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 9 Best Oakland Restaurants
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Summary Of The 10 Must-try Oakland Restaurants
The 9 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!
3762 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611 // +15103447214
It’s not every day you stumble upon a place like Mägo, tucked away in one of Oakland’s stylish neighborhoods. There’s a magical allure to it that just draws you in. You’re not just walking into a restaurant here; it’s an exciting blend of Northern California charm and culinary creativity, all simmered together in an enchanting pot of global flavors!
When you walk into Mägo, the first thing you might notice is the warmth of the place. The ambiance hits just the right balance between casual and inviting. With an open kitchen layout, there’s no mystery to your meal – it’s like being invited into the heart of a friend’s home, where you can watch the mastery unfold before your eyes!
The genius behind the culinary journey you’re about to embark on is Chef Mark Liberman. His love for Colombian-South American heritage isn’t just in his blood but passionately infused in every dish he crafts.
Now let’s talk about my favorite part: the food. At Mägo, every meal feels like a steal, but not because of the price. The real treasure is in the delicious and unique dishes served up, all bursting with unexpected flavors!
The cocktail menu is one to write home about. They’ve got that certain kind of mixology magic that makes each drink feel like a personal masterpiece. And the service? Exceptional, just like everything else about Mägo.
Every dish here isn’t just food; it’s a well-seasoned, well-prepared work of art, all served up with a generous side of charm. The halibut is always perfection on a plate, and the pork? Roasted just right to tickle your taste buds.
Then, there’s the mesmerizing charcoal grill right there in front of you, giving every dish that extra smokey touch. Oh, and while you’re there, make sure to try the Arepas – they’re simply out of this world!
But what’s possibly the most exciting part of dining at Mägo? It’s that element of surprise. The menu changes every day, keeping the adventure alive.
So, if you’re ever in Oakland, CA and looking for a gastronomic experience that’s a cut above the rest, make sure to check out Mägo. Your taste buds will thank you!
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.
357-A Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610 // +15102389050
There’s no doubt that Enssaro is one of Oakland’s most popular restaurants.
Ethiopian cuisine at this family-run restaurant includes perfectly sautéed or simmered chicken, lamb, and lentils served over spongy injera bread.
You can mix and match the meat and vegetable platters, tasting all the spices and textures that make Ethiopian food so delicious.
You’ll always find big groups at this casual restaurant, which is why there is a line out the door at dinner.
6317 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618 // +15106546607
Wood Tavern is a beloved corner of the Rockridge neighborhood in Oakland, CA, where rustic charm and modern style live in perfect harmony.
With a robust, ever-evolving Californian-inspired menu rooted in sustainability, Wood Tavern is certainly an East Bay treasure that shines bright in the culinary galaxy!
For starters, the ambiance is a symphony of warmth, elegance, and hustle. Yes, the place is always bustling with food lovers, the air vibrating with lively chatter and clinking cutlery. But don’t be fooled by the crowd. The team at Wood Tavern has their service down to a T, ensuring every guest is cared for with swiftness and a welcoming smile!
One thing about Wood Tavern that stood out to me. The team isn’t just serving food here; they’re curating an experience personalized to your palate. So, whether you’re a first-timer or a regular, don’t hesitate to let them in on your food preferences. Trust me, they’ll deliver!
On to my gastronomic journey here. Let’s start with the appetizer – a tantalizing serving of prosciutto-wrapped rabbit. As unconventional as it may sound, it was a delightful introduction to the innovative culinary narrative Wood Tavern is known for.
But the star of the evening was undoubtedly the much-raved-about pork chop, served in a luscious Marsala cream sauce. Now, I’ve savored my fair share of pork chops, but this one? It was a whole new level of delicious!
The sauce was so delectable, I could’ve sipped it like soup. Couple this with a perfectly curated drink from their impressive beverage menu, and you’ve got yourself an unforgettable meal.
My experience at Wood Tavern was nothing short of excellent. From the warm, inviting ambiance, efficient service, and delicious food, to the genuine connection they foster with their patrons, this place truly encapsulates why the East Bay is a foodie’s paradise!
328 10th St #101, Oakland // +15108392299
Be sure to visit Chinatown when you’re in Oakland. Stop at Shan Dong for their excellent hand-pulled noodles – the Rickey Henderson of Oakland dishes if it’s lunchtime.
Although it’s more of a dive than a destination restaurant, Shan Dong serves the best noodle soup in Oakland.
My favorite dishes are the sesame paste noodles and the Shan Dong dumplings with chicken and dry-braised green beans.
Come with a group, order the delicious tofu, and then thank me later.
362 17th St, Oakland // +15106031040
Aburaya is located at the southwest corner of Broadway and 17th Street. Though it isn’t a destination restaurant, it does serve one of the best fried chickens in town.
Throughout the decades, Aburaya has brought quality chicken to the world. The restaurant’s signature dish is fried chicken with a seasoned crust that brings out its natural flavor.
It is common to find office workers in counter-service izakayas, so you are likely to sit among others with big orders of fried chicken stuffed down their throats and singing loudly of its flavor.
4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609 // +15106522900
Ensconced in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, Burma Superstar presents a cornucopia of Burmese delights – from luscious noodle dishes and flavorsome rice platters to succulent meat preparations.
And for my vegetarian friends out there, fret not – the menu boasts an impressive range of vegetarian choices too!
If you’re new to Burmese cuisine or just overwhelmed by the enticing menu, let me share a winning combination that had me raving for days. Kickstart your culinary adventure with the Platha and Dip appetizer.
The platha, a buttery flatbread, boasts a beautiful texture, the perfect companion to the divine dip, brimming with perfectly cooked chicken swimming in a well-seasoned sauce.
Next up, do yourself a favor and order the Pork Curry with Potatoes. Every spoonful is a carnival of flavors – tender chunks of pork, mouthwatering curry imbued with a hint of spice, and hearty potatoes.
Couple it with their heavenly coconut rice, which carries a delicate sweetness that perfectly complements the curry. It’s the kind of meal that lingers in your memory, teasing and tempting you for a return visit.
Let’s not forget about the Tea Leaf Salad, another crowd-pleaser that tantalizes your palate with its unique mix of textures and flavors. It’s not just a salad; it’s a gastronomic revelation!
Did I mention the portions at Burma Superstar? Generous would be an understatement. The dishes are perfect for sharing, encouraging a communal dining experience.
Located in a lively part of the town with an inviting outdoor seating area, Burma Superstar scores a perfect ten in my book. It’s not just about the food; it’s about the ambiance, the service, and most importantly, the memorable culinary journey.
Burma Superstar is not just a restaurant; it’s a delightful immersion into Burmese culture and cuisine. Don’t just take my word for it, though – go on, and give it a try!
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes Oakland’s food scene unique?
Oakland’s food scene is a vibrant blend of different cultures and culinary traditions. The city is a melting pot, and its restaurants reflect this diversity beautifully. From soul food to sushi, Mexican to Mediterranean, there’s something to satisfy every craving.
Oakland’s restaurants are also known for their commitment to locally-sourced ingredients, sustainability, and innovative culinary practices.
What’s the restaurant scene like in Oakland? Are there a lot of high-end places, or is it more casual?
Oakland’s restaurant scene is quite diverse, with both upscale dining spots and casual eateries. Whether you’re looking for a sophisticated night out at an award-winning restaurant or a relaxed dinner at a family-friendly joint, you’ll find it in Oakland.
I’m a vegetarian. Will I find good options in Oakland?
Absolutely! Oakland is a haven for vegetarians and vegans alike. Many restaurants offer a wide range of plant-based dishes and have a strong focus on fresh, organic produce.
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!
Visiting other destinations in California? Check out our other delicious guides:
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Which of these Oakland restaurants do you want to try first? Let us know in the comments section below!
Igor Jovanovski is an aspiring digital nomad, travel blogger and graphic designer who really loves food. He also has a creative side, and he works as a freelance graphic designer in his spare time. He has traveled across Europe quite a few times since he was young and recently started his mission to visit every country in the world! Igor’s favorite thing about traveling is the way he gets to know new people, food, places and cultures.
This exciting experience helps him create his own stories and make memories that will last forever