Icons of Oakland’s Grand Avenue
So yesterday’s test was a little too easy, eh? It seems the Pet Hospital sign was the real giveaway… and if that sign clued you in to this awesome stretch of Oakland, these signs should really ring a bell.
I start with The Alley, because it’s a real gem. A one of a kind. An Oaktown original.
I have to admit I’ve only mustered the courage to sing here a couple of times (with a little help from whiskey-on-the-rocks) because Rod Dibble’s regulars are really really good. These folks take their song stylings very seriously. It’s awesome. If you haven’t been, you simply must go.
More reading: Piano man Rod Dibble’s got ‘em feeling all right by Peter Hartlaub (sfgate)
Next up is The Grand Bakery. As yelper Russ E. said, “If you are a Jew and you don’t know about this place, shame on you.” Always with the guilt! But seriously, this place has incredible chocolate covered macaroons (my personal favorites), and is known for its other delectable Jewish treats like Challah & rugelach. Keep in mind they’re closed on Saturdays. It seems a source of frustration for many, but duh…
Next up, Kingman’s Lucky Lounge. I don’t do the bar scene too much anymore, but when I did, I loved this spot. Great ambiance. Cool clientele. DJ’s spinnin’ fresh tunes. And, of course, tasty drinks.
Now the Coffee Mill I’m not quite as familiar with, but as I was heading across the street to shoot their sign, which I love, the woman next to me was telling her little girl that they have the best Chai Latte in the world. That’s quite a claim. They seem to be known for their delicious breakfasts more than their coffee. Any of you fans? Give me the scoop…
Ah, Boot & Shoe Service. Can I just say that I have a big crush on Charlie Hallowell and his incredible pizzas? Yes, he’s married with child, and yes, I’m in a relationship too, but those fantastically thin crusts! To die for. Everything is amazing. A much smaller menu than his original Pizzaiolo, but that’s part of the charm.
Smitty’s. A dive bar. Pool table. Shuffleboard. Juke Box. Cheap beer. What more do you need to know?
Walden Pond Books – a great independent bookstore. See my post from last year: Walden Pond Books – Oakland’s Oldest Bookstore including their Declaration of Independents, and my interview with Paul Curatolo, now manager for over 35 years!
Bicycle Coffee Co. These guys set up at the Saturday Farmers Market. I haven’t had their coffee yet (organic, fair trade, shade grown, hand-picked, and locally roasted in small batches), but I dig their carts, and was captivated by their groovy logo.
More Reading: Q&A with Bicycle Coffee Co.’s Brad Butler and Brandon McKee by Alex Hochman (sfweekly)
And last, but certainly not least, the wonderful Grand Lake Theater. It’s one of my favorite things about our city and I wrote all about it awhile back in Grand Lake Movie Magic… Post includes the top 7 reasons this is, hands down, the best movie theater in the East Bay, the history of the theater, and a cool video about the mechanics behind their amazing lighted sign. Check it out!