Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Badass Block: Telegraph and 51st Street in Oakland

Photo of the Cro Cafe via Yelp user Luigi O.

There are certain blocks in this city that seem like mini-universes. Each week, we'll highlight a stretch of pavement where you could spend an entire day and night. Next up? Telegraph and 51st Street in Oakland.

Where to caffeinate yourself
Precious Temescal Alley is jam packed with adorableness, but start with coffee at The Cro Cafe. Seasonal, single-origin varieties of beans are roasted by Sightglass Coffee Roasters and one of their specialties is ridiculously smooth, cold-brewed iced coffee served with cream and simple syrup. Bask in the sun or check out the other shops in the alley while the java kicks in.

Where to get your pizza fix
Pizzaiolo was a top pick for pies long before upstarts started talking “Napoletano” and “mozzarella di buffala.” It’s a child-friendly spot and most pizzas hover around $20, and optional add-ons include Cal-Ital toppings you won’t find from chain pizzerias such as arugula, Calabrian peppers and a farm egg. Book in advance or expect to wait for a table.

Where to stock up on Italian staples
Tucked away in a strip mall on the less hip side of the street is Genova Delicatessen, rightfully known for its deli counter and massive mortadella sandwiches, but don’t stop there. They also offer a wide variety of imported Italian cheeses and fresh pastas, including ravioli at extremely reasonable prices. You’ll find many types of pasta including gluten-free options, and also specialty flours like chickpea, chestnut and “00” for making your own pizza and pasta.

Where to stand in line
Let’s just be honest here, if you’re going to Bakesale Betty, you’re going to stand in line–but it moves fast, and it’s going to be worth it. The fried chicken sandwich is legendary. Buttermilk-fried chicken with jalapeno-spiked slaw is nestled on an Acme torpedo roll. It's a mixture of crunchy and juicy that verges on obscene. The sandwich was dreamed up by Alison Barakat, a former Chez Panisse line cook, who offers bottles of hot sauce for those who need even more heat.

Where to get a housewarming gift
Crimson Horticulture Rarities is the perfect place to find something cool and slightly creepy for your goth friend’s apartment. Get lost in an array of succulents, bromeliads, terrariums, and taxidermy oddities, or consult with Leigh Okies and Allison Futeral to create the perfect menagerie or dreamy bouquet for a modern wedding.

Where to brunch
If brunch on a sunny patio with a big platter of chilaquiles, red or green, and a bloody Maria sounds appealing, Dona Tomas is your place. Service can be slow, but who’s in a rush? Named for proprietors Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky, it’s been popular since day one in part because they use organic local produce and sustainable raised products whenever possible, which is still somewhat unusual when it comes to Mexican food.