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Oakland California's Best Hot Spots

Chef-owner Tanya Holland at Brown Sugar Kitchen.

Photo: Steve Kepple

Food

Chef and owner Syhabout’s Commis (3859 Piedmont Ave.; 510/653-3902; dinner for two $118) is a spare, albeit highly innovative, restaurant on a nondescript block of Piedmont Avenue (“across the street from Blockbuster,” notes the restaurant’s website). Simple names belie the complexity of each dish: for the cool carrot soup, roasted carrots are glazed with tarweed honey and garnished with nasturtium and coriander. Later this summer, Patterson and chef Jeremy Fox, formerly of Napa’s Ubuntu, will unveil the nearby Plum (2214 Broadway; 510/444-7586; dinner for two $40). On Telegraph Avenue (a.k.a. Oakland’s restaurant row), in the Temescal neighborhood, the tapas bar Barlata (4901 Telegraph Ave.; 510/450-0678; dinner for two $30) serves authentic small plates from Catalonia—pa amb tomàquet; patatas bravas—accompanied by an all-Spanish wine list. Farther north you’ll find Pizzaiolo (dinner for two $40), the acclaimed Italian restaurant from chef Charlie Hallowell, whose new Boot and Shoe Service (3308 Grand Ave.; 510/763-2668; dinner for two $30) is a pared-down pizzeria with an endless array of toppings (sausage, potato, and egg, to name a few). Weekend mornings, locals queue up outside the diner-like Brown Sugar Kitchen (2534 Mandela Pkwy.; 510/839-7685; brunch for two $30), where biscuits and glazed ribs are considered standard brunch fare. Oakland has a tradition of soul-food restaurants, and Picán (2295 Broadway; 510/834-1000; dinner for two $40) adds a twist to classics like buttermilk fried chicken—ask for a side of truffled honey to drizzle on top.

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