Picán’s is a great example of how California, a state filled with southern transplants, does cooking below the Mason-Dixon. The ambiance and and down home cooking strikes the perfect balance between elegant and unpretentious. Decadence is the word, so leave your diet rules at home. Who can say no to crawfish mac and cheese with bourbon and chili glazed salmon? I didn’t think so.
Depending on what you’re in the mood for, cake or ice cream, determines your best bet for a dessert choice. If you fancy cake, go with Merritt Bakery and be sure to order the infamous fresh strawberry. Warning, after one bite, every other strawberry shortcake you try thereafter will disappoint you. Trust me, I’ve long since given up my search for an equal. Prepare to be hooked for life.
If it is something cold and creamy that you seek, Fenton’s is a must. The ice creamery itself has been in the same spot for well over 50 years but its roots as a dairy go back to 1894. There was a dark period of absence from 2001-2003 when the creamery suffered a major fire and closed indefinitely. But oh happy day when Fenton’s returned with full force. No matter what you have a taste for, Fenton’s probably has a flavor to match — it is truly ice cream, your way. I’ve never once gotten the slightest side-eye or a look of confusion when ordering my Rocky Road milkshake un-blended. Don’t judge me.
Yoshi’s, Oakland’s sushi and Jazz bar and restaurant is where grown-ups go to play. Catch a live show from local legends like Najee or Goapele or preview up and coming artists like Mara Hruby and Christin Leonna. Your best bet is to buy tickets in advance because the line starts early for each show and will sometimes sellout, especially when well-known acts are on the bill.
If you’re looking for an early night full of cocktails and conversation in an upbeat atmosphere, head to Mua’s industrial-styled bar and restaurant. There is plenty of room to flutter about and socialize upstairs and down. Or, if you’re with your significant other, there are some nice, dark corners made for cupcaking by candlelight. Sweet.
Bring your walking shoes with you to Lake Merritt. On sunny days, it is sure to be populated with people, young and old, leisurely strolling or sprinting along. After all of the eating, drinking and hanging out around The Town, you may very well need to take a lap or two to soak up some of that good old California sunshine.