Weekend Outing: Oakland's Temescal Alley
A row of former horse stables just off Oakland’s 49th street has become a destination micro community for Bay Area artisans and designers. Here's what not to miss.
New Yorker-turned-Oaklander Lauren Wolf launched her namesake line of jewelry 10 years ago. Now, she’s behind the spot-on curation at one-and-a-half-year-old Esqueleto. The boutique has whispers of the Santa Fe desert with antelope skulls looking over petrified tree branches, succulents, and hanging dream catchers. The focus, however, is jewelry and bags by 15 designers, most of them from the Bay Area. In addition to Wolf’s own line of sterling silver and 14-karat gold custom pieces, Esqueleto stocks hand-painted porcelain skulls by New York-based artist Michele Quan and luxurious Nuraxi throws from Argentina.
Crimson Horticultural Rarities
It’s easy to lose yourself at Crimson Horticultural Rarities—a secret garden of succulents and air plants. In addition to flora, shop Saipua soaps handmade in Brooklyn and ceramic flasks cast from leather gunpowder pouches by local maker Peter St. Lawrence.
In a slice of real estate that once housed the liquor storage for nearby restaurant Doña Tomás, jewelry designer Marisa Haskell now displays her hammered bronze and brass pieces in a gallery-like storefront. Haskell, who previously worked in the design-build trade, taught herself metal forging and learned how to work with leather from her grandmother (honing her skills while living in Mexico). The shop also stocks prints by local artist and friend Meagan Donegan.
Brimming with Depression-era glass bowls, decorative pillows, and artisanal tools, Walrus—which got its start on Etsy and at Alameda Point Antiques Faire—is the newest addition to the alley. Upcycling is the ethos at the shoebox-sized shop, where owners Wendy Renz and Camille Snyder aim to elevate their finds to give them, what they call, “a higher purpose.” Ask about their custom design services.
Ali Golden’s studio is the best place to get acquainted with her signature silhouette: a look that plays with draping and structure simultaneously. Made with all-natural fabrics sourced mostly from Japan and silkscreened with hand-drawn prints, the Oakland designer’s entire collection is produced in a San Francisco factory that she visits almost every day. The cropped linen jacket, silk front-pleat pants, and oversized yarn-dyed linen coat are standouts in Golden’s spring collection, which hit her studio, Dish in Hayes Valley, and Oakland's Hawthorn in March.
A “Kitsch” sign—salvaged from a kitchen and bath showroom—announces the entrance to Perry Lucina’s Lot 49, but there’s nothing lowbrow about the mostly midcentury modern furniture and decor inside this original Temescal Alley anchor shop. The store began as a pop-up in 2009 but quickly went brick and mortar after the graphic designer gained a cult following. With varying price points, his wares cater to the neighborhood. “With a balance of high and low, the shop appeals to both homeowners and renters,” Lucina says. Look for increased offerings by local artists and makers this year.
Grab a single-origin Sightglass drip coffee from The Cro Cafe and a filled-to-order sweet treat from Doughnut Dolly (ask owner Hannah Hoffman for a squirt of Naughty Cream and seasonal jam) before shopping the alley’s plentiful eye candy.
Venture just off Alley 49 for Temescal's other delicious offerings. We're still mourning the closing of Scream Sorbet, but luckily, there are enough other offerings in this microhood (including a small outpost of Tara's—get the sweet corn or earl grey). Hit up Genova Deli for an authentic Italian experience. Be prepared for the lunch rush. Duck into the Sacred Wheel, and choose from a wide variety of cheeses. Meet friends after work at Pizzaiolo for a wood-fired pizza. Just get there well before 6 to beat the crowds. Or opt for coffee and toast on Saturday mornings. And, of course, we can't forget to mention Bakesale Betty for their famous fried chicken sandwich and chocolate chip cookies. 'Nuf said.
Stylish men will want to duck into Standard & Strange to check out some Tellason denim after a trim and shave at Temescal Alley Barber Shop. And vintage hounds should head to the back of the alley for a peek at Mind's Eye.
Hit Temescal Alley on the first Friday of each month for live music, food, and shopping until 9 p.m. The whole shebang is organized by the shoebox-sized Interface Gallery.
Look for all things holistic at the newly opened Homestead Apothecary and keep your eyes out for a cozy, indie bookstore coming soon.
This article was published in 7x7's March issue. Click here to subscribe.