2009: The Year Oakland Leapt Onto the Foodie Radar

Camino, Oakland.
Camino, Oakland. Photo: Chris Colin/NYT

Despite a smattering of solid, well reviewed outposts cropping up across the Bay over the last decade—places like Michael Wild’s Bay Wolf, À Côté, Dopo, Doña Tomas, and Flora—Oakland has remained the sidelined step-brother of foodie havens Berkeley and San Francisco through many a boom and bust. Until now. The Contra Costa Times today catalogs the slew of entries onto the food and nightlife scenes of Oakland in 2009, pointing to the brouhaha-heavy openings of Commis and the Lake Chalet, as well as a number of bar closings like the 59-year-old Esther’s Orbit Room.

Back in June, the NYT singled out Oakland for its Bites column, making Camino’s Russell Moore the star of the show. Oakland played host in August to the Eat Real Fest, which with its harbor-side location and manageable lines was the kind of street food festival SF wished it could have. And in October, the Chron suddenly discovered Oakland’s culinary renaissance, quipping that the city, until recently, was “perhaps known more for restaurant holdups than restaurant stars.” They cited the openings of Picán and Jeremy Umland’s second Ozumo location as proof of the turnaround.

Also in October, Picán, Brown Sugar Kitchen, and the universally adored Camino all landed on the Michelin folks’ new guide, and the Chron highlighted chef Russell Moore in a piece about wood-burning ovens.

With lower overhead, an eager, educated population, and all these new kids on the block, we predict 2010 is going to be the year more San Franciscans than ever will brave that bridge/tunnel trip just for a meal.

Oakland Nightlife Scene Ran Hot and Cold in ‘09
[Contra Costa Times]
EARLIER: Michelin Adds 18 Bib Gourmand Picks to SF Guide [Grub Street]
What You Missed at Oakland’s Eat Real Fest [Grub Street]
Oakland, Calif: Camino [NYT]
Oakland Gets a Taste for Gourmet [Chron]

2009: The Year Oakland Leapt Onto the Foodie Radar