Oakland is a city undergoing rapid development and is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco. Oakland’s vibrant and diverse neighborhood is a foodie’s paradise, offering a variety of cuisines and dining experiences that will thrill any palate.
You’ll find a solid mix of international and American cuisine all around the Bay Area, but there’s no denying that Oakland is the king of soul food and hipster dining. From Cambodian to Ethiopian, Oakland’s restaurants offer flavors from around the world.
The city of Oakland offers a variety of dining options, including upscale gastropubs and romantic dinners. These are Oakland restaurants one simply must try!
- The 10 Best Oakland Restaurants
- Summary Of The 10 Must-try Oakland Restaurants
The 10 Best Oakland Restaurants
2270 Telegraph Ave., Oakland // +15104652558
Kingston 11 Cuisine continues to be one of my favorite restaurants in Oakland (and one of my most frequented). Jamaican cuisine is known for its bold flavors and roots from the Caribbean and Africa, with many umami-packed broths and sauces to showcase bold flavors.
This Oakland restaurant has become a favorite haunt with its loud reggae music and Caribbean groceries and shops nearby.
There is no doubt that chef Nigel Jones’ food is constantly excellent, with jerk chicken and oxtail stew topping the list, though curried goat, made spicier with Jamaican pepper sauce, is one of the dishes you make time for.
Those who love rum cocktails will discover rum nirvana here!
3859 Piedmont Ave., Oakland // +15106533902
There are currently no two-Michelin star restaurants within the contiguous United States besides Commis. Rather than a changing seasonal menu, the tasting menu here offers a fixed five-course indulgence.
It may not seem as eccentric as some other new Oakland spots on the list, there are no weird foams or powders to be found here, but throughout a meal, it shows a commitment to details and elegance.
While the dining experience at the restaurant is distinctly contemporary California cuisine, it also offers classic comfort dishes, like the slow-cooked egg with smoked date and alliums, served with the best sourdough bread you will find anywhere.
11224 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito // +15102329316
The Himalayan family-owned Indian, Nepalese, Bhutanese, and Tibetan restaurant in Rockridge is my go-to when I’m in the mood for a change of pace from all the Mexican and other food my hometown is known for.
The menu is home to a wide array of dishes from all across India and Nepal. Still, my favorites include a lamb tartare appetizer prepared with refreshing mint chutney, a multi-layered mango lassi that’s been refrigerated for a slushy effect, and a dish of seasoned lentils that have been warmed up with jalapenos and served over steamed rice.
1699 Solano Ave., Berkeley // +15105259890
Sichuan Style stands out as a true Oakland original. This brassy neighborhood restaurant balances a handful of central Hong Kong-style dishes, the subtle high notes of Cantonese meat preparations, and fiercely bright Sichuanese spicing with an increasingly rare sense of rhythm and proportion.
For the last few years, it has been a regular on most critics’ lists of top fine dining restaurants in the East Bay, edging out its immediate competition in China Village, located less than two blocks away.
With its classic, heat-inducing Sichuan fare, Sichuan Style has definitely outdone its more well-known neighbor, with almost all of it traveling exceptionally well.
One of their best dishes is the fragrant fish fillet soup, topped with dozens of chili peppers but surprisingly mild and soothing; the wok-charred cabbage; and the large, puffy round of sesame bread.
917 San Pablo Ave., Albany // +15105269088
Billed on the menu as a “small restaurant,” Wojia is a little place tucked away in a relatively quiet stretch of San Pablo Avenue near the El Cerrito border. It has already garnered some enthusiastic support from local food obsessives.
Opened last summer by Hunan natives who named the restaurant after their hometown in China’s Sichuan province, Wojia offers a good entry point for the uninitiated into the smoky and occasionally scorching-hot pleasures of Hunan’s regional cuisine; comparable in some ways to Sichuanese cooking, but with its own unique characteristics and range of flavors.
The restaurant’s signature dish is a smoky, exceptionally tender pork rib dusted with crunchy garlic and spicy, sweet, and savory fried glutinous rice balls.
However, this is the type of restaurant where even the simplest preparations will delight: for instance, stir-fried greens or roasted eggplant.
1512 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley // +15105493183
Cheese Board Pizza is a local treasure and a must-visit stop on any first-time trip to Berkeley. The restaurant, which has turned out ultra-popular pizzas for more than forty years, is located inside the Cheese Board Collective. This worker-owned nonprofit also operates the cheese shop and bakery next door.
Each day only one pizza option is available, and it’s always vegetarian and topped with garlic-infused olive oil, along with the idiosyncratic thin, sourdough crust.
Shattuck Avenue’s grassy median is a favorite spot for Berkeleyans to spread out and enjoy their slices. Furthermore, Cheese Board, in its next-door bakery, offers par-baked pizzas all day at its location.
2121 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley // +15106475016
Gaumenkitzel is a small neighborhood restaurant located on Ellis and Acton Streets in West Berkeley, close to Solano Avenue. There is also a bakery, a wine bar, a grocery store, and a beer and wine shop in the same building as the restaurant.
Gaumenkitzel is a family-friendly place that has both indoor and outdoor seating. Various colorful paintings decorate the walls, and wooden tables and chairs complete the simple but cheerful atmosphere.
You can find some of the best pork schnitzel in town here, as well as their butteriest spaetzle and house-baked bread and cakes, as well as a few seasonal specialties, like stollen.
2566B Telegraph Ave., Berkeley // +15108482758
From the mezzanine level of a retro mini-mall below a clothing store, Kiraku has a sleek, stylish dining room. There are prix fixe kaiseki meals served every day except Sunday, so the place is popular with corporate groups dressed in their best suits.
But although it’s a favorite among Japanese ex-pats and is very much an izakaya in the atmosphere, it’s actually owned by a Caucasian couple from San Francisco.
Besides the cozy decor, the service staff is extremely friendly, and the atmosphere makes the restaurant feel like a home.
There are several must-order dishes in the Japanese tradition, including corn tempura with green tea salt, grilled whole squid, and kaisen don or another rice bowl.
During the pandemic, this bustling Berkeley restaurant has really leaned into takeout and is still serving up an assortment of delicious bento boxes, sushi donburi, and more.
901 Washington St, Oakland // +15102856188
Many restaurants have opened in Oakland in recent months, but this one has drawn the most attention. The reason for that is easy to understand. One of many elements in chef Sarah Kirnon’s expressed goal of cooking her way “around the world,” Miss Ollie’s represents what multiculturalism is all about–food.
The ambiance of the Afro-Caribbean restaurant is wonderful, from the turquoise vintage enamel plates to the delicious skillet-fried chicken wafting out of the kitchen.
California and the Caribbean seamlessly meld in Chef Sarah Kirnon’s dishes, such as Jamaican saltfish and ackee versions, which feature spicy Scotch bonnet chili heat and cornmeal-crusted fried oysters.
The grilled blue crab fritters were my favorite dish, served with fiery habanero hot sauce and house-made tartar sauce mixed with plantain bananas.
3770 Piedmont Ave. Unit B, Oakland // +15102509215
Pomella is located directly across from its new sister restaurant, Ba-Bite Alcatraz, in what was the former Ba-Bite location. Whereas the latter is prettied up for an upscale clientele, Pomella is simpler and more laid back.
The decor is casual and clean, with white walls strewn with black and white pictures of Middle Eastern scenes and pomegranates, as you would expect when you hear the word “Pomella.”
A few tables and chairs in the adjoining room offer a glimpse at some of Talmor’s favorite Middle Eastern cookbooks.
The Pomella restaurant offers the area’s silkiest and most flavorful hummus, a delicious foundation for grilled lamb or airy falafel balls, and the chicken tagine with couscous is mind-blowing comfort food.
I recommend saving room for dessert, especially for baklava and other sweets and pastries.
Summary Of The 10 Must-try Oakland Restaurants
Oakland is known to have stars in nearly all categories: restaurants, bars, stores, musicians, and more. It’s a city where everyone will find something to enjoy or admire here. That’s why I’ve always loved eating in the city; there is something new to venture down and see every time, some new store to check out, or some new restaurant to try. This guide has all the essentials for your Oakland restaurants hunt.
One of my favorite things is eating out and seeing new restaurants and bars with different atmospheres, and getting off the beaten path, so I don’t get tired of seeing the same old place every time I want to go out.
So this was a list of my favorite places — the best of the best!