These 15 Oakland Restaurants Will Blow The Taste Buds Out Of Your MouthYou’re gonna have a food baby and a half just from reading this list.
1. Get Acquainted With Ethiopian Cuisine At Enssaro
A staple of Bay Area foodie top ten lists, Enssaro is a palate pleaser for carnivores, vegetarians, everything between. If you’ve never tried Ethiopian cuisine, there’s no better place to start than with Enssaro, which has introduced an entire generation of Oaklandites to injera, beyaynetu, and other dishes they didn’t know they would love. If you’ve never had Ethiopian, spicy stews with ingredients like lentils, hummus, beef, and lamb are favorites, with injera, a spongy flatbread, provided for dipping and wrapping—Ethiopian food is traditionally eaten utensil free. Enssaro does all these thing near perfectly, so go for a combo platter to get your fill and do some serious taste tasting.
2. Dig Into Unreal Cambodian At Phnom Penh House
Another restaurant serving up distinctive foreign flavors, Phnom Penh House, with locations in Chinatown and Laurel, is the Cambodian food spot so nice, they opened it twice. Established in 1986, the friendly Phnom team has introduced Oaklandites to top-tier Cambodian cuisine in much the same way Enssaro has opened to the door to Ethiopian. The South East Asian menu draws from a wide range of dishes (curries, fried seafoods, and noodle-based dishes all make an appearance). The Phnom menu favorite, however, has to be the Traop Ang: grilled and sauteed eggplant topped off with shrimp and ground pork.
3. It’s All About The Mac And Cheese At Homeroom
Homeroom is the ideal Oakland food spot to unleash your inner six-year-old—although you might require adult levels of patience while waiting for a table. The home-owned spot does almost exclusively mac and cheese (there are veggie sides, a few sandwiches, and brunch on the weekend), but that’s perfectly fine, because you’d be a fool to pass on mac this good. It’s tempting to go fancy with add-ons like chorizo, sautéed mushrooms or crab, but there’s a reason the fairly basic “Gilroy Mac” is their top seller. With gouda, sharp pecorino and garlic, it’s flavored delicately enough to let the dish’s two featured players shine.
4. God Bless Marica: Oaktown’s Best Seafood
Oakland is, of course, ocean-adjacent, so eating accordingly is a good bet. And Marica, a cozy (read: slightly small), stylish, brick-exposed spot in the Rockridge area might just be your best bet for delicious things plucked out of the Pacific Ocean. You’ll have the option to not go seafood but... go seafood. This means buttery mussels and oysters to start, and either the absurdly delish fried and sauteed lobster topped with ginger and spices, or an ocean-spanning seafood stew with shrimp, scallops and halibut in a lobster cognac sauce. For dessert you can go with something that’s never touched the ocean: the dark chocolate souffle is unreal.
5. There’s Way More Than Chops At Chop Bar
The name might give you the impression that Chop Bar is a straight-ahead, no-nonsense steak joint, but the name is slightly misleading. While there are occasionally steaks on the menu, this is fancied up New American fare: the name comes from West African phrase for a roadside, all-day eating and meeting spot. So what can you get here? Things you already like, but with a twist that will make you like them even more. Sure you like fried chicken, but how about fried chicken infused with with rosemary and honey? Or instead of a pork chop, how about pork confit served over polenta? And that’s not even to mention the bar, loaded with some inventive cocktail creations. (Three words: Bacon. Bloody. Mary.)
6. Burma Superstar Is A Bay Area Phenomenon
Ah, America. Isn’t it great to live in a melting pot? We continue our globetrotting tour of Oakland food with the locally famous Burmese cuisine at Burma Superstar. Burmese food is a big deal on the Bay, and Burma Superstar is no doubt the hottest spot. The restaurant’s flagship is in San Francisco, but Oakland is lucky enough to have a Superstar location, churning out favorites like garlic noodles and tea leaf salad with stunning consistency. Bring friends, go family style and order everything you want. Just make sure braised pork belly is involved.
7. Get Comfy At Aunt Mary’s Cafe
Would you expect anything besides comfort food and homey decor from a place called “Aunt Mary’s”? This North Oakland eatery is full of heartily portioned American classics, like cheesy shrimp and grits and pot pies that stick firmly to the ribs. Aunt Mary’s is known for breakfast and brunch, and the flavorful, sweet and savory chicken and grits waffle is held in high-esteem. As an added bonus, the wait staff is notoriously friendly, and the menu is hardly wallet-decimating, considering the quality and portions.
8. “Garbage Bread” Is Way Tastier Than It Sounds At Portal
Another Oaktown spot that hits hard with brunch and some severely high-calorie meals, Portal is pretty new to the scene, having been open for just two years. The outdoor dinner patio with views of Lake Merritt and stellar beer list are a pretty big draws, but definitely don’t skip out on the dining menu. For brunch, the poached egg and challah French toast are house favorites. On the savory end, Portal is known for “garbage bread”: crispy, fresh and thin bread with pizza fillings on the inside, like a gourmet Hot Pocket. You also can’t argue with an overloaded garlic bread meatball sub topped off with silly amounts of cheese.
9. Pizzaiolo’s Got Primo Pizza And More
Pizzaiolo has much more going for it than pizza. But, thankfully, the classy/trendy Temescal neighborhood Italian joint has pizza going for it to. This is no dollar slice joint. Chef Charlie Hallowell is an alum of Berkeley's Chez Panisse, widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in the country, so you know he has chops. At Pizzaiolo he puts them to stellar use by delivering culinary masterclasses on dishes like spaghetti with clams and—that heavenly simple perfect pre-dish—bread and butter. There’s also the incredible pizza, that will challenge and thoroughly impress your palate when topped with potato and pancetta or prosciutto and spinach, but might be at its best margherita style, with a crust that perfectly balances crispy and chewy.
10. Wood Tavern Brings Classy San Francisco Tastes To Oakland
Consistently listed at or near the top of “Best of Oakland” lists, Wood Tavern brings a taste of San Francisco’s renowned restaurant scene across the Bay. Literally. In the face of high labor costs, owners Rich and Rebecca Hill sold their successful San Francisco restaurant Frascati, took their head chef and opened up Wood Tavern in 2007. The menu is loaded with slightly pinky-up dishes like chicken liver pâté and squid ink gnocchi, all impressive in their own right, but it’s their massive lunchtime hot pastrami sandwich that’s become a local legend. And definitely be sure to go for some “Tavern Hydration” and grab a handcrafted cocktail or two: they’re some of the best in Oaktown.
11. Soi Four Bests A Crowded Thai Scene
Oakland is loaded with tasty, authentic Thai spots—from Chai Thai to Neecha Thai to Grand Avenue—but Soi Four is no doubt among the best of the considerable bunch. In a dimly lit North Oakland dining room, diners chow down on Thai favorites like pad Thai, meat and veggie skewers, and eggplant and chicken in a green curry sauce, occasionally with live jazz in the background. Sounds like a fancy affair but almost all of the entrees clock in at well under twenty bucks. The pad ke-mao (Thai drunken noodles), pictured above, will get you your fill of carbs and spice for just $10.50.
12. TrueBurger Has In-N-Out Looking Over Its Shoulder
Started a few years ago by two alums of the classy new American Piedmont Ave. spot BayWolf, TrueBurger elevates American classics like shakes, hot dogs and of course, the almighty burger. Even West Coasters who swear by In-N-Out as the only quick-and-easy burger joint can make room in the heart for the tender, juicy TrueBurger. This is classic, no-frills stuff: burgers and cheeseburgers, topped off with bacon, mushrooms and onions if you’d like. And fries on the side. With a new Broadway Ave. location coming soon, maybe it’s only a matter of time before TrueBurger replaces In-N-Out as everyone on the West Coasts’ favorite burger.
13. French, Italian, And Spanish Tastes Mingle At À Côté
Mediterranean-style tapas spot À Côté’s menu like a culinary tour of Europe: Italy is represented by pork osso bucco with polenta and ricotta gnocchi; there are pommes frites and croque monsieur from France; and Spain gets some love with skirt steak with salsa verde. Plates are on the smaller end (they’re tapas, afterall) so À Côté is definitely a place to bring friends who like to share. Make sure you don’t skipped that pork osso bucco pictured above. I mean, just look at it.
14. El Taco Zamorano’s Burritos Are Bigger Than Your Face
You might not be able to make a restaurant recommendation on forearm-sized burritos alone, but it’s a pretty good start. Even if your stomach space is a high-rent, space-at-a-premium area, El Taco Zamorano has more than just sheer quantity on its side. You know this is legit Mexican cuisine, because there’s a solid shot a telenovela will be on in the background as you enter. The food is also a pretty good giveaway: wet burritos, head-attached fish and dark moles all make an appearance. And then there’s that intimidatingly large super burrito: every bit as delicious as it is enormous.
15. Commis Gets More Critical Acclaim Than “The Godfather”
Piedmont Ave’s Commis is the kind of upscale spot that requires forgetting about the concept of money at the door: $95 will get you the eight-course tasting menu; another $55 and you’ll get matching drinks to boot. But there’s a reason places like Commis exist: a transcendent dining experience. It’s one of a very select few Oaktown spots with a Michelin Star (a huge deal in the foodie world), and in 2010, it was named by GQ food critic Alan Richman as one of the best new restaurants in America (also a huge deal in the foodie world). So what can you expect to actually eat? Truly fancy-pants items like calf’s liver with parsley, oyster with mousse of tea leaves, and bourbon eucalyptus truffle (all the way to the right, above). Save up. Go here once a year. Take your significant other. They’ll be impressed.
What’s your go-to for great grub in Oakland? Tell us in the comments below!
Zip Codes and Neighborhoods in Oakland, CA
- 94601 Homes For Sale
- 94605 Homes For Sale
- 94607 Homes For Sale
- 94611 Homes For Sale
- 94619 Homes For Sale
- Elmhurst Homes For Sale
- Central East Oakland Homes For Sale
- North Hills Homes For Sale
- San Antonio Homes For Sale
- Lower Hills District Homes For Sale