Category Archives: restaurants & bars

Ramblings of a Reticent Blogger…

[NOTE: If you’re dreaming about the weekend and dawdling at work and have some time to linger over this lengthy post, wonderful… start at the beginning. If, however, you’re pressed for time, just skip to the end. That’s the important part. Happy weekend everyone!]

So you may have noticed I’ve been a bit remiss lately. I feel bad.

It’s a mix of issues really. Part of it is the thought that I just don’t have that much to say… much of interest anyway. You see, it’s hard to get out as much as I used to… now married and ensconced in the relative suburbia of Oakland’s lower hills. Instead of hopping on my bike to sail in any given direction from the flats of West Oakland, an explorer bent on exploring, I now find the pedal from the hills slightly daunting… the discoveries farther from reach. And after all… wouldn’t it just be easier to water the garden or stream another episode of True Detective?

So I guess I’ve gotten a bit lazy. But then I think, NO. Don’t do that to yourself. You have been busy. You were traveling for your friend’s wedding. And then you had your wisdom teeth out… and recovery took awhile (you’re not 20 anymore!) Plus you’ve done all that volunteer work. And you prioritized spring cleaning your office and garage… donating your storage carts to the sculptor, your fabric bolts and wedding leftovers to the creative reuse center, your old cameras and film to the photojournalism student, you’re your computer cast-offs to the local school vice-principal… all in support of the ARTS, remember? And let’s not forget that your beautiful gleaming Mac Pro tower, despite its ever-youthful exterior, was slowly crumbling within to the point where it shat itself, gasped its last breath, and then… DIED. Cleaning up that mess was a serious time (and money) suck. So take it easy on yourself, k?

The other thing, and yes I realize this is completely contradictory, is that I feel like I have stuff to say all the time, but am simply unable to capitalize on the temporality of it all. I spent a good chunk of time redesigning the blog with a new theme to be mobile-friendly in anticipation of having much to say… did you notice? All that work, but then scant few posts to follow. The problem seems to be that despite having an abundance of ideas, I just can’t to get them out fast enough to be timely (I’m a terrible tweeter). And once the moment’s passed… well, then what I had to say seems… irrelevant. It’s a conundrum.

Best Music, Best Music OaklandFor example I wanted to tell you about Best Music going out of business. A downtown Oakland institution for over 80 years (80 years!!!) I took photos and everything. It’s gone now.

I wanted to share my latest dining delights on a perfect little stretch of Grand… the Grand Tavern (the ambience, the service, the food!), and The Star (hello deep dish meatball and ricotta pizza, you are to die for!), and Penrose (Charlie’s done it again). But my photos were lame and the moments passed, so I remained silent.

makai ukuleleI wanted to post about the Ukulele get-togethers at Actual Cafe (I got a ukulele for my birthday last month) but now I don’t even know if these gatherings are happening anymore. If you know, please let me know… I’m looking to expand my current repertoire of three songs.

I wanted to write about the new beer garden (Lost and Found) in Uptown, but now it’s not new anymore. I made plans to meet friends there, but there was a miscommunication and we ended up meeting at the old beer garden in Uptown. So much for modern technology… we humans can still fuck it up.

pollinate farm gardenI wanted to tell you about my visit to Pollinate earlier this summer in preparation for planting my garden… the orchard, the chickens, the farming & gardening supplies, the beekeeping stuff, and the incredible library of books, plus their slew of cool DIY classes (I’m waiting for pickles!) I interviewed the owner, I took photos. Alas, where is the post?

I could go on and on… but I’m figuring I’ve probably lost most of you by now, so I’ll just wrap up by talking about one more meaningful posts I meant to write and sadly let slide.

It’s about the art space Studio Grand, which I wrote about once before. The first time I stepped into the space I knew it was something special… the music was moving, the acoustics were perfect, the curated paintings that hung on the walls beautifully complimented the performance, and the vibe was, well… LOVE. I guess that’s the best way I can describe it.

The space was inspired and founded by Holly Schneider with the mission of supporting community cultural engagement through programming that reflects and serves the diversity that is Oakland. I began taking classes there and, one day upon arriving for class, learned that Holly had suddenly and most unexpectedly passed away at the far-too-young age of 42 from a very rare form of cancer. It was a shock. And a reminder of how precious each day is… not to be wasted on petty things or grumpiness. A solemn reminder for me, someone who often feels grumpy. Holly was an artist, musician, wife, and mother whose passion for art, music, and community can be viscerally felt in the space she has left behind, which I visit often.

The most recent performance I attended was a solo guitar concert by Chuck Johnson this past Tuesday. I’d never heard of Chuck Johnson, but that didn’t matter. I knew the show would be amazing because the community of artists supporting this space is amazing. My sweetie couldn’t attend the show with me and asked me later what it was like… I said it was hard to describe but sort of like early Americana folk guitar picking but with a modern twist… a more delicate and sublime sensibility. Here’s one of the gorgeous tracks he played:

Studio Grand continues on in Holly’s honor, carried forward by the work of countless volunteers and artists. I encourage everyone to check out their eclectic program offerings, and/or attend the closing reception of the current art installation: Susan Matthews’ Rhythm & Spirit.

Friday, August 22, 2014
6:00pm – 8:00pm

This will be a very special reception as it marks the close of the last show that Holly curated. She was drawn to the work of Susan Matthews captured the spirit of the people of Cuba and the rich tradition of Rumba, and knew these pieces would fit beautifully into Studio Grand. They do.
Susan Matthews

Wondering What to Do this Memorial Day Weekend?

Can you believe Memorial Day is already upon us? Wondering what to do with the luxuriously long weekend ahead? Well lucky for you, I’ve compiled some interesting options to choose from… Whether you’re looking for festivals of music, dance, & food, scholarly history lessons, or engaging activities to entertain the wee ones, there’s a little something here for everyone… Enjoy!!

FRIDAY – May 23rd

  • Friday Nights at OMCA (5-9pm)

    The Oakland Museum of California is holding its weekly night market on Friday. Off the Grid’s gourmet food trucks will offer artisanal local cuisine, with local beer and wine served in the Blue Oak beer garden. A Makers & Tasters discussion will bring together great minds in the brewing and gardening communities. Live music, dance lessons, a DJ, and an LGBT history tour of the museum help guests digest all that stout and kraut. Plus access to all galleries including newly opened exhibits SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot and Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records.
    Admission 1/2 price for adults; free for kids under 18.
    Oakland Museum, Friday Nights at OMCA, Vinyl, Sound and Culture of Records

SATURDAY – May 24th

  • Oakland City Walking Tour: New Era | New Politics (Tour begins at 10am)

    On this free 90-minute downtown walking tour, you’ll discover the places where Oakland’s African American leaders have made their marks. Learn how Lionel Wilson, Delilah Beasley, Robert Maynard, the Dellums family, Josephine Baker, and others changed the Bay Area and California.
    Meet in front of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO), 14th Street at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Cost is FREE.

  • Celebrating Elephants Day at the Oakland Zoo (10am-3pm)

    To raise awareness about the perilous situation of African elephants, the Oakland Zoo is hosting its 18th annual Celebrating Elephants event. Funds from the tours will be donated to the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. Visitors can find out how to tell the zoo’s four African elephants apart, learn about poaching and the illegal ivory trade, examine an eleven-pound elephant tooth, and tour the elephant barn, where you can see the animals up-close and watch an elephant “pedicure” (a once-a-year opportunity).
    9777 Golf Links Rd., Oakland. Event is included with regular Zoo admission. Elephant Barn Tours are $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 16.

  • “Eastlake” Free All-Day Lake Merritt Music Festival (12-7pm, cont. at local venues till 2am)

    The First Annual Eastlake Music Festival debuts in the newly completed Lake Merritt Amphitheater and features local music, dance, indie arts and crafts, micro-brews and food trucks. The festival is a not-for-profit festival, fiscally sponsored by the Friends of Oakland Parks, and 100% volunteer planned, organized and run. The main amphitheater stage will feature live bands till 7pm. Then the party moves to various local venues to run into the week hours.
    Full festival map here. Cost is FREE.
    Eastlake Music Festival, Oakland Lake Merritt, Lake Merritt amphitheater, Lake Merritt Music Festival

  • Spanish Harlem Orchestra at Yoshi’s Oakland (two shows – 7:30pm, 9:30pm)

    The two-time Grammy winning Salsa and Latin Jazz band, sets the standard for excellence for authentic, New York style, hard core salsa. Live or recorded, it doesn’t get any better. Their music is characterized by the raw, organic and vintage sound defined by the genre. They are on a mission to keep the musical legacy of salsa dura “hard salsa” alive and expand its audience to those who love great music, not just Latin music.
    Yoshi’s Jazz Club, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland. Cost is $34.

SUNDAY – May 25th

  • Meat-Up Sausage Pop-Up in Temescal Alleys (12pm)

    Monthly sausage pop-up hosted by two of the cooks at Pizzaiolo. This month’s sausage is Bratwurst with sauer kraut and beer on tap.
    470-482 49th St., Oakland. $5-$15

  • Spanish Harlem Orchestra at Yoshi’s Oakland (two shows – 7:00pm, 9:00pm)

    The two-time Grammy winning Salsa and Latin Jazz band, sets the standard for excellence for authentic, New York style, hard core salsa. See full description above.
    Yoshi’s Jazz Club, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland. Cost is $29.

MONDAY – May 26th – Memorial Day!

  • Memorial Day Commemoration & Tour at Mountain View Cemetery (10am)

    Join Mountain View Cemetery to honor all veterans at the 93rd Annual Memorial Day Commemoration when docent Dennis Evanosky will lead a guided tour of the refurbished Civil War plot and other areas of notables that are buried in the cemetery. The ceremony will be held at the second fountain on the Main Avenue of the cemetery and complimentary refreshments will follow.
    5000 Piedmont Ave, Oakland. Cost is FREE.

  • Oakland Carnival at Mosswood Park (10am-5pm)

    Bring the family for a chilled decompression from San Francisco’s Sunday Carnaval. With a kids’ zone and Carnival cultural performances by Bay Area dance companies and bands.
    Corner of Broadway & Mac Arthur. Opening blessing at 10am, entertainment starts at noon.
    Oakland Carnival, Oakland Carnaval, Sambafunk

  • All Tings Jerk Cook Off Festival & Fundraiser (1pm-5pm)

    Now in it’s fifth year the My Yute Soccer annual Jamaican Jerk Cook off is ramping up for another full day of chilled music and hot jerk. Top-of-the-line chefs including James Syhabout, Chop Bar’s Chris Pastena, Michael Cook from Rumbo al Sur, and guest chef from Atlanta, award-winning jerk chef Jimmie Jackson will be turning out their own jerk-inspired recipes. Festival includes live music and raffle items. All funds raised support My Yute Soccer, providing free soccer camps to educate youth in soccer and promote awareness of socio-cultural differences for the general public.
    Linden Street Brewery, 95 Linden Street, Oakland. Cost $15 general admission plus $5 drink & tasting tickets, or $25 package admission.

 

Some Fun Stuff for your Weekend…

Today you get a list. You love lists. Right?

Here’s a smattering of events happening this weekend. Not comprehensive. Just a few things I thought sounded interesting…

FRIDAY – May 2nd

  • Art Murmur (of course) – It’s First Friday again. With this week of ridiculous summer weather wrapping up, I imagine tonight will be quite a party. For those actually interested in seeing some art, comprehensive list of openings/exhibits here.
  • Project Youthview – 10th Annual Film Screening & Awards Night – At the incredible iconic Paramount Theatre, this event showcases 12 select youth-created film shorts from across the Bay Area, including music videos, documentaries, and animation pieces. The featured 2013 Sundance-winning Documentary Short, Rich Hill, will also be screened. 6:30pm-9:30pm. Cost $20 adults; $7 youth
  • Pro Arts Gallery 40th Birthday Party – a free, inclusive community celebration, kicking off the open studios season with an opportunity to view the Preview Exhibition featuring works by over 400 artists participating in East Bay Open Studios 2014. 6pm-8pm

SATURDAY – May 3rd

  • California Bookstore Day is today, and if you’ve never heard of this before, don’t worry… this is the inaugural event, celebrating more than 90 independent bookstores across the state. Each will feature parties with music, food, drink, and of course authors. I’ve chosen one below to highlight, but do check out your own indie favorite… they’re sure to have something going on.
  • Diesel Bookstore in Rockridge will be featuring one-of-a-kind, limited-edition items like unique books and art, signed prints and lithographs, plus Mac n’ Cheese courtesy of Homeroom, libations from Emma Christensen–brewer and author of True Brews, live vintage acoustic music with Dodge’s Sundodgers, literary karaoke and cocktails. 10am-9pm
  • Linden Street Brewery Feria Urbana – a hip urban fair made up of local artists and designers selling a wide range of items at accessible prices (jewelry, housewares, clothing, ceramics, etc.) Brewery will have beers on tap, local wine tasting, food trucks, and more. Get those Mother’s Day gifts while you’re at it! 12pm-5pm
  • Jack London Square Vintage Car & Truck Show – showcasing more than 60 vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles from the 1920s to 1960s, the waterfront will transform into an auto mecca showcasing rare vehicles. Enjoy live music, delicious eats from Jack London Square’s fantastic restaurants. 10am-4pm
  • Life Size Mousetrap Launch Party at NIMBY – Hosting a kid’s program in the afternoon featuring the Life Size Mousetrap, local gypsy junk rockers Junk Parlor, kids activities, and more. At night doors will open for the “grown-up” kids. They’ll run the Life Size Mousetrap and feature performances from local luminaries of music, dance, aerial acrobatics, burlesque, and more. With full bar, food vendors, a night market and more fun than you can throw a bowling ball at… kid’s program 2-5pm ($5 donation/family); party 9pm-2am

SUNDAY – May 4th

  • Maifest in Oakland – celebrating the cultures of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland through food, beer, music, and dance. Hosted by Oakland Nature Friends this spring festival takes place at our local Tourist Club not far from Joaquin Miller Park (I’ve been to the Marin Tourist Club which is always great fun and can’t wait to check out our local version). Bier, Spätzle, Bratwurst, Kartoffelsalat, and Würstchen. YUM. Bring your Lederhosen! Check here for details. 12pm-5pm. Cost $10

Oakland Tourist Club, Maifest in Oakland, Oakland Nature Friends

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)
piano bar oakland, rod dibble's alley

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…

kosher bakery oakland, grand avenue bakery

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.

lucky lounge, grand avenue bars, oakland bars

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…
grand avenue cafes, oakland coffee shops, oakland cafes
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.

Charlie Hallowell restaurants
Smitty’s. A dive bar. Pool table. Shuffleboard. Juke Box. Cheap beer. What more do you need to know?

oakland bars, grand avenue bars, dive bars oakland
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!

independent bookstores, oakland independent bookstores

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)

pedal power, coffee cart, oakland coffee carts

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!

independent movie theaters, oakland grand lake, old movie houses

Random Thoughts on Thursday…

Today I’ve got a smattering of stuff… a random collection of things I’ve been thinking about recently including local independent radio, amazing restaurant deals in Oakland, and the upcoming 2nd annual Oakland Marathon…

  1. KUSF (90.3 fm) has gone the way of classical as of this past Tuesday…  I said, “WHAT?!?”  It’s true, it’s true.  Another great independent college station down the tubes.  Or at least into the tubes.  While the University of San Francisco’s station has been broadcasting via the FM airways for over 30 years, it will now be moved to an internet-only format. You can see a recap of events and listen to an archive of an interview with relevant parties on KQED’s site:

    So please, support your local independent radio.  Here’s a recent write-up on the ever-excellent KALX. And here are a few of my other favorite local stations:

      • Pirate Cat Radio 87.9FM http://www.piratecatradio.com/listen.php This is a true pirate radio station. I actually had to look up their number on the dial because I’ve only ever heard their broadcast from a particular photo studio in San Francisco – their broadcast range is postage stamp sized. In fact, they may not even be broadcasting that way anymore because they’ve had some trouble with the FCC (they simply won’t obey!)… it may be only internet now. But they play super interesting stuff consistently.
      • KFJC 89.7FM http://www.kfjc.org/netcast/index.php This is Foothill College’s radio station. Great stuff with a focus on new music.
      • KUSF 90.3FM http://kusf.org/index.shtml Similar to KALX, but broadcast from the University of San Francisco… similarly cool off the beaten path programming… lots of local bands too.
      • KZSU 90.1FM http://kzsulive.stanford.edu/Another college radio station… this one out of Stanford University. Even those Peninsula geeks can rock!
      • KPFA 94.1FM http://www.kpfa.org/ One of our Bay Area public radio stations, it’s mostly political, but they do have some good music shows. I’m particularly fond of their Thursday nights with Bonnie Simmons and Derk Richardson. But I’m old. ;)
  2. flora oakland, cocktails at flora, art deco flora

  3. Next week is Restaurant Week in Oakland. What is Restaurant Week you ask? (I’d never heard of it before either, but perhaps this is the first year?  Anyone?) In any case, it’s a week long event sponsored by the Oakland Visitor Convention Bureau in conjunction with Visit California.  Basically it’s about getting folks to come spend their hard-earned dollars in Oakland, while getting great values at an incredible variety of top-notch restaurants.  And locals can sign up too… Here’s a list of all the deals being offered:
  4. All I can say is Flora, Camino, Wood Tavern, Oliveto… the list goes on and on.  It’s going to be hard to decide where to eat~!

  5. The Oakland Running Festival! It’s coming again (March 26/27) and it’s going to be awesome.  Please check my posts from last year which have lots of information about this excellent event:

    I’ll be writing more about this in upcoming days (because I’ll by plying you for any hard-earned dollars not spent on Restaurant Week!), but I’m going to be running in the festival this year (last year I was a spectator), and I’m going to be running with Team Ella Baker Center.

    The Ella Baker Center is a local non-profit human rights organization working to “promote justice in the system, opportunity in our cities, and peace on our streets.”  I wrote a bit about them last year (Ella Baker Center Murals) and am extremely excited to be supporting their organization this year.  They’re hoping to raise $25,000 with approximately 100 runners, so if you’re interested in running with them, click this link: “Oakland Love Runs Deep“.

    I went to their kickoff party at Somar last night and it was incredibly inspiring. A representative from Corrigan Sports (the organization responsible for bringing the marathon back to Oakland… after a 25 year hiatus) recapped the 2010 event, saying that 98% of participants had a positive experience, 90% of participants came away with a more favorable view of Oakland, and thousands of dollars were raised for local organizations.  This is a super-positive event and I encourage everyone to get involved.  There are lots of ways to participate:

    • As a runner – there are races for everyone: 1/2 marathon, full marathon, relay race, twilight 5k, and kids’ fun run, and you can run for a cause too (bonus points!)
    • As a spectator – crowds lined the streets last year to cheer on the runners. It was truly inspiring.
    • As a volunteer – over 1,000 volunteers are needed to help orchestrate this huge event. Click here for more info

    More reading:  Corrigan Sports Enterprises Brings You the 2nd Annual Oakland Running Festival

Temescal Winter Art Hop Recap…

So we had a blast at the 1st Annual Temescal Winter Art Hop last Friday night… I thought it was just going to be a smaller offshoot of Art Murmur, but there was more to it than that.  The idea was to pick up a “passport” listing all of the participating establishments – galleries, eateries, retail shops, etc. – get a stamp at each one visited to fill your passport book, and then drop off the completed book for a chance to win cool prizes!

I know, I know… it sounds a little dorky.  But we embraced our dorkdom and had a great time doing it.  And I have to say, it really was a clever way to introduce newer/smaller establishments that haven’t been on my radar, because we had to fill that book!

We pretty much hit them all… we needed 10 stamps for the book to qualify for the prize drawing and I think we each got 13!  We were going for bonus points, and it looks like it paid off because I got an email yesterday saying I’d won the prize from Smokey’s Tangle, which fittingly enough, is where our evening began.

Temescal Art Galleries, temescal winter art hop

Smokey’s Tangle

So this little gallery has been around for awhile, opening in February of 2009, but somehow I had yet to step inside their door until last Friday. I was surprised at the tiny size of their space as I’d been hearing about the gallery for some time. We walked past the striking sculpture in the display window (Andrew Dilberger) to be greeted a photographer standing on top of a table in front of a small holiday photo booth strung with clip lamps and xmas lights.  Do you want to have your picture taken? Hell yes!  So we donned some twinkle lights and spun them round for the slow exposure, and although I think we look pretty dorky, that seems about right.

If you click on the photo, it will take you to the whole series on their Facebook page.

4707

Next door is a similarly sized tiny gallery space.  It looks like these guys have been around just as long, though again, this was my first visit.  They had a psychedelic display in the window by Raymie Iadevaia… all wallpapered flowers, funky mirrors, and more.  See their blog (click link above) for the artist’s statement.  Inside was a small show of a handful of artists, each exhibiting no more than a few pieces… some great stuff, and one in particular I loved was a graphite drawing by Kara Joslyn.

Slate art & design gallery

Now this gallery has been on my radar for a while and I’ve been meaning to check it out for months… They too opened in 2009 and seem to be a bit, um how do I say this? maybe more upscale and um… well-financed? than their funkier counterparts across the street.  The space is larger with a lovely bank of floor to ceiling windows… very clean and contemporary and seems just about the perfect size for a substantial solo show, which is what we saw Friday night.

slate art & design, carol inez charney

The current exhibit, through January 29th, features big bold beautiful photographs by Carol Inez Charney. I love this stuff… colorful abstracts seen through and in the reflections of dripping and sheeting water. In fact, I have a whole series of images very similar to this, although I have to say that mine are not this good. Waah. You can see the Slate displayed series here.

Let’s see… what else?

We went to the Creative Reuse Center, which I’ve already written about here, but it sure looked pretty spruced up a bit for the holidays.

Then we followed the sidewalk chalk directions down and around the block to the Oakland Under 100 show at the Temescal Art Center.  To be honest, I didn’t even know there was an art center in Temescal (other than Studio One), so this was a great find.  Sounds like they specialize more in performance art than visual art, offering various physical/expression classes and workshops.  Interesting.

Oakland Under 100, temescal winter art hop

We had to go back to the car to drop the Wonderarium we purchased at Under 100.  What is a Wonderarium? you ask.  Well, it’s basically a terrarium in a glass ball.  The one we bought was a tiny scale model of a much much larger one proposed to be installed as a floating art/science exhibit on Lake Merritt.  You can read all about it here:  3,000-pound “wonderarium” could float on Oakland’s Lake Merritt.

On the way to the car we passed the new cafe… Good Bellies. It looks great, and having been open just under a month, they’ve already got 5 stars on Yelp!  They offer locally roasted coffee, locally produced gelato & frozen yogurt, pastries, and assorted sandwiches.  They also had a really interesting photography exhibit curated from 1970’s photographs obtained from the Library of Congress. Very cool.

Hmmm… are you still with me?  Just a bit more, as I’m running out of steam myself here, but I can’t wrap this up without mentioning the awesome little shop Lot 49. Talk about curating… The shop features furniture, art, and objects with, as they say, “a funky edge of cool.”  And it’s so true.  Right now they have a great display of vintage cameras that I was immediately drawn too. Some sweet mid-century lounge chairs also caught our eyes… and the prices all seemed really reasonable.  Do check them out!

The Mixing Bowl

I’ve recently spent some time in my old old hood of Temescal, so my next few posts will focus on the short stretch of Telegraph between 51st and 40th…

First up – The Mixing Bowl. Located on the same block as Betty’s Bakesale, Doña Tomás, and Pizzaiolo, this little gourmet cafe seems more in line with its upscale neighbors than its predecessor the Temescal Café.

mixing bowl temescal, mixing bowl cafe, mixing bowl oakland

I remember when the Temescal Cafe first opened… I lived just around the corner on Clarke at 49th. The only restaurant on the block was the Ethiopian Asmara, which is still there and celebrating their 25 year anniversary in just a couple of weeks.  G&G Hardware was still selling anything and everything hardware and houseware related… it was one of those old school hardware stores that carried all kinds of stuff, like kitchen appliances, bakeware, country mailboxes, and more.  Next door was a small fresh produce market, which was actually a wonderful thing to have in a walkable neighborhood like Temescal.  I can’t remember what else, but what I do remember, is there was nowhere walkable to grab a quick cup o’ joe.  The Temescal Café was going to be our salvation.

Or not. I tried tried tried to love the new cafe. But there were just too many funky things about it.  Their prices were certainly good, but the food was just ok, the art and decor a bit haphazard, and their service extremely inconsistent.  But enough about the old…

The Mixing Bowl opened a couple of years ago and though I no longer lived in Temescal, a friend did.  She groaned about the opening, complaining about the lack of wi-fi and how it just wasn’t the type of cafe she and her community wanted.  I had to disagree… I told her if she and her friends wanted an internet cafe, then they should open one.  The owners of The Mixing Bowl had a different agenda in mind, which I fully supported… food.

The team behind The Mixing Bowl, Grace Lee and Armando Koghan, are foodies. They care about food… the quality, the deliciousness, and ultimately the actual experience of eating it, which is why they opted for a wi-fi free zone, wanting to discourage a room full of people with attention solely glued to laptops. My friend found this maddening… I found it refreshing.

Grace Lee, temescal cafes

What’s also refreshing is their menu… it’s yummy California cafe fare to be sure – organic, local, sustainable – but with a strong Asian influence and some really interesting combinations. I particularly love their salads (Watermelon with pickled rind, shaved feta, and shiso vinaigrette… YUM!) and a popular favorite seems to be the Soba Noodle Salad (see Yelp below).

The sandwiches are equally good and reasonably priced given the healthy portions. Next time the line for Bakesale Betty’s (which I also love dearly) extends down the block, you may just want to pop into The Mixing Bowl for their Pulled Pork Sandwich or Korean Tacos… You won’t be sorry.

More recently the cafe has added a line of homemade country goods like pickled vegetables and jams.  Though I haven’t tried any yet, I will say the presentation is beautiful, as it is with everything here (check out their light fixtures fashioned out of antique mason jars… lovely!)

I’m also quite fond of the current art installation, which may be permanent as it seems to have been up for awhile now.  It features a series of large scale B&W historical photographs of the Temescal region and community from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. It’s fascinating…

For example, we’re informed that the men above are garbage collectors setting off to ride throughout the town picking up their payments from individual property owners with whom they’ve contracted. And further, that the whole business of trash collection in the early part of the 20th century was dominated by men from the Italian American community, specifically of Genovese descent (I am assuming these Genovesians are also responsible for the wonderful Genova delicatessen, a fixture in Temescal for 80 years! – but that will have to be another post…)

shared ground, Oakland Baseball Club

The installation was made possible through the support and resources of the Oakland History Room (a program of the Oakland Public Library), Temescal historian Ray Raineri, and Shared Ground founder and Temescal community artist Jeff Norman. To learn more about Temescal history and Shared Ground’s local projects, visit SharedGround.org.

More reading…

The Mixing Bowl on Yelp

The Mixing Bowl on SFGate

The Mixing Bowl on Oakbook