My Favorite East Bay Spots

Agave Uptown

The City of Oaxaca in Mexico is known for their mezcal and mole and Agave Uptown successfully brings them to Oakland.  The bar at Agave Uptown serves up some fine mezcal and tequila based cocktails.  Once you order a basket of their warm homemade tortilla chips, it becomes bottomless.  Their mole stays true to Oaxacan culture, made with over 20 ingredients including Chilhuacle chiles which are rare chiles with notes of cocoa, tobacco, and dry fruit.  Whether I am in the mood for chicken, pork, beef, seafood, or vegetables, there is always something at Agave Uptown to satisfy my palette.
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Beauty’s Bagels

The west coast has never been known as a bagel destination, but Beauty’s Bagels puts delicious bagels on the map for me!  Based on how Montreal bagels are prepared, this artisanal shop makes it their own by rolling out the bagels by hand, boiling them, and then baking them in a wood fired oven.  I just can’t get enough of the crisp and chewy texture of Beauty’s Bagels.  

Belotti Ristorante

The pasta coming out of Belotti Ristorante is to die for at this neighborhood restaurant in Rockridge.  The handmade pastas are always cooked perfectly and each pasta dish is prepared with a few key ingredients that make the pasta shine.  The pastas are all warm and comforting and each bite brings smiles across my face.  Belotti Ristorante is hands down thee best place to go for pasta in the East Bay and far beyond that. 

Commis

If Oakland were to name a restaurant to compete in a National or even International competition for best restaurant, I would send Commis to the battle.  Although pre fixed menus are not typically my favorite way to dine, I have always appreciated every plate I have had the luxury to eat at Commis.   The innovative use of ingredients and preparation, the minute details and creativity in plating, and the satisfaction to all my senses makes me feel very special when dining at Commis.  For reasons I can’t explain, Commis makes me feel proud to be a resident of Oakland.
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Cosecha

There is so much to love about Cosecha.  It’s not just about the phenomenal farm to table Mexican food that comes out of this kitchen.  What I truly love is the diversity and the community that Cosecha built when it opened its doors in Swan’s Market in Old Oakland in 2011.  It actually opened up many doors for other food and drink businesses that make Swan’s Market a foodie destination in Oakland.
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Flower Lounge

This is my “go to” neighborhood Chinese restaurant serving authentic Cantonese food.  I’ve been eating less here lately because service can sometimes be slow because they are filling tons of “to go” orders.  Flower Lounge’s menu includes the popular mainstream items like fried rice, chow mein, and sweet and sour pork.  But I like having traditional dishes that unless you’re Cantonese, you wouldn’t have heard of like steamed minced pork with salty fish and steamed catfish on soft tofu with black bean sauce.  When dining at dinnertime, I always ask for complimentary house soup that changes daily and warm tapioca with taro for dessert.

Nyum Bai

There is something very special that happens when I eat at Nyum Bai, a Cambodian restaurant across the street from the Fruitvale BART Station.  I feel transformed to another place, but then I’m quickly returned to the diverse city that I call home.  Every menu item is different from the other which offers a uniqueness in every bite.  The food and the flavors at Nyum Bai bring me to a happy place.
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Pho Ga Huong Que Cafe

When I’m not feeling well, I get chicken pho at Pho Ga Huong Que Cafe.  I always have trouble with the name so I refer to it as Vietnamese Chicken Soup for the Soul.  The specialty is simply chicken, noodles, and bean sprouts in the most comforting bowl of chicken broth.  Let me not forget to mention the amazing ginger scallion oil dipping sauce.  A spoonful of every element hits the spot. This is a very inexpensive meal with no frills, which make it good for my soul as well as my pocketbook.
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Reem’s and Dyafa

Chef Reem Assil successfully brings Arab street food to Oakland.  It’s hard to believe how far she has gone in just a few years.  With the help of La Cocina, a women’s food business incubator program, Reem began her farmer’s market business in 2015.  She then opened Reem’s in 2017 and Dyafa in 2018.  The breads and dips are amazing, but I am hooked on the Za’atar Man’oushe.
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Tay Ho

There are a ton of Vietnamese restaurants in Oakland, but I choose Tay Ho as my favorite because they have a diverse menu and prepare everything very well. Whether I’m looking for a flavorful bowl of pho or other specialty noodle soup, a vermicelli noodle bowl with fish sauce, or a bbq rice plate, Tay Ho is consistently tasty. I also can appreciate the fact that they are one of the only Vietnamese restaurants that use local farm fresh ingredients, so I can always count on the best quality.  Tay Ho makes it on my list of Top Five Bowls of Noodle Soup.  Check out the link:
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