Magazine article Sunset

The Real Oakland

Magazine article Sunset

The Real Oakland

Article excerpt

Three devotees give us the lowdown on Oaktown. As told to Josh Sens

Where do you go to get outdoors?


Charlie hallowell: Anyone who's intimidated by Oakland or thinks it's too rough and tumble, I send to Redwood. It's so open and green. I walk my dogs here. I park at Skyline Gate, then choose one of the trails that wind off from there. You hike up through the redwoods and eucalyptus trees. jamie kidson: You're about 15 minutes from downtown, but you feel entirely removed from the craziness of the city. On a good day, you also can't beat Lake Merritt. One lap around it, and you'll see every walk of life. Lake Merritt: Bellevue and Grand Aves.;

What are your favorite new restaurants?


c h : I love Duende! The space is incredible and entirely reflective of chef-owner Paul Canales, who's a jazz fan and a skater... you know, in the way that middle-aged guys who wear Vans and ride longboards are skaters. Downstairs there's a bar, a bodega, and a dining room. I had a great paella and a really good octopus salad. And they set up the mezzanine for live music. It's fun. kev choice: Oakland has so many good spots for food and music, and this is one of the newer ones.


ch: The owner, Sarah Kirnon, used to be at a more formal place called Hibiscus, which I liked. But Miss Ollie's is more casual, and it's the perfect setting for what she does. She's from Barbados and cooks killer Afro-Caribbean food. kc: And the fried chicken is off the hook. ch: That and the salt fish with ackee. Ackee is a fruit, almost like a litchi, with this interesting, fleshy texture. It's all cooked up with onions and Scotch bonnet peppers. The result is salty and fishy in all the right ways.

How about a good cheap meal?


JK: The diversity in this city is really something. People from all over. Food from everywhere. I feel like a new noodle soup joint opens every week. CH: Especially around International Boulevard. That's the spot for pho. A lot of people swear by Pho King, but Pho Ao Sen is my go-to. My daughter and I eat there once a week. The broth is a little clearer, a little cleaner to my taste. I always get the Number 1 House Special. It's got everything: eye of round and tripe and tendon. All the funky stuff. You throw in the basil and the bean sprouts and the hot sauce. You can doctor it up however you want.

Best places for arts and crafts?


j k : One place a lot of folks have never heard of is Creative Growth. It's a nonprofit where people with developmental, physical, and mental disabilities go and just get to make art all day. And not just any art. Really beautiful art, including paintings, sculptures, and textiles. ch: A few of the artists have pieces in New York's MoMA. …

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