Modern Guide to Richmond, CA: A working-class city comes into its own
Tours of the new Eames Institute in Richmond showcase the famed designers' work Wednesday through Friday. (Courtesy of @eamesinstitute)

Modern Guide to Richmond, CA: A working-class city comes into its own


Oakland’s gentrification has been a mixed bag, to say the least. While it’s made The Town a magnet for innovative small business owners and chefs, inflated housing costs have also pushed many of Oakland’s historic communities to its fringes.

But less than a half hour to the north, the historically working-class town of Richmond is stepping up to absorb Oakland’s weary transplants. And as the city expands, so too does its crop of restaurants and shops, an infusion of energy and innovation that’s creating its own magnetic scene.

While Richmond still very much maintains its longstanding laidback mom-and-pop vibe, the arrival of spots like Mi Casa Grill, The Factory Bar, and the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity are welcome additions to the landscape of delicious family-owned eateries like That Luang Kitchen Lao Cuisine and humble pop-ups like Estilo Chilanga.

From beautiful Wildcat Canyon Regional Park in the east to endless dog parade at Point Isabel on the waterfront, Richmond may not be the “new” Oakland yet (nor do we want it to be), but it’s coming into its own as a Bay Area destination worthy of a visit.

Where to Eat in Richmond

Quesabirria tacos from East Bay pioneer, El Garage.

(Courtesy of @el_gaaarage)

Restaurants + Pop Ups

Mi Casa Grill

After a couple years on the Richmond scene, cozy Mi Casa Grill has proven its mettle when it comes to southern Mexican comfort food like Michoacan’s Apatzingan-style enchiladas and traditional caldos. Custardy tres leches french toast and horchata lattes are stars at brunch, and signature cocktails and pitchers of the classics lively up the table any time of day, whether you’re dining under the gaze of the Frida Kahlo mural inside, or on the small outdoor patio. // 12056 San Pablo Ave.,

El Garage

East Bay quesabirria pioneer El Garage still draws the kind of crowds that helped it transition from home-based pop-up to brick-and-mortar taqueria a few years back. Come for the melty queseabirria tacos dipped in a side of beef consomme, stay for the fiery aguachile verde and crispy, black bean-layered tostadas. // 1428 Macdonald Ave.,

That Luang Kitchen Lao Cuisine

Technically just across the San Pablo line, this family-owned Laotian hole-in-the-wall punches above its weight when it comes to satisfying noodle dishes and comforting soups. Don’t skip the spicy papaya salad; it’s so good that they transformed their original grocery into a restaurant all because their version was so popular with customers. // 1614 23rd St. (San Pablo),

Estilo Chilanga

Although this tiny pop-up is only open on the weekends, it’s amassed a cult following not just among locals but throughout the Bay Area. Chef Laura Rivera’s specialty is Mexico City-styled eats including huaraches and chicharron gorditas, but according to converts it is the pambazo—a saucy toasted sandwich stuffed with potatoes, chorizo and cotija—that cannot be missed. // 2547 Clinton Ave.,

Saigon Seafood Harbor

At the banquet-style Saigon Seafood Harbor, barbeque pork buns and shumai are just two of the dumplings, rolls, and other dim sum delights delivered tableside from classic wheeled carts. Combined with a lengthy menu of seafood dishes and sizzling platters, Bay Area Catonese doesn’t get any more delicious. // 3150 Pierce St.,

Raymond’s Pizzeria

A sign of Richmond’s changing times, Raymond’s doesn’t just serve great pizza, it serves great fermented-crust, house-pickled local produce-topped pizzas. Get it in 18” pie form or by the slice, and wash it all down with a cold local beer. Fridays, a 40 oz. Pabst or Miller High Life and a slice is just $10. // 130 Railroad Ave. #102,

Huong Tra Restaurant

Blink and you’ll miss this traditional Vietnamese restaurant tucked into a strip mall on San Pablo Ave. It’s hard to go wrong with the massive menu, which includes just about anything you’d ever want, including excellent spring rolls with peanut sauce, and satisfying stir fried vermicellis. // 12221 San Pablo Ave.,

Coffee + Sweet Treats

Kaleidoscope Coffee

If you need a spot to catch up with friends or get some work done, look no further than the homey, brick-walled Kaleidoscope. Coffee here comes courtesy of SF’s Wrecking Ball roastery and there’s a wide range of light bites, toasts, and pastries (including lots of vegan options) to fuel your morning. // 109 Park Pl.,

Gran Milan

In an unassuming shopping center next to I-80, this cozy joint churns out elaborate Italian pastries of both the sweet and savory variety, including rich cannolis and delicately flaky sfogliatelle. Pizza, paninis (served on focaccia!), and salads are also worth a stop. // 5327 Jacuzzi St.,

Andy’s Donut Stop

After 70 years on the Richmond scene, Andy’s has pretty much perfected the donut with classic options like chocolate glazed, apple fritters, and jelly-filled for just a couple bucks—plus a mean bacon, egg, and cheese croissant. // 971 23rd St.,

Where to Drink in Richmond

The Factory Bar is Richmond's hip watering hole, sunny patio, and speakeasy in one.

(Courtesy of @the_factory_bar)

The Factory Bar

Beautifully crafted cocktails and community engagement come together at The Factory Bar, an welcoming oasis with a lush patio garden and a Victorian-styled speakeasy. With events like Tuesday Tiki Nights and a monthly comedy showcase, the dog friendly bar is a laid back gathering place for locals and the Richmond-curious. If your stomach is growling, pick up some Tijuana-style shrimp tacos from Tacos El Tucan (12505 San Pablo Ave.) next door to go with your drinks. // 12517 San Pablo Ave.,

The Backyard

From lawn games to live music, this seasonal family-friendly beer garden has something for everyone. Post up with the kiddos—furry four legs included—for an afternoon of handheld comfort foods and refreshing tipples. Reggae Sundays (monthly) and holiday celebrations kick things up a notch on a regular basis. // 205 Cutting Blvd.,

Baltic Kiss

An all-in-one space for events, drinks, and BBQ, Point Richmond’s Baltic Kiss is a delightfully eclectic spot crowned with disco balls and crystal chandeliers. A diverse range of musical artists, from rock bands to saxophone legends, play on the intimate stage almost every night, interspersed with monthly comedy and karaoke. // 135 Park Pl. (Point Richmond),

Riggers Loft

This friendly wine bar next door to the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park has stellar views of the Richmond waterfront, Brooks Island, and San Francisco beyond. That may be the best reason to visit, but it’s by no means the only one. With a wide selection of California reds, whites, and sparklers, plus ciders and wood-fired pizzas, it’s the perfect place to spend a sunny day on the bay. // 1325 Canal Blvd.,

East Brother Beer Co.

They brew classic ales and lagers with precision at this cavernous Richmond tap room and brewery. Grab a pint off their core menu, which includes Bohemian-style pilsners and West Coast IPAs, or order up a seasonal brew for drinking in the dog-friendly indoors or out on the patio outfitted with fire pits. A rotating cast of food trucks visit daily and Wednesday nights, the trivia competition heats up. // 1001 Canal Blvd.,

What to Do in Richmond

The East Bay city of Richmond from Wildcat Canyon Regional Park.

(Courtesy of @twinkies_adventures)

The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity

At their brand new headquarters in Richmond, The Eames Institute is carrying on the legacy of boundary-breaking designers Ray and Charles Eames. The archive contains more than 40,000 objects and ephemera from the duo, whose influence spanned furniture, architecture, film, and more. Visitors are welcome to explore the collection Wednesdays through Fridays on tours hosted by Llisa Demetrios, chief curator and Eames granddaughter(tickets must be purchased in advance). // 1330 S 51st St.,

Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park

Richmond, where a number of industrial mid-century buildings still stand, was the ideal location for a national historic park honoring the contributions of those on the home front during World War II. At Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park, interpretive exhibits and programs tell the story of the women who manned the shipyards when men were drafted overseas, a tale that is intimately linked to 20th century movements for the rights of women, minorities, and workers. // 1414 Harbour Way S.,

Wildcat Canyon Regional Park

Often overlooked for neighboring Tilden Regional Park, Richmond’s Wildcat Canyon is a beautiful spot for soaking in the bay views. The park has 25 miles of hiking and biking trails, which weave around the gorge and through forests of oak and bay laurel forests. For a nice long walk, check out this pretty 9.1 mile loop. // 5755 McBryde Ave.,

Point Isabel

Join the dog party at Point Isabel, an off-leash haven for four leggers and their humans (no, you don’t have to have a dog to visit). In addition to impressive views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the 23-acre bayshore has a cafe and the full-service dog stop, Mudpuppy’s Tub & Scrub (1 Isabel St.). // 2701 Isabel St.,

Where to Shop in Richmond

Find all things art at Richmond's Mom and Pop Art Shop.

(Courtesy of @glightvintage)

Mom and Pop Art Shop

Check out a rotating collection of contemporary work from artists from around the world at the Mom and Pop Art Shop in Point Richmond. The eclectic store also carries art supplies and imaginative kids games and toys, and hosts workshops and DIY classes. // 24 W. Richmond Ave. (Point Richmond),

Outback in the Temple of Venus

This Point Richmond clothing store is packed with designer options for men and women, including the owner’s own collections Devitalia and Outback. Find garments flowy, structured, comfy, and sharp, as well as a range of bags, purses, leggings and jewelry by Ayala Bar, Holly Yashi, and Tai. // 139 W. Richmond Ave. (Point Richmond),

Richmond Flea Market

Open Saturdays and Sundays, the Richmond Flea Market is a lively gathering of vendors of everything from pet birds to power tools. Sure, there’s a lot of junk to comb through, but there’s also great food, live music, and endless treasures waiting to be found. // 716 W. Gertrude Ave.,

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