Friday, August 27, 2010

A Visit to Oakland

When I point out the Oakland skyline to guests, they frequently ask in hushed tones, "What is it about Oakland?"  And there you have Oakland's public relations problem.  For decades Oakland has been overshadowed by San Francisco.  Like any city, it has its share of problems but Oakland also has some very nice neighborhoods, housing that is more affordable than San Francisco's, and a sunnier climate.

Recently, we visited Oakland for dinner and a show.  Yoshi's, the Bay Area's premier jazz club has venues in both Oakland and San Francisco.  Acts play one club or the other but not both.  We went to see  Toumani Diabate, a kora player from Mali, who seldom plays in San Francisco.  Having eaten at Yoshi's Japanese restaurant a few times, we decided to try one of Oakland's hot new restaurants, Bocanova.  This "pan-American grill" serves small and large plates of Central and South American-influenced dishes.  All were delicious and a nice change from the many California cuisine restaurants in the Bay Area.  The wine list included many wines from Spain, Portugal, Chile, and Argentina so we had a good selection to choose from.  We enjoyed our meal and would definitely return next time we head over to Yoshi's.

Would I recommend visitors rush over to Oakland? Probably not. Should Oakland be avoided?  Definitely not.  If you do go, there are sights to see and more and more good restaurants as young chefs seeking cheaper rents forsake San Francisco for the East Bay.