poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie

Top 10 Things That Make Me Excited About Living in OAKTOWN


Alas! The long-awaited second half of my moving posts. Thanks very much for your patience.

I’m entering my 4th week as a Oakland resident. There are still some things that take a little getting used to (i.e., pungent smells along the way to the bus stop), but all in all, I’m really digging Oakland. Or, as those in the know call it, Oaktown. It’s fun living downtown and having so many places to explore right around the corner or down the street. Anyway, without further ado, here are the Top 10 Things That Make Me Excited About Living in OAKTOWN!

10. Art Murmur & various festivals: The first Friday of every month, galleries in Downtown Oakland stay open until 8-9pm for Art Murmur. I still haven’t gone, but I’ve heard it’s fun and it’s definitely on my calendar for December. There are also some great festivals downtown, such as Eat Real and Art & Soul. I look forward to being able to walk down to those at my leisure.

9. Jack London Square: Site of a weekly farmers’ market, the ferry to San Francisco, House of Chicken and Waffles, and the famous Jazz bar Yoshi’s. It’s a bit of a hike, but there’s now a convenient, free shuttle that runs down Broadway. Sweet.

8. Oakland Main Library: It’s literally around the corner. I was going to get my library card a couple of weeks ago, but then Occupy Oakland happened. My goal this week is to get a card and check the place out. Maybe the DVD selection will be good enough for me to cancel my Netflix subscription?

7. Theaters and Music Venues: The newly renovated Fox Theater is close by, as well as the historic Paramount and Grand Lake Theaters. Regal Theaters down in Jack London Square offers all day movies for $5 on Sundays. Smaller music venues such as The New Parish are also adding to the artistic/cultural revitalization of Downtown Oakland.

6. Grand Lake/Lake Shore Ave Shops: Tons of small, locally owned businesses and yummy restaurants, not to mention the closest Trader Joe’s. I’m sure I’ll be making my way over there frequently.

5. Bar Scene: Downtown Oakland has a great variety of bars. Whether you’re into lounges or dive bars, there’s something for everyone. There’s the Ruby Room, Radio, Layover, Trappist, Beer Revolution, Lukas Taproom, and Disco Volante, just to name a few. I’m looking forward to exploring what else is out there.

4. Shan Dong & Chinatown: For a small city, Oakland Chinatown is pretty legit. There are tons of markets (enough to make your head spin) and even more restaurants. My long-standing favorite is Shan Dong, which makes their own noodles. (Look for an upcoming blog post about said noodles soon!) There’s also a decent number of Vietnamese places. Looks like I’ll be getting my fill of noodles… and y’all know how much I love noodles.

3. Living close to friends: Two good friends of mine, LF and CN, live only a few blocks away. It’s so nice to have friends in the neighborhood! That’s one thing I didn’t have in Berkeley, and I look forward to having impromptu wine drinking nights/coffee dates/runs around the Lake with them.

2. BART/public transportation accessibility: Five blocks down the street is a major public transportation hub (and, also, Occupy Oakland). There, I can catch the BART, where I’m only 15 minutes away from San Francisco. I can also get the bus to go a variety of places (e.g., to work). It feels so convenient that it really makes me rethink whether or not I need a car, especially since my insurance premiums have significantly increased… but for now, I’m keeping it.

1. Lake Merritt: This is #1 on my list, and for good reason. Living downtown has its perks, but being surrounded by concrete is not one of them. Lake Merritt is a beautiful, man-made lake in the heart of Oakland that is green, well-maintained, and lovingly used. There are plenty of ducks and geese roaming about, and pretty lights that turn on at dusk. Throughout the day, people of all ages and backgrounds can be seen walking, running, biking, or just relaxing around the lake. For runners, it’s a convenient and relatively flat 5K. It’s a wonderful respite from the concrete jungle. I’m already certain that it will be my saving grace.

Lake Merritt. This picture doesn't really do the place justice.

So, there you have it. I look forward to telling y’all all about my new adventures in Oakland. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Author: Jen

Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

3 thoughts on “Top 10 Things That Make Me Excited About Living in OAKTOWN

  1. D Y I N G. This post makes me desperately miss it. Desperately.

  2. OK, now that I’ve collected myself, definitely check out Dogwood, it’s very close to you. Flora, too. Definitely go for dinner and a show at Yoshi’s if someone you like happens to play there – it’s nothing like the SF location and it’s such a cozy, intimate way to experience live music.

    Don’t forget that BevMo is just across the street, and there’s a Cost Plus right there, too. Oh, and don’t forget to occasionally pop over to the other side of Broadway downtown to check out the shops and goings-on on that side. Cock-A-Doodle Cafe is over there and it’s a fantastic place to grab brunch with friends, and right next door is the Bookmark Bookstore, a used bookstore run by Friends of the Oakland Public Library. Also close by is Caffe 817, a quick but lovely little place to grab a fancy coffee and Croque Madame.

    Easy on Lakeshore is also a nice little bar. You might enjoy Boot & Shoe on Grand – they have tasty cocktails, and for incredible Italian, nothing beats Lococo on Piedmont Ave. The cemetery is also a lovely place for a run, and you can find every single obscure magazine under the sun in a cool shop right around the corner from Piedmont Grocery. When the time is right, the rose garden right between Lakeshore and Grand is a lovely way to spend a morning or afternoon. You know all about the places in Temescal, I think, but Marc 49 is a fun little wine bar to grab a cheese plate or small bites and drink buckets of wine with friends.

    OK, shutting up now.

    • Awesome! I do know about Marc 49 and Lococo, and I’ve heard of Boot & Shoe Service, but didn’t know about any of the others. I’ll be sure to put them on my list. Thanks!!

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