(@sidewalkhustle via Visit Oakland)

A Modern Guide to Uptown Oakland: The Best Restaurants, Bars, Live Shows, Shops + More

Ask longtime Oakland residents for the geographic constraints that define the city's Uptown district, and you'll hear everything from the sliver of space between 14th and 17th streets to the blocks that stretch from 12th to 25th. Ask them when it first received the moniker Uptown (despite being located in what other municipalities would consider decidedly downtown), most will reference the renovation of the Fox Theater or the turn of the new millennium as benchmarks. But ask which area of the city most encapsulates Oakland today, with its juxtaposition of old and new mixed with rapid gentrification, opportunity, and possibility, and there's no ambiguity: It's Uptown Oakland.


A decade ago, before the area was officially dubbed "the Arts and Entertainment" district of the city, Uptown's potential felt largely unfulfilled, with abandoned storefronts and longtime mom-and-pop shops. Although beloved by locals, the neighborhood failed to entice visitors from the surrounding communities, especially San Francisco. Now one of Oakland's hippest hoods, Uptown, with its robust mix of dining, shopping, and nightlife, has been luring San Franciscans with (slightly) cheaper rents, a little more space, and the same quality of life and range of options.

Stroll Telegraph Avenue during the district's wildly popular First Friday events, and you'll find 20-somethings spilling out onto the closed-off streets from galleries and bars while music thumps from the stereos of street performers and food vendors ply much-needed hot dogs on the small batch whiskey–fueled masses.

As tech giants and other companies continue to move into the district (Pandora has called Uptown home since 2000), some fear the area's affordability may vanish, and with it, much of its diversity and "Oakland soul." But if there's one thing Uptown has proved over the years, it's a district that's always primed for reinvention—and poised to defy definition.

Eat: The Best Restaurants in Uptown Oakland

Art meets the plate at permanent dinner series Abstract Table.

(Dana Plucinski)

SIT-DOWN SAVORY EATS

Abstract Table

Tucked away inside The Gastropig, this multi-course dining experience manages to mix the quality and innovation of an upscale prix fixe meal with the laid-back atmosphere of a friend's dinner party. A sort of "permanent pop-up," Abstract Table offers just two seatings (6pm and 8:30pm) every Friday and Saturday, with reservations for either a five- or seven-course meal only available on Resy ($50–70). The menu, which changes seasonally, merges Japanese flavors with other global inspiration, with dishes ranging from tender beef cheek atop a turnip puree with a sake glaze to trout served with pickled cucumber on a wild arugula nage to charcoal beet paired with furikake granola and fish caramel—definitely expect the unexpected. // 2123 Franklin St. (Oakland), resy.com/cities/sf/abstract-table

Itani Ramen

After gaining a reputation for innovative fusion fare as co-owner and executive chef of Uptown's Hopscotch (see below), chef Kyle Itani set his sights on a slightly more casual venture, opening the much-anticipated Itani Ramen in 2016. Counter service and slurpable cuisine keep the vibe relaxed, but the seasonally changing menu shows finesse and an intimate familiarity with Japanese food. Daily "genki" happy hour specials (from 3-6pm and 10pm to close) and a dessert and snack vending machine sweeten the deal. // 1736 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), itaniramen.com

Calavera

As the unofficial centerpiece of The Hive, the multi-use complex on Broadway that opened in 2015, Calavera immediately beckons with exposed brick, soaring ceilings, an open kitchen, and a meticulously organized wall of spirits. Adventurous diners will get a kick out of duck confit tacos and guacamole topped with Oaxacan chapulines (grasshoppers), but less esoteric dishes, such as the queso flameado made with aged mezcal, still satisfy. It's hard to go wrong with one of the bar's tequila and mezcal selections, but the salt air margarita is a favorite for a reason. // 2337 Broadway (Oakland), calaveraoakland.com

Hopscotch

This Japanese-inflected diner, which helped solidify Uptown Oakland as a dining destination five years ago this summer, churns out unexpected riffs on more traditional menu items. A sea urchin and salmon roe–topped oyster and a burger with griddled beef tongue remain among the can't-miss options. The to-go bucket of fried chicken is one of the tastiest take-out options in the area. // 1915 San Pablo Ave. (Oakland), hopscotchoakland.com

alaMar Kitchen and Bar

At the end of 2016, alaMar chef-owner Nelson German rejiggered the restaurant's concept, ditching table service for counter ordering but retaining many of the menu's popular seafood dishes. Now, the more casual vibe makes alaMar the perfect place for dollar oysters and drink specials on game day, girls' night out, and a relaxed evening over craft-your-own seafood boils or Cajun crawl packs with peel-and-eat shrimp and crab to feed a crowd. // 100 Grand Ave. (Oakland), alamaroakland.com

Beauty's Bagel Shop

Montreal-style bagels are now available in Uptown Oakland, with this Temescal favorite finally branching into downtown in 2018. This second location brings the same menu of wood-fired bagels topped with silky cream cheese and smoked salmon, sandwiching fried chicken, or alongside chicken scrapple (cornmeal laced with chicken and pan fried). // 1700 Franklin St. (Oakland), beautysbagelshop.com

Shiba Ramen

The streamlined, ramen-focused menu at Shiba lends itself to a satisfying yet casual experience just steps from the 12th Street BART station. The five menu standbys for ramen vary by broth (clear, spicy, soymilk), and sides include Nagoya-style fried chicken wings, gyoza, and other seasonal specials. For an inside look at what it takes to run a restaurant, check out the Ramen Chemistry blog, where the owners document the building of their slowly growing empire. // 1438 Broadway (Oakland), shibaramen.com

Agave Uptown

This Oaxacan-infused restaurant features a colorful folk art mural, authentic renditions of dishes such as molcajete and prawns diabla, and an impressive array of mezcals. Many of the farm-raised ingredients are sourced from Mexico—to double down on Agave's emphasis on authentic south-of-the-border cuisine. In line with its location in the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Agave attempts to build on the center's mission to narrow gaps in opportunity and access for underrepresented communities. // 2135 Franklin St. (Oakland), agaveuptown.com

Parlour

The same team behind Bar 355 opened this rustic Cal-Italian spot with a focus on the open kitchen's wood-fired oven, which churns out roasted chicken, house-made sourdough, and seasonal pizzas with perfectly blistered crusts. // 357 19th St. (Oakland), parlouroakland.com

Flora

One of the first restaurants to recognize Uptown's potential, this veteran in the district's dining scene capitalizes on its Art Deco exterior and proximity to the Fox to serve elevated seasonal dishes and cocktails. Stop by for brunch, when a painstakingly crafted milk punch pairs perfectly with the buttermilk Belgian waffle. // 1900 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), floraoakland.com

Kingston 11 Restaurant

Caribbean flavors collide in dishes such as salt fish fritters and jerk chicken, which involves marinating and smoking the poultry for hours. Weekends bring a lively crowd for island-inspired libations and classic roots and reggae music. // 2270 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), kingston11eats.com

Umami Burger

You'll find the beloved burger chain's signature stamped buns, hatch chile–topped burger, truffle fries, and hulking ice cream sandwiches at this Oakland iteration, which features striking wall murals in muted tones. // 2100 Franklin St. (Oakland), umamiburger.com

dosa by Dosa

This East Bay spin-off of popular San Francisco restaurant mini-chain Dosa brings the same vibrant, spice-forward flavors to a more casual—yet still striking—atmosphere. Located near The Hive, dosa by Dosa has garnered a buzz of its own with an interior complete with counter service, an open kitchen, and soaring high-vaulted ceilings. Enjoy lunch and dinner, or order both alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails and chais from the all-day bar. Favorites from the street food–inspired menu include the butter chicken street wrap, the masala potato dosa (wrapped in a savory crepe), and idli fries inspired by the south Indian iteration. // 2301 Broadway (Oakland), dosasf.com


GRAB-N-GO

Abura-ya

One part "permanent pop-up" and one part punk rock, this sliver of a restaurant gives Japanese fried chicken and other izakaya-esque fare a California spin by sourcing its produce from local farmers markets and making everything from scratch in-house. While the array of options for the four- or eight-piece fried chicken can be daunting, beginners often choose between the Aburaya Japanese BBQ glaze, agave ginger teriyaki glaze, or garlic miso dry rub. Round out the meal with deviled avocado bites, one of the 7x7 Big Eat Oakland selections for 2017. // 362 17th St. (Oakland), aburayaoakland.com

Bare Knuckle Pizza

Bare Knuckle doesn't mess around with pizza, especially the wood-fired, from-scratch Neapolitan kind. All the dough is made fresh daily, and owner Viet Nguyen keeps things local by sourcing vegan cheese from the Butcher's Son in Berkeley and flour from Giusto's in South SF. Make sure to show up when doors open on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday nights, when the restaurant has a tendency to sell out of its limited-run pizzas. And if you like things spicy, keep an eye out in late summer for the TNT pizza, which showcases Thai chilies grown by Nguyen's father-in-law and guaranteed to be "burn your tongue off" hot. // 351 12th St. (Oakland), bareknucklepizza.com

Belly

Expect Korean-Mexican fusion influenced by Los Angeles street food: kimchi-stuffed tacos, steak and French fry burritos, and tempura-topped burgers, plus house-made lemonades and potent truffle fries. // 1901 San Pablo Ave. (Oakland), bellyuptown.com

Xolo

Bacon-wrapped hot dogs, breakfast burritos, and crispy beef tacos are among the highlights at this Mexican taqueria from the same team behind Tacubaya and Doña Tomas. // 1916 Telegraph Ave (Oakland), xolotaqueria.com

The Halal Guys

New York export The Halal Guys hit Uptown Oakland with chicken, gryo, and falafel platters and sandwiches doused in its signature red and white sauces, which are now available by the bottle. // 2214 Broadway (Oakland), thehalalguys.com

Liba Falafel

A favorite with the lunchtime worker bee crowd, this weekday-only spot is modeled after Amsterdam falafel shops. Liba lets you dress your choice of menu item with made-in-house salads, sauces, and pickles from the bar. Pair a leafy falafel salad—the most popular item—with sweet potato fries, soup, or spiced pita chips to help power you through the rest of the workday. // 380 17th St. (Oakland), libafalafel.com

Analog

Night owl vegetarians and vegans will feel right at home with the seven meat-free sandwich options available until at least midnight, paired with a heavy dose of nostalgia courtesy of VHS tapes, an original Nintendo, and a jukebox filled with 45s. // 414 14th St. (Oakland), analogoakland.com

Firebrand Artisan Breads

Get your hands on toothsome breakfast pastries, buttery sweets, and seasonally changing lunch sandwiches made on slices of crusty-loafed bread. If you're inspired to try your hand at baking after you've dusted yourself with crumbs, Firebrand offers baking classes on bread, cookies, and pretzels. // 2343 Broadway (Oakland), firebrandbread.com

The Gastropig

Uptown Oakland faced a severe breakfast sandwich shortage before The Gastropig brought its wildly popular #Baconslut to the bleary-eyed masses in early 2017. The applewood-smoked bacon sandwich—featuring an over-easy egg, cheese, and Aleppo chili oil on a brioche roll—is just one of the early A.M. options. While the focus is decidedly on breakfast, grab-and-go deli sandwiches (including an ode to longtime Oakland deli Genova) and a Monday-only burger keep the lunch masses well-satiated. // 2123 Franklin St. (Oakland), thegastropig.com


BAR BITES

Mua

Art, cocktails, and inventive bar food collide inside this industrial space, rumored to be a postgame favorite of Warriors players. Stop by for the daily happy hour, when you'll score the best deals on small bites such as mushroom crostini and fried blue cheese olives, plus seasonal cocktails and wine and beer. // 2442 Webster St. (Oakland), muaoakland.com

Plum Bar

Pick your favorite lines from the wall plastered with pages of poetry, and recite them to your table while sipping an EE Cummings–inspired cocktail alongside food from the now frequently changing menu, which often highlights rotating restaurants and chefs. // 2216 Broadway (Oakland), plumbaroakland.com

Duende

This Spanish-inspired restaurant offers an array of pintxos and tapas, plus larger dishes meant to be split between two to four diners. Order the patatas bravas and fried fava beans to accompany one of the bar's list of 13 sherries to start, and don't skip a paella de carne and bottle of Spanish wine for the table. // 468 19th St. (Oakland), duendeoakland.com

Mockingbird

The restaurant specializes in sophisticated yet approachable seasonal cuisine, ranging from fried Brussels sprouts served with a lemon garlic confit aioli to a slow-cooked pork sugo plated alongside crispy rosemary polenta. Grab a spot at the roomy 20-seat bar and sip a cocktail made with locally produced spirits. // 416 13th St. (Oakland), mockingbirdoakland.com

Small Wonder

The dining and drinking experience at Small Wonder is delightfully offbeat, with vintage furniture, plentiful plants, and colorful murals combining to create a cozy if quirky vibe. Ephemera hangs from the ceiling, live jazz music frequently fills the air at night, and both classic and house-invented cocktails clink at tables. Linger over fish tacos and artichoke dip, or stop by during the day for coffee and free WiFi. // 37 Grand Ave. (Oakland)

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Coffee + Treats: Ice Cream, Donuts, Espresso & More in Uptown Oakland

Sweet Belly's brain-cell-numbing offering.

SWEETS

Donut Savant

Expect bite-sized donuts with cheeky names (Sean Pecannery, Hostess with the Mostess) and a varied selection of croissant-donut hybrids called cron'ts in two sizes. Don't leave without picking up a salted maple in any iteration. // 1934 Broadway (Oakland), donutsavant.com

Humphrey Slocombe

The San Francisco favorite unleashed its offbeat flavors on the East Bay in 2017, and citizens of The Town can now order Secret Breakfast, Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee, and Elvis (the Fat Years) scoops from the shipping container storefront in the courtyard of The Hive. // 2335 Broadway (Oakland), humphryslocombe.com

Little Giant Ice Cream

You can watch as the ice cream makers in the back churn out new flavors, ranging from a vegan matcha green tea ice cream to Mexican rocky road made with Tcho chocolate. Have your pooch in tow? They also make ice cream for dogs. // 1951 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), littlegianticecream.com

Sweet Bar Bakery

Swing in for a breakfast egg bake served with ciabatta toast and lemon mint maté iced tea, or pick up an afternoon treat from the artisanal bakery's display of tender ginger cookies, Champagne truffles, and indulgent cupcakes made with organic, local ingredients. // 2355 Broadway (Oakland), sweetbarbakery.com

Sweet Belly
Indisputably Instagrammable, Sweet Belly's mix of mini donuts and soft-serve ice cream gets extra credit for a focus on organic, made-in-house ingredients, boundary-pushing combinations, and the same focus on warm hospitality as flagship Belly a few blocks away. While the flavors change monthly, don't sleep on a combo with earl grey ice cream, fruity pebbles, and a matcha donut with honey. // 435 19th St. (Oakland), sweetbellydesserts.com


COFFEE

Farley's East

Order a double ristretto espresso and egg sandwich, borrow a magazine from the reading rack, and soak in some rays on Farley's outdoor parklet. // 33 Grand Ave. (Oakland), farleyscoffee.com/farleys-east

Cat Town Café

This nonprofit cat rescue removes the most vulnerable cats from East Bay shelters and socializes the felines, many of whom make it into the Cat Zone, where you can interact with up to 24 free-roaming, adoptable cats. Since January, the café space has been run by Rawr Coffee Bar, with Highwire coffee and espresso drinks, as well as baked goods for the humans and toys and treats for the felines. // 2869 Broadway (Oakland), cattownoakland.org

Awaken Café

Awaken first caused a stir with its anti-laptop stance, meant to promote actual conversations between patrons over lattes made with Strauss organic milk and vegan donuts from Pepples. The roomy coffee shop also serves as a gathering place near recently revamped Latham Square, offering draft beer and wine with frequent live music nights and Story Showdown events the third Thursday of every month. // 1429 Broadway (Oakland), awakencafe.com

Tertulia Coffee/Sanchez Contemporary

Tthis café and art gallery hybrid serves Stumptown brews alongside Firebrand pastries, and showcases works by local artists of color. Don't miss the nitro cold brew on draft and flower-topped avocado toast. // 1951 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), tertuliacoffee.com

Drink: The Best Watering Holes, Bars With Trivia & More

BEER

Telegraph Beer Garden

Uptown Oakland has no shortage of outdoor spaces to kick back and enjoy a cold one, but nowhere does it quite as successfully as Telegraph. To plan a perfect Sunday, bring your crew, order a round of boozy Greyhound slushies from the outdoor bar, and come to terms with your inevitable sunburn as a quick hangout slowly melts into a day of drinking. // 2318 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), telegraphoakland.com

The Good Hop Bar & Bottle Shop

While the rotating gallery and impressive, mostly domestic draft brew selection are more than enough to satisfy beer lovers, the real star is the refrigerated section, which takes up an entire back wall and houses roughly 450 canned and bottled beers from around the world. // 2421 Telegraph Ave. #102 (Oakland), thegoodhop.com

Lost and Found

Grab a group of friends and head to Lost and Found's expansive indoor-outdoor space, where you can sip from a selection of 20 taps, snack on kimchi deviled eggs and buffalo cauliflower, and duke it out with a game of corn hole or ping pong in the beer garden. // 2040 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), lostandfound510.com

Diving Dog Brewhouse

Frequent brewery events and tap takeovers fuel this beer bar's reputation as a haven for hopheads, but the real draw is the brew-on-premise program. For $350 per group, Diving Dog provides the recipe, ingredients, instruction, and equipment to brew and bottle your own beer, including custom labels. // 1802 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), divingdogbrew.com

Woods Bar and Brewery

Gather at the long indoor bar or around one of the front patio's fire pits for a relaxed pint of beer brewed on premise upstairs—while drafts rotate, keep an eye out for the brewery's sours and fruit-forward beers. // 1701 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), woodsbeer.com/uptown

Drake's Dealership

The longtime San Leandro brewery reimagined a former Dodge dealership in the buzzing Hive complex into an expansive, 350-seat pub and beer garden, where you'll find 32 beers on draft (including a few guest taps), elevated bar grub ranging from poutine to wood-fired pizzas, and plenty of space to stretch out near a fire pit on the dog-friendly patio. // 2325 Broadway Auto Row (Oakland), drinkdrakes.com/visit/dealership

The Athletic Club Oakland

Dying for a space to kick back, down a beer, and catch the game on one of 37 TVs or three projectors? This new addition to Uptown more than fits the bill by not only promising to play every game on one of its screens, but by pairing this cornucopia of sports programming with a bar top made from a reclaimed basketball court, cages filled with inscribed baseballs (you can add your own message-adorned ball for $10, with proceeds going to charity), and a dedicated "sky booth" on the second level you can rent out for small groups. Time a visit for the weekday 4-6pm happy hour, and you'll score $2 off beer (order from 12 taps) and 25-percent off from the snack and share portion of the menu, which includes game-day classics such as pretzels, chili cheese fries, and fried pickles. // 59 Grand Ave. (Oakland), theacoakland.com


COCKTAILS

Bar Dogwood

Bar Dogwood first emerged on the Uptown scene all heavy curtains, exposed brick, and other hallmarks of a trendy cocktail joint in 2011, but has since cemented itself as an Uptown must-hit with carefully crafted cocktails and a gooey grilled cheese that always sounds especially appealing after a few whiskeys. // 1644 Telegraph Ave., (Oakland), bardogwood.com

Bar 355

Seasonal cocktails are crafted with precision at the long polished wood bar, and frequent DJ nights and movie screenings with themed drink specials fit the hip, retro vibe. // 355 19th St. (Oakland), facebook.com/threefiftyfive

Fauna

Against a backdrop of taxidermy animals, the bartenders at this Art Deco sister bar to Flora shake and stir up spirit-forward cocktails such as the Fallback, a combination of rye whiskey, Calvados, Amaro Montenegro, sweet vermouth, and bitters, served up. // 1900 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), faunaoakland.com

The Double Standard

Commune with nature while consuming cocktails: The Double Standard's outdoor patio is shaded by three towering redwoods, a remnant from the space's previous life as Ms. Kim's Backyard. Off-hour bartenders from nearby establishments are a fixture, and testament to the bar's reputation for combining a laid back atmosphere with an impressive spirits selection and drink menu. // 2424 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), facebook.com/TheDoubleStandardBar

Era Art Bar

Art, music, and cocktail converge at this bi-level space, where you'll also find recurring events such as Oakadelic Wednesdays—which features live funk, soul, and R&B bands—and Mediums, happy hour studio time for aspiring artists on the mezzanine level. // 19 Grand Ave. (Oakland), oaklandera.com

Hello Stranger

As a relative newcomer to the Uptown bar scene, Hello Stranger has managed to lure a sizeable chunk of the Oakland nightlife crowd with an exposed brick interior, an enticing nearly ceiling-height bar with a subtle boom box theme, DJ nights and dancing, and your choice of ways to rose all day, with the omnipresent varietal served frozen, sparkling, still, or spiked. // 1724 Broadway (Oakland), facebook.com/hellostrangerbar/

Make Westing

Cocktails capitalizing on seasonal ingredients—try the garden gimlet, with gin, cucumber, basil, and lime—shareable "things in jars" bites, and two indoor bocce courts make this an ideal stop for low-key date nights during the week, and for scoping out a potential partner on the weekends, when singles spill over from Fox Theater. // 1741 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), makewesting.com

The Miranda

The same team behind Drexl transformed this Broadway space into a sleek cosmopolitan oasis reminiscent of hotel bars, in the best way possible. Split into a front and back bar, The Miranda features a registration desk complete with keys and letters, oversized floral wallpaper, a striking Edison light bulb fixture hanging over the back room, and plenty of cozy nooks for sipping the well-executed cocktails. // 1739 Broadway (Oakland), themirandaoakland.com


WINE BARS

Two Mile Wines

Located in a warehouse/artist co-op also occupied by jewelers, artists, and other makers, this urban winery specializes in food-focused, small production wines and also is the driving force behind Oakland Spirits, a new Uptown distillery focused on brandy and gin, including a sea gin made with foraged nori. // 477 25th St. (Oakland), twomilewines.com

The Punchdown

After a move to a new space in Uptown, this cozy wine bar is once again pouring vino, with a focus on organic, minimal-intervention winemaking. If you're a neophyte in the world of natural wine, flights and helpful staff make deciphering the sometimes daunting list of pours and bottles more approachable. // 1737 Broadway (Oakland), punchdownwine.com


BARS WITH LIVE MUSIC, GAMES, COMEDY, TRIVIA + MORE

Cafe Van Kleef

Oakland lost an icon last fall with the passing of Peter Van Kleef, who transformed this Telegraph mainstay into a delightfully random watering hole more than a decade ago, way before the area was hip. It's not uncommon to find yourself leaning against a naked sculpture, sipping a freshly squeezed greyhound while a live band is welcomed with enthusiastic hip shakes and claps on the tiny dance floor. //1621 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), cafevankleef.com

The Payback

With a striking latticed-effect wallpaper, dark marbled bar top, and sleek bar seats (with backs!), this elegant Uptown newcomer easily fits into the neighborhood, but skee ball, vintage games, "inverted" grilled cheese, and a bar menu split into indulge, sip, gulp, and slam also keep the vibe just the right side of playful. Bring your latest dating-app connection or a longtime love to really capitalize on the romantic feel in an atmosphere that also lends itself well to conversation, and stay tuned for the bar's eventual expansion into a two-story hang. // 1618 Franklin St. (Oakland), thepayback510.com

Drexl

Start downstairs for the selection of nine drafts, a local whiskey flight, or a dealer's choice cocktail crafted at the whim of the bartender, then head to the mezzanine for a game of skee ball. // 382 19th St. (Oakland), drexl.bar

The Layover Music Bar and Lounge

While most flock to The Layover on the weekends for the solid lineup of DJs and packed dance floor, weekday events such as Tuesday comedy nights and a monthly rotating gallery of work from local artists offer the perfect excuse to snag a seat at one of the inviting couches with a signature organic cocktail. // 1517 Franklin (Oakland), oaklandlayover.com

The Port Bar Oakland

Nightly special events make this much-needed gay bar a draw seven days a week. Tuesday trivia night, weekend midnight happy hour, and cabaret Sundays hosted by local drag queens round out weekend DJ nights with shirtless go-go dancers, and drink names aren't shy about the sexual innuendo (Raw Top, Dirty Bottom, Hung Like a Mule). // 2023 Broadway (Oakland), portbaroakland.com

Play: Where to See a Show, Dance, Get Lit & More in Uptown Oakland

CONCERTS + THEATER

The Paramount Theatre

This 3,000-plus seat specimen of Art Deco design and National Historic Landmark, which originally opened in the 1930s, not only draws big name music acts and speakers, but also hosts beloved classic movie nights that include a Mighty Wurlitzer organ serenade before the screenings. // 2025 Broadway (Oakland), paramounttheatre.com

Pan Theater

In addition to popular Thursday night Improv Dojo drop-in classes for honing your "yes and" skills, you'll find weekend themed shows from trained comedians and the occasional musical. // 120 Frank Ogawa Plaza (Oakland), pantheater.com

The New Parkway

Cinephiles rejoiced when owner J Moses Ceasar opened this movie theater as both a place to catch a flick with seat-side food and drinks and a community gathering spot. Outside of film programming with frequent post-movie discussions, baby-friendly screenings, and throw back nights, the New Parkway invites locals to the mezzanine for poker, drink and draw events, trivia, and bingo. // 474 24th St. (Oakland), thenewparkway.com

Fox Theater

Originally opened in 1928, the Fox shuttered in the 1960s and lay dormant for more than 40 years, finally reopening in 2009 after a multimillion-dollar renovation. Now, the popular 2,800-seat concert venue (run by Another Planet Entertainment) draws around-the-block crowds for a mix of mainstream and indie acts ranging from the Naked and Famous to Neko Case, with a smattering of big comedians also gracing the stage. On non-show nights, The Den at The Fox hosts Trivia Tuesday events with ticket giveaways. // 1807 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), apeconcerts.com/venues/fox-theater-oakland


GET ACTIVE

Oakland Ice Center

Glide your way around the ice arena during public skate hours (drop by on Tuesday nights for a discount), join drop-in hockey play, or get a jump start on the Winter Olympics by taking an intro-to-curling clinic held by the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club. // 519 18th St. (Oakland), oaklandice.com

Great Western Power Co.

If you're new to rock climbing, grab a friend and sign up for the one-hour intro class to learn the ropes, then test out your climbing and belaying skills on more than 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain. // 520 20th St. (Oakland), touchstoneclimbing.com/gwpower-co


NERD OUT

The Octopus Literary Salon

Borrowing from the salon tradition of the French literary movements of the 17th and 18th centuries, Octopus serves as a café, library, and venue for frequent readings, open mic nights, and workshops. // 2101 Webster St. #170 (Oakland), oaklandoctopus.org

Nerd Nite East Bay

A monthly meeting of the minds held at Club 21, Nerd Nite combines drinks and rotating food pop-ups with discussions on an eclectic array of academic topics, ranging from fighting cholera with engineering, to the history of adoption, to (ahem) the art of the breast massage. // 2111 Franklin St. (Oakland), eastbay.nerdnite.com


ARTSY STUFF

Art Murmur/First Friday

Every first Friday of the month (5-9:30pm), crowds of more than 20,000 people descend on Telegraph Avenue, from West Grand to 27th Street, for an epic immersive art and community street fair with gourmet food vendors, musicians, artists, and performers. You can't go wrong gallery hopping to get a feel for the city's diverse arts scene (try Rock Paper Scissors), but be sure to leave time for checking out The Great Wall of Oakland—a 100-by-100-foot projection installation that's hosted everything from Powerpoint karaoke to suspended dance group Project Bandaloop—which should be returning with earlier sundowns this fall. // Telegraph Ave. from Grand Ave. to 27th St. (Oakland), oaklandfirstfridays.org

Starline Social Club

In addition to Starline's enviable location in a historic former saloon, the two-story restaurant and music venue's main strength is its impressive knack for eclectic programming, which includes pop-up food events; showga (yoga flowed to live music); swing, jazz, and karaoke nights; and frequent DJ and storytelling events. // 2236 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (Oakland), starlinesocialclub.com

Shop: Uptown Oakland's Coolest Indie Boutiques

Feelmore Adult Gallery

It's a rare day when shopping for adult toys feels as high brow as selecting a piece of art, but Feelmore owner Nenna Joiner aims to remove the stigma and embarrassment that often comes from a visit to the sex shop by re-envisioning how the experience should feel. At the sex-positive space, toys are stylishly displayed on well-lit shelves, paintings celebrating the female form dot the walls, and stacks of vintage Playboys are available for purchase. Added bonuses: monthly comedy shows and delivery by bike. // 1703 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), feelmore510.com

McMullen

After more than a decade in business, it's no surprise that owner Sherri McMullen continues to fill her expertly curated hangers and shelves with the top looks each season, even after a move from the original location to a sumptuous storefront in Uptown. This is the spot in Oakland to score covetable clothing from notable brands such as Tibi, Proenza Schouler, and Ulla Johnson, as well as duds from lesser-known designers destined to turn heads at your next event. // 2257 Broadway (Oakland), shopmcmullen.com

Oaklandish

You'll likely recognize Oaklandish's signature tree symbol from its popular line of T-shirts and other branded goods, but the shop also celebrates its city pride with apparel in Oakland sports teams' colors, a selection of made-in-Oakland goods, and its Innovator grants, which give much-deserved funds to community organizations. Stop by on First Fridays for a monthly party, and leave with colorful artwork or a supersoft hoodie in a complimentary tote with a free sticker. // 1444 Broadway (Oakland), oaklandish.com

Viscera

Minimalist dressers will love this locally owned boutique's selection of gray-scale clothing for both men and women from small, independent designers, plus 3-D printed jewelry customized and crafted in house. // 1542 Broadway (Oakland), shopviscera.com

SoleSpace

One of the best places in the East Bay to find coveted sneakers, with limited-edition Pumas and throwback Adidas sharing the brick-walled space with some dressier kicks and a small selection of apparel, SoleSpace also doubles as an art gallery and events space, especially during First Friday events. // 1714 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland), solespace.com

Two Jacks Denim

Raw denim fanatics flock to this menswear shop for selvedge jeans from designers such as Taylor Stitch and Detroit Denim, plus other U.S.–made men's clothing and accessories. // 2355 Broadway (Oakland), twojacksdenim.com

Betti Ono

You'll find art exploring topics such as feminism, race, and social justice in the artist-run Betti Ono gallery. // 1427 Broadway (Oakland), showandtelloakland.com, bettiono.com

Peoples Barber & Shop

Well-groomed gents flock to the Oakland location of this barbershop (which also has shops on Polk and Valencia streets in San Francisco) in the Hive for straight-razor shaves that include an old-school hot towel treatment, hip haircuts, and "testosterone-charged gossip." // 2337 Broadway #101 (Oakland), peoplesbarber.com

Cape and Cowl Comics

A comic book club, figurines and collectibles, and knowledgeable staff are just a few of the highlights at this well-curated comic and graphic novel shop. // 1601 Clay St. (Oakland), capeandcowlcomics.com