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A Modern Guide to Jack London Square: Hearty Eats, Strong Drinks, History on the Side


Named for the Bay Area born-and-raised author of The Call of the Wild and White Fang, Jack London Square is a slice of history in Oakland—and it's having a thoroughly modern moment.

Once home base for seafarers and fraught with the public houses that kept their spirits up, the waterfront was reimagined as a tourist attraction in the 1970s. Today, the area melds memories of the many eras gone by, with retro coffee shops sharing sidewalk space with sparkling new condos, industrial warehouses, and art galleries. The waterfront is speckled with ferries and sailboats, and an array of cool bars, music venues, and restaurants, ranging from grab-and-go to upscale, is drawing urbanites from around the Bay Area.

Jack London Square may be all grown up, but we still catch the spirit of rowdy old sailors in the air, jubilating into the wee hours of the night. Here's where to eat, drink, and have a good time in the 'hood.

The Best Eats in Jack London Square

There is no shortage of things to eat around here.

Square Meals

An Oakland staple, Everett & Jones (126 Broadway) is the place to go for tender ribs, flavorful brisket, juicy chicken, and housemade hot links. But save room for sides and say yes to candied yams and cornbread muffins. // Head to Nido for farm-to-table Mexican food and drinks—think smoked trout croquetas or chilaquiles verdes, waiting to be washed down with a Blanco y Negro (organic horchata topped with iced coffee). Look out for daily specials and happy hour deals. // Get breakfast, lunch or dinner at Chop Bar (247 4th St., Ste 111), an early pioneer in the neighborhood known for its hearty salads, oysters, oxtail poutine, and seasonal house cocktails. // Forage Kitchen (478 25th St.) is an incubator for cooks. Get something to eat—perhaps a rotisserie porchetta with fennel-celery leaf relish—at Pal's Take Away, or stop by on the first Friday of the month for BatchMade Market, where you can taste what's currently being made in the shared kitchen. // Bomb vegan soul food is a real thing. At Souley Vegan (301 Broadway), you can, uh, pig out on sizable portions of Southern-style fried-tofu bowls and Creole-style spaghetti topped with falafel. // At the Spanish eatery Venga Paella (229 Brush St), feast on tapas such as bacon-wrapped dates and stuffed piquillo peppers, as well as several different kinds of paella—we like the squid ink. // Forge Pizza (66 Franklin St., Ste 100), located on the waterfront, is the place to indulge in crispy cheese curds and pizzas topped with shaved asparagus or, for the more daring, mussels, chorizo and corn. // Back in 1972, Yoshie Akiba and her two best friends opened Yoshi's, then just a quaint sushi bar, in North Berkeley. In it's Oakland home (510 Embarcadero W), the restaurant has grown to become an award-winning jazz club and performance venue. Before a show, try the tiger shrimp tempura with spicy aioli or a risotto with uni, scallops, and ikura. // Feast amongst the Victoriana at The Fat Lady (201 Washington St.), a former brothel now serving scandalously thick-cut pork chops and corned beef hash. // For your carb bomb of the day, grab a breakfast sandwich at Authentic Bagel (463 2nd St.) with fried egg, cheese, and your choice of housemade corned beef, Molinari salami, bacon, sausage or turkey. // Tucked away in an office building you'll find Montse's Cafe (155 Filbert St.), a go-to for killer daily specials and agua frescas, as well as hearty breakfast plates and sandwiches. // You didn't know you wanted a gourmet pig-in-a-blanket but, trust us, you do. Get your fix at Diamond Dogs (468 3rd St.), where the Bourgeouis dog comes topped with white cheddar bechamel, garlic confit, and crispy fried leeks.

Coffee + Snacks

Thanks to Blue Bottle, Oakland is basically the home of Third Wave coffee. There's no stopping in Jack London Square without visiting the roastery (300 Webster St.), which houses a coffee bar, cupping room and pastry kitchen. // Rather take it to go? Snag a mini growler at Bicycle Coffee (364 2nd St.)—then bring it back later for a refill on the cheap. // Satisfy your sweet tooth with macarons, perfectly iced cupcakes, and impossibly buttery cookies at Miette (85 Webster St.).

Click through for more on where to drink and play in the neighborhood.

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