Best of Oakland Dining: Rockridge, Piedmont, Montclair
The problem is, there are loads of amazing spots to nosh and drink in the 510. So many, in fact, that we split our top picks into four parts categorized by neighborhood. In our final installment, we continue with Rockridge, Piedmont, and Montclair.
One of Oakland’s most BART-accessible is also thankfully home to some of its best restaurants, many of which have been around and topping best-of lists for a long time.
Best Seafood: Marica 5301 College Ave., 510.985.8388. Despite its name, the Bay Area can be a tough spot to find great seafood. In the East Bay, Marica is where you go when you want stuff like fresh oysters, perfectly steamed mussels and swordfish that isn’t cooked to death. The chocolate soufflé is also worth saving room for.
Best Newbie: Hudson 5356 College Ave., 510.595.4000. With its hip, industrial vibe Hudson has become a popular happy hour spot, and most folks stay on for dinner, opting either for the popular burger, delicious steak, or an assortment of fresh pasta dishes.
Best Culinary Concept: Guest Chef 5337 College Ave., 510.658.7378. This ingenious concept entails a different chef and staff taking over the restaurant every two weeks, enabling chefs to test out new restaurant concepts while diners get to try different cuisines and menus all the time.
Must-Have Sandwich: Southie 6311 College Ave., 510.654.0100. Holy crap Southie sandwiches are amazing. They are huge, so completely share-able, and stuffed with such goodies as inch-thick bacon (the BLT), juicy meatballs (the Balls), or, on the lighter side, perfectly seared ahi. Soups and salads are great as well, although that’s not really why you come here.
Best Reason to Cross the Bay Bridge: Wood Tavern 6317 College Ave., 510.654.6607. Consistently so good, for so long. Wood Tavern, the owners of which also own Southie, just never misses a beat, from the impeccable service to the pork belly to the warm chocolate cake.
Meatball sandwich at Southie. Photo courtesy of SFGate.
Technically its own town, Piedmont boasts the best schools in the area and the pricey property that comes with them. Ironically, most of Piedmont Avenue—where all of the restaurants and businesses most people associate with Piedmont are situated—is not technically in Piedmont, but no matter what you call it, expect to find some of the city’s best food here.
Best Reason to Cross the Bay Bridge: Commis 3859 Piedmont Ave., 510.653.3902. One of those spots that will just consistently blow your mind. Hardly anything on the set menu (there’s one per day and that’s what you’re getting) ever actually sounds good, but this is the sort of place where you trust that the chefs know more than you. Because they do. And everything they make is freaking amazing.
Best Vintage Classic: Bay Wolf 3853 Piedmont Ave., 510.655.6004. Along the lines of Chez Panisse, Bay Wolf was one of the early adopters of the slow-food, kitchen garden thing and it still turns out fresh, tasty, seasonal dinners at a price that seems lower than it should be.
Best Homemade Pasta: Dopo 4293 Piedmont Ave., 510.652.3676. Hands-down the best pasta in Oakland, and possibly the whole Bay Area. The pasta is homemade, the sauces are ingenious, and the portions are actually what pasta courses should be.
Best Fancy Take-Out: Gregoire 4001 B Piedmont Ave., 510.547.3444. Where else but the Bay Area could you get grilled lambchops from a takeout-only place? The menu changes daily but is always great and thankfully the crack-good potato puffs are always available.
Most Authentic Sushi: B-Dama 4301 A Piedmont Ave., 510.420.1578. Elegant, beautiful fresh sushi served in a tiny, super-authentic little restaurant. In addition to the sushi, the yakitori (grilled skewers) is superb here, particularly the duck.
Falafel at Amba. Photo courtesy of SFGate.
This quaint little village within Oakland is big on charm but sadly short on great restaurants. Nonetheless, there are a couple of reasons to venture toward this hamlet at the base of the Oakland hills.
Best Brunch: Montclair Egg Shop 6126 Medau Pl, 510.339.9554. The sort of place your parents would take you for breakfast when you were a kid, Montclair Egg Shop makes its own jam and serves up heaping portions of all the classics--omelets, pancakes, benedicts—plus a few specialty items like the potato pancakes.
Fantastic Falafel: Amba 6464 Moraga Ave., 510.339.8000. Surprisingly good falafel and hummus are on offer at this random little spot on the outskirts of Montclair, served with fresh-out-of-the-oven pita bread.