If anything in recent memory has challenged Oakland's reputation for violence and crime it's food. Nowadays, when the New York Times or the Guardian or GQ or other far-flung publications risk encouraging their readers to visit here, they might mention Lake Merritt or the Oakland Museum of California or the weather, but it's restaurants they emphasize. What started promisingly in 2003, with Tamarindo and then the Trappist in Old Oakland, with Luka's and Flora in Uptown and Dona Tomas in Temescal, has spread with great fervor and many wood-burning ovens to Piedmont Avenue, Grand Avenue, to Jack London Square, to Downtown. It's begun taking its first tentative steps into parts of West and North Oakland. Today, all over town, restaurants open and close and open and close like eyes blinking. In just three neighborhoods, Uptown, Downtown and Old Oakland, over 100 restaurants have opened since 2003. Some of them are already gone, but twenty more are set to open soon. That's some sort of narrow progress, I guess. Sometimes cities lumber forward more than they stride. And after several years covering violence in Oakland, it's good to be reminded that this is not just a place where people die but also a place where people live.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
San Francisco was writing about restaurants elsewhere in their Oakland (June 2014) issue ("The Oakland 100"), so this passage from my obscure Oakland piece was considered redundant. But I kind of like it, so thought I'd throw it up here for posterity. You're welcome, posterity.