Neighborhood Watch: Uptown Oakland

Catch the buzz, not the crowds
Smoked kampachi crudo with radishes at Hopscotch

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).

  • The interior at Hopscotch is half diner, half classic French bistro.

  • Hopscotch chef Kyle Itani weaves Japanese flavors into dishes such as a smoked kampachi crudo with radishes and ponzu.

  • Fauna, Flora's new side bar, has a few high-drama touches, including a King Kong poster and stuffed animal heads.

  • Sweet Bar Bakery serves deceptively simple sandwiches such as ham with pumpkin-seed pesto and melted Gruyère.

  • Sweet Bar Bakery owner Mani Niall made a name for himself in Los Angeles creating (slightly) more wholesome sweets, such as this baked "fauxnut."

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Hopscotch 1915 San Pablo Ave. Oakland CA 94612 510-788-6217 Fauna 1900 Telegraph Ave. Oakland CA 94612 510-286-0100 Sweet Bar Bakery 2355 Broadway Oakland CA 94612 510-788-4997

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