would love to assist. Serving four generations of customers since 1975, Mandy’s specializes in handcrafted jewelry featuring jadeites, diamonds, precious and semi-precious gems, and cultured pearls from Australia, Burma, and Tahiti. The family-owned and operated store also features a stunning collection of antique mother-of-pearl Chinese gaming pieces (think beautifully carved poker chips) set in gold and sterling silver. 1465 E. 14th St., 510-352-7262, www.MandysJewelers.com.

Golf and cigars may seem an unlikely pairing until you visit Golf House Custom Clubs & Repair. Don’t let the name fool you—in addition to selling and repairing custom golf clubs, this little gem also has a humidor inside, featuring all the finest cigars (at great prices). Sid Quesada has owned the business for more than 40 years and even sells a custom Quesada cigar, which is made only for this shop. 159 Pelton Center Way (inside Pelton Plaza), 510-351-7282.

Instead of blaring mall music or up-tempo jazz standards, parakeet songs greet you when you enter Treasures Hospice Thrift Shop. The birds live at the front of this all-volunteer store, which has a unique and constantly changing collection of housewares, clothes, jewelry, books, and records (on vinyl—remember those?). All the proceeds benefit George Mark Children’s House, a San Leandro nonprofit serving families of children with serious and life-threatening illnesses. Shopping is fun, and shopping for a good cause is even more so. 1539 Washington Ave., 510-357-5412.

 

Play

For history buffs, downtown San Leandro has two museums that give visitors a window into Bay Area history: The San Leandro History Museum & Art Gallery and Casa Peralta. The history museum follows the history of California from its native people—the Ohlone and Costanoan Indians—through the Gold Rush days and WWII. The grand Casa Peralta was home to the descendents of the original Rancho San Antonio land grantee and is beautifully appointed in the furnishings of the 1920s. These two attractions, convenient next-door neighbors, are volunteer-run, and so hours for each may be sporadic; calling ahead is advised. Casa Peralta, 384 W. Estudillo Ave., 510-577-3474; The San Leandro History Museum, 320 W. Estudillo Ave., 510-577-3990.

A shave and a haircut may cost a little more than two bits, but you can still get the old-timey barber experience at Goodfellas Barbershop. Goodfellas is part of the barbershop renaissance sweeping the Bay Area, where barbers take pride in their work, customers are not rushed, and everyone is treated like a gentleman. 122 Parrott St., 510-584-6229, @goodfellas_barbershop_sl.

If being treated like a gentleman is not exactly your cuppa, Cabana Nails & Waxing might be more your speed. Offering a full menu of upscale spa services—milk-and-honey mani-pedi, eyelash extensions, and rejuvenation facials—Cabana is an oasis of calm in bustling downtown and a perfect way to relax and recharge after a busy week. 1475 E. 14th St., 510-483-1997.

What kind of therapy promises to help you “whip your hips like Beyoncé and pop your chest like Janet”? Dance Therapy, led by Pam Koga, a choreographer with 15 years of experience in professional dance and production. DC Dance Center operates out of the same address with Debbie Cabral-Halliday at the helm. 1555 Washington Ave., 510-352-2800, www.DanceTherapy.yolasite.com, www.DCDanceCenter.com.

 

Eat

Just off East 14th Street you’ll find Cafe Sorriso, a cozy cafe offering coffee, bubble tea, traditional cafe fare, and many Vietnamese favorites, including spring rolls, vermicelli bowls, and a fabulous banh mi. The wrap-around porch is perfect for outdoor dining, and the comfortable couches and charming interior are so inviting, you may never want to leave. 1501 Washington Ave., 510-351-3605.

If you’re craving pub fare or want a great spot to watch the game, The Englander is your place. With more thar 20 screens, a wide selection of draught beers, and a menu boasting cottage pie and bangers and mash, The Englander is a favorite of locals looking to spend pub time with friends. On the last Saturday of the month, The Englander schedules a live comedy show. 101 Parrott St., 510-357-3571, www.EnglanderPub.com.

And here’s another reason to visit to downtown: Sweet Dee Candies & Cupcakes, a charming bakery and confectioner in Pelton Plaza. In addition to cupcakes—with lemon being the crowd favorite—Sweet Dee sells candy and snow ice, a traditional Taiwanese dessert like ice cream crossed with Hawaiian-shave ice. Stay a while—inisde is cute and very pink. And with books and toys to keep kids busy, Sweet Dee can be a hit with the family. 109 Pelton Center Way, 510-909-3783.

Published online on Sept. 9, 2016 at 8 a.m.

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