Neighborhood Watch: Uptown Oakland
Catch the buzz, not the crowds
Uptown Oakland has become a destination.
You can see it in the proliferation of restaurants and frenzied Friday-night crowds. Nevertheless, the city's relaxed charm still comes through at many of Uptown's newest places.
During the day, Mani Niall's two-month-old Sweet Bar Bakery is all sunlight and quiet. Settle in with a book and a sandwich featuring ham and garlicky pumpkin-seed pesto ($9), or a chocolate-dipped Sweet Bar shortbread ($2) made with organic whole-wheat flour.
Paul Canales' Spanish-themed Duende just opened last week, forming a dining trifecta with Flora and Rudy's Can't Fail Café. For a quieter meal, walk over a few streets to the six-month-old Hopscotch. There, chef Kyle Itani's Japanese bent comes through in a lightly smoked kampachi crudo ($12) with radishes, and his Uptown Burger ($13), where the flavor of toasted sesame murmurs underneath that of grilled beef.
When Make Westing and Café Van Kleef pack up on weekends, slip into Flora's new, sign-free side bar, Fauna (1900 Telegraph Ave., at 19th St.). Decorated in circus stripes and taxidermy heads, it's a great spot for a beer or a rum- and-mezcal-spiked Ginger Rogers ($8).