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Guide

The East Bay Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In Oakland, Berkeley, & Beyond

We checked out these new restaurants in the East Bay - and loved them.

33 Spots
Launch Map
33 Spots
Launch Map
Updated November 18th, 2021

The Hit List is our guide to the best new food and drink experiences in the East Bay. We track new openings in the area, and then visit as many as we can. While the Hit List is by no means an exhaustive list of every good new spot, one thing you can always rely on is that we’ll only include places that we have genuinely checked out.

Our goal is for this list to be as diverse as the area itself - inclusive of a wide range of cuisines, price points, neighborhoods, chefs and owners of all backgrounds, and the multifaceted communities within the industry. If you think we missed a great new place, we want to hear about it. Shoot us an email at sanfrancisco@theinfatuation.com.

New to the Hit List (11/18): Lovely’s.

THE SPOTS

Julia Chen

Lovely’s

$$$$ 2344 Webster St.

Lovely’s started out as an Oakland pop-up in 2018 and recently opened a brick-and-mortar in Northgate-Waverly, so you can now get your fix of their fantastic smashburgers at your convenience. The keys to this burger's greatness are the squishy sesame seed roll that soaks up all of the juices from the meat, the creamy house sauce, and the caramelized patty that practically melts in your mouth. Lovely’s nails all the elements essential to a great smashburger - and after our first visit, we started waking up nightly at 3am, inexplicably craving one like clockwork. If you’re not getting the smashburger, this spot also has a fantastic hot chicken sandwich that might make your nose run, plus flaky fish and chips, hot dogs, and soft serve or sundaes. Sit down on their outdoor patio, grab a radler from next door at Two Pitchers Brewing Company, and then put a standing reminder on your phone to come here regularly. Your future self will thank you.

- Julia Chen, SF Staff Writer

Carly Hackbarth

Lulu

$$$$ 1019 Camelia St

During the pandemic, Mona Leena Michael opened The Mana’eesh Lady pop-up in Oakland, which served fantastic flatbreads, dips, and desserts. So we were excited to check out Lulu, her first restaurant in West Berkeley. And this casual Palestinian spot does not disappoint. Every dish shines with fresh ingredients and well-balanced flavors, like the halloumi sandwich with seasonal preserves (which will definitely be the best thing you eat all week), or the weekend-only brunch mezze board loaded with things like brown butter house labneh, deviled eggs with a za’atar rim, black garlic hummus, and more. Make sure one of the excellent coffee drinks is on the table, too. If you’re looking for a new place to slot into your breakfast or lunch rotation, this is it.

- JC

Lani Conway

Dela Curo Curry

$$$$ 907 Washington St

Do you recall the last time you had a meal so good that you inhaled it faster than a kid with a helium balloon, and then licked the plate sparkling clean until there was no trace of a single crumb? I do, and it happened at Dela Curo. Well, maybe not the plate licking, but I was damn near close. The pandemic-born pop up now has a stall in Old Oakland’s Swan’s Market and turns out heavenly plates overflowing with Japanese black curry, a darker, less-starchy version than the curry many of us know so well. Order one with tonkatsu or silky omelette, prop yourself up on one of the stools overlooking the kitchen, and watch as things are fried, folded, and scooped in front of you before enthusiastically eating up your own massive plate. The one regret you may have after you’re done is not having saved enough room for the mochi donut dessert.

- Lani Conway, Senior Editor

Lani Conway

Bombera

$$$$ 3459 Champion St

Dominica Rice-Cisneros’s new iteration of Cosecha, which closed in Swan’s Market earlier this spring, is housed in a former fire station in the Dimond District. The exciting full-service restaurant is much larger, has a new garden patio, and an always guaranteed line around the block. But some things don’t change: the expanded menu continues to highlight all the incredible things Rice-Cisneros and her team can do with masa and fire. You’ll find a few excellent tacos with handmade tortillas on the menu (a reminder of the great Cosecha days), but we recommend digging into their new offerings, like the tamal con mole rojo with the most tender, cloud-like masa, or a standout slow-roasted chicken that’s been marinated in garlic and lime. Bombera isn’t taking reservations online, so prepare to put your name on the list, and chill with some cocktails and botanas on the patio while you wait.

- LC

Julia Chen

Pla Daek Thai Esan Food

$$$$ 4133 Piedmont Ave

One bite into the first dish at Pla Daek (chewy, crispy roti with a side of rich yellow curry) and I knew the rest of the meal would be special. The new restaurant on Piedmont Ave specializes in Esan dishes from the northeastern region of Thailand - like tender pork belly and bamboo shoots steamed in a banana leaf, or spicy, funky duck larb. The menu is pretty extensive, covering everything from curries and soups to wok-fried noodle dishes, all of which are jam-packed with spicy, sweet, and salty flavors. The relaxed neighborhood spot works just as well for a casual weeknight drop-in as it does for a boozy weekend dinner (they have a great list of colorful cocktails and beer). The move is to come here with a group so you can try as many things as possible, or, like me, just plan on coming back every week until you’ve eaten your way through the rest of the menu.

- JC

Julia Chen

Jo’s Modern Thai

$$$$
Thai  in  Laurel
$$$$ 3725 MacArthur Blvd

Dinner at Jo’s Modern Thai is an ideal way to spend a date night or a catch-up with a few friends, thanks to a tropical, plant-filled back patio and Thai dishes that incorporate playful, Californian twists. Dishes here use local ingredients like Monterey squid or brisket from Oakland’s Smokin Woods BBQ, and everything that lands on the table will be punchy, bold, and bright - which isn’t surprising, since the menu was developed by the chef behind the excellent Isaan Thai pop-up, Intu-on. The menu also features a few similar dishes to Intu-on, like a thick, buttery shrimp toast that’s drizzled with sweet and sour mayo, plus new ones like drunken noodles with brisket, pork laab burgers, and other salads and curries. With refreshing, colorful cocktails and oysters topped with things like chili jam and strawberries, this is a place you’ll want to stay and linger at for a while.

- JC

Julia Chen

Aman Cafe

$$$$ 4021 Broadway

Aman Cafe in Temescal is an entirely vegetarian and vegan spot specializing in Malaysian roti canai, and it’s a place you should get to immediately - especially if you’re looking for a vegetable-forward lunch that isn’t an overpriced salad. Flaky, chewy, and perfectly crispy roti is topped with everything from fruit and condensed milk to plant-based meat with eggs. Each is super filling and under $10, and have been known to power us through the rest of the day. My go-to is the roti comfort: a hearty, saucy mix of tofu, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, bok choy, and other veggies.

- JC

Lani Conway

La Dolce Vita

$$$$ 3931 Telegraph Ave

When’s the last time you ate a great sandwich? Like the kind whose memory tickles your brain whenever the lunch hour nears. And also, by some strange kind of magic, whispers, “Hey, you, remember that bomb ass sandwich you had last week? Go forth and reunite.” If your answer is it’s been awhile or never, then step inside the mango sherbet-colored walls of La Dolce Vita. The keys to greatness for the sandwiches from this small Italian bakery in Temescal are the house-made focaccia, and the simple, well-balanced stack of ingredients: a customizable combination of proteins, cheeses, tomato, lettuce, mayo, mustard, and oil and vinegar. And then, of course, there’s the size: the bread is square cut and thick. Get one (especially the prosciutto), along with a slice of tiramisu - or any of the other cakes, cookies, and eclairs that call out to you - and know that you’ll be back.

- LC

Julia Chen

Snail Bar

$$$$ 4935 Shattuck Ave

If you’re looking to snack on something good while you sip on a funky glass of pét nat, head to Snail Bar. The black and white checkered tiles, leafy green plants, and bustling open kitchen make the space charming and cozy - like your friend’s new apartment that’s a little cooler than yours - and the perfect backdrop to enjoy natural wines by the glass or something from their extensive bottle selection. The frequently-changing food menu has excellent small plates, like an arepa topped with creamy bay shrimp, avocado, and salsa macha, or an assortment of oysters, clams, and scallop crudo. But the titular snails made with cashew miso, garlic butter, and kumquats will keep you coming back.

- JC

Via Del Corso

Via del Corso

$$$$ 1788 Shattuck Ave

For anyone who loved Corso and felt a weighty crush when they permanently closed during the pandemic, allow me to bring good news. The new iteration of the fine dining Italian restaurant, which is located in the exact same space, is still a great spot to drink some wine and eat some excellent regional dishes, like gnocchi alla norma, soffritto and beef-stuffed ravioli, and brown butter basted chicken breast. And sure, the cozy dining room may still be a bit too cramped with tables, but the service continues to be warm and attentive and overall this place continues to feel both laid back and just slightly upscale. If you’re planning a special occasion dinner or date night in North Berkeley, Via Del Corso is still a top pick.

- LC

Sunday Bakeshop

Sunday Bakeshop

$$$$ 5931 College Ave

I love a great buttery, flaky croissant, but sometimes they can get, dare I say, kind of boring? Luckily, there are now places like Sunday Bakeshop. The Asian American and French bakery in Oakland from the Sunday Gather folks is doing creative, amazing things with one of my favorite pastries - filling them with sweet and savory ingredients like chocolate hojicha or sweet pineapple pork sausage and furikake, or corn cheese (yes, corn cheese - the incredible stuff you’ve probably scarfed down at your local Korean BBQ spot while half tipsy on soju). But Sunday Bakeshop is so much more. Incredibly moist cookies made with White Rabbit candy, sweetened bean paste, or ube, cruffins with strawberry Pocky, and other treats inspired by Asian snacks will stare back at you from behind a well-lit glass case. I could keep the list going, but I’ll stop so you can drop what you’re doing and get here.

- LC

Dana Plucinski

Sobre Mesa

$$$$ 1618 Franklin St

The cocktail lounge in Downtown Oakland opened in early 2020, shut down when the pandemic hit, and recently returned, which means... time to finally enjoy their lush, lounge-y vibes and experience one of the most memorable evenings you’ll have in awhile. A night here will include choosing one - or several - of their impressive, well-made cocktails: passion fruit palomas, mojitos, Mai Tais, and aguardiente with apricot, honey, and lime. It will also feature plenty of tapas-style small plates reflecting the flavors of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora - incredible plantains stuffed with Impossible meat ragu and olives on top of a creamy avocado purée; gulf shrimp with a rich garlic and nit’ir qibe-spiced butter sauce; and crispy beef empanadas. Sobre Mesa inside is a tropical escape with plants and plush booths. And out on the sidewalk patio, live music will keep the good time going into the night - or, at least, until your table’s time limit is up. When you head here, be sure to make a reservation in advance.

- LC

Albert Law

Square Pie Guys

$$$$ 499 9th St

Listen up, Oakland: The SF-based Square Pie Guys launched their first East Bay outpost in March, so I kindly urge you to drop what you’re doing and order a pizza from them now. Their Detroit-style pies are incredible, and one of the best rectangular-shaped pizzas you will ever have. Each one is small (8-inch by 10-inch, serves 1 to 2 people) yet mighty. You will love the thick but light-tasting crust with cheddar baked on the outside. You will enjoy the cheesy crunch of every bite. And you will appreciate the small pepperoni cups and other toppings like garlic ricotta cream and hot honey. Did I mention, you should order from them now? Like the SF location, the Old Oakland spot also serves chicken wings, salads, and fries, and is open for takeout and delivery.

- LC

Krescent Carasso

Red Bay Coffee

$$$$
$$$$ 3098 E 10th St

There are now five locations to get your fix of Red Bay Coffee’s exceptional espresso drinks, including a coffee ‘box’ on Broadway, a van at Lake Merritt, a large warehouse in Fruitvale, and, as of earlier this week, a massive 1920s bank at the corner of International and Fruitvale. Red Bay Coffee’s new East Oakland headquarters is stunning. A high ceiling, big windows, and hanging plants give the space an airy feel. And the long, sleek coffee bar and lounge chairs make me excited to catch up with friends over pastries and charcoal lattes soon. The SF Chronicle reports that the spot will serve as a ‘community hub cultivating Black and brown entrepreneurs’ and also host events and operate as a production studio for Red Bay Coffee’s YouTube videos.

- LC

Julia Chen

La Perla

$$$$ 3409 Fruitvale Ave.

La Perla used to operate out of Two Star Market in the Dimond District, but they recently opened up a brick-and-mortar in a larger space around the corner - and I’ve been excited about checking out the East Bay’s only standalone Puerto Rican restaurant ever since. On my way home, the bag full of mofongo and tostones only exacerbated my excitement, filling my car with a scent I wish I could bottle up and hang on my rearview mirror. Everything else I got, from the steak and shrimp mofongos to the beef empanadas, was delicious - but my personal favorite dish was the perfectly-fried chicharrones de pollo, served with rice and crispy, thin tostones. La Perla also has specials on weekends, like slow-roasted pork shoulder and lobster tail, which I’ll definitely be back for soon.

- JC

Andria Lo

Huangcheng Noodle House

$$$$ 911 Washington St

Last fall, Chinatown’s Huangcheng Noodle House was completely destroyed by a fire. And with the help of community members and local organizations like Good Good Eatz, who directed donations to Save Our Chinatowns, Huangcheng Noodle House was able to move into the old Rosamunde Sausage space in Swan’s Market and reopen in January. If you were a fan of their Shanxi-style knife-cut noodles before, you still will be: the menu is mostly the same, with the chewy noodles served in a variety of ways - sautéed alongside pork and green peppers, or in a spicy broth, like their popular Chongqing Street Noodles.

- LC

Lani Conway

Carbona

$$$$
$$$$ 2042 MacArthur Blvd.

In the midst of everything, Grand Lake Kitchen, the popular Oakland brunch spot, launched a takeout pizza concept called Carbona. They operate out of GLK’s Dimond District location and specialize in Detroit-style pies, which are, for lack of a better phrase, works of art. So what makes their pizzas even more stunning than the Mono Lake poster I have hanging on the wall in my kitchen? For starters, they’re fluffy and thick, like sheet cake thick or brick thick (in the best way possible), and have chewy crusts with crispy, darkened edges. The pizzas are then covered in marinara sauce and cheese, before getting finished with a range of topping combinations (there are 11 pizzas on the menu). On my first visit, I ordered the Thick Pepperoni, a classic pie that was surprisingly pillowy and light considering it literally has the word ‘thick’ in its name.

- LC

Lani Conway

Las Delicias Salvadoran Restaurant

$$$$
$$$$ 2037 Shattuck Ave

There aren’t many important dates I remember these days thanks to [Insert Some Hackneyed Pandemic “What Is Time” Joke Here]. But one that will always stand out is when Las Delicias Salvadoran Restaurant opened in November. Thanks to this Downtown Berkeley spot, I now have another place to add to my growing list of new Berkeley lunch options, which also includes Cali Alley. But let me cut to the chase - Las Delicias features Salvadoran classics like pupusas, corn tamales, yucca frita, and incredibly light pastelitos de carne (empanadas stuffed with minced meat and veggies). They also have Mexican staples like tacos and burritos, too. Everything I’ve had here is great, and reasonably priced for the large portions. I love them for their hearty pupusas with fresh curtido, and the churrasco salvadoreño, a massive mixed plate that includes grilled flank steak, a delicious chorizo, casamiento (rice and beans), and two super thick corn tortillas. Whatever you order, don’t leave without getting their empanadas de plátano de leche - fried mashed plantain balls filled with milk, sugar, and cinnamon.

- LC

Lani Conway

Malibu's Burgers

$$$$
$$$$ 3905 Piedmont Ave

Malibu’s Burgers in Oakland launched as a food truck last year and briefly popped up at The Libertine and Timeless Coffee before eventually opening a brick-and-mortar last December. Wherever they’ve gone, crowds have followed - thanks in no small part to their excellent vegan fast food-style burgers and fried chicken sandwiches. Get the classic Malibu burger (it comes in a single or double) stacked with Impossible patties, Follow Your Heart American Cheese, a light aioli, and all usual burger fixings presented neatly on a golden-brown brioche bun. There’s even a burger with BBQ sauce and onion rings I’ll be trying next. Whatever you get, do not leave without ordering tater tots. These perfectly crispy nuggets are some of the best tots I’ve had ever.

- LC

Banh Mi & Rolls Factory

$$$$
$$$$ 1812 Euclid Ave

The banh mi GPS that’s affixed to my frontal lobe recently led me to this new spot in Berkeley, which has now earned a place at the top of my ever-growing, very official Best Banh Mi List. All of their rolls are made fresh in-house, and stuffed with a generous amount of carrots, daikon, green onions, cucumbers, cilantro, and tender, flavorful meat. I went with the lemongrass grilled pork, but you can choose from 14 different fillings, ranging from five-spice chicken to sardines with tomato sauce. The sandwiches are pretty massive, but don’t let that stop you from getting a side of crunchy spring rolls and a Vietnamese iced coffee. Can’t wait to see where my pursuit of the perfect banh mi leads me next, but for now, you can find me at Banh Mi & Rolls Factory at lunch time, probably weekly.

- JC

Lani Conway

Nick's Pizza

$$$$
PizzaDeli  in  Bushrod
$$$$ 6400 Shattuck Ave

The North Oakland pizza spot specializes in damn good thin-crust sourdough pies. So I was looking forward to once again getting their classic pepperoni when they finally reopened in their newer, bigger space just up the street from their original location. After checking them out, I’m happy to report that Nick’s is still one of my favorite East Bay pizzas. And now, you can also order them in two different sizes (12 and 16 inches) and build your own with toppings like house-made pork sausage and pickled cherry peppers. Other welcomed surprises that will keep me coming back: Nick’s expanded their house-made bread offerings, and also joined in on the great Bay Area Sandwich Pivot - they’re now making veggie, prosciutto, mortadella, and other deli sandwiches.

- LC

Lani Conway

La Guerrera's Kitchen

$$$$
$$$$ 468 8th St

La Guerrera’s Kitchen closed their restaurant in Oakland’s Fruitvale last spring, and reopened in Old Oakland in December. I’m glad they did because what comes out of their kitchen is incredible. They make everything from a delicious chicken pozole verde and slow-cooked beef barbacoa to chile-rubbed pork tacos topped with a tangy-sweet pineapple salsa. But knowing what makes La Guerrera’s so great means experiencing their flavorful and super tender tamales - pork in salsa roja, chicken in mole, and cheese with rajas, which was a creamy, gooey delight when I took my first bite.

- LC

Nicola Parisi

Alley & Vine

$$$$
American  in  Alameda
$$$$ 1332 Park St STE D

Alley & Vine in Alameda is an excellent choice for your next special occasion dinner - sharing things like tender braised short rib or Dungeness crab and bacon mac and cheese on their patio is an ideal way to spend a night. Their menu changes depending on what’s in season, but rest assured that whatever you get will be great - and even better with one of their excellent cocktails or a glass of wine.

- JC

Jeremy Chen

Twins Halal House & Bakery

$$$$
$$$$ 2608 Market St

If there’s one thing that gets me out of my sweats and out the door, it’s the promise of seasoned, thinly-sliced meat swaddled in bread. So when I heard gyro wraps were on the menu at Twins Halal Bakery in West Oakland, I rolled up to the small takeout window and got one for myself. Inside the lovingly tin-foiled soft pita was lamb, lettuce, and tomatoes, slathered in a garlicky yogurt sauce. Those pitas are the reason this family-run Afghan place is one of my favorite new restaurants. If you like the idea of unboxing perfect vegetable bolanis, meat-filled mantus, qabuli palows, and crispy waffles fries at your table like you’re some sort of influencer, something tells me you’re going to feel the same way.

- LC

Daughter's Diner

Daughter's Diner

$$$$
Diner  in  Oakland
$$$$ 326 23rd St Ste D

The second I wake up, I seriously contemplate skipping my morning meetings so I can drive over to Daughter’s Diner in Uptown Oakland for a Beast Mode bagel sandwich, which comes with incredible house-made sausage, arugula, pickled onions, and brie on a fresh Boichik bagel. Shortly after, like clockwork, my mind wanders to the princess pancakes. If it were pancake week on The Great British Bake Off, I’d bet money that this bright purple masterpiece would receive a Paul Hollywood handshake thanks to its sweet raspberry jam layers, melty almond marzipan, and dusting of powdered sugar. I’d eat these pancakes any time of the day - which, luckily, I can, because the whole menu is served until 9pm.

- JC

Lani Conway

El Garage

$$$$
$$$$ 1428 Macdonald Ave

El Garage, the quesabirria pop-up, opened their first brick and mortar in Richmond. And when I found out, I immediately wanted to hop on I-80 for the reddish tacos stuffed with beef. And once I did, I was not disappointed. The tacos were perfect - stuffed with tender beer and oozing with cheese. I loved opening each one to meticulously add onions and cilantro. Then there was the spicy, meaty consomé I dipped each taco in before experiencing the satisfying crunch in every bite.

- LC

Shawarmaji

Shawarmaji

$$$$
$$$$ 2123 Franklin St

Anyone who knows me knows I f*cking love garlic. The smell of it wafting through the air is a permanent fixture in my kitchen, and I have, on multiple occasions, considered getting a bulb tattooed on my left rib. So it’s no surprise that I’m a huge fan of the garlic toum from Shawarmaji, a new Jordan-style shawarma spot in Uptown Oakland that got its start last year as a pop-up. The thick, pungent toum is made with canola oil, lemon juice, and what tastes like an Olympic pool-sized amount of garlic. Toum aside, their chicken shawarma wrap - which is thinner and longer (like, forearm-length long) than most wraps you’d find in the Bay - is also fantastic. It’s made with leg meat marinated in yogurt and spices, which is then slow-roasted on a vertical spit until juicy and crispy on the outside. Then it’s wrapped up in a tortilla with toum, cucumber pickles, and fries if you want (you do), and griddled on both sides until golden-brown.

- JC

Lani Conway

Cali Alley

$$$$
$$$$ 1012 Grayson St

Cali Alley is a takeout window in West Berkeley from a team who runs a local catering company. They focus on dishes that hit the Lenny Kravitz-in-an-oversized-scarf level of comfort, like mac ’n cheese, tofu rice bowls, and barbacoa plates. But their sandwiches are what make me feel like someone dropped a 90-pound blanket fresh out of the dryer on me and quelled my anxieties with a gentle whisper: “Hush, everything will be OK.” Take their basketball-sized fried chicken sandwich. It’s one of the best fried chicken sandwiches with a crispy buttermilk chicken breast, sweet marinated peppers, and fried shallots. And the Cali Alley Burger - a juicy, ground brisket and short rib patty with garlic aioli and all the fixings - keeps me coming back whenever I need something better than therapy.

- LC

Julia Chen

Horn Barbecue

$$$$
BBQ  in  West Oakland
$$$$ 2534 Mandela Parkway

Every weekend after Horn Barbecue’s grand opening, I drove by and saw lines stretching down and around the block - some people even brought lawn chairs for the wait. The sight caused me to have a stress dream in which I waited three hours for brisket and got attacked by a squirrel. But I digress. When I finally braved the line (no squirrels in sight, thank god), I had high expectations. And after trying the brisket, spareribs, beef ribs, hot links - all cut to order - and pulled pork, I can definitively say that Matt Horn’s barbecue is the best I’ve had in the Bay. The gigantic beef rib was more tender than an episode of Full Bloom. And the pulled pork, which I smothered in their sweet, tangy barbecue sauce, was unbelievably juicy and smoky. In terms of sides, you can’t really go wrong, but the mac and cheese and coleslaw are something special. If you don’t want to wait in the line, Horn is now taking pre-orders for meat by the pound (there’s a three-pound minimum for brisket, so it can get pricey). If you want smaller portions, you can still walk up and order.

- JC

Cocobreeze

Cocobreeze

$$$$
$$$$ 2370 High St

Last winter felt darker and colder than usual, so I was extra appreciative of places like Cocobreeze. The new Trinidadian restaurant on High Street in Oakland run by Annabelle Goodridge and her daughter is a literal bright spot: The first time I rolled up to it one December evening, tinsel garlands and icicle lights decorated the boxy building, which was topped with huge blow-up Santas and cone Christmas trees. Warm, heart-tugging joy was also infused into every dish I ordered - pholourie (fried split pea dough and turmeric) with a side of chunky tamarind dip, a thick chicken roti stuffed with chickpeas and potatoes, and an herby, life-changing jerk chicken that slowly built heat on the tongue. You can bet you’ll find me here even after the holiday decorations come down.

- LC

Lydia Daniller

Pomella

$$$$ 3770 Piedmont Ave

Pomella, the new-ish Israeli restaurant on Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue, opened just weeks after the shelter-in-place order in March. The cold mezzes, beet salads, and chicken tagines hold up well in transit, and are perfect whenever I need quick, fresh (and tasty) brain food to get me through another Day In Pandemic Chaos. Owner Mica Tamor - who was behind the now-closed fast-casual spot Ba-Bite - also makes the creamiest hummus ever, and fantastic baklava.

- LC

Julia Chen

Lion Dance Cafe

$$$$ 380 17th St

Lion Dance Cafe, a vegan Chinese-Singaporean spot in Downtown Oakland, serves food that inspires me to do a little happy dance with every bite. The definitive star of the show is the shaobing sandwich, made on a nutty, sesame-covered flatbread with a chewy inside and a golden-brown exterior. What goes in the sandwiches changes weekly, but the one I got recently was stuffed with thick slices of hoisin-braised tofu, garlic charred cabbage, fermented chilies, mint, and cilantro - and packed with tons of flavor and texture. They also have other great dishes, like a warm, comforting bowl of laksa, and A.S.S. cookies (almond, sesame, and shallot, of course), all available for takeout.

- JC

Lani Conway

Donut Savant

$$$$
$$$$ 3000 38th Ave

There are a lot of tough decisions I’ve made lately: Wear the black or cream turtleneck? Wash my hair after a week or let it ride for an extra three days? Thankfully, choosing which perfectly fried mini donut to get from Donut Savant in Oakland’s Allendale isn’t one of them. That’s because all the donuts, from the cinnamon rolls and apple fritters to vanilla-glazed bars are unbelievably priced - the mini donuts are 50 cents to $1. So, get one of each and don’t think twice. One decision that may trip you up - which of the delicious donut-croissant hybrids (which they technically call ‘cron’ts’) to get. If you’re unsure, salted maple all the way.

- LC

SF

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