Oakland’s culinary scene is exploding with activity and flavor as it kicks off its restaurant week Thursday.
“Feast Your Way Through the East Bay” is the tagline for this year’s Oakland Restaurant Week, which runs from March 16 to 26 and highlights over 125 restaurants throughout the city.
Peter Gamez, president and CEO of the city’s nonprofit travel association Visit Oakland, says that the strength of The Town’s culinary scene lies in its diversity—from eatieres on the move to established Michelin- and James Beard-recognized restaurants.
“I want people to recognize that Oakland is a town that is about the best taco truck and a Michelin-starred restaurant,” Gamez said. “I just encourage everyone to go outside their comfort zone. […] We’re not rookies here in Oakland.”
Here are some ways you can enjoy the slow food movement and bust out of your regular dining routine during Oakland’s restaurant week:
- 🦬 Wahpepah’s Kitchen, Northern California’s first women-owned Native restaurant specializing in Indigenous foods, will offer a $25 lunch special featuring Cheyenne River bison short loin on a bed of mixed greens and Kickapoo-style pecans, with local smoked goat cheese, and finished wtih a Passamaquoddy wild blueberry and honey vinaigrette. Helmed by Crystal Wahpepah, a 2022 James Beard Award nominee and Top Chef’s first Native American contestant, this is an excellent opportunity to try a truly authentic North American meal from a lauded chef.
- 🥗 ➕ 🍖 Check out spots on Oakland’s vegan trail, which Gamez says is becoming a mecca for plant-based eaters. Restaurant and bakery, Cocobreeze Caribbean, offers a tropical take on vegan food, serving up superfood-infused sea moss shakes as well as vegan curries. Or try out vegan Ethiopian food at Asmara Restaurant. If you’re a fan of Vegan Mob’s food truck, head down to the beloved plant-based brand’s HQ in a converted Oakland Kwik-Way for vegan barbecue and soul food. Menu specials are still forthcoming, but you can’t go wrong with Mob’s smackaroni mac and cheese and collards, gumbo or fired chicken fans with Cajun seasoning.
- 🍸 Want to take a step back in time to the swinging ’60s and swirl a cocktail like a character from Mad Men? Head to Michelin-recognized Bardo Lounge & Supper Club for a prix-fixe dinner priced at $65 and set in elegant mid-century modern digs. The three course meal opens with a chicory salad of arugula, citrus, avocado, pomegranate, pickled grapes and candied hazelnuts; follows with your choice of roasted tofu with beluga lentils or braised beef short rib with pumpkin and grits; and finishes with a chocolatey Grand Marnier ice cream sundae.