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Image of dishes on the table a Oakland's Dyafa restaurant
Photograph: Courtesy Dyafa

The 16 best restaurants in Oakland to try right now

The best restaurants in Oakland reflect the city’s rich diversity—expect dope tacos, noodle shops, BBQ, and more

Written by
Clara Hogan
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Oakland is a hotbed of diverse cuisines and cultures, so much so that it’s become one of the most exciting places to eat in the country. That means the best restaurants in Oakland reflect the diversity of its people, running the gamut from authentic Filipino and Ethiopian fare to mouthwatering Southern food and BBQ.

Here, you can travel the world from the dinner table, street by street—try nationally lauded Cambodian cuisine and taco trucks on Fruitvale Avenue, and fine dining Italian and tapas on Piedmont Avenue. You’ll even find a Michelin-starred restaurant (which is on par with the fine dining restaurants in San Francisco proper, if you ask us), not to mention mom-and-shop joints that have a long history in town.

If you’re coming from SF, there are plenty of ways to cross the bridge to the sunny side of the bay, and it’s worth making a day out of it by exploring all there is to do in Oakland, from scenic hikes in the redwoods to art galleries and boutiques. Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Jack London Square to find some of the best waterfront wineries in the Bay Area. 

But enough about that, because you came here to eat. Here is our guide to the best restaurants in Oakland right now. 

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Oakland

Best restaurants in Oakland

Horn Barbeque is the star newcomer in town. Though the restaurant is barely a year old, pitmaster Matt Horn actually served up his Central Texas-inspired brisket and beef ribs to a cult following for years via pop-ups that brought massive lines. His new and permanent location in West Oakland lives up the fanfare—if you're in the mood for authentic, Texas-style barbecue, head here for the stand-out menu item (brisket) plus hot links, smoked turkey breast, cheesy potato casserole, and more barbeque favorites.

Chef Nite Yun brings her fresh take on Cambodian cuisine to the Fruitvale neighborhood in a tiny, sunny space. Try her comforting rice dishes (like the Koh + Bai with pork belly in caramelized palm sugar) or go for something extra special like the Amok, a catfish souffle steamed in banana leaf—either way, you’ll want to be a regular here.

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Chef-owner Mic Talmor opened Pomella at an inopportune time: spring 2020. Despite the pandemic, the restaurant won over Bay Area diners who came in droves for her “familial, Middle Eastern'' flavors. Pomella's California-Israeli dishes are inspired by Talmor's roots in northern Israel combined with California produce, offering items like falafel, pita, and majadera (a spiced and lentil dish). Whatever you do, don't skip the hummus—it’s some of the creamiest you'll ever taste, made by a special machine Talmor funded through Kickstarter.

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  • Oakland
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James Beard Award semifinalist Reem Assil (whose first restaurant, Reem’s, can be found at the Fruitvale BART station) brings her modern Palestinian-Syrian cooking to Jack London Square. Dine on Arabic delights like kohbz chickpea “pancakes” and mana’eesh bread with traditional mezze spreads (like muhammara, a dip made with roasted red pepper, pomegranate, and walnuts) or hummus kawarma topped with tender spiced lamb and dried lime.

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You'll notice that in Oakland, popular restaurants often first start out as food trucks or pop-ups. That was the case for Tacos Oscar, which served up his mouthwatering tacos across the Bay. In 2018, founders Oscar Michel and Jake Weiss opened its permanent location in the Temescal neighborhood. The venue is completely outdoors, made up of brightly painted shipping containers decorated with string lights, cacti, and custom wood tables. The menu consists of tacos and tostadas that change every week. Expect juicy, meaty options like pork chile verde as well as a slew of vegan choices. 

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Located in Public Market Emeryville, Minnie Bell's offers traditional, soulful family recipes with flavors from the south. Chef-owner Fernay McPherson serves dishes she learned to cook from her grandmother, Lilly Bell, and her great-aunt, Minnie, while growing up in the Fillmore District of San Francisco. The star is the fried chicken (brined in buttermilk, hot sauce, and rosemary for 24 hours) but you'll also find everything from cornbread to mac and cheese to round out a full feast.

Tucked along a strip mall in Temescal, the outside of FOB kitchen is unassuming while on the inside, the restaurant bursts with color and flavor. After operating as a pop-up, owners Janice and Brandi Dulce started serving their delicious Filipino food out of this brick-and-mortar location, which features bold wallpaper, colorful decor, an open kitchen, and an overall warm party vibe. Stand-outs include lumpia and fork-tender pork adobo, as well as vibrant side dishes that range from salads to noodles.

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Located in Uptown, Kingston 11 has been a staple in the Oakland dining scene for years. The restaurant serves classic Jamaican fare (think jerk chicken and curried goat) in an inviting space. Kingston 11 is known to be environmentally friendly and community-focused.
  • Restaurants
  • Californian
  • Oakland

Oakland's only Michelin-starred restaurant offers eight innovative courses for $175. It’s a hefty price tag, sure, but one we can get behind—and considering how consistently packed this place is, we’re not alone. In the kitchen, Chef James Syhabout shows off his finesse with well-sourced, local ingredients in a sophisticated nightly tasting menu.

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